Planning for the EVolution in charging stations

Newly installed Blink Charging Station in Traverse City

As the number of EV (electric vehicle) charging stations have increased, their design and appearance have grown in style and variety. While many EV charging stations are currently accessory uses on the site of other uses like hotels, theaters, parking decks/lots, offices, retailers, and restaurants; freestanding (independent from other uses on the site) EV charging stations are increasingly coming into vogue. From a visual and/or customer service standpoint, an EV charging station should accomplish the following:

  • Be easy to find and/or see without being obtrusive
  • Be innovative, while also being pleasantly designed
  • Be conducive with its surroundings
  • Be easy and safe to use
  • Be competitive in terms of the cost of electricity (some EV stations offer free charging)

However, from a planning and zoning standpoint, there are a number of other issues to consider when incorporating EV charging stations into your code or when reviewing a specific site proposal. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Location on an existing business site as an accessory or ancillary use or on an independent site itself. Also, the location of any ancillary equipment associated with the charging station (see below).
ChargePoint Charging Station with ancillary equipment to the right of the charging units and landscaping incorporated – Source:
  • Setbacks from the property line, clear visions zones, loading zones, buildings, etc.
  • Parking spaces dedicated to EV chargers and whether they count towards minimum or maximum parking space requirements – this may partially be determined by the number of EV charging stations being proposed, as well as the other uses on the site.
EVgo Charging Station in New Jersey
  • Landscaping be complimentary and aesthetically pleasing without hiding the units from view.
Landscaping adjacent to an EV charging station without blocking the view or access – Source:
  • Signage on the units or directing drivers to them, as well as the necessary signage limiting the parking in front of the units to EVs for recharging purposes.
  • Safety and protection of the charging units and customers using them – see the bollards included with EVgo unit design below.
EVgo Charging Units with built-in protective bollards – Source:
  • Lighting for the charging site. While sharp looking, the neon-lit Electrify America units in Vancouver, Washington (see photo below) may run afoul of many zoning codes
Electrify America Station in Vancouver, WA – Source:
  • Weather protection, including standard roof or solar roofs, as well as the need for these to meet setbacks.
Resla V3 Supercharger Station located in Las Vegas – Source:
EV Charging Station prototype – Source:
  • Power generation on site via solar panels. See the photos both above and below for examples, including the off-grid design shown below.
Electrify America off-grid charging station – Source:
  • Advertising provided on the units or at the site. While the name of the specific EV manufacturer or provider may not an issue, many communities prohibit video and/or audio advertising at fuel pumps. This would likely also be true at EV Charging Station – see the Volta unit(s) below, which offer free EV charging in exchange for watching advertisements.
Volta Charging Station – free charging, but with advertisements – Source:
  • Adaptive reuse of former gas stations for EV charging. As more fossil fuel companies enter the market, this could become an increasingly common trend. BP, Total, and Shell are all currently involved in the EV market.
Former gas station/now an EV charging station in Takoma Park, MD – Source:


Below are some additional photos of other types of EV charging stations.

Unroofed Tesla Supercharger Station – Source:
Blink Charging Station designs – Source:
Red E Charging Station designs
Rivian Waypoint Charging Station design – Source:

For additional ideas and recommendations, here are some useful resources:

Posted in adaptive reuse, advertising, Alternative energy, Alternative transportation, architecture, branding, Cars, cities, climate change, commerce, Communications, consumerism, culture, economic development, electric vehicles, energy, environment, futurism, infrastructure, land use, landscape architecture, light pollution, marketing, pictures, planning, pollution, product design, Renewable Energy, spatial design, Statistics, sustainability, tourism, Trade, traffic, transportation, Travel, urban design, urban planning, video, visual pollution, zoning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“RESET” – Where planning intersects sci-fi and John Lennon


Imagine if you will, a place and time where society has barely survived nuclear armageddon (the Last War) and reestablished itself in four (4) distinct, unique, climate-controlled, and self-sustained cities in the Mojave Desert – Callisto, Lysithea, Europa, and Elara. This utopian society was founded by an omnipotent Planner by employing wisdom derived from the lyrics of John Lennon’s most enduring song – Imagine.

CAUTION – Potential spoilers beyond this point.


