In an era of limited resources, growing communities should carefully weigh the long-term costs of maintaining and replacing infrastructure against the fiscal benefits of new development. A lack of full-cost pricing and declining federal and state support have left many communities struggling to maintain infrastructure already in place. Some municipal costs, including roads, water and wastewater, stormwater, and fire protection, are more dependent on the location and density of development than others. For example, lot size, minimum block length, and street design standards influence the length and width of streets and the corresponding density of development that provides financial support for the eventual maintenance and replacement of those streets. While future land use plans and zoning and subdivision ordinances dictate the development pattern, the planning process rarely factors in the long-term financial impacts of those requirements or considers the costs of that additional infrastructure within the context of the municipality’s existing liabilities. Avoiding unnecessary future infrastructure and maintenance costs will enable communities to prioritize investment toward other community objectives. Regarding long-term financial health, communities can minimize their infrastructure maintenance costs by limiting expansion and building more compactly when they do extend roads and sewers to new locations. This strategy also appears in the Community chapter under the recommendation to Target infill, infrastructure, and natural area investments.

Action 1

Consider existing road, water, and wastewater infrastructure capacity in decisions about the intensity and extent of new development.

Implementers

Local governments

Action 2

Review and revise development standards with attention to long-term maintenance costs associated with different development patterns.

Implementers

Local governments

Action 3

Collect adequate taxes and fees per the findings of fiscal impact analyses to cover the cost of infrastructure and services over the lifespan of new development.

Implementers

Local governments

Action 4

Explore ways to encourage development standards that minimize long-term maintenance costs and consider incentives for such practices through existing transportation and infrastructure funding programs.

Implementers

CMAP