Pennsylvania Chapter of APA Policy Statement on Growth Management and Open-Space Preservation


We must develop astutely. We must recognize the connection between natural resources and economic prosperity, between orderly growth and quality of life, and make investments that encourage development where it is appropriate and discourage discontinuous non-agricultural growth outside of existing or planned municipal service areas.

The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA believes that development and preservation are two sides of the same coin. They should always be considered together and balanced on the scales of planning. Non-agricultural expansion into our farm and forest land, drains the lifeblood from our older communities, destroys our rural economies and changes the landscape that has made Pennsylvania special. The value of that open space amounts to billions of dollars a year in tourism, agriculture, timber production, hunting and fishing, and other outdoor recreation. The unnecessary loss of open space harms the economy and the tax base.

Growth management aims to achieve a balance between environmental quality and the cost-effective development of our communities. Planned development protects the character and integrity of local communities, including their design, sense of place and culture. It assists all to realize their community and economic development potential as well as the revitalization of depressed areas. Planning facilitates providing for affordable house, a variety and mix of housing to meet a range of needs affordable to all income levels. And, it does this while still protecting air quality, environmentally sensitive lands, productive agricultural areas, recreation, historical and cultural resources, and water quantity and quality.


Communities and regions realizing their potential for development and preservation in equitable measure: economic and social growth, physical and cultural preservation, urban renewal and agribusiness enrichment.

Supported Actions
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports the enrichment of the State Planning Board giving it the responsibility and staff to oversee statewide planning, enabling it to provide a well qualified resource available to state agencies, local governments, school districts and others, and providing a forum by which to address vital planning issues confronting all Pennsylvanians.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA urges establishment of a process by which to ensure that changes to state planning codes are made systematically and uniformly as the result of formal processes involving all stakeholders.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports designating local governments as the primary authorities for planning and managing land use within and between their jurisdictions according to uniform statewide procedural standards. Developments of regional impact should require joint local and county approval.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports voluntary and consistent comprehensive planning among state, regional, county and local government, school districts and other planning bodies, and required plan coordination horizontally and vertically among all stakeholders, using structured, open, accessible, timely and efficient procedures.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports and encourages growth that is coordinated with the provision of necessary infrastructure supported by capital improvement programs and budgets and tax base sharing.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports increased efforts to reclaim blighted urban areas, brownfields everywhere they exist and the concurrent building of affordable housing on these and other appropriate lands.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports integrating local planning results into county and state plans, regulations and permitting.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports the purchase of conservation easements to protect prime agricultural soils and working forests, and urges the Commonwealth to increase funding in support of these programs.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA urges establishment of a system at the state level permanently recording land use regulation and decisions that will enable the most efficient and accurate dissemination of this information for use in research or as templates.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of APA urges comprehensive and innovative training and degree programs for all citizens and professionals engaged in the Commonwealth’s planning processes.