The Latest News from PA Chapter of APA…
Transportation is a key element of most planner’s work, but the critical role that planning plays in transportation often gets overshadowed by the engineering of specific transportation projects. In the end, though, the land use and transportation planning work that leads to these specific projects is when the most impactful decisions are made. This month, we focus on transportation, with a discussion of Interstate 83 in York County, a synopsis of Bike to Work Day, and a call for the best trails in the Commonwealth to be submitted to our Great Places competition. Enjoy!
Off the Shelf and Into Action, Creating an Implementable Comprehensive Plan
Next Webinar Wednesday is Wednesday, June 1 starting at noon. The webinar will discuss five keys for an implementable plan, each including specific suggestions for a plan’s content, organization, process steps, and participants. The webinar will take a closer look at how the five keys have been applied in recent comprehensive plans to better involve elected officials and the public, undertake problem-solving work sessions, design workable action plans, and create capacity to implement the plan. The webinar will challenge planners. Are they driven by helping a community achieve its aspirations and address problems and needs or by the exercise of writing a book? Do they focus on the real issues a community is facing or a perceived statutory template?
CM credit is pending approval. Deadline to register is May 31, 2022
If you’re interested in sponsoring a Webinar Wednesday session or have a session for Webinar Wednesday, please contact us. Send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mid-Atlantic Collaboration: Planning for Clean Water Webinar Series
The Mid-Atlantic Planning Collaboration has announced a webinar series exploring the vital connections and partnerships between planners and the health of our water resources and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Webinars will be held the third Thursday of each month starting at 12:00 p.m. Save the following date: June 16
The Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute was formed in 1991 for the purpose of bringing instruction to the local planning and zoning officials who serve Pennsylvania’s more than 2,500 municipalities and counties. Interest in planning was growing at the time and the interest continues, but there was no education requirement for serving on these boards and few opportunities for them to learn. Visit PMPEI for course schedule.
In person PMPEI Courses will be held on June 2nd and June 6th and Virtual Courses will be held on June 2nd, more information online.
The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association is looking for Great Places in two categories: Great Public Spaces and Great Greenways/Trails. Great Places are unique, memorable places that display community planning best practices, have an exemplary character, and a sustainable vision for tomorrow.
We want to hear your suggestions for a Great Public Space or Great Greenway/Trail designation. Please complete the online submission form by Thursday, June 9, 2022. Nominations will be considered by the Great Places in Pennsylvania Judges Committee with notification to applicants in the summer. More information is here.
The PA Chapter of APA is pleased to invite nominations for the 2022 PA Chapter of APA Planning Awards, to be presented at the Annual Conference, October 2-4, 2022, in Lancaster. It is the opportunity to showcase distinguished individuals and successful projects – the best and brightest in Pennsylvania planning!
Nominations are encouraged for: Compelling Plans, Innovative Projects, Programs, and Practices and Inspiring leaders. Nominations are due by June 10! More information.
APA PA Annual Conference: Become a Sponsor
This year’s conference, “Forging Ahead: Adapting to Change!” takes place October 2-4 2022. The 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 the marketing opportunity that best suits your needs. More information here.
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.
Planning for Uncertainty Over the Long Haul: Long Range Plans that Respond to Rapid Change
Interstate 83 in York County has attracted its fair share of the logistics industry already, with millions of additional square feet of warehouses in the development pipeline. Within this already challenging context, four municipalities just north of York City – Conewago, East Manchester, and Manchester Townships and Manchester Borough – face a particularly tough land use planning problem: how can a municipality comprehensively plan for changes in land use given two massive uncertainties: will a new interstate exit come to the area and if so, when?
In brief, these communities are using scenarios to plan for uncertainty. Each has recently adopted a cooperative I-83 Exit 26 Land Use Plan as an addendum to their respective comprehensive plans. As noted on the York County Planning Commission’s website, “The land use plan recommends municipal zoning updates to implement when and if Exit 26 is approved and funded, and after the project passes the environmental clearance stage. Rezoning sooner would be undesirable—it would allow development to occur prematurely, which would result in traffic congestion and safety concerns on roadways not yet improved to handle the increased traffic volumes.” The Exit 26 Plan looks at land use through 2050, which covers interchange completion and an initial 20 years of operation.
