Lehigh Valley Planning Commission
LVPC FEATURED ON RCN TV - October 2017
Matt Assad, Managing Editor
Lights. Camera. Action! The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission was featured on RCN TV4 cable television’s “Community Spotlight.” During a 30-minute taping done Thursday, RCN Host Dan Mowdy dug into ongoing issues that included warehouse and apartment development across the region, farmland preservation and the Hazard Mitigation Plan being updated by the Planning Commission in 2018.
BUILDLV 2017 REVEALS SPIKE IN WAREHOUSE AND APARTMENT BUILDING - September 2017
Matt Assad, Managing Editor
It is a mosaic that was 12 months in the making and when the Lehigh Valley’s 2016 development picture came into focus two things were clear: the region is in the midst of an unprecedented warehousing boom and developers are building five times as many apartments as single-family homes.
LVPC’s annual development report has become a must-read for municipal officials, real estate brokers, the economic development community and anyone who cares about how their community develops land. The full report includes a menu of interactive maps, designed by LVPC Senior GIS Planner Justin Barclay, that provide development data for every municipality.
Click here for the BuildLV report version
Click here for the BuildLV interactive version
LVPC PREPARING THE LEHIGH VALLEY FOR DISASTER - September 2017
Matt Assad, Managing Editor
Even before Harvey and Irma arrived, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission was working on a plan to help the region better withstand the kind of destruction that swept through Texas and Florida earlier this month.
With help from a federal grant, the LVPC in August launched a more than yearlong effort to update a Hazard Mitigation Plan that will spell out how each of the Valley’s 62 municipalities should prepare and respond to both natural and manmade disasters. A process that will include input by community leaders, emergency management officials and private citizens from across the region is scheduled to yield a new plan by October of 2018.
NEW ROUTE 22 BRIDGE TO OPEN THIS FALL - September 2017
Matt Assad, Managing Editor
After more than a year of driving through construction along Route 22, Lehigh Valley motorists will soon get a chance to drive on a newly-minted bridge across the Lehigh River.
3rd ANNUAL LVPC AWARDS HONORS REGION'S BEST IN PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
This year’s 3nd Annual Lehigh Valley Planning & Development Gala and Awards had a celebratory air as over 250 partners, stakeholders, and community members gathered to commemorate 55 years of planning excellence by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC). The event, which took place on October 4, 2016 at DeSales University in Center Valley, also allowed the LVPC to honor seven local public, private and non-profit projects and one community for excellence in planning and development. Recounting the origins of regional planning’s in the Lehigh Valley in 1961, LVPC Executive Director Becky A. Bradley, AICP, kicked off the evening with a message that resonated with the audience: how good planning creates livable places. Shifting focus to the present and the future, Bradley raised thoughtful points about the region’s many achievements before announcing the exciting next chapter for the LVPC, the kick off to the regional comprehensive plan update at the end of 2016.
MOVELV: Congestion Management Process
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) recently prepared an update of its Congestion Management Process (CMP). The CMP, required by federal regulations, is a performance-based approach to managing regional roadway congestion by identifying key congested locations and recommending targeted strategies and actions for reducing congestion at these locations. CMP strategies emphasize maximizing travel capacity on existing infrastructure through demand reduction and operational management strategies, as opposed to
simply increasing roadway capacity.
Livable Landscapes- Lehigh County Park, Recreation, Open Space and Agricultural Lands Plan
The LVPC is collaborating with Lehigh County to develop a Livable Landscapes plan, guiding future park, recreation, open space and agricultural land efforts within the County. The focus of the plan will be on environmentally-sensitive areas, farmland, trails, outdoor recreation, historic and cultural areas, economic benefits and the overall quality of life within Lehigh County.
A robust public engagement program includes a two-tiered steering committee (professional partners and municipal officials) and public meetings. The first public meeting for the project is a Planning + Pizza event at 12:00 noon, August 24, 2016. A review of the project scope and existing resources mapping will be presented. The plan’s vision for Lehigh County’s open space network will be discussed, which will define the desired future to be accomplished through the plan’s goals, policies and recommended actions. Your input will be critical to developing a Livable Landscapes plan that is implementable and reflective of the diverse and sophisticated community and economic needs of Lehigh County.
The plan will be completed by summer 2017. The project is being funded by the County and a grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. For more information on this project, contact Geoff Reese at (610) 264-4544.
