Page 1

Newsletter Fall 2018 Highlights: Awards Program Updates Student Internships Alabama City Year Program Faculty Updates

AUSPA EVENTS AUSPA is a student organization that allows students to participate in various types of activities such as: professional development, guest lectures, field trips, and social events. This semester AUSPA voted in 5 new officers, and will be voting in a new president and vice president in the spring. AUSPA had another successful semester with the following events: Guest Speaker ● Jason Fondren Professional Development ● Poster Design with Binita Mahato ● Qualtrics Software with Taylor Esco ● Indesign with James Djamba


For the third time in a row, Dr. Byahut’s Sustainable Transportation Planning class won the Distinguished Leadership Award for a Planning Student Team, given by the Alabama Chapter of the American Planning Association. This class received the 2018 award for the Highway 84 E. Corridor Redevelopment Plan for Dothan, AL. The goal of this project was to increase walkability, smooth flow of traffic, provide alternative routes, and build a round-a-bout to help address the traffic on Highway 84.

Rajas Narendra Bhalerao won first place in the student Planning Competition APAAlabama Chapter. During this time he presented his Urban Design Studio Project on Opelika, AL. This Project focused on creating urban spaces, increasing walkability and overall sustainability.

Jay Howell was awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award for a planning student at the AL/MS APA conference.

Conference ● AL/MS APA Conference in Oxford, MS

FOLLOW US @AU.MCP @AuburnMCP auspa.wordpress.edu

CONTACT US Dr. Jay Mittal (334)-8448409 jzm0029@auburn.edu

Program Updates & Initiatives Accreditation Updates  In March 2018, we submitted our intent to pursue the PAB accreditation and we received "Accreditation Prerequisites Met." In August 2018, we submitted the MCP program's self-study report (SSR) to the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) for accreditation candidacy consideration.  During October, Dr. Mittal and Dr. Bowling went before the PAB board at the annual meeting in Buffalo, NY to discuss our program's case. On November 26th, 2018 the MCP program received a formal letter granting us “PAB accreditation candidacy," effective Jan. 2019 to Dec. 2020 for 2 years.  PAB site reviewers will be visiting Auburn University during the next academic year. Student Faculty Advisory Committee At the end of each of semester, students meet with faculty to resolve concerns voiced by students. Faculty Search The MCP program is searching for a tenure track assistant professor for Urban Design & GIS classes for Fall 2019.

ENGAGEMENT WITH Alabama City Year Program COMMUNITIES The hallmark of Auburn University's Master of Community Planning (MCP) program is the opportunity for students to engage with communities throughout Alabama and the Southeast in nearly every class. Every year the MCP program chooses a community to work with. That community becomes the central focus for projects in classes such as Urban Economics, Land Use Planning, Urban Design, Sustainable Transportation Planning, Community Development, Historic Preservation Planning, and Studio. Through these projects, students learn to help diverse and complex communities create and implement plans that improve and protect their quality of life, culture, resource base, built environment, natural environment, and economic vitality. During the fall semester, the MCP program partnered with the cities of Montgomery, Dothan, and Loachapoka.

Historic Preservation with Montgomery Dr. Becki Retzlaff’s Historical Preservation class worked with the city of Montgomery to craft historic preservation plans for historic neighborhoods. With the help of the city, students chose various neighborhoods to study, including Cottage Hill, the Garden District, and Centennial Hill. Throughout the semester, students visited their neighborhood of focus, researched its history, investigated current policies and ordinances, and explored potential preservation strategies. The goal of this project was to propose potential strategies, methods, and innovative ideas that would promote and incentivize historic preservation throughout these historic neighborhoods in the city of Montgomery.

Synthesis Studio with Loachapoka Economic Development with Dothan

Dr. Megan Heim-LaFrombois’ Synthesis Studio class worked with the town of Loachapoka this semester. The goal of this project was to create a comprehensive plan for the community. Engaging the community and its residents is paramount to their work in order to understand the history of and path forward for Loachapoka. On October 1, 2018, the class organized a community engagement event attended by the mayor, town council members, and over 30 community members. On many occasions, students traveled to Loachapoka to get a better understanding of the community’s needs. Students collected and analyzed a variety of demographic, zoning, and land use data. Student groups created comprehensive research-based plans for Loachapoka and presented them.

Alabama City Year Program Land & Urban Economics with the City of Dothan

During the 2018 fall semester, Dr. Jay Mittal’s Land & Urban Economics class worked with the city of Dothan to create potential economic development strategies and ideas. The students visited the city and learned about the current situation of Dothan in the context of economic development. After gaining a deeper understanding of current trends in Dothan, students then explored their individual interests for the final stage of the project. For this final stage, students were tasked with preparing strategies to attract economic interest, new individuals, the return and retention of families, improve community assets, and revitalize areas in Dothan. The Mayor and the planning staff visited the MCP program to see the students’ final presentations on Dothan. The MCP program and the City of Dothan are currently working towards a final agreement for a continued partnership.



