APA PA Chapter News: August

The Latest News from PA Chapter of APA…

The Chapter is here to serve the needs of our members, and this month we highlight a number of our services. The big news is that registration for the annual conference in Scranton is open! The conference isn’t the only training we offer, and we encourage you to take part in a Webinar Wednesday, a planning webcast event, or a FEMA Coffee Break webinar. You can also get involved in one of our committees, like the PA Communities in PA Task Force. Read about these activities and more in this month’s newsletter. Enjoy!

Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas in the Susquehanna River Basin
September 6 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Groundwater recharge is the primary means of ensuring water is available in aquifers for water supply and as base flow to streams.  Different geologic materials, structures, and land uses all influence the rate in which water can recharge underlying aquifers. This study incorporated factors influencing recharge through standardization and weighting-assignments using the MCDA-GIS framework to identify land-surface areas that provide a large fraction of recharge. Results from the tool will aid in planning, developing and/or prioritizing preservation, restoration, or enhancement projects.  Protecting and enhancing Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas, will assist with drought resiliency, improving water quality, and preserving water supply for future use. Deadline to register is September 5.

CM credit is pending approval. You must attend the webinar live to earn CM credit.

**The Pennsylvania Chapter is not responsible for the materials or opinions of the speaker(s) you will hear**

Register for Annual Conference!

This year’s conference, Electrifying The Future With Our Past, will be held at Hilton Scranton and Conference Center October 15-17, 2023. A reception will be held at the historic Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple on Sunday evening. A planner’s social will be held on Monday evening at the Bourbon Bar in the Hilton, followed by a self-guided tour of locations from The Office

Early bird registration is approaching on September 15, so don’t wait! You can pay by check or credit card. The last day to register for the conference is October 6. There will not be onsite registration.

This year’s conference also includes:

  • Over 45 classroom sessions
  • Opening Session with Maria MacDonald
  • State of the Chapter Address
  • Annual Awards
  • Tuesday Plenary with John Kamp and James Rojas with Place It!
  • Pitkin Lecture with Anthony Flint
  • 6 Mobile workshops: including two recent Great Place Award Winners- Downtown Pittston and McDade Park
  • Sustainability/Resilience, Equity, Law and Ethic sessions available
  • and so much!

Make your hotel reservation. The easiest way to make a reservation is online, but you can also call 570-343-3000 and mention “PA Chapter of APA” room block (conference dates October 15-17, 2022). The rate is good until September 18, 2023, but don’t wait to make your reservation. The chapter only has a certain number of rooms in our block and once it’s full, it’s FULL; so don’t wait…book now. 

A HUGE THANK YOU to our sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers for supporting the annual conference.
If you’re still interested in supporting the conference, let us know as soon as possible…spots are filling up fast. The APA PA Annual Conference provides a unique and effective opportunity to showcase your work and capabilities to planning professionals and policy makers from across the Commonwealth. It’s also one of the ways to support planning in Pennsylvania by providing valuable networking, education, and development for planners. Check out sponsorship brochure for more information.

Planning Webcast Series

Earn over 50 CM credits each year online – at no cost to members of participating organizations that support the Planning Webcast Series. Webcasts take place live on Fridays from 1:00 – 2:30 PM ET and are worth 1.5 CM credits (for live viewing only) unless otherwise noted. More information online.

For APA members that need CM credit for on-demand education sessions are available. The Planning Webcast Series, sponsored by APA Chapters & Divisions, are offering credit till the end of the year (12/31/2023). More information online.


The Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute (PMPEI) courses are here for you if you are a local planning commissioner, zoning board member, zoning administrator, elected official or municipal planning staff. PMPEI, established in 1992, is the Chapter’s primary outreach to the planning community and is a collaboration between the PA Chapter of the American Planning Association (PA/APA) and the PA State Association of Boroughs (PSAB). PMPEI offers four, 10-hour in-depth courses, and four 90-minute online courses dealing with the Municipalities Planning Code and Community Planning, Zoning and Zoning Administration, and Subdivision and Land Development Review. Classes are kept small, are within reasonable distances, low cost, team-taught by experienced instructors, and include lots of hands-on instruction. Course listings and descriptions may be viewed at PMPEI’s website, pmpei.org. Contact Terri Dickow at tdickow@boroughs.org (or 1-800-232-7722 ext 1042) to find out how you can be part of the Chapter’s planning education outreach!

  • Train the Trainer
    The PA Municipal Planning Education Institute will be conducting a Train-the-Trainer class to prepare instructors to teach the PMPEI Course in Subdivision and Land Development Review. The training consists of two weekend sessions, Friday and Saturday, October 6 and 7, and Saturday, October 21. and will be held in State College. More information is available online.

Communication and Membership Committee

The Communication and Membership Committee is working with Bull Moose Marketing to complete a Communication Plan for the Chapter. Please take a moment to complete the online survey.

The Communication and Membership Committee is looking for volunteers to contribute articles for our monthly E-News. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Amy Evans or Amy McKinney.