Lehigh Valley Bridge Conditions
Pennsylvania contains about 25,000 state-owned bridges, the third largest in the nation, and leads the nation in the number of bridges classified as structurally deficient. Each of those bridges is inspected on at least a two-year cycle, more often if a bridge is identified with serious deterioration. The safety of those bridges and the traveling public is paramount. If a bridge is found to be unsafe, it is closed. Bridges deemed able to carry only certain weights are posted with weight limits. The Lehigh Valley contains a total of 912 bridges, 656 (72%) are state-owned, while 256 (28%) are locally-owned. Bridges can be classified as functionally obsolete—a bridge that does not meet current design standards (i.e. substandard lane or shoulder width, vertical clearance, etc.), or structurally deficient—a bridge in which one or more of its critical components requires significant
maintenance and repair to remain in service and eventual rehabilitation or replacement to address deficiencies.
WalkLV: Regional Sidewalk Inventory
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission recently released its first ever sidewalk inventory, which offers an assessment of sidewalk connectivity and accessibility throughout the region. Sidewalk gaps represent a significant barrier to accessibility, and the WALKLV report attempts to help regional communities and organizations identify and promote an interconnected network of pedestrian-accessible transportation corridors.
Lehigh Valley Return on Environment – Outdoor recreation economic benefit
In December 2014, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) completed the Lehigh Valley Return on Environment study, which documents the substantial economic value of regional open space. The purpose for the study is to show that through open space preservation, quality of life can be improved while saving tax dollars and growing the economy. The analysis includes four components—natural system services, air quality, outdoor recreation and property values. Each of these components will be highlighted in this and upcoming newsletters, with the first being Outdoor Recreation.
Southwestern Lehigh County Multimunicipal Comprehensive Plan update
The entire staff of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has made remarkable progress in the last six months in advancing the update to the multimunicipal comprehensive plan for the Southwest Lehigh (SWL) Region. Consisting of the six municipalities of Alburtis, Emmaus, Lower Macungie, Lower Milford, Macungie and Upper Milford, this partnership first emerged over a decade ago, culminating in the region’s first shared comprehensive plan, released in 2005. While this plan helped to galvanize collaboration and continued conversations among key issues that the six municipalities face, it is now showing its age, so inevitably it cannot account for some of the most prominent trends in land development and job growth over the last few years. Recognizing the need for an update, in 2014 the six municipalities cooperatively agreed to hire the LVPC to revisit the multimunicipal comprehensive plan, and through the help of substantive grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the LVPC spearheaded an intensive community engagement process that began in earnest in late 2015 and continued to the present.
Congratulations to Lehigh Valley Grant Winners
The Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) recently announced the recipients of State Multimodal Transportation Funds. Competitive awards were available for projects totaling more than $100,000 but not more than $3,000,000. There were 418 projects statewide that received funding for a total amount of $152,414,748.
Reaching 961 Marcon Boulevard by foot: A pedestrian’s perspective on Walk-to-Work Day
A previous article detailed the trip that several LVPC employees made on Friday, May 20, biking from various points in the region to the LVPC offices on National Bike to Work Day. But the annual celebration of non-motorized commuting is officially called “National Bike/Walk to Work Day”, and this year it included another LVPC staffer who commuted to work. That’s right: Eric McAfee, AICP, Director of Community Planning, lives close enough to the offices that it is perfectly reasonable to walk. If all goes well, it takes him about 15 minutes.
In the previous article on Bike to Work Day, the bicyclists noted that, despite ample rights-of-way, the trek from their homes to the office in Hanover Township (Lehigh County) was often uncomfortable, due to a general lack of infrastructure specifically devoted to bicycles and the occasional motorist who did not show much regard for the two-wheeled vehicles sharing the road. From the perspective of walking along Marcon Boulevard and Irving Street, the conditions for pedestrians aren’t great either. Fortunately, Marcon Boulevard has a saving grace: a painted white stripe near the curb on the northern side of the street, which is clearly visible in the photo.
