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The APA Texas Planning Awards Program recognizes individuals, organizations and communities for outstanding contributions to planning in Texas. Award winners will be recognized at the APA-Texas Chapter Annual Planning Conference on Friday, November 8, 2019 in Waco, Texas at the Waco Convention Center.  For questions and media requests, please contact APA Texas Awards Commitee Chair Claire Hempel at planningawards@apatexas.org

Congratulations to the 2019 Texas Planning Award Winners!

Advancing Diversity and Social Change

This award honors an individual, project, group, or organization that promotes diversity and demonstrates a sustained commitment to advocacy by addressing the concerns of women and minorities through specific actions or contributions within the planning profession or through planning practice. 

Connect Community
A Revitalization for Gulfton-Sharpstown
Houston, Texas

Connect Community: A Revitalization Plan for Gulfton-Sharpstown was created for Connect Community, a non-profit collaborative of community leaders focused on holistic revitalization and breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty in Houston’s Gulfton and Sharpstown neighborhoods. These neighborhoods house immigrants and refugees from all over the world, and residents of the area speak over 50 languages. The Connect Community Revitalization Plan includes a deep analysis of existing conditions, and the results of a public engagement process that engaged over 70 neighborhood and city organizations and empowered local residents to lead their own focus groups.

Four themes for the plan reflect the diverse community that developed the plan. They focus on physical improvements, but also on more intangible opportunities to create social cohesion, gathering spaces, and programs that empower residents to participate in political and institutional leadership in the area.

Comprehensive Planning Awards

For a comprehensive or general plan that advances the science and art of planning. 

City of McKinney
ONE McKinney 2040

The City of McKinney has experienced rapid growth in recent years, bringing about massive changes to the City’s identity and character. During the development of the ONE McKinney 2040 Comprehensive Plan over the course of three years, the city’s population grew by more than 24,000 people. Due to the rapid changes the community was experiencing, the city was in need of an economically sustainable, flexible plan that would stand the test of time. 

The plan focused on developing “Preferred Scenario” districts around strategic assets that were identified by the community. The opportunities and support needs for each of the assets then generated additional residential, commercial, and employment placetypes within each district. To ensure that the plan maintained economic sustainability, a fiscal model was been developed for use by planning staff to ensure an ongoing fiscal balance is maintained through each future development project at a district and city-wide level.

City of Boerne
Uniquely Boerne!

Boerne is a small town with big expectations. City residents are very engaged, and asked for a plan that they understood and could follow.  The result is a two-volume plan document that contains all of the background information that a comprehensive plan should have, but that is highly graphic and very easy to read.

The process used forward-thinking and innovative planning tools and processes, not often found in smaller city plans, including:

  • A multi-part scenario planning process to help determine viable alternate futures for the City,
  • Using GIS to determine where development pressures were likely to occur,
  • A Cost-of-Services Analysis to help understand how future land use changes could impact the city’s ability to provide effective services over time, and
  • An extraordinary level of engagement, with feedback from over 1 in 10 residents of the City.

From a foundation of 50 key residents participating in early focus group meetings, to over 1,700 online survey responses, Boerne's residents provided their concerns, hopes, and dreams to ensure that this plan truly represented their vision for moving forward.

Planning Advocate Recipients

This award honors an individual, appointed, or elected official who has advanced or promoted the cause of planning in the public arena. 

Elected Official
City of Bastrop
Mayor Connie Schroeder 

Mayor Schroeder is a 14-year resident of Bastrop. During that time, she has served on the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission and was elected by the 17-member Bastrop Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee to serve as its chair.  She was also an active participant in the City’s Form Based Code initiative, designed to safeguard the character of Bastrop’s many neighborhoods.  In 2017, she was elected as the first female Mayor of the City of Bastrop.

Community input has been prioritized from day one, to ensure the new codes honor what the community knows and loves about Bastrop. Mayor Schroeder has served as a key spokesperson for Building Bastrop, along with the Mayor Pro Tem and other council members, to ensure all residents and stakeholders understand the work being done and how they can be part of it. Her guidance has provided direction and clarity to city staff and its consultant team in the development of the new land-use regulations, which has resulted in a streamlined, user-friendly document that will provide predictability and flexibility for future development.

Appointed Official
City of Brownsville
Dr. Rose Gowen

Advocate, Commissioner, Doctor, Innovator, Community Leader, these are just some of the roles that describe Commissioner Rose Gowen. Commissioner Gowen has been selflessly committed and passionate towards taking a stand for improving the quality of life for the residents of Brownsville. After Dr. Gowen learned that nearly one in three Brownsville residents is diabetic and that the obesity rate was higher than 50% of the population, Dr. Gowen made it her mission to find ways in making her community more active, safe, and healthy while improving the City of Brownsville’s mobility and economy.

