2014 Annual Award Winners

The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association (PA Chapter of APA) held its Annual Awards Luncheon in Philadelphia, PA where 500 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 a Comprehensive Plan

Dream Dormont: 2013 Comprehensive Plan
Borough of Dormont
     Interface Studio, Sam Schwartz Engineering, Duane Morris Government Strategies

Dream Dormont grew out of a desire by officials to redefine the borough and set a fresh approach for the future. The plan is definitely fresh in its look and ideas. It recommends capitalizing on affordable, small-town living, working, and shopping only 15 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh via the “T”; rethinking streets as public spaces; and using creative new parking options and green infrastructure. Public input events attended by over 200 people were held at a historic theater and offered a fun way to discuss the borough’s issues. The plan paints the new Dormont as a place steeped in historic charm that embraces the next generation and progressive ideas. (More information in resource library)

Planning Excellence Award – Implementation

      Green City, Clean Waters Plan
Philadelphia Water Department

Green City, Clean Waters is Philadelphia’s innovative plan that calls for green stormwater infrastructure to reduce combined sewer overflow by 85% and drastically reduce related pollutants. The plan lays out a 25-year agenda of public investment, private property retrofits, and regulations on new development. The aim is to redirect runoff from over 9,000 acres of impervious surface away from the sewer system and instead to irrigate vegetation and infiltrate into the soil. Since 2011, the Philadelphia Water Department has completed 97 public projects, provided over $14 million in retrofit incentives, and overseen stormwater management on 396 new development sites, with hundreds more projects in design or under construction. (More information in resource library)

Planning Excellence Award – Best Practice

       Montgomery County Planning Commission Model Sign Ordinance
             Montgomery County Planning Commission

A model sign ordinance is the latest in the outstanding series of model ordinances from Montgomery County Planning Commission. The 132-page document describes various types of signs and current sign issues with photographs and graphics, and provides model ordinance language with helpful sidebar comments. The model ordinance is supported by thorough research into best practices, federal and state laws, and recent leading court decisions. Local code officials and attorneys provided input. The model ordinance is currently being used by local officials in preparing revisions to local signage provisions and is available to anyone on the MCPC website. (More information in resource library)

Planning Excellence Award – Implementation

     Emerald View Park Trail Plan
          Mount Washington Community Development Corporation

Emerald View Park atop Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington is home to one of the nation’s most beautiful vistas. In 2010, the city and Mount Washington CDC completed a plan for a 19-mile trail system in the park and through green spaces around the neighborhood. There were large challenges – difficult terrain, homeless encampments, and illegal dumps. Already 10 miles have been built. Work was primarily accomplished by the Emerald Trail Corps, a workforce development program for adults, and Student Conservation Associates. The trails have become a neighborhood asset providing public space for neighborly interaction, and are growing as a visitor attraction within ½ mile of downtown Pittsburgh. (More information in resource library)

Planning Excellence Award – Public Outreach

       Pennsylvania Land Trust Association

       PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources

 ConservationTools.org is Pennsylvania’s premier web resource library for conservation and land use best practices. It includes over 1,000 library items – reports, articles, sample ordinances, and guidelines. There are introductory profiles and guides prepared by experts in conservation, planning, and law. The site also has a database of experts that can be consulted for help. ConservationTools.org is free for users. It has user-friendly topic directories and a search engine, and invites users to share comments and their own best practices. (More information in resource library)

Planning Student Project Award

    Small Legacy Cities, Equity, and a Changing Economy
            University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Department of City Planning
                   (Graduate Planning Studio)

 Small Legacy Cities, Equity, and a Changing Economy is a policy and strategy report prepared by Penn graduate planning students for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The report addresses to what extent traditional economic development projects equitably benefit low-moderate income communities. Three nearby cities were used as case studies – Wilmington, DE, Lancaster, PA, and Bethlehem, PA. Students did an extraordinary job developing a methodology for assessing equity, crafting policy or program interventions, and measuring impact. The methodology provides a blueprint for cities interested in building equity into their future development plans. (More information in resource library)

Planning Leadership Award – Professional Planner

     Donna J. Carney, Philadelphia Citizens Planning Institute

 Donna Carney is the founding director of the Philadelphia Citizens Planning Institute. CPI was formed in 2010 to enlighten civic leaders of changes as the city updated its comprehensive plan and zoning code. Under Carney’s leadership, it has grown to a larger role of making planning, and how to influence plans, understandable and accessible to the public at large. CPI has trained 245 citizen planners (from over 600 applications) representing over 400 organizations and over 100 neighborhoods, and delivered other training and presentations to over 800 people. CPI is self-supported by public and private grants – principally raised by Carney – by modest fees, and by 72 volunteer instructors and panelists.

Planning Leadership Award – Elected Official

    Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, City of Philadelphia

 Councilwoman Quiñones-Sánchez has been the Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s greatest ally on city council. She has been an advocate for neighborhood revitalization and a long-term approach to planning for development. She introduced and fought for the bill which passed in January 2014 establishing a land bank to restructure how the city deals with vacant, blighted properties. She is leading the charge to update the city’s zoning maps, introducing bills that would implement 14 of the 19 zoning recommendations from the Philadelphia2035 plan for the Frankford neighborhood. And she and her staff worked to get $340,000 in renovations to neighborhood parks, $200,000 in storefront improvements, and a $355,000 ArtPlace America grant to create public spaces through art. She serves on numerous committees and boards dealing with city and neighborhood development issues.

Planning Leadership Award – Distinguished Service

    Michael N. Kaiser, AICP

 In a remarkable 50 years with the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, Mike Kaiser significantly shaped the affairs of the Lehigh Valley. He led development and regular updating of the two-county (Lehigh and Northampton) comprehensive plan. He advocated for preservation of farmland and natural resources, affordable housing, and improved transportation and infrastructure. Under his direction, LVPC created a series of smart growth model regulations, and helped municipalities prepare comprehensive plans and zoning and subdivision ordinances. Kaiser was active in statewide affairs as a member of the Pennsylvania State Planning Board, president of the Pennsylvania Planning Association, chair of PPA’s Growth Management Subcommittee which contributed to major MPC amendments passed in 2000, and a purveyor of no-nonsense planning wisdom to various statewide and regional audiences. A colleague praised Mike Kaiser as “a man who should be remembered for being heroic in his vision and pursuit of that vision.”