RESET presents the reader with a society where war and conflict are non-existent; where a job is set aside for each adult; where food, housing, and other needs are provided; and where there is no need for possessions. The only catch is…your mind must be wiped clean every four (4) years to erase all learned hatred and biases in order to maintain a lasting peace. As a result, you have to start afresh with a new name, new life, new home, and new job pursuant to the Tabula Rasa (blank slate). The only problem is, the Planner may have underestimated the desire and tenacity of the very folks John Lennon is reaching out to in his lyrics – the dreamers:

“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky

Imagine all the people
Livin’ for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Livin’ life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”

Source: LyricFind – Songwriter: John Winston Lennon

This is the premise of RESET, an entertaining first science fiction novel by Sarina Dahlan that was released in May 2021. The story explores life and love after nuclear armageddon and how the citizens reside and react to their lives being reset anew every four (4) years.

Sarina Dahlan – Source:

To this retired planner, the concept of a post-apocalyptic society being established by some great Planner seems like an fun idea for a novel.  For others who prefer less government or oversight, this may send a chill right down the length of their spine. For anyone in love or who has ever been in love, the thought of losing all memory of loved one to a mind wipe can be both devastating and heartbreaking…but is this expected memory wipe devastating enough to overturn an established and peaceful ideology?

Not wanting to give too much away, many planners and science-fiction fans should enjoy reading this exciting new book. While some aspects of the story could be enhanced, the book is thoroughly captivating and the speculative premise is quite intriguing. Personally, I rated it four stars out of five and will definitely be looking forward to reading subsequent sci-fi works by Ms. Dahlan.  Peace!


If you are interested in reading RESET, a text link to its webpage on* is provided below.

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using this link to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted in archaeology, art, atomic age, book reviews, books, cities, Civil Rights, civility, culture, entertainment, futurism, government, health, history, Housing, human rights, humanity, literature, Love, planning, reading, Science, Science fiction, songs, spatial design, sustainability, urban planning, Women, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Primary interstates that are now bypasses of major urban areas

This list identifies those primary interstate highways (one or two digit) that have over time become outer bypasses for major urban areas. This list does not include bypasses of small and mid-sized urban areas, nor inner bypasses that now incorporate primary interstates like I-95 around Boston and Washington.


As these routes have attracted more traffic, they have become increasingly congested, especially if they are beneficial to regional and cross-country truck traffic. Interstates 5, 12, 15, 69, 78, 81, and 84 all fall into this category. Most of these have seen exponential growth in the development of distribution and fulfillment centers. Connecting interstates and other freeways are then used to transport goods into the major markets that have been bypassed.

Interstate 5 – eastern bypass of the San Francisco Bay Area

  • links – I-80, I-205 and I-580

Interstate 8 – southern bypass of Phoenix

  • links – I-10 and future I-11

Interstate 11 – once completed, a new western bypass of Phoenix

  • links – I-10

Interstate 12 – northern bypass of New Orleans

  • links – I-10 (2), I-55, I-59, and Pontchartrain Causeway

Interstate 15 – eastern bypass of Los Angeles

  • links – I-10,

Interstate 39 – western bypass of Chicago and Milwaukee

  • links – I-80, I-88, and I-90 for Chicago
  • links – I-43 and I-94 for Milwaukee

Interstate 40 – future northern bypass of Los Angeles and the Inland Empire

  • links – I-15 for the Inland Empire
  • links – I-5 and CA-99 for Los Angeles

Interstate 43 – northern bypass of Chicago

  • links – I-90, I-94, and US 12

Interstate 69 – western and northern bypass of Detroit/Ann Arbor/Windsor

  • links – I-75, I-94 (2), I-96, and US 23

Interstate 70 – northern bypass of Washington

  • links – I-270 and US 29

Interstate 78 – northern bypass of Philadelphia

  • links – I-476 and PA-309

Interstate 81 – western bypass of Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City

  • links – I-66, I-70, and VA-7 for Washington
  • links – I-70 for Baltimore
  • links – I-76 and US 30 for Philadelphia
  • links – I-78 and I-84 for New York City

Interstate 83 – western bypass of Philadelphia

  • links – I-76, I-95, and US 30

Interstate 84 – northern bypass of New York City

  • links – I-86, I-87, I-684, US 7, US 9, and Taconic State Parkway

Interstate 97 – eastern bypass of Washington

  • I-595 (US 50) and MD-3


If this topic is of interest to you, heres a book that addresses the interstate highway system and its impacts that is available via*

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using this link to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted in business, Cars, cities, commerce, distribution, ecommerce, economic development, geography, highways, history, infrastructure, land use, logistics, Maps, planning, shipping, spatial design, sprawl, Statistics, topography, tourism, Trade, traffic, transportation, Travel, trucking, urban planning | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How do you solve a logistics problem like Chicago?

