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The Federal Government's Role in Planning

Perhaps the single most important way that the federal government influences local and regional planning is through giving money with conditions attached.

This comes in the form of grants.

Since the federal government rarely directly mandates planning laws and governance (the federal government does not write our local comprehensive plans nor zoning codes), one way it can influence local planning is by awarding investments in critical areas tied to achieving broader, national goals.

The federal government influences planning by awarding grant money to communities and projects that further the national agenda. As the national agenda is wide, so the number of grants available abound.

For example, the federal government has goals to decrease carbon emissions, preserve wetlands, and improve our current infrastructure. To encourage states and localities to also invest in these priority areas, federal agencies award billions of federal dollars to projects investing in these same priority areas.

Award-winning communities win, too. Not only in the form of tax dollars. Many community development projects needing federal assistance are often very expensive and could cost taxpayers millions. Grants dollars significantly cover project-specific costs. Inasmuch, taxes are not increased.

Federal planning grants are a win-win, both for the federal government and for communities.




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