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Small Towns

These articles and posts will be of particular interest to those readers in small towns and rural areas.

Continue to older articles & posts — or return to newer ones — where you see the green buttons at the bottom of the page.


Haw River map

Cultural Tourism in the Triangle – Part 2

Textiles mills once dominated the Haw River’s economy. But by the 1990s, most of the mills had closed and the mill towns struggled to survive. In recent years, mill structures have been rehabbed for a new generation of residents, and a wide variety of new uses.

Demolition of strip shopping plaza at Storrs Center.

Building a New Downtown – Part I

It’s not every day that university and town perspectives on a key issue are closely aligned. But that’s the case in the small town of Storrs, Connecticut, where the University of Connecticut and the Town of Mansfield both agree that what they really want an need is a new downtown center.

photo of meeting from Joel Russell article

Building Your Planning Process From the Ground Up

You’re at the final hearing on a comp plan amendment your commission has been working on for over a year. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, opposition erupts as rumors spread about what they are about to do to us. How you can minimize the chances of this happening.

Vacant downtown movie theater in Niles, Michigan, is slated for restoration.

A Main Street Succeeds in Tough Times

One small Michigan city is focusing its efforts on building a strong downtown. A look at some of the challenges and opportunities facing Niles, Michigan.

Planners at Elkhart County, Indiana, Plan Commission meeting

Good Signs or Bad Signs in Indiana?

I sat in on a meeting of the Elkhart County, Indiana, Plan Commission. On the agenda: a proposed zoning amendment to regulate digital electronic signs. It’s a fascinating, and challenging issue — one facing communities across the country.

Read at your library poster

“A Harbor You Can Sail Into”

Those are the words that Stephen Coronella used to describe the role of the Putney, Vermont, public library. Like a harbor. It provides a place where people can dock themselves for a while, socialize with others, and feel some comfort and security.

photos from Main Street mill in Richford, Vermont

Main Street Mill: “The Perfect Trifecta”

I returned to the small town of Richford, Vermont, as the starting point of my travel plans for this Spring. I had visited Richford last Summer to first learn about the Main Street Mill redevelopment.

house and large tree at edge of a field

Developing at the Edge

A continuing challenge facing many local planning commissions is how to best plan for new development at the edge of existing settled areas. This can be particularly acute in communities facing growth pressure. A look at some tools and strategies for guiding development at the edge.