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Hilmar wins blueprint award

Hilmar wins blueprint award

POSTED September 18, 2009 11:46 p.m.
A vision of the valley in 2050 was set in mind when the San Joaquin Valley Regional Blueprint was created. The project envisioned cities that interconnect, the community coming together as a whole, and resources that are used effectively throughout the Valley.  
To recognize plans, policies and projects that are “blueprint friendly,” and to help bring communities together for the future development of cities, San Joaquin Valley Regional Blueprint created a competition for blueprint awards. This is the first year for the distribution of blueprint awards, said Barbara Steck, blueprint regional project manager for the Council of Fresno County Governments.
“It is important to acknowledge different towns that are using smart growth principles,” Steck said.   
Hilmar won the award of achievement for community plan in an unincorporated community. They will be presented with their award Oct. 2 at the Fall Policy Conference Luncheon in Fresno.   
“Receiving this award is like getting an A in a class,” she said. “Out of all the communities, Hilmar was really a top award recipient.”  
Hilmar was recognized for demonstrating all 12 blueprint principles, Steck said. The main principal they focused on was making Hilmar a small, compact community to reduce the amount of driving and make Hilmar a more walkable city.
The Community Plan for Hilmar establishes a vision: “to create a sense of place by embracing its agricultural roots and its small town charm,” Steck said. To implement this vision, planners focused on potential growth within the next 50 years to maintain the small town feel while making Hilmar a sustainable community.   
Hilmar was competing against four other towns for this award, she said. The blueprints for each town were put in groups based on their size.
Not only did Hilmar get this prestigious award, other towns in the Valley can use Hilmar’s blueprints as an example to help benefit their own communities, Steck said.
“All 62 cities in the Valley can use this as guidance to create their own blueprint plan,” she said.
One of the main overall goals of the blueprint principles is to eliminate the carbon footprint in towns, said Bobby Luis, planning and development services director for the Merced County Planning Department.
“We want to move from a dependency on cars and become more dependant on walking or public transportation,” Luis said. “We want to conserve and utilize sources we have to become more sustainable.”  
Out of the 12 blueprint principles that were used to judge nominations, the main concepts were the range of housing opportunities available, walkable neighborhoods, mixed land uses and a variety of transportation choices, according to a press release.
Nominations for the blueprint awards were solicited throughout the San Joaquin Valley for a variety of categories, according to a press release. The judges viewed the nominations and selected winners based on blueprint principles.
“We are very proud and excited to receive this award,” Luis said. “Now we are working on making this a county-wide blueprint.”
To contact Maegan Martens, email or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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