Pennsylvania Chapter of APA 2009 Annual Award Winners

2009 Awards Ceremony

The PA Chapter of APA recently held its Annual Awards Program at the 2009 Annual Conference in King of Prussia, PA. Congratulations to the winners:

Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan

The Cranberry Plan: Shaping Cranberry Township – Cranberry Township, PA

Changing the direction of development in a suburban community is extremely difficult, both politically and physically. The Cranberry Plan, using an extensive public participation process, a comprehensive impact analysis, and an in-depth summary of municipal operations, effectively accomplished this goal by showing how good planning would both improve the community as a whole and municipal finances

Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice for a Plan

Model Zoning Ordinance: Residential Office District – Montgomery County Planning Commission

Creating master plans and community consensus is a critical part of the planning process. However, once a vision is established and policies are formulated, the plan must be implemented. Many communities flounder during the implementation process, and plans end up sitting on a shelf. To help municipalities implement effective zoning for transitional areas, the Montgomery County Planning Commission has created a well-designed and innovative residential office district that requires compatible development with minimal traffic impacts.

Planning Excellence Award for Innovation in Regional Planning

The Imagine West Shore Joint Comprehensive Plan – Camp Hill, Lemoyne, and Wormleysburg

Planning across political boundaries is always difficult. In Pennsylvania, regional and county comprehensive plans can help support this process, but it is up to local municipalities to do the nitty-gritty planning work. Camp Hill, Lemoyne, and Wormleysburg Boroughs have done this by creating an effective and implementable plan.

Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach

Bucks County Watershed Protection Education and Community Awareness Project – Bucks County Planning Commission

Public outreach to local decision makers is often difficult, particularly given the busy schedules of local elected officials and planning commission members. To reach key decision makers, Bucks County organized a tour of stormwater best management practices and provided excellent supporting documentation. This approach allowed participants to see in person how well-designed stormwater facilities function.

Planning Achievement Award for a Hard-Won Victory

The Village at Pine – Township of Pine

Over multiple decades, the Township of Pine has debated the future fate of a large tract in the heart of the community. After much back and forth and many alternative development scenarios, the township and developer compromised on a layout with a walkable mixed use design that features extensive natural feature preservation. For not giving up on this important site, the township eventually won a victory for its residents and the community as a whole.

Journalism Award

Jeffrey Barg

For many of us, journalism means newspapers, sometimes radio or television. However, for younger planners, journalism goes beyond these basic media to include the internet with its web sites, news pages, blogs, and social networks. Jeffrey Barg, an ex-editor for a weekly Philadelphia newspaper, has made the jump to this new realm, writing a column for the Planetizen Interchange Blog. With humor and insight, his work focused on the trials and tribulations of a new planning student at the University of Pennsylvania program.

Student Project Award

Neighborhood and Community Indicator Systems – Capstone Seminar in Planning, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh

One of the backbones of planning work is data gathering and analysis. Too often, this basic need is ignored by local municipalities or superficially treated by planners. A student team from the Capstone Seminar in Planning, Governance, and Economic Development at the University of Pittsburgh has conducted an in-depth analysis of data needs for the Turtle Creek Valley Council of Governments. This analysis focused on how Neighborhood and Community Indicator Systems, which use computer data and mapping, can be used by local municipalities without extensive administrative capabilities.

Planning Leadership Award for an Elected Official Planning Advocate

Donald T. Cunningham, Jr.

To be effective, planning needs elected official advocates. Donald Cunningham, the Lehigh County Chief Executive and former Bethlehem mayor, has been a strong leader in the Lehigh Valley, particularly in encouraging regionalism by creating a Congress of Governments for Lehigh County. In addition, he has consistently championed smart growth, urban revitalization, and open space preservation. Through a long career, Donald Cunningham has proved that he is a passionate advocate for good, effective planning.

John R. Harris

Townships that take planning and open space preservation seriously typically have strong local advocates. John Harris has been that type of advocate for Worcester Township. Over the past twenty years, serving on the township planning commission, as an open space coordinator, and as an elected supervisor, John Harris has led the charge for easement purchases, park expansions, comprehensive plan updates, and zoning changes, especially a land conservation overlay district with a transfer of development rights option.

Pike County Commissioners

Pike County, located in the northeastern corner of the state, has easy access to northern New Jersey and the New York metro area. Because of this, Pike County has been the fastest growing county in Pennsylvania over the past 30 years. Recognizing the need for good planning to deal effectively with this tremendous growth, the commissioners have steadfastly supported planning by adding staff to the county planning department; adopting a new county comprehensive plan; supporting a successful bond referendum for open space preservation; and adopting a new open space, greenway, and recreation plan.

Jeffrey Propps

At times, especially when growth pressure is looming, as it is in south-central Pennsylvania, communities need to assess their land use policies to see if changes are needed. New people, such as Jeffrey Propps, who was elected as a supervisor in Washington Township in 2006, bring a different and fresh perspective to this assessment. Using an extensive public participation process, Jeffrey Propps led the township to the adoption of a new comprehensive plan in 2008 and is currently heading up efforts to implement this plan with new zoning and subdivision ordinances.