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Livable New York Resource Manual: Sustainable Communities for all Ages – Planning, Zoning, and Development


The upcoming age shift will have a significant impact on the real estate market in America. Shifting demographics and changing housing preferences will transform neighborhoods across the country. As the Boomer generation continues to age, older adults’ influence on community development will increase substantially. In order to prepare for these changes, communities must plan accordingly by understanding the preferences of older adults in the community and using zoning and development as tools to carry out planning efforts. This section of the Livable New York Resource Manual, produced by the New York Office for the Aging, focuses on the importance of proper planning, zoning, and development to meet the changing needs of the aging population and make communities more livable for all residents.

Key Points

This section addresses specific strategies to improve the livability of communities and accommodate the needs of the expanding older adult population and the community as a whole. The importance of comprehensive planning, regulating land use for the purpose of protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of community residents, is highlighted throughout this section of the resource manual. The comprehensive planning process provides an opportunity for communities to assess the changing needs of residents and implement policies that will enhance community livability and allow for successful aging in place.

Livable community planning, zoning, and development strategies include:

  • Age-integrated communities – neighborhoods that provide an array of different housing types that are accessible to community amenities and allow for walking or biking as viable modes of transportation.
  • New urbanism – developments that incorporate a compact mixture of residential, commercial, and recreational areas within a neighborhood.
  • Mixed-use zoning – community development plan that allows for different housing types, commercial services, and civic and cultural amenities to be located in the same neighborhood, typically within walking distance.
  • Transit-oriented development – communities developed around public transportation options within the area. “A result of building around transit hubs is usually a vibrant, diverse community with a strong sense of place and convenient access to amenities.”

How to Use

Planners and local officials can use this section of the resource manual to gain an understanding of specific planning, zoning, and development strategies used to improve community livability by meeting the needs of older adults and, in turn, all community residents. Examples of such strategies that have been implemented in states across the country are presented throughout this section, as well as the benefits and impediments communities may face in executing these planning efforts.

View full report: Livable New York Resource Manual: Sustainable Communities for all Ages – Planning, Zoning, and Development (PDF – 313 KB)

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