10 Years of TND in Pennsylvania, Part I

Lantern Hill TND in Doylestown, PA

August 2010 marks the 10 Year Anniversary of Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) in Pennsylvania.  That is when the State General Assembly adopted Article VII-A as an Amendment to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), in hopes of enabling better-designed and more diverse communities, as well as promoting Smart Growth principles. 

TCA was there from the beginning and was an integral contributor to the legislation that was adopted.  Since then, the TCA roster of TND experience has grown to include an array of Ordinances and TND Plans for varied municipalities, including the smallest of villages, like Marshalton in Chester County, PA to the most rapidly growing areas, such as Cranberry Township in Butler County, PA.   TCA has authored 10 complete TND Ordinances that have guided the development of places such as Lantern Hill in Doylestown (Bucks County, PA) and New Daleville in Londonderry Township (Chester County). 

 In honor of this Anniversary, TCA will be highlighting its experience with essential ordinance elements and provisions, and focusing on projects in which we have been intimately involved.  Hopefully our “lessons learned” will assist your municipality or organization to better understand the role of TNDs in creating livable, sustainable places that are highly attractive and functional.

Check back for the next installments regarding:

Part II: Key Design Elements

Part III: Manual of Written and Graphic Design Guidelines

Part IV: TND and Form-Based Codes

Is Your Zoning Ordinance “Green” Enough?

On March 4th, 2010 the Tyrone Township Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to amend their Zoning Ordinance to permit a wider range of “green energy” uses. And they are not alone. More and more municipalities are joining the movement to encourage the location of clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, within their boundaries. This is especially true where such sources are readily available. Couple this with current State and Federal incentives and you create a mini-boom in the industry. Municipalities are hastening to ensure that they proactively capture some of the job opportunities and other economic benefits by preparing  for potential development applications.  However, Green Energy is not without its challenges.

One of the biggest challenges with green energy is that the technology is constantly changing. There is tremendous experimentation resulting in quieter wind turbines, smaller solar panels, etc.  A municipality that  wants to encourage such uses must have an ordinance that is flexible enough to permit these emerging technologies without the need to repeatedly apply for variances and special exceptions.  Such an Ordinance must also focus on protecting the public health, safety and welfare standards that are the basis for zoning in the first place.

A second challenge is that not all aspects of green energy are clean and low-impact. For instance, some methods of nutrient recovery involve dehydrating agricultural products at high temperatures. Dust is produced and (ideally) captured, but may still cause air pollution concerns and/or misinformation.

A third challenge is that green energy requires a new perspective and aesthetic value. While harnessing solar energy may be the least intensive energy-producing use of a property, solar farms do not have the same scenic quality of a plowed field or grassy meadow.  Wind turbines may be considered a disruption to the view of a ridge or scenic vista.  The best way to balance aesthetic preferences with the benefits of cleaner energy sources will differ from community to community.

In the Tyrone Township case, this agricultural township to the north of Gettysburg, PA, is home to thousands of chickens. Converting the litter into electricity provides the farmer an alternative to storing and hauling the product for resale, usually as a fertilizer. It also helps meet big picture goals, such as helping to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, and preserving prime soils through better nutrient management and nitrogen reduction.

West Lampeter Village Project Recognized


W. Lampeter Village Expansion

Lancaster County Planning Commission awarded the West Lampeter Village Renewal Project with a 2010 Leadership Award. TCA’s Lancaster Office contributed to the project, which was recognized for its adherence to Smart Growth Principles.

Tom Comitta testifies as expert witness in Haverford Billboard Case


In addition to Haverford, Tom’s testimony will be submitted on behalf of Marple Township and Springfield Township in similar, ongoing Zoning Hearing Board cases.

Tom slated to lead Tour of Manayunk

Trail along Manayunk Canal

Come out and join Tom Comitta on Saturday, April 10th for an enlightening tour of his hometown in Manayunk, PA.   Highlights of the tour include:

+ the Main Street Renaissance;
+ the Manayunk Canal;
+ Pretzel Park;
+ the Wall;
+ the North Light Community Center;
+ the sub-neighborhoods around 5 churches/parishes; and
+ the SEPTA Train Station.

The Tour is in association with the PA Chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism and is scheduled from 10AM to 2PM.  Tour admission and lunch will be provided free for the first 20 people to RSVP to Kelly at 610-696-3896 x 110.