Students participate in internship opportunities across Alabama, the region, and China. Harry Grahman “For three months, I interned with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB), which works with many municipalities in the Birmingham region. I worked on a variety of projects: updating a zoning and signage ordinance, working on digital 3D models for a downtown master plan, and creating an existing conditions and future recommendations report for a Birmingham neighborhood.” Tram Vo “It was such an honor for me to be a part of a three-month summer internship project with the City of Dothan. I had a great time working for the city; I learned a lot and gained got tons of real life work experience.” Andre Westbrook “Interning with the City of Decatur, GA is very rewarding. My primary assignment is the City of Decatur’s Affordable Housing Summit. This project has put me in contact with many important people in the Planning field. Our Community Planning Program prepared me for this position.” Rajas Bhalerao had an internship with Auburn University Facilities Management which focused on GIS and space management at the university. James Djamba interned with the city of Dothan as a planner. Weihang Bai interned in Chengdu, China at Cushman & Wakefield as a planner in the Consulting Department. Feng Xiong interned in China with at WorldUnion Properties Consultancy Co., Ltd. as a consultant.

Binita Mahato is a visiting assistant professor who started in Fall 2018. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Cincinnati. Binita received a master’s degree in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati in 2015, and her bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology. She also has two certificates in GIS and urban design. Binita’s research investigates the relationship between space and society using qualitative and interpretive research methods. Her dissertation research focuses on the manifestation of social class relation over the use of public spaces in Kolkata, India.

FACULTY UPDATES Dr. Jay Mittal has an accepted book chapter to be published on 'Land Readjustment and Density Bonuses' in a book titled, "Real Estate in South Asia,” by Routledge, UK, with L. Forson and S. Byahut. In May 2018, he presented a paper on land and value capture at the World Congress of Regional Science in India. In October 2018, he presented a paper on land use relaxation and affordable housing at the ACSP conference. An additional paper of Dr. Mittal’s has also been accepted to the World Bank conference in March 2019. He assisted the city of Dothan, AL in documenting the baseline scenario for its comprehensive plan as part of the Land and Urban Economics class that mapped community demography and assets, and developed strategies for economic development, business retention, and attractiveness. Dr. Megan Heim-LaFrombois is currently working on a multi-year grant with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium. This project looks at coastal communities in Mississippi and Alabama that have implemented green infrastructure in comprehensive plans, and evaluates how these strategies have impacted flood and stormwater runoff. The goal is to create conclusions based on the best practices for green infrastructure, and help prepare these coastal communities at risk of climate change. Dr. Heim-LaFrombois’ manuscript, “(Re)Producing and Challenging Gender in and through Urban Space: Women Bicyclists’ Experiences in Chicago," has been accepted for publication by Gender, Place and Culture, an academic feminist geography journal. This semester her Synthesis Studio class worked with the city of Loachapoka to help create a comprehensive plan. Dr. Becki Retzlaff recently published “Marine Spatial Planning: Exploring the Role of Planning Practice and Research” with Dr. Charlene LeBleu, which was featured in the Journal of Planning Literature. She also worked with Dr. Stuart Meck to publish “Planning for Urban Design in the 1960s: The Case of the San Francisco Urban Design Plan” in the Journal of Urban Design. Dr. Retzlaff is currently working on research that focuses on the Segregation of Public Parks in Montgomery, and a grant that creates an archive of old city plans in Alabama. Dr. Sweta Byahut published a book chapter on smart city strategies in the rust belt through Springer, Singapore this year. Her second book chapter exploring real estate development opportunities using land readjustment and density bonuses to address urban growth is forthcoming with Routledge, UK. She has an article forthcoming in the journal Urban Design International which explores the application of area-specific building bylaws in the planning of the Gandhinagar New Town. She also presented her research at two national and international conferences. Dr. Byahut is working on a grant for researching mediating the impacts of local flooding through planning, and is a GIS collaborator on a project to update social indicators for child abuse and neglect prevention in Alabama. Binita Mahato co-published an article, “Measuring the Robustness of Neighborhood Business Districts,” in the Journal of Urban Design in August, 2018. The goal was to create a systematic analysis that provides cities with a tool to assess NBDs to help craft policies that support a more complete, robust and useful neighborhood business district.

Profile for AuburnMCP

Fall 2018 MCP Newsletter  

newsletter from the Master of Community Planning program at Auburn University, Fall 2018 edition

Fall 2018 MCP Newsletter  

newsletter from the Master of Community Planning program at Auburn University, Fall 2018 edition

Profile for auburnmcp