It’s worth noting that decision-making power lies in the hands of PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, which adds to uncertainty about costs, timing, and functionality at the local level. It’s also worth noting that this kind of scenario planning offers flexibility in planning for impacts of new technologies (drones, for example) as well as planning for boom-and-bust development cycles.
Another wrinkle is that this segment of Interstate 83 was largely constructed in the 1950s and does not meet contemporary design standards. The need for a new interchange along with overall design improvements are considered thoroughly in the I-83 Master Plan for Exits 24-28. The Master Plan recommends the construction of Exit 26 in stages, starting with a northbound off-ramp and building to a full diamond interchange. The Master Plan and comprehensive plan amendments can be accessed online.
While your community may not be facing logistics growth or even be near an interstate, communities everywhere are facing uncertainty. In these instances, building scenarios into comprehensive plans can be a powerful tool, particularly when neighboring municipalities address challenges collaboratively.
One of the holy grails of transportation planning is to get commuters out of single occupancy vehicles and into other modes of commuting – carpooling, taking public transportation, riding a bike, and walking to work. This has always been a great challenge, particularly in suburban and rural areas. Of course, with the pandemic, many people have gotten rid of commuting altogether, at least for a couple days a week, by teleworking. Nevertheless, despite some reduced rush hour congestion, encouraging commuters to use alternative modes of transportation remains a key planning goal.
May is National Bike Month, and the League of American Bicyclists sponsors Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day to highlight biking as a viable commuting option. They note on their website that “40% of all trips in the U.S. are less than two miles, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get around.” https://bikeleague.org/
In the Philadelphia suburbs, local Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) work tirelessly to promote alternatives to single occupancy vehicles by working directly with employers and their employees. As part of their mission, they support Bike to Work Day and commuting by bicycle.
The Transportation Management Association of Chester County (TMACC) held their Bike to Work Day event on Thursday rather than the official date of Friday, May 20 because many office workers no longer commute on Fridays. Interestingly, Friday has become one of the least busy commuting days of the week, while Wednesdays and Thursdays are often the most congested. For the Bike to Work event, most participants weren’t actually biking to work, rather they rode on the Chester Valley Trail to highlight biking as a commuting option. Beca
use this trail cuts through a number of major office parks, commuting by biking is a very viable option.
The Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVFTMA) also sponsors a Bike to Work day, making their event a race to Valley Forge National Park between Chester County participants, who start in Phoenixville (which is 7 miles away) and Montgomery County participants, who start in Norristown (which is less than 5 miles away). Both teams pedal on the Schuylkill River Trail, one of the great trails of Pennsylvania. Despite GVFTMA’s view that the Montgomery County participants need a shorter riding distance to be competitive with the Chester County folks, the Montgomery County riders did win the race.
Top 5 Benefits of Student Membership
As students majoring in planning and related fields, becoming a member of the APA provides numerous benefits. The top five benefits include:
- Career Opportunities: Attend Career Development Webinars and get expert strategies, tactics, and tips at APA’s Career Center. Find local jobs and internships online. Help prospective employers find and hire you by completing your My APA Profile.
- Connections: Networking with other students and practicing planners through conferences, chapter, and section events provides opportunities to meet people with a similar passion for planning and to begin building your professional network. Local sections provide opportunities for finding a mentor to help you grow your career.
- Information: Students get free online subscriptions to Planning, the Journal of the American Planning Association, and Zoning Practice as well as all current and archived Planning Advisory Service publications, as well as chapter news.
- Learning: Opportunities to learn outside the classroom abound with your membership. These include conferences, in person training, and online events and webinars. The PA Chapter hosts Webinar Wednesdays each month, and local sections provide in-person opportunities for expanding your knowledge to stay up-to-date on emerging planning topics.
- Scholarships: Both the APA and the PA APA Chapter offer scholarship opportunities for individuals seeking funds for academic degree programs, internships, and professional development activities that enhance planning at the local, regional, state, and national levels.
The best thing about the membership is that it is FREE!!!! Any student actively enrolled or matriculated in any university or college degree program can join for free. “Free” includes APA, APA chapter, and AICP membership as well as membership in up to five APA divisions. Student members are eligible for two years of reduced dues after ending their studies. Click here for your free membership!