The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association recently announced the winners of its 2014 Annual Awards Program, and Solomon McCown shared an award with our client, the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, and its partner the Massachusetts Association of Planning Directors for our media outreach efforts around the Alliance’s Zoning Reform legislation.

The bill in question was written to make it easier for communities to decide where to sensibly grow and where to preserve by making master planning more flexible, proactive and less costly. It encouraged communities to establish districts for prompt permitting of housing and commercial growth while also adopting enhanced environmental protections and encouraging public health initiatives. The bill also included a process to determine development impact fees by a formula, curbing contentious negotiations with developers over the cost of additional infrastructure.

With a goal to drive the Massachusetts Legislature to update the Commonwealth’s antiquated zoning and permitting laws, our strategy was to show diverse, statewide support by using local examples to illustrate the impact of updated laws—or the impact of the status quo. SM& scheduled meetings with editorial boards across the state, drafted op-eds co-bylined by our client and local leaders for newspapers across Massachusetts, secured radio opportunities, and drove the social media conversation about the legislation.

The results? Our client saw 16 placements while the legislation was pending, received two Boston Globe editorials urging the Legislature to pass the bill, a blog post on WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog, which led to an on-air segment and an appearance on Radio Boston with Joe Curtatone, Mayor of Somerville—a city that illustrates how modern zoning laws can transform a municipality.

While the controversial bill didn’t make it to the Governor’s desk, it made it further along in the process than ever before and created enough buzz and excitement to build a strong foundation for the next legislative session.

Our team enjoyed working closely with the Smart Growth Alliance and the broad coalition supporting Zoning Reform in Massachusetts. Thank you to the APA for the honor!