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2016 Annual Award Winners

The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association (PA Chapter of APA) held its Annual Awards Luncheon in Allentown, PA where 350 attendees celebrated the esteemed award winners of this year’s highly competitive program. The following individuals and organizations were honored for their excellent contributions to planning in Pennsylvania.  Congratulations!

The following awards were given:

Daniel Burnham Award for Comprehensive Plan
Erie Refocused: Comprehensive Plan & Community Decision-Making Guide

City of Erie, czbLLC
The City of Erie Comprehensive Plan was adopted in March 2016.  The plan’s original data and pointed presentation bring clarity to the city’s recent weak market conditions and spreading disinvestment, and invoke the need to right-size and prioritize.  A “trade-off exercise” helped make difficult choices about deployment of limited resources. The plan provides strategies tailored to specific sub-markets.  It provides principles for decision-making, including “civic dos and don’ts,” to guide city council, departments, and local organizations in investing in and improving the city. (More information in resource library)


Planning Excellence Award – Best Practice
Zoning Ordinance of Clymer Borough

Clymer Borough, Indiana County Office of Planning & Development, Environmental Planning & Design, Indiana University of PA, Zanetta Illustrations, UpStreet Architecture
In December 2014 Clymer Borough, a rural coal town with 1,357 people, enacted its first-ever zoning ordinance.  The ordinance it chose to enact, after year of evaluation of various formats with the Indiana County Office of Planning & Development, is form-based.  The ordinance focuses on a point of pride, the community’s historic, small-town, and walkable character, and it minimizes use and other regulations perceived as burdensome.  Citizens were active in developing the ordinance which led to strong support for the ordinance and increased interest generally in community affairs and service on board and committees.(More information in resource library)


Planning Excellence Award – Implementation
Human Service Transportation Coordination Plan and Transit System Consolidation

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
In 2009 PennDOT, in collaboration with the Departments of Aging and Public Welfare and the Governor’s Office, completed a plan to improve customer service, service delivery, and cost-efficiencies in human service transportation around the state.  Implementation results have been impressive.  PennDOT helped create a training seminar to improve management skills of public transit managers.  PennDOT conducted additional studies which resulted in eight transit systems consolidating to four, and a two-county transit system assuming management of human service transit in seven additional counties, resulting in savings in the millions and expanded service.  And PennDOT purchased state-of-the-art shared-ride software being deployed statewide. (More information in resource library)


Planning Excellence Award – Plan Other Than a Comprehensive Plan
Downtown Allentown Development and Urban Design Plan

Goody Clancy, City of Allentown, Nelson/Nygaard, Barry Islett & Associates, CodaMetrics, Zimmerman/Volk Associates
Allentown commissioned this plan in 2014 to provide new direction in response to growth and major investments from the Neighborhood Improvement Zone program.  NIZ had catalyzed development of an arena, office buildings, and restaurants, but not new housing or reuse of historic buildings.  The plan shows a market for new housing and walkable, mixed-use development.  And it makes a case to NIZ administrators to invest in mixed-income housing, particularly in underutilized public property, and employ building form guidelines in projects.  To date, the design guidelines were used to refine five major development proposals, a planned parking garage was modified to include housing, and there’s been an increase in events programming in public spaces. (More information in resource library)


Planning Excellence Award – Plan Other Than a Comprehensive Plan
Millvale Pivot 2.0 EcoDistrict Plan

evolveEA, Millvale Borough, Millvale Community Development Corporation, Millvale Community Library, New Sun Rising, Sisters of Saint Francis at Mt. Alvernia
The Pivot 2.0 EcoDistrict Plan successfully continues the multi-year efforts of this classic Western Pennsylvania milltown to use its new EcoDistrict identity and culture to improve quality of life and attract new residents and businesses.  The plan emphasizes placemaking in addition to sustainability, plus building capacity for creating successes.  Results have included construction of raingardens, $1 million in funding to construct a food hub, opening of new food-related businesses, and expansion of the town’s community garden in hopes of providing up to 95% of the food needs for Millvale’s restaurants.  Plus, Millvale is pursuing construction of a solar farm to produce the community’s electricity. (More information in resource library)


Planning Excellence Award – Public Outreach
Chester County Pipeline Information Center Initiative

Chester County Planning Commission, Chester County Board of Commissioners
With Chester County located between Pennsylvania’s natural gas fields and the refineries and ports of Philadelphia, and facing proposals for more pipelines, the county initiated a major public outreach effort.  It includes three parts.  The Pipeline Information Center website has the latest information on active pipeline projects, including a map searchable by address.  The Pipeline Notification Protocol allows pipeline operators, government agencies, municipalities, and partners to share information of each other’s activities.  The Pipeline Point-of-Contact provides an experienced planner to answer public questions and address concerns. (More information in resource library)


Planning Leadership Award – Professional Planner
Sara Pandl, AICP, RLA, Lower Macungie Township

Sara Pandl has been a dynamo supporting and advocating for planning for Lower Macungie Township and the APA PA Chapter.  As Director of Planning and Community Development for the township, Sara brought new initiatives such as preserving and improving green space, improving walkability and bikability, and promoting mixed-use and village development.  Sara is a leader in the 6-municipality Southwestern Lehigh Comprehensive Plan now being updated.  Sara was a leader in reorganizing and revitalizing the Lehigh Valley/Berks Section of APA PA and has long been section chair and rep to the statewide board.  She is co-chair of the 2016 APA PA Planning Conference.


Planning Leadership Award – Elected Official
Sherry Capello, Mayor, City of Lebanon

Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello led efforts to complete the city’s recent economic development strategic plan – Grow Lebanon 2020 – and has been instrumental in other efforts to revitalize the city.  Mayor Capello ensured the planning process was inclusive.  It included a community survey, including a Spanish version.  The Mayor hosted cross-sectional working groups and engaged regional leaders.  Since plan completion, Mayor Capello has been promoting the plan at public and organization events.  She also worked to implement a plan recommendation, creation of a Business Improvement District for downtown Lebanon.


Planning Leadership Award – Emerging Planner
Christina Arlt, AICP, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

In her young career as a planner, Christina Arlt has a list of contributions that belies the notion she is an emerging planner.  At DVRPC, Christina coordinates programs providing planning information and technical assistance to planners, community officials, and volunteers.  She is active in and head of the events committee for the APA PA Southeast Section.  Between DVRPC work and APA PA volunteering, she arranges dozens of events each year for planners.  She volunteered in 2015 on one of APA’s Community Planning Assistance Teams helping Harford County, MD.  Christina is also an adjunct professor teaching a new generation of planners at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.