Best Practice Action Detail

Best Practice Action 9.5

GreenStep City Best Practices Land Use
Efficient Highway- and Auto-Oriented Development No. 9

Adopt commercial development and design standards for auto-oriented development corridors and clusters.

Best Practice Action 5

Adopt development policies for large format developments, such as a scorecard approval process, tax productivity thresholds, size caps, bans, required decommissioning of vacant property.

  • While some cities nationwide have placed bans or size caps on large format retail developments, Ferndale, WA established, by ordinance, a three-pronged approach to retail development, including big-box stores, which includes a scorecard called EAGLE (Energy efficiency, Advanced technologies, Greater good, Low impact, Economic development).
  • During 2016 the Minnesota-based organization Strong Towns crowd-sourced a database on tax productivity of big box stores and posted articles on how to rethink big box stores as, for example, points of social leverage and locations for recharging electric vehicles.
  • For example, the agreement between Inver Grove Heights and WalMart states that if the store closes, WalMart has three years to remarket the store or return the site to its pre-development condition.
  • The large size of suburban commercial developments can facilitate low-impact development, such as near-zero run-off at Argenta Hills, a 120-acre commercial and residential site in Inver Grove Heights.
1 star Adopt a size cap; require decommissioning in the zoning district or with the development agreement for chain-specific big box developments, if store goes vacant for more than x months (and no permit for redevelopment has been filed); plan for at least 1 EV charging station.
2 star Require a decommissioning bond to be posted as a condition of rezoning, subdivision, or building permit for chain-specific big box developments.
3 star Adopt a scorecard system for big-box approval that covers economic, environmental and social dimensions; ban big-box development.