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  • Kevin Elliott

Sustainability worksheet scores high with council

Rochester City Council on Monday, June 11, approved the use of a sustainability report and associated worksheet used to rate proposed development projects as an accepted policy for the tool to be used in reviewing development plans.

The city in late 2017 contracted with McKenna Associates to develop a sustainability matrix tool to determine how proposed development projects would likely impact sustainability in the city, including environmental health, mobility or transportation, fiscal strength, public services, neighborhoods and the city's downtown area. That information was then incorporated into a worksheet that developers and the city use to score proposed projects during the planning process.

John Jackson of McKenna and Associates said the worksheets provide a baseline, for existing conditions of each category, as well as a target level to see whether a project will help to meet those targets. For instance, the city has a baseline of 24.8 acres of open space or parkland per 1,000 residents, and a target of increasing that figure by 10 percent. Developers then provide the amount of open space a proposed project includes, as well as the number of units. Those that help meet the target figure earn a single point on the worksheet.

Projects can score a maximum of 20 points under the worksheet matrix, with those scoring between zero and seven not meeting targets; those scoring eight to 14 points close to meeting targets; and scores of 15 to 20 meeting targets set by the city.

Rochester Planning and Economic Development Director Nik Banda said developers don't have to tally a perfect score for approval of a project. A score under 15, for instance, may mean a project has the potential for changes that could lead to a higher score. Further, some projects may not be able to achieve all 20 points if the component isn't applicable. For instance, the projects outside of the Downtown Development Authority's (DDA)district are unable to earn points for increasing business in the district.

Council approved accepting the worksheet as official policy by a vote of 6-0, with councilman Dean Bevacqua absent.

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