If you have traveled through metropolitan Chicago by car, truck, train, or plan, you know how difficult it is to negotiate. Being situated near the base of Lake Michigan makes it a natural choke point for travel and distribution. As a result, congestion on the expressways, railways, and runways is a near constant problem, unless you don’t mind passing through in the middle of the night. And… unfortunately, we don’t have Reverend Mother from The Sound of Music to help us solve this problem.

What amazes this author is regardless of the delays and costs associated with them, few paradigm-shifting alternatives have been attempted. Add in the ever-rising charges along the tollways and tollroads in the area, and the cost(s) operate continue to increase. Meanwhile, massive distribution and fulfillment centers continue to rise, particularly along and near the Interstate 80 (I-80) corridor. Railroads keep trying to untangle their spaghettiesque mess, and O’Hare International Airport is a special nightmare unto itself, particularly in winter. So, what can be done…if anything?

Here are a couple of ideas, some of which may sound ludacris, but given the number of migraines that emirate from the Windy City, perhaps they are not so far-fetched.



To this planner, the absolute worst highway bottleneck on a consistent basis occurs along the southern periphery of Chicago – the I-80/90/294 corridor from east of Gary (near Portage), Indiana past Joliet. Known locally as the Borman Expressway in Indiana and the Tri-State Tollway in Illinois, there’s rarely a time when this stretch is not choked with traffic, much of it cross-country truck traffic. In September 2020, the 24-hour traffic counts showed more than 214,000 vehicles per day using the highway near Kennedy Avenue in Indiana, up from 189,000 in 2015 and 177,000 in 2012. Counts greater than 200,000 vehicles per day are commonplace along the Borman Expressway. Numbers for the Tri-State are only slightly lower – in the 180,000 to 185,000 vehicles per day range. However, the inclusion of toll booths can and does create extra congestion, particularly when factoring in those not familiar with the system.


Unlike the western segment of the Tri-State Tollway, expressway alternatives do not exist unless you wish to drive through downtown Chicago, which can be a nightmare unto itself. From time-to-time ideas have been suggested of a new bypass expressway arcing further south (see above). While this has some merit for linking I-65 to I-94 near Michigan City or possibly linking I-65 to I-80 or I-355 near Joliet, it is questionable if this would solve the problem of heavy east-west thru-traffic along I-80 because it requires truckers and drivers to travel substantially out of their way. Suggested alternative solutions include:

  • Construct a truck-only priority corridor that adjoins or closely parallels I-80, between Portage, IN and New Lenox, IL. This would be similar to the truck-only freeway proposed between Atlanta and Macon, Georgia to alleviate congestion along I-75 there. The rationale for no tolls is that as they increase over time, tolls tend to divert interstate truck traffic onto nearby state and federal highways. An example of this occurs along the Indiana Toll Road (I-80/90), where the rates have gotten to the point where many trucks don’t bother using the toll road and take either US 20 or US 6 instead. This traffic puts added pressure and congestion onto highways that were not designed for such a heavy burden. It also hurts the toll road as it loses revenue. If the goal is to move goods more efficiently, then there needs to be a carrot to draw the traffic off of the currently congested expressways and onto truck-only/priority routes.
  • Add/designate truck only lanes along the I-355 Tollway. This should be done to entice thru-truck traffic away from the highly congested western portions of Tri-State Tollway (I-294). More available space along this corridor would allow for a less costly redesign of I-355 incorporating truck-only lanes in either direction.
  • Remove the toll road segment along I-80/294 between the Indiana line and where I-80 splits off from the Tri-State Tollway east of Joliet. Any benefits attained by this small segment of toll road is not worth hassles and congestion it creates.
  • Completely rebuild or replace I-80 through Joliet. If you have driven though here, you known this segment is extremely outdated. Even if the truck-only expressway is not built, this must be done.


“Chicago is the leading hub for handling containers arriving via train from West Coast ports, where the boxes are loaded on to trucks for moves to the final destination or loaded on to another train.

But now, the Wall Street Journal reports, the volumes of containers are so high they are arriving faster than the can be processed at the rail yards. Another issue is a lack of chassis to move containers from rail yards to loading points.

Rather than a single movement from train to truck, containers now are lifted off, placed in storage and then moved a second or even third time before eventually exiting the yard.”

Source: (July 27, 2021)

Back in 2013, this blog author suggested that bypass container ports should be established between Wisconsin and Michigan as a way of avoiding the lengthy delays and bottlenecks taking place in Chicago. Such a link between Milwaukee and Muskegon or Grand Haven would be particularly competitive. Given the unresolved delays noted above and the comments below, it would seem that this is a doable and viable solution even eight (8) years later.


