One official claims Kent is the only city in Ohio to draft goals to ensure its businesses stay in business, its environment is healthy, and that people have good places to live and have a sense of community.
The city's environmental commission recently adopted a set of goals for sustainable development, which are expected to be presented to city council April 14.
Environmental Services Coordinator Mary Gilbert said Kent is the first city in Ohio to draft a set of goals to make sure development is "sustainable," or able to stay viable in the long-term.
"We found a couple of sustainability programs in Seattle, San Diego, Chattanooga, much larger cities," she said. "We had people there look at our document."
Twinsburg recently created an environmental commission of its own, and may draft a similar set of goals, Gilbert said.
The environmental commission was created in 1995. Its five-member board was charged with creating a set of goals for sustainability impact to be reviewed, discussed and presented to council for approval.
Doug Shaw, a member of the commission, acknowledged such goals are rare, especially in this area.
"The places that have dealt with these issues tend to be places that are growing rapidly and are struggling to deal with that," he said. "Our objective is to be ahead of the game."
The goals are divided into four different areas _ the economy, the environment, planning and resources and society and culture. Development of the central business district is encouraged, as is redevelopment of aging buildings and neighborhoods.
Things like residential and commercial sprawl and development of farmlands, woodlands and natural areas are discouraged.
Shaw said the goals are intended to "keep a community that has a good economy, the environment is healthy and the social fabric will make living in the community enjoyable for everyone."
The goals are not intended to keep specific developments out of the city, he said. Instead, they are meant to encourage development of the central part of the city, not the outskirts.
"Unless a plan is in place before developers bring proposals, it's very difficult to evaluate those proposals in terms of long-term investment," he said.
Proposals such as a Walgreens plan for a drugstore downtown would be evaluated not in terms of the primary use of the building, but whether the building could be used for a secondary purpose in the future. Where the building is located also would be a factor, he said, noting that one of the good things about Walgreens is that it's proposed for the downtown.
"One of the things that's very strong in our set of goals is redevelopment of areas of the city that are aging," he said. "A lot of communities have kept expanding outward. Our focus is on keeping what we have."
He said the commission hopes similar goals will be adopted in other communities.
"Kent is too small to control its own destiny," he said. "More communities have to move in the same direction so that eventually this will have an impact on the region."