In Medina County, OH, where expansion into rural areas placed new demands on water supplies, a public-private partnership successfully negotiated difficult community political and economic dynamics. Some homebuilders initially wanted to develop large plots that would require filling in existing wetlands and natural floodplains and would have required firefighting services to truck in large amounts of water in the event of an incident.

A broad-based coalition that included the local government, county floodplain manager, planning commission, homebuilders association, and emergency manager came together to spearhead a process to promote development in the county while protecting water supplies and preserving wetlands and ponds.

The partnership achieved a building standard that allowed builders to develop their desired housing design but also required them to build ponds and wetlands within each housing subdivision in an effort to sustain water supplies and allow for improved fire protection and floodplain management.

The zoning and land use mitigation efforts promoted and protected the health, safety, and welfare of the residents by making the community less susceptible to flood and fire damage. Working as a public-private partnership enabled the participants to reach an agreement and institutionalize it through cooperative legal processes. Mutual interests and priorities brought this otherwise disparate group together to form a productive partnership.

Source: A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management: Principles, Themes, and Pathways for Action (FEMA, 2011)