“In response, Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, the two main rail carriers of containers coming from West Coast ports, have both limited container shipments into their terminals in the Chicago area. 

What’s more, some shippers and logistics firm have been diverting containers by truck or rail to other Midwestern transfer hubs, such as Kansas City, St. Louis, or Memphis. That increases costs and adds more complexity. And these other transfer points are also choking on volumes, though perhaps not as bad as Chicago.”

Source: (July 27, 2021)


O’Hare and Midway are constantly clogged with flights and its only becomes worse when bad weather, particularly snow or ice occur. Here are several suggestions to address these problem:

  • Add heating coils beneath runways. Runways are amazing pricey to build, upgrade, or extend, so when you are spending the money anyhow, add heating coils to melt snow and ice. Over time, the cost savings from reduced plowing, delays, cancelled flights, and airport closures should be substantial.
  • Redirect air freight. Little or no air freight should be coming through O’Hare and Midway as they take up too many precious landing/take-off slots, unless air freight flights are strictly limited to overnight (post 10 pm/pre 6:00 am). Instead, Chicago/Rockford International Airport, Gary/Chicago International Airport, South Bend International Airport, and/or Kenosha Regional Airport could be established as the air freight hubs serving greater Chicago, much in the same way that DuPage Airport is utilized as a primary business and/or charter hub. Chicago/Rockford is already an important regional hub for UPS, so, it would not be that much of a stretch to establish more air freight operations there to serve the western portions of the metro area, while Kenosha with upgrades could serve the north, and either Gary or South Bend the east. Gary is currently served by UPS for air freight, while South Bent is served by FedEx, FedEx Feeder, and UPS. If necessary, Greater Kankakee Airport could be upgraded to serve the southern parts of the metro area. Both Gary and South Bend have the advantage of being connected to the South Shore Line commuter railway.
Runway congestion at O’Hare – Source:


Posted in air travel, airport planning, airports, aviation, business, Cars, cities, commerce, distribution, ecommerce, economic development, economics, geography, Great Lakes, highways, industry, infrastructure, land use, logistics, Maps, Passenger rail, pictures, planning, rail, Railroads, shipping, spatial design, Statistics, topography, Trade, traffic, transportation, Travel, trucking, urban planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Home Depot’s e-commerce direct fulfillment centers

Unlike distribution centers which mostly supply brick and mortar stores, fulfillment centers are meant to send out online orders s quickly as possible to customers. The list below identifies the e-commerce direct fulfillment centers opened by The Home Depot to date.

Locust Grove, GA1,100,0002014
Perris, CA859,0002014
Troy, OH1,600,0002015
Dallas, TX2,300,0002020
East Point, GA?2021


Posted in business, cities, commerce, consumerism, distribution, ecommerce, economic development, geography, history, infrastructure, land use, logistics, planning, shipping, spatial design, Statistics, Trade, transportation, trucking, urban planning | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ten planning lessons they didn’t teach you in school

The following insights are not covered sufficiently in planning school. The planning community should work with accredited schools to assure that future graduates are aware of these issues and are better equipped to handle/address them. These are presented in no particular order of preference.

  • Politics, personality differences, and backstabbing can and will create roadblocks in your projects, goals, and career. Be wary, remain calm, and learn the ebb and flow of the office before diving into uncharted waters.
  • You will be regularly approached (sometimes accosted) by friends, neighbors, and citizens outside of the work place on local planning/zoning concerns, especially if you work in the public sector and your meetings are televised. Try to remain calm and hear them out. Often, they just want to be heard.
  • Many communities don’t give a rip if you are AICP or not. That does not mean it isn’t worth it, but don’t expect them to be dazzled by the fact that you attained it.
  • When it comes down to a difference of opinion between you and the community attorney on a planning or zoning issue, the vast majority of the time community will follow the attorney’s advice. This is because they are the one who has to defend any decision in court.
  • Private sector planners spend just about as much time selling and billing for their services as they do actually planning. If you don’t want to be a salesperson and a bill collector, public sector planning is the better choice.
  • There is a lot of burnout amongst planners, particularly in the private sector, but this is also true in the public sector. It is important to try to set clear boundaries between work and home, as well as to find non-planning activities that you enjoy away from work. Please note – setting clear boundaries can be a sticky wicket with some employers.
  • Departments within your organization with little or no planning/zoning knowledge can and will create unforeseen hiccups in the planning and zoning processes. Try to meet with them early in the review process whether it is a text amendment or a site plan. Regardless, surprises will happen – try to take them in stride.
  • There is a palpable distrust of planners out there (we tend to symbolize big government) – not only by the public, but even among some co-workers and a surprising number of elected officials. Be wary, careful in what you say/do, and listen to all sides with an open mind (not easy).
  • The depth and breadth of the unfortunate pages of planning history are appalling – a bright light needs to be shone upon these injustices. Issues that need to be covered more deeply in school include, but are not limited to racism, sexism, gentrification, highway displacement, injustice, inequity, privatization, environmental degradation, restrictive covenants, urban renewal (removal), and many, many more.
  • You will in all likelihood appear on live television for meetings during your career and will also need to learn how to deal/work with the media. This is a critical aspect of community planning that needs more thoughtful attention in school. In short, always think before you speak and consider the ramifications of your words and actions.

