Tag: Pennsylvania

Dauphin County, PA hosts workshop on smart growth implementation

Hummelstown PA

Dauphin County officials and local residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on September 18 and 19, 2013 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop helped the community envision smart growth strategies in the context of Dauphin County, an area with varying levels of development density. It also helped to inform the county’s comprehensive planning process.

“We are excited about the opportunity to host this free, grant-funded technical assistance program in Dauphin County,” said Dauphin County Board of Commissioners’ Chairman Jeff Haste. “The goal is to develop local solutions to help our community grow in ways that will provide benefits now and for generations to come.”

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Spotlight on Sustainability: Envision Lehigh Valley, PA

Easton, PA
Easton, PA in the Lehigh Valley. Photo by Lehigh Valley, PA via Flickr.

A 2011 Regional Planning Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is helping Lehigh Valley, PA plan for a vibrant future.

Located conveniently between the Philadelphia and New York City metropolitan areas, the Lehigh Valley is currently home to approximately 650,000 people. The region’s population is projected to grow over the next 20 years by as much as 145,000 people, and the region wants to make sure it’s prepared for the demands such growth will bring.

Envision Lehigh Valley is doing just that. The three-year effort promoting a vibrant future for the region was made possible by a 2011 Regional Planning Grant from HUD. The project officially launched in July 2012 with a broad consortium of partners and five focus areas: affordable housing, regional economic development, access to fresh food, transportation, and climate and energy efficiency. The five focus areas will help inform a new comprehensive plan for the region.

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Exploring the economic benefits of walkable, sustainable development along the Keystone Corridor with PennDOT


Coatesville, PA is home to a station on the Amtrak Keystone Line. Photo by the Chester County Planning Commission via Flickr.

The 104-mile long Keystone Rail Line that runs from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, PA, has played a significant role in shaping the towns around its 12 stations. Now, new investments in the line are creating opportunities for development along the corridor.

In 2006, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Amtrak completed a $145.5 million infrastructure improvement program to increase train frequency and service reliability along the Keystone Corridor. These improvements have the potential to attract new development – and new economic growth – to the areas around stations along the rail line.

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Hershey, PA updates its comprehensive plan


The Hershey Theater in Derry Township, Hershey, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mr. T in DC.

Hershey is a rural town of 25,000 residents in the center of Pennsylvania, best known for being home to The Hershey Company and Hershey Park. Now, Hershey’s Derry Township is working to make sure new development benefits residents and visitors alike.

In 2010, the city’s Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to update Hershey’s 1991 Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinances to include smart growth policies. To help achieve this goal, Hershey applied for and received a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America and Clarion Associates, on Smart Growth Zoning Codes for Small Cities.

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Pennsylvania Governor signs Land Bank Act in to law

Last week Pennsylvania passed legislation that will equip communities in the state with a proven tool for fighting blight and vacancy and catalyzing economic development.

HB 1682, now known as the Land Bank Act, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in February and the Senate in October before finally being signed by Governor Tom Corbett on October 24, 2012.

The new legislation enables municipalities in Pennsylvania to create land banks, local entities that can hold and manage vacant properties and direct their reuse and redevelopment. Land banks make it easier and cheaper for prospective buyers to redevelop blighted properties into homes and businesses, ultimately reversing cycles of economic decline and getting delinquent properties back on municipal tax rolls.

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Pennsylvania’s land bank bill to come before the State Senate

A land bank can make reusing vacant buand put them back into usefficient. Image from Take Back Vacant Land.

Members of the Pennsylvania State Senate will vote this week on proposed legislation that would make it easier to buy and redevelop blighted properties in the state.

HB 1682 would enable local leaders in Pennsylvania to establish land banks, entities that can hold and manage vacant properties to help get properties into the hands of responsible new owners more quickly. The bill passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in February and now awaits consideration by the Pennsylvania State Senate.

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Pittsburgh shoots for sustainability amid an economic comeback

Pittsburgh, PA skyline. Photo taken by Flickr user wallyg.

In the 20th century, as the result of its booming steel industry, Pittsburgh was thriving as one of the largest cities in the country. But, during the 1970s and 80s, Pittsburgh lost a lot of the success that it once held, due to the collapse of that same industry. The population was cut in half and there was a long period of economic stagnation.

Today, though, Pittsburgh’s economy is on the mend. If there was a golden lining to that period of economic stagnation, it was that the city avoided excess sprawl and financially insolvent development patterns.

Community officials want to use to their advantage as they prime for a new era of prosperity in Pittsburgh. City leaders and residents are gradually reshaping the way Pittsburgh thinks about planning and design, with the goal of transforming the city into a model of sustainable development.

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Partnership in the News: The Buzz Around TIGER 2012 – Part II

The TIGER grant program provides a unique opportunity for DOT to invest in road, rail, transit, and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. Now in its 4th round, the TIGER 2012 grants are attracting media attention nation wide. Read Part I of this coverage.

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As small cities struggle, a look at the high cost of low-density development


Harrisburg, PA’s former City Hall building. The city of Harrisburg filed for bankruptcy yesterday. Photo by Flickr user Wally Gobetz.

Smart growth can reduce costs for municipal governments, and with so many towns in America struggling financially it’s time more places use these fiscally responsible strategies.

News this week from Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Florida and Maine highlight the fact that many small cities are struggling to make ends meet. Cash-strapped and unable to cover costs, many municipalities are tightening their belts and some are raising taxes. Most notably, the city of Harrisburg, PA filed for bankruptcy yesterday, unable to generate enough revenue to meet its expenses.

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2011 Commonwealth Awards: paying tribute to Pennsylvania’s smart growth visionaries


Exceptional things are taking place all over the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. To honor excellent projects as well as outstanding individuals, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania is currently accepting entries for its 2011 Commonwealth Awards. The awards recognize policies, initiatives and projects in Pennsylvania that have revitalized existing communities, invested in smart growth, preserved historic and natural resources, implemented land use planning, and/or conserved financial resources.

Individual awards (PDF) are given to citizens or public officials who provide leadership or contributions to their community, take initiative in promoting smart growth principles, advance the objectives of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, and dedicate service to the public or their community. In 2010, awards were given to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler for his leadership at the agency; Jonathon Schmidt of the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project; and John Milius, who recently rotated off the Cranberry Township Board of Supervisors.

The Commonwealth’s Design Awards (PDF) are given to mixed-use developments, adaptive reuse commercial buildings, affordable housing, town center development, historic preservation projects, regional land use, site/master plans and more.

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