Opportunities for Giving

Each year the Chapter offers a scholarship to support individuals seeking funds for academic degree programs, internships, and professional development activities.  If anyone would like to contribute to the Chapter’s Scholarship fund, donations can be made here. We accept all major credit cards, or you can send a check. Please make your check payable to “PA Chapter of APA Scholarship Fund” and mail it to P.O. Box 4680, Harrisburg PA 17111.

FEMA Region 3 Coffee Breaks Webinar Series

FEMA Region 3 hosts a webinar series for anyone who wants to reduce risk in their community. These hour-long “Coffee Breaks” are held every other month. FEMA staff share mitigation best practices and highlight the work happening at the federal, regional, state and community levels to reduce risk in Region 3. Coffee Break webinars are open to anyone in the hazard mitigation, resiliency, or risk reduction planning fields. This work can be in the public or private sectors. Community planners, emergency and floodplain managers, GIS technicians, government officials, and contractors – or anyone interested – is welcome to attend. You can find more information here

  • Exploring the Hazard Mitigation Planning Process
    September 20, 2023 from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Eastern Time
    Developing a hazard mitigation plan may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. FEMA’s guidance materials can help you create a plan that protects people and property during future events. This webinar introduces the hazard mitigation planning process, from organization to adoption. It also provides suggestions to make each step run smoothly.
  • Conducting a Risk Assessment
    November 8, 2023 from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Eastern Time
    When creating a hazard mitigation plan, the risk assessment details the hazards that your community faces. Documenting the geographies, populations, and critical facilities at risk will help you identify ways to promote resilience. This webinar will guide you through the risk assessment process.

Communication is Key: We Want to Hear From You!
By Amy Evans, AICP

In gathering feedback from members to inform APA PA’s 2023-2026 Chapter Development Plan, one thing we heard loud and clear is that we can do a better job of communicating with our membership. We’re now working with Bull Moose Marketing to create a communications plan that will grow our ability to provide information of use and value to members in the most convenient ways possible.

This effort includes evaluating our use of social media, our website design, and the effectiveness of this newsletter. We’ll be identifying key audiences and key messages as well as the best ways to share news and resources with you.

What’s even better is that you are invited to help shape this work. A brief survey is currently open here. Through the survey, you can also agree to a 15-minute phone conversation with the Bull Moose team to share your ideas in more detail. Your participation will help us get a strong sense of how you interact with the Chapter as well as how we can better meet your expectations as members. We can’t wait to hear from you!

About Healthy Communities in PA Task Force
By Rebecca Wetzler

Join the Healthy Communities Task Forces
The Healthy Communities in PA Task Force meets monthly, the first Tuesday of the month ~2pm Eastern. We invite you to join us! While a small group, we have representatives from healthcare, universities, county, regional, and state planning, and a variety of others who join when possible. Each month we focus on a practical aspect of applying research and best practices to actual planning. For instance, we recently reviewed the State Health Improvement Plan and looked at areas planning concepts were/could be included, robustness of engagement and outreach, etc. We encouraged members to share the websites/ tools/ studies they use in their daily lives and discussed how to share the collected list more broadly. 

Green Infrastructure Discussion
In June, our two co-chairs, Sam Pearson and Rebecca Wetzler presented on the complexity of green infrastructure and the importance of details. For instance, when looking at tree canopy cover and the health benefits to the community, how do you encourage healthy tree growth and maintenance? The replacement ordinance “if you cut a tree, you have to replace it with two” needs phasing language to avoid extra cuttings before the ordinance goes into effect. If there is language around tree trunk girth and trimming maintenance, make sure to include language about what happens to trees less than that girth too. You’re not alone in trying to figure out how to apply these concepts to the reality of planning. Sam and Rebecca asked deep rooted (ha!) questions about how communities can shift trees from being perceived as a nuisance to a public good. How do you keep things equitable for residents who cannot afford root-damaged pipes? How do you stay true to your vision for a community that is thriving ecologically and economically? We hope you’ll join the conversation in your practice and on our monthly calls! Let us know if you’d like a recording of this presentation.

Questions on the Relationship of Planning and Health
Planning and health are closely linked, from John Snow’s initial mapping of cholera cases and nearby wells to the recent Canadian wildfire air quality impacts on Eastern PA. How we plan informs the health of the folks that interface with the area planned, and how we maintain good health informs planning. PA is a fascinating state with so many health challenges and opportunities. During the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, when essential workers were the only ones allowed on the roads, our dairy, poultry, and other farmers faced challenges with longer term product storage and delivery. How do you deliver gallons of milk to school children who aren’t in school? PA was able to work with the farmers to limit the financial damage of the travel restrictions, but what about the school children’s nutrient access? How do you choose which patients to prioritize at an overloaded hospital? Or incentivize workers who might be sick to keep working? How do you set up an emergency shelter for a hurricane and likely flood when folks aren’t supposed to congregate? In the Healthy Communities in PA Task Force, we talk regularly about the social determinants of health. As planners, we know that access to parks and bike paths and communal spaces impacts the health and resilience of a community. So, what data do we have/ need? What are we doing with the information that is available? How do we make sure our planning efforts are helpful to the whole community and that folks are informing the planning process and results in a meaningful way? These questions are discussed and answered at Task Force meetings.