Posted in civics, Civil Rights, civility, colleges, Communications, culture, feminism, gentrification, health, Highway displacement, homelessness, inclusiveness, injustice, land use, opinion, planning, politics, Privatization, racism, Sexism, social equity, urban planning, zoning | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stunning art along Detroit’s Dequindre Cut

We had the pleasure of biking the length of Detroit’s wonderful Dequindre Cut Greenway in both directions today. The murals and graffiti art are magnificent. Here are some photographs of just a few of these amazing works. Enjoy!

Posted in archaeology, architecture, art, bicycling, Biking, Cities, civility, culture, diversity, downtown, economic development, entertainment, fitness, fun, health, hiking, historic preservation, history, humanity, inclusiveness, infrastructure, land use, landscape architecture, pictures, placemaking, planning, recreation, revitalization, spatial design, third places, topography, tourism, trails, Transportation, Travel, urban design, urban planning, walking | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Geography of’s fulfillment centers

The table included in this post lists the current and future fulfillment centers developed by, an e-commerce pet products company. As is clearly evident, there has been a rapid expansion of fulfillment centers since 2014.

Chewy fulfillment center -Salisbury, NC –

Pennsylvania has seen the greatest amount of development with five (5) fulfillment centers since 2014, three (3) which are in Northeast Pennsylvania metropolitan area of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Two (2) others are located in the Harrisburg area.

Chewy fulfillment center – Wilkes-Barre, PA – Source:

The most unique of these fulfillment centers is being established in Pittston, Pennsylvania for the rapid distribution of pet medical supplies and animal pharmaceuticals.

Mechanicsburg, PA602,0002014
Dallas, TX663,0002017
Goodyear, AZ802,6702018
Ocala, FL600,0002018
Clayton, IN750,000 +/-?
Sparks, NV795,0002018
Dayton, OH690,5002019
Wilkes-Barre, PA808,0002020
Archbald, PA700,0002020
Salisbury, NC700,0002020
Lewisberry, PA732,0002021
Pittston, PA (pet medical supplies)155,0002021
Belton, MO796,0002022


Posted in Animals, branding, business, cities, commerce, consumerism, distribution, ecommerce, economic development, Food, geography, health, Health care, history, infrastructure, land use, logistics, marketing, Pets, planning, shipping, shopping, spatial design, Statistics, technology, Trade, transportation, trucking, urban planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crafting Michaels nationwide distribution network

Michaels Distribution Center – New Lenox, IL – Source:

The following table lists the distribution centers, their location, size, and year opened for Michaels stores. The company began operations in 1973 in Dallas, Texas. As can be seen from the table, there are now eight (8) distribution facilities nationwide, with the most recent two (2) opening in 2020. Their largest distribution center is located in Tracy, California, east of SanFrancisco/Oakland/San Jose and south of Sacramento.

Jacksonville, FL704,3001995
Lancaster, CA762,250pre-2002
Hazleton, PA692,000pre-2002
Haslet, TX423,000pre-2002
New Lenox, IL690,0002004
Centralia, WA718,6002007
Tracy, CA980,0002020
Berlin, NJ750,0002020


Posted in architecture, art, business, cities, commerce, consumerism, distribution, ecommerce, economic development, geography, history, infrastructure, land use, logistics, planning, shipping, shopping, spatial design, Trade, transportation, trucking, urban planning, zoning | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday tunes: Rest in peace, Charlie Watts (1941-2021)

Charlie Watts (1941-2021) Source:

The music world was saddened today by the sudden and unexpected loss of Charlie Watts, who was The Rolling Stones dummer since 1963. He will be sadly missed by generations of music lovers, including me. Rest in peace and love, dear Sir.

Below is an image of the best album cover ever released by the Stones and an endearing image of how many of us will always want to remember him.

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