Dr. Gowen understands the important role of planners and educates the community on the importance of the profession.  When approving subdivisions or mixed-use projects she looks for the detail in the implementation of Complete Streets and challenges staff to be bold in our design ideas for improving walkability city-wide. 

As a commissioner since 2009 and a physician of more than 20 years, Dr. Rose Gowen has focused her career on issues related to smart growth, quality of life and the combating of obesity and chronic disease.

Student Project Award

The Student Project Award recognizes an outstanding class project or paper by a student or group of students in Planning Accreditation Board-accredited planning programs that contribute to advances in the field of planning.

University of Texas at Austin
Mexico Studio: Engaging Urban Informality in Metropolitan Monterrey

The Mexico Studio was made possible by a binational ConTEX collaborative grant between UT Austin and Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. ConTEX consortiums are designed to gain knowledge and develop solutions to problems that affect both Texas and Mexico. The university studio addressed issues of planning, connectivity, and community engagement in informal settlements. 

The students began the project in January 2019, visiting Monterrey to perform a stakeholder analysis of community, local, state, and federal actors that are part of the La Campana ecosystem. After meeting with the La Campana community, it was decided by the community to create a pocket park in an abandoned, debris-filled lot. The UT-Austin team helped catalyze existing community processes, provided technical advice when appropriate and solicited, conducted workshops to encourage broad community input, performed on-site labor, and formed linkages between residents that ensured the local continuity of and ownership over the project after the university’s departure.

Through co-designing and co-creating by the end of the semester the Parque de los Niños had been realized, and it was owned by the community.

Community of the Year

Given to a town, city, or county for providing an outstanding contribution to planning.

City of Mont Belvieu, Texas

The planning efforts in Mont Belvieu over only the last few years are worthy of statewide recognition. Simply put, The City of Mont Belvieu is a case study on best practices in small town planning.

Elected leadership and public/private partnerships exemplify commitment to implementing plans, rather than letting them sit them on a shelf. In 2016 the City embarked on a 100 million Capital Program through 2025. Just three years later, it has completed or is making progress towards construction for its:

  • Comprehensive Plan Update,
  • Parks and Recreation Master Plan,
  • Trails Master Plan,
  • SH 146 Corridor Revitalization Plan,
  • GIS Implementation,
  • Senior Center and Animal Shelter,
  • 200-acre park/detention facility,
  • Trails network master plan,
  • and Town Center with retail, office, and housing.

Additional capital improvements are planned and guided by their recently adopted 2035 Comprehensive Plan. What makes this more impressive is that staff have accomplished all of this in the face of extraordinary growth. Mont Belvieu has grown over 65% in the past 10 years and is the fourth fastest growing city in the Houston-Galveston region. Home to one of the largest salt dome formations in the world, the oil and gas industry is in the process of a $7.5 billion expansion that is bringing close to 20,000 temporary workers to the area and over 1,000 permanent jobs. A new housing study is underway to identify subdivision regulation updates and toolkits for jobs/ housing balance and aging-in-place.

The city also instituted a Standard for Aesthetics and Recreation Program criteria manual for stormwater detention to require more aesthetically pleasing, recreationally capable facilities.

Mont Belvieu is a dynamic city that is doing award-worthy planning, and the APA-Texas Chapter is proud to recognize the City of Mont Belvieu as the 2019 Community of the Year.


Planning Achievement Awards

In addition to the seven planning awards, the jury also selected 19 achievement award recipients for 2019. These awards recognize good planning work. Achievement award recipients are collectively recognized at the Texas planning awards ceremony.

Best Practice

This award is for a specific planning tool, practice, program, project, or process. This category emphasizes results and demonstrates how innovative and state-of-the-art planning methods and practices help to create communities of lasting value.


Economic Development Planning

This award honors efforts to transform economies and stimulate economic development in communities of all sizes.


Grassroots Initiative

Honoring an initiative that illustrates how a neighborhood, community group or other local non-governmental entity utilized the planning process to address a specific need or issue within the community.



Recognizing an effort that demonstrates a significant achievement for an area—a single community or a region—in accomplishing positive changes as a result of planning.


Public Outreach

This award honors an individual, project, or program that uses information and education about the value of planning to create greater awareness among citizens or specific segments of the public. The award celebrates how planning improves a community’s quality of life.



This award recognizes a strategy that increases the ability of a community to recover from and adapt to shocks and stresses (natural disasters, human-caused disasters, climate change, etc.), resulting in it becoming stronger and better prepared than ever before.


Transportation Planning

This award honors efforts to increase transportation choices for all populations, reducing dependence on private automobiles and helping to ease congestion and reducing climate change impacts.


Historic Preservation

This award recognizes a planning project, initiative, or endeavor that is historically significant and that may be used or accessed by the public.


Urban Design

This award honors efforts to create a sense of place, whether a street, public space, neighborhood, or campus effort.