On April 14, 2013, at the County Planning Division's Annual Business Meeting, conducted at the APA National Conference in Chicago, the County Planning Division in conjunction with the National Association of County Planners will present their 2013 Project Awards. This year six awards will be presented: three Awards of Excellence and three Awards of Merit.

An Award of Excellence to The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission, Florida, in the Best Practices category for the Guide to Creating & Updating Community Plans in Unincorporated Hillsborough County. The Guide crystallizes the rational, roles, process, and structure of newly created community plans and plan updates in urban, suburban and rural contexts. Planning staff and community use of the Guide is intended to enhance the effectiveness of community plans in shaping ... distinct, vibrant and lasting communities.

An Award of Excellence to Clark County, Washington, in the Special Focus Planning Initiative — Senior Livability category for the Aging Readiness Plan. Affordable and appropriate housing, supportive community features and services, and transportation options help create places where everyone has the opportunity to live independently and participate in civic and social life as they age. The Clark County Aging Readiness Plan assesses the county's readiness to serve as a home for a growing number of older residents. The plan is divided into five elements: healthy communities, housing, transportation/mobility, supportive services and community engagement. Each element identifies challenges residents may face as they grow older and lists strategies to overcome them.

An Award of Excellence to Howard County, Maryland, in the Small Area/Special Area Planning category for the Downtown Columbia Plan. The Downtown Columbia Plan is a 30-year master plan for evolving Columbia's suburban oriented Town Center into a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable urban community. Following an extensive planning and community engagement process, the Howard County Council approved the Downtown Columbia Plan on February 1, 2010, and readopted it in the County's July 20, 2012, general plan update. The Downtown Columbia Plan will guide the mixed-use development of over 13 million feet of retail, commercial, residential, hotel and cultural development.

An Award of Merit to McHenry County, Illinois, in the Best Practices category for the Green Infrastructure Plan. The McHenry County Green Infrastructure Plan is the result of a comprehensive planning effort to identify, promote, protect, and enhance McHenry County's green infrastructure resource areas. It was developed with contributions of natural resource and land management experts, municipalities, townships, park districts, and local citizens. The plan features the first countywide green infrastructure map and offers numerous recommendations for implementation at the regional, community, and neighborhood scale.

An Award of Merit to Sarasota County, Florida, in the Planning Project category for Nathan Benderson Park. Nathan Benderson Park is located in unincorporated Sarasota County. This county park used by a handful of local fishermen was once an unimproved borrow pit lake originally created to serve road construction needs in the region. Today, it's being transformed into a 600-acre regional park that includes a world-class rowing venue with the potential to attract international visitors to Sarasota County, while still serving the local community.

An Award of Merit to Richland County, South Carolina, in the Grass Roots Initiative category for the 8th Annual Neighborhood Planning Conference. The Richland County Council and the Planning and Development Services Department has made it a priority to address the struggling nature of urban communities and rural neighborhoods throughout the County and created the Neighborhood Improvement Program to address those challenges head-on. "The Neighborhood Planning Conference" emerged from this effort as a grassroots level conference that extends beyond the traditional scope of planning, broadens public understanding of the planning process, provides neighborhood outreach initiatives and fulfills unique educational programs designed for special populations. The 8th Annual Neighborhood Planning Conference provided an unparalleled service to over 200 participants.