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HEAL Glossary

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The HEAL Library is a searchable resource of Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) policies for use by community leaders, advocates, municipal and county staff and elected officials.

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While typical transportation plans are concerned with vehicle miles traveled, infrastructure for trains and automobiles and the future of local and regional transit, the Active Transportation Plan includes walking and bicycling among viable forms of transportation.

This is a guide for making bicycle‐related transportation decisions at the state, regional, and local level. The plan provides a long‐term agenda for implementing a system of bicycling facilities. It can be a part of an overall Active Transportation Plan.

A program that can be utilized to provide alternative transportation to residents. Typically a fleet of bicycles is managed by either a non‐profit or local government entity. There are several examples throughout the country, including Denver’s B‐cycle bike share program.

Some are free while others charge a small fee.

A comprehensive plan is a land use document that provides the framework and policy direction for land use decisions. The plans may contain the following chapters: land use, transportation, housing, capital facilities, utilities, shorelines, and rural (for counties). Chapters addressing economic development and parks and recreation also are included, if state funding is provided. Optional chapters may be included such as: health, active living, conservation, energy, recreation, and sub‐area plans where appropriate. Comprehensive plans identify where and how growth needs will be met. Adjacent jurisdictions are required to have plans that are consistent. These plans then provide the basis for many of the policies, regulation, and budget decisions that cities and counties will make.

A generic term used to describe activities such as zoning and/or the control of real estate developments. Land use also describes how the land is used for example as residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural, etc. Land‐use planning laws are implemented by local zoning and ordinances.

Local ordinances are drafted and/or enforced by governing bodies of (sometimes) elected officials such as the city council, school boards, planning boards or zoning boards. Hearings before these boards on local business or controversies are usually open to the public. Decisions on local matters may be appealed, and if they involve a federal issue, may even be heard all the way to the Supreme Court.

Ordinances are, in essence, rules of public conduct. While they may be amended over time, they are generally considered long‐term laws of the town, city, or county. Ordinances are typically referenced by a number, a brief title, and an effective date.

Mixed Use Development is the practice of allowing more than one type of use in a building or set of buildings. In planning zone terms, this can mean some combination of residential, commercial, industrial, office, institutional, or other land uses.

Real estate designated as office space is a parcel of land in a predominantly open and undeveloped condition that is suitable for any of the following: natural areas, habitat preservation, wetland or watershed, low‐impact pedestrian activities and non‐motorized activities, or wildlife corridors.

A pedestrian master plan is a guide for making pedestrian‐related transportation decisions at the state and local level. The plan provides a long‐term agenda for implementing a system of pedestrian facilities. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for sidewalks, crosswalks and other pedestrian‐related design guidelines is required. It can be a part of an overall Active Transportation Plan.

A policy can be legislative, a set of regulations, and typically is described as a deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome(s). The term is not normally used to denote what is actually done; this is normally referred to as procedure.

A Resolution is a formal motion normally utilized to set forth policy of a town, City, or County. Resolutions, which are typically referenced by number and brief title, are used for various reasons, such as when specifically required by law, when needed as a separate evidentiary document to be transmitted to another governmental agency, or where the frequency of future references back to its contents warrants a separate document to facilitate such future reference and research.1

Rural population includes persons living in the open country or in towns of less than 2,500 people. It is subdivided in the rural farm population that comprises all rural residents living on farms, and the rural nonfarm population that includes the remaining rural population. Areas designated as rural can have population densities as high as 999 per square mile or as low as 1 person per square mile. (This definition is provided by the US Census Bureau.)

The Safe Routes to School program uses a variety of education, engineering and enforcement strategies that help make routes safer for children to walk and bicycle to school and employs encouragement strategies to entice more children to walk and bike. These programs have grown popular in recent years in response to problems created by an expanding built environment, a growing reliance on motor vehicles for student transportation and with the more recent development of federal and state funding of Safe Routes to School programs.

Neighborhood and sub‐area plans are similar in that they establish specific goals for smaller focused areas. They are functional plans that are a step more detailed than the comprehensive plan. Although both plans focus on smaller land areas than the overall comprehensive plan, there are key differences between them. Neighborhood plans tend to focus on residential and some local commercial development that serves primarily the residents on the neighborhood. Sub‐area plans may address somewhat larger geographic areas that include individual neighborhoods as they relate to contextual land uses and other surrounding districts.

The term “use value taxation” (often called current use value taxation or preferential assessment) is a voluntary approach that allows land to be assessed at its current use value (as agriculture or forest land for instance), rather than at its highest market value, which may include the value of the land based on its current use plus the underlying development rights that have not been exercised by the property owner.

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. If that sounds simple, it is, and that’s part of the beauty of the walking school bus. Children walk to school along a structured route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers. A variation on the walking school bus is the bicycle train, in which adults supervise children riding their bikes to school. The flexibility of the walking school bus makes it appealing to communities of all sizes with varying needs.

Zoning ordinances divide a town, city, village, or county into separate residential, commercial, and industrial districts, thereby preserving the desirable characteristics of each type of setting. These laws generally limit dimensions in each zone. Many regulations require certain building features and limit the number and location of parking and loading areas and the use of signs. Other regulations provide space for schools, parks, or other public facilities.2  Typically, but not always, zoning ordinances reside within a zoning code or comparable document.