2017 Transportation Improvement Program in the pipeline
Largest Investment in the Lehigh Valley’s Infrastructure
The 2017-2020 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) encompasses over $458 million in transportation infrastructure investment in the next four years. This plan targets the Lehigh Valley’s highest priority road, bridge, transit, pedestrian, bicycle, and rail infrastructure projects proposed to be developed with Federal assistance. Including over 60 projects, the TIP seeks to preserve the region’s assets, maintain and enhance mobility, reduce congestion, increase safety and operational efficiency, and promote partnerships.
Work on What You Love...
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) staff did exactly that on Friday, May 20 when they took to the streets of the Lehigh Valley for National Bike to Work Day. Becky Bradley, Executive Director, and George Kinney, Transportation Planning Director, began their two-wheel trek to work in west Allentown led by Scott Slingerland, Coalition for Appropriate Transportation (CAT)¹ Director, and his colleague Jennifer Swann.
The six-mile journey ended 45 minutes later at the LVPC office near the Lehigh Valley Airport. Fellow LVPC colleagues, Tracy Oscavich and Brian Hite, were also along for the ride. Geoff Reese, Environmental Planning Director, also participated in the event, commuting more than 11 miles from his home in Bethlehem Township. Eric McAfee, Community Planning Director, walked nearly two miles from his home in Hanover Township.
Lehigh County Livable Landscapes planning effort to begin
This summer the LVPC will collaborate with Lehigh County to develop a Livable Landscapes plan, guiding future park, recreation, open space and agricultural land efforts within the County.
The focus of the plan will be on environmentally-sensitive areas, farmland, trails, outdoor recreation, historic and cultural areas, economic benefits and the overall quality of life within Lehigh County. A robust public engagement program will be accomplished for the project. A vision for Lehigh County’s open space network will be created that will define the desired future to be accomplished through the plan’s goals, policies and recommended actions. The plan will be completed by summer 2017.
The project is being funded by the County and a grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
For more information on this project, contact Geoff Reese at (610) 264-4544.
Land-Use Conflict Identification Strategy
Using GIS to develop future land use scenarios
Steep slopes. Floodplains. Prime farmland. Water + sewer service. These are just some characteristics that make land suitable for certain land uses and unsuitable for others, all of which are identifiable through GIS. How can communities use this information to develop future land use scenarios?
Livable Landscapes An Open Space Plan for Northampton County Adopted by Northampton County
Teresa Mackey, Senior Environmental Planner
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC), in partnership with Northampton County, completed Livable Landscapes An Open Space Plan for Northampton County (Plan), which was adopted by the County on Thursday, January 7, 2016. The purpose of the Plan is to guide the conservation, restoration and enhancement of the County’s open space resources and create linkages between natural resources; outdoor recreational facilities; greenways and blueways; farmland; and historic, cultural and scenic resources.
Lehigh Valley Return on Environment Outreach
Teresa Mackey, Senior Environmental Planner
The Lehigh Valley Return on Environment (ROE) study was completed in 2014 with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities grant program. The purpose for the study was to create conservation leverage, showing that through open space preservation, quality of life can be improved while saving tax dollars and growing the economy. The valuation of open space features will also help prioritize natural areas for conservation.
2016 Regional Development Outlook
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) is the region's only entity to review and coordinate development activity in Lehigh and Northampton counties. As such, the LVPC closely monitors the location, timing and implementation of development; maintains a significant amount of data; and develops regional plans around trends affecting the Lehigh Valley.
LVTS Establishes Freight Advisory Committee
On November 30, 2016, the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study (LVTS) officially established a Freight Advisory Committee for the Lehigh Valley. The emphasis on freight movement and logistics is continuing to evolve, and the formation of this Committee follows the adoption of the MOVELV: Regional Freight Plan and the need to plan for and manage relevant infrastructure.
Fair Housing: Beyond Codes and Suite of Updated Model Regulations
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission hosted two workshops on November 9th and 12th, 2016 titled Fair Housing: Beyond Codes. The objective of these workshops was to provide information and raise awareness of the issues surrounding Fair Housing, Building Codes and Inclusionary Zoning.
Lehigh Valley Long Range Transportation + Freight Plans adopted
Both MOVELV: Long Range Transportation Plan and MOVELV: Lehigh Valley Regional Freight Plan were adopted this past fall by the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Lehigh and Northampton counties. The transportation plan covers a 25-year period from 2015 to 2040. The freight plan analyzes current and future commodity flow data by both highway and rail modes and identifies problem areas and concerns throughout the regional freight network for further analysis and study.