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Municipal Matters, 3-16-17

This quarterly Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) newsletter includes planning news and resources that can help municipal officials and planners like you to implement recommendations from the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan and participate in development of its successor, ON TO 2050.  To learn more, please contact Melissa Silverberg ( or 312-386-8641).

2016 Municipal Survey results show continued interest in CMAP planning and implementation assistance

The biennial CMAP Municipal Survey is a way for the agency to track progress toward reaching goals outlined in GO TO 2040, to develop ON TO 2050 recommendations, and to help CMAP provide appropriate support services for municipalities through efforts such as the Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program.  The 2016 survey shows continuing high demand for the types of projects currently undertaken by CMAP staff through the LTA program, with significant demand for other products that would support local governments in planning efforts.

The survey, which asked elected officials and municipal staff from every municipality in the CMAP region to answer specific questions about local planning and policies, was conducted during spring and summer of 2016.  A record number of municipalities responded to the survey with 231, or 81.3 percent of the region's municipalities, participating.  The results show an ongoing interest in long-term planning, as well as interest in continued support from CMAP to create plans and implement plan goals.  A few conclusions from the survey:

  • Producing a plan is a priority for 79 percent of municipalities.  Economic development and comprehensive plans were the most popular plan types desired.
  • As budgets are stretched thin, 80 percent of municipalities said that applying for grants to support plan implementation would be a priority in the next two years, and 65 percent said they would like CMAP's help for that effort.
  • Attracting development to a specific site was another type of assistance highly desired by municipalities.

Read CMAP's analysis of the survey results.  As CMAP continues to develop ON TO 2050 and evaluate the programs offered by the LTA program, the results of the 2016 municipal survey will guide those decisions.  It is clear that LTA continues to be in high demand, but we will work to evaluate potential new offerings to meet the needs of municipalities and align with agency objectives.

CMAP opens 2017 Local Technical Assistance call for projects with May 16 symposium

CMAP and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) invite you to join us on Tuesday, May 16, to mark the release of the 2017 Call for Projects for the LTA and Community Planning programs.  Attendees will learn how to build upon the successes of other organizations who have enhanced their communities' livability, economic prosperity, and quality of life by working with CMAP and partner organizations.

Elected officials, municipal planners and other staff, community-based organizations, nonprofits, civic organizations, and consulting firms that work with communities are welcome to attend.  Panel discussions will highlight local best practices in transportation planning, climate resilience, shared services, plan implementation, and more from communities of many types and sizes.  Attendees will also have a chance to receive one-on-one input on the application process.

The symposium costs $30 and municipalities must register in advance.  For more details, visit or contact Brandon Nolin at

Waukegan moves forward with plans for Washington Street corridor

In recent months, city officials have started the work of turning recommendations from A Commercial Plan for Waukegan -- an LTA project adopted in November 2016 -- from plan into reality.  The Lake County News-Sun has documented the city's efforts to put CMAP's suggestions into action and boost the profile of a 1.5 mile stretch of Washington Street, a major roadway that includes businesses and Waukegan schools.

  • Waukegan hired Town Square Consultancy to conduct a marketing study of the area.
  • More than 30 local business owners have formed an organization called the Merchants and Neighbors of Washington Street to share interests and ideas for the corridor.
  • The rehabilitation of a city-owned parking lot, which included resurfacing and better signage, let drivers know about the long-underutilized lot and helped with the area's aesthetics.

Other recommendations from the 66-page plan, such as adding enhanced pedestrian crosswalks, widening sidewalks, increasing the frequency of Pace bus routes through the area, and breaking down language and cultural barriers are improvements that the News-Sun reports won't cost the city major amounts of money, but could have a big impact on economic revitalization for the area.

ON TO 2050 Update

As part of the development of ON TO 2050, the region's next comprehensive plan, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has recently released two new strategy papers: Tax Policy and Land Use Trends and Highway Operations.  These papers address key topics that will be part of ON TO 2050 and recommend strategies for the future.

  • Tax Policy and Land Use Trends: This report analyzes the interdependent nature between local tax revenues and the types of developments that municipalities pursue.  Cumulatively, these local policy and land use decisions have a significant overall effect on regional growth.  For example, the potential for local revenues may have led to more retail development than is necessary to meet demand regionally.  As a result, our region has a higher retail vacancy rate than many other metropolitan regions.  At the same time, industrial development may not generate sufficient revenue for municipalities to fully serve those developments.  Every community in northeastern Illinois has a complex mix of land uses that are vital to creating its identity and quality of life.  CMAP is exploring policies and strategies that can help communities achieve balanced tax structures and, in turn, development that suits local and regional goals.  The paper highlights some of these strategies, for example an Ohio region where municipalities are collaborating, rather than competing with one another, to attract development that meets local and regional needs while maintaining balanced and sufficient local tax bases.  For more information, contact Lindsay Hollander (
  • Highway Operations: This report addresses the congestion on our region's roadways and how to address it in ways that don't include the expense and time of building new roads.  About 60 percent of U.S. roadway congestion is caused by non-recurring factors such as incidents, poor signal timing, special events, and weather; the other 40 percent is caused by the imbalance between demand and capacity on the roads.  Adding road capacity is an expensive and long-term option in a time of limited resources.  The Highway Operations report provides recommendations on how municipalities, emergency responders, and regional partners can use modern traffic management techniques and technology to reduce the unreliability and delays brought on by non-recurring congestion, which would better support the region's economy and improve quality of life.  Please pass this paper along to your emergency response personnel to inform their work on these topics in the future.  For more information, contact Claire Bozic ( 

Join our Alternative Futures discussions and forums across the region this summer

As CMAP develops ON TO 2050, the agency launching an intensive summer public engagement campaign around five possible Alternative Futures:

  • Changed Climate
  • Walkable Communities
  • Innovative Transportation
  • Constrained Resources
  • Transformed Economy

Each future has distinct factors that could significantly shape our region by 2050 and well beyond.  CMAP welcomes your support in gathering feedback from people across the seven-county region to identify strategies to address these trends, which will be embedded into policies of the comprehensive regional plan slated for adoption in October 2018.