Lehigh Valley Planning Commission


Guides + Model Regulations

  Medical Marijuana Act 2017

  Marijuana is included on Schedule I of the US Controlled Substances Act and is considered illegal under federal law.

  However, in 2013 the US Department of Justice issued guidance to federal prosecutors to largely abstain from action

  against a person who is in compliance with a state marijuana statue [Cole 2013]. Several states, including the District of

  Columbia, began enacting legislation legalizing marijuana on the heels of the Department of Justice memorandum. And,

  on April 17, 2016 the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted the Medical Marijuana Act [P.L. 84, No.16], making the

  Commonwealth the 25th state to legalize the substance.


  Medical Marijuana Memorandum PDF

Community Planning Guides + Model Regulations







Cover Icons: Noun Project/Jakob Vogel


Conservation subdivisions are residential developments in which a significant portion of the the overall acreage of a property is set aside as undivided, permanently protected open space, while houses are clustered on the remainder of the property.


The guide provides an introductory history of conservation subdivision design in the United States and in Pennsylvania, an examination of benefits and drawbacks of the approach, and an annotated model regulation and example worksheets for Lehigh Valley municipalities to use in writing their own regulations for conservation subdivision in their municipality.


Conservation Subdivisions PDF



One way to address the region's environmental sustainability and housing affordability issues is to build smaller houses. Cottage housing is an innovative style of development based on the idea of "better, not bigger." Although it faces the same obstacles as other higher density development types, cottage housing's advantages could make it more acceptable to neighbors. This development type would be a useful option for developers, fitting between the detached single family house and the condo or townhouse. It makes more efficient use of the land, is more affordable and offers better energy efficiency than traditional single family detached housing, while providing more privacy than attached housing.


Cottage Housing Development PDF



This report looks at two Smart Growth zoning options available to municipalities. A density bonus system lets developers voluntarily contribute valuable amenities in exchange for increased residential density. Density bonuses can be offered for a number of amenities of value to a municipality, such as affordable housing, infrastructure improvements or increased open space preservation. The report also examines minimum density regulations, which allow a municipality to ensure that development is fully consistent with the comprehensive plan. Minimum density regulations can be useful when planning for a transit corridor, where a higher concentration of transit riders can help make transit viable.


Density Bonuses/Minimum Density PDF



Inclusionary zoning describes a variety of techniques that either encourage or require developers to incorporate a certain percentage of affordable units in their developments. A development subject to or participating in inclusionary zoning must scatter units within that development that are priced to be affordable to and are reserved for income eligible households. The construction is undertaken by the developer/builder, not by a government agency or government hired contractor.


Inclusionary zoning is a means of both helping fulfill the Lehigh Valley’s need for affordable housing and meeting community development objectives. This guide provides the reader with an explanation of inclusionary zoning, its components and associated issues. This material will help the reader to decide whether to pursue the drafting and adoption of inclusionary zoning provisions. Model zoning provisions including commentary are provided to assist those that are interested.


Inclusionary Zoning PDF



    Connectivity is an analysis of the number and variety of connections serving origins such as residential neighborhoods and

    destinations like schools and shopping areas. Connectivity relates to the number of intersections along a segment of

    streets and how the entire area is connected to the system. Good street connectivity means providing a variety of ways to

    get from Point A to B, from using the car to walking. The recommendations in this report are geared toward improving the

    efficiency of mobility (i.e. ease of movement) and accessibility (i.e. the ability to go from an origin to a desired destination).

    The benefits of better connectivity go beyond improved mobility and accessibility and can include less traffic congestion,

    safer streets, municipal cost savings in the provision of services, and reduced need to improve arterial streets.


Street Connectivity PDF



    The PA Municipalities Planning Code defines Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) as follows:

    Traditional neighborhood development, an area of land developed for a compatible mixture of residential units for various

    income levels and nonresidential commercial and workplace uses, including some structures that provide for a mix of uses

    within the same building. Residences, shops, offices, workplaces, public buildings, and parks are interwoven within the

    neighborhood so that all are within relatively close proximity to each other. Traditional neighborhood development is

    relatively compact, limited in size and oriented toward pedestrian activity. It has an identifiable center and a discernable

    edge. The center of the neighborhood is in the form of a public park, commons, plaza, square or prominent intersection of

    two or more major streets. Generally, there is a hierarchy of streets laid out in a rectilinear or grid pattern of

    interconnecting streets and blocks which provide multiple routes from origins to destinations and are appropriately

    designed to serve the needs of pedestrians and vehicles equally.”


    This document provides guidance for Traditional Neighborhood Development in the Lehigh Valley.


    Traditional Neighborhood Development PDF


MIXED USES - December 2015

Mixed Uses is one of a series of guides and model regulations prepared by the LVPC. These guides and model regulations explore a multitude of smart growth techniques that can be used to help create the type of community fostered by the Comprehensive Plan The Lehigh Valley … 2030. The guides and model regulations explain the techniques and make recommendations for their use. Draft zoning provisions are provided to help municipalities that might be interested in using the technique.


Mixed uses refers to situations where two or more basic land use types are located near each other so that they interact. These types include: residential, offices, commercial/retail, public/quasi public and business uses. Mixed uses take place in three contexts: mixed use buildings, mixed use communities and planned mixed use developments. Social, economic, transportation and transportation related benefits can accrue from mixed use development.


Mixed Uses PDF


Environmental Planning Guides + Model Regulations

(Floodplain, Protect the Trail, Riparian + Wetland Buffers, Steep Slopes and Woodlands) can be found here.

Official Maps


The Official Map is a land use management tool that can help municipalities plan the location and lay- out of future streets and public areas and preserve rights-of-way. It can give strength and validity to a municipality's wants and needs for future growth.


Article IV of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) enables municipalities to prepare an Official Map and take proactive measures in shaping important components of their future development, in contrast to simply reacting to developers' proposals. Adopted by ordinance, it serves as a visionary document that specifies properties the municipality wants to acquire for public improvements.


The Official Map: A Handbook for Preserving and Providing Public Lands and Facilities


In the Lehigh Valley, Lehigh County (May 1998) and the following municipalities have adopted official maps:


Allen Township (May 2000)

Bushkill Township (April 2005)

Catasauqua Borough (January 2007)

East Allen Township (August 2009)

Hanover Township (Northampton County) (November 1996, revised July 2008)

Moore Township (March 2003)

South Whitehall Township (October 2010)

Upper Milford Township (March 2010)

Upper Saucon Township (January 2010)

Whitehall Township (November 1998)

Lehigh Valley Planning Commission

961 Marcon Boulevard - Suite 310

Allentown, PA 18109

Phone: (610) 264-4544

Toll Free: (888) 627-8808

Fax: (610) 264-2616