planning
for the

new normal

The most successful regions in the US and World are built on collaboration, partnerships and a collective understanding that everyone is an owner. The Lehigh Valley is extremely successful, as evidenced by our development activity, city and borough revitalization and the continued desire of people and businesses to move to the region. Local leaders are advancing policy and investment around economic mobility, technology, housing attainability, rethinking infrastructure systems, climate change, resiliency, workforce training and education. The entire region is diligently preparing for the future.

The LVPC has been dedicated to that effort since 1961 and we’re committed to fostering the kind of partnership and collaboration needed for us to build the best possible future.  Our optimism for that future comes from our experiences of a past in which the Lehigh Valley has always overcome any challenges that arise, while taking advantage of the opportunities presented.

We operate on the belief that the future is now. We must be leaders. We can create the future Lehigh Valley we want and need together.

It is the product of more than 240 public meetings, events and strategy labs attended by nearly 10,000 people from every corner of the Lehigh Valley. It is: FUTURELV the Regional Plan, and it is a blueprint to guide the Lehigh Valley to 2045 and beyond.

The plan is designed to manage a region that’s growing by more than 3,000 people a year, while protecting the farmland, natural resources and recreation areas that help define its character and help maintain a high quality of life.

 

FUTURELV marks the first time in Lehigh Valley history that the comprehensive plan of Lehigh and Northampton counties and federally required Long-Range Transportation Plan are merged into a single plan for the future, so that land use planning can be balanced with the region’s $2.5 billion transportation investment program.

 

FUTURELV was developed in partnership with Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, Lehigh Valley Transportation Study, Northampton County Council, Lehigh County Commissioners, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, US Department of Transportation, 62 municipalities, 39 sewer and water authorities, 17 school districts, and more than 200 businesses. This collaboration is critical to meeting needs, harmonizing interests and working through challenges now and over the next 25 years. With the world changing rapidly, this plan will be updated every four years.

active transportation plan

A seamless transportation network where roads, trails, sidewalks and technology connects everyone to every place – even if they don’t have a car. That’s the mission of Walk/RollLV, the region’s first-ever active transportation masterplan. Walk/RollLV is designed to create a transportation system that welcomes pedestrians, bicyclists and people with disabilities. Its mission is to create safer intersections, walkable neighborhoods and a network that promotes healthy living, while encouraging people to get out of their cars.

The plan was more than a year in the making by the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, consultants Toole Design Group and Traffic Planning and Design, dozens of community partners and a community-based working group in which more than 250 people participated.

It is truly a community plan.

green transportation

A greener, more environmentally conscious future has always been part of the LVPC’s land use, planning and development policy but more recently, new technology enables us to have a greater impact on extending those policies to transportation.  A result of that new focus came in 2019 when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the LVPC’s request to designate Interstate 78 as an Alternative Fuels Corridor.  The designation puts I-78 in line for public and private funding to install alternative fueling stations and signage, making the highway, and the Lehigh Valley in general, more attractive to  people with electric or compressed natural gas vehicles.

Our work doesn’t end there. The LVPC has asked PennDOT and FHWA to consider Routes 22 and 33 as Alternative Fuels Corridors during the next round of designations.

traffic count + roadway inventory

The Lehigh Valley has more than 4,100 miles of roadway and keeping accurate data is key to maintaining it. The LVPC does that through its Traffic Count and Segment Inventory program.

Through our partnership with PennDOT, every year we take detailed traffic counts on more than 100 roadways across Lehigh and Northampton counties. We also take detailed road, signage and right-of-way data on another roughly 180 roadways, giving a clear picture of existing conditions, whether today’s roadways still match PennDOT’s data, and whether upgrades will be needed. And when things change, we adapt, so this year we’re tracking how the COVID-19 Pandemic is affecting traffic.

The LVPC’s partnership with PennDOT is a key component of the more than $100 million invested each year in the region’s transportation network.

today is a

child of yesterday

and the parent

of tomorrow

region's first equity analysis

Where you live in the Lehigh Valley has a big impact on your access to the American Dream. The LVPC’s Equity Analysis, created in 2018 and updated in 2020, was the first of its kind for this region, and one of the first in the nation to provide a statistical look at who has access—and who does not—to housing, education, transportation and employment.

The analysis derived from 14 key data sets taken from every Census tract paints a picture of a region with lots of positive aspects – and lots of work to be done – to ensure that every person has a fair shot at reaching their goals.

As our nation evolves in this difficult time our Equity work is evolving with it. The LVPC’s equity work supported the allocation of computers and internet connectivity for 17,000 students in the Allentown School District to support remote schooling. That work is now expanding to United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s 411 system, food access and age-friendly projects. A new LVPC Foreclosure and Eviction tool designed to locate the neighborhoods where people are most at risk of losing their homes is now part of each county’s Community Development Block Grant and CARES Act allocation strategy. This Foreclosure and Eviction tool has now led to a partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on at-risk employment segments and housing.

The equity analysis, future updates to it and the many new projects it has lead to, give the region its clearest picture yet about where we stand and what must be done to give everyone an opportunity for a happy, prosperous life in the Lehigh Valley.

the work you

produce today

will create

your future

work on what it

stands for

subdivision + stormwater reviews

The plan review expertise of the LVPC is vital in managing growth and preserving natural areas and farmland. These reviews help us make sure development follows the law, and advise municipalities on the type of development they accept and where it should go.

That includes reviewing every land development plan filed in the region to determine if it is consistent with FutureLV: The Regional Plan, reviewing land development stormwater plans to protect the region from flooding and property loss, reviewing every municipal zoning or ordinance change, and collaborating with Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA), school districts and the communities as a whole to put special focus on Land Uses of Regional Significance.

Since 2015, the LVPC has done more than 3,200 plan reviews.

focus on outcomes

development

Development has become a central issue in the Lehigh Valley, and the LVPC is uniquely positioned to track what it is, where it’s happening and what might be coming in the future.  But rather than tucking away in a spreadsheet all the data gleaned from more than 400 subdivision and land development reviews a year, we produce BuildLV, the region’s most comprehensive look at every development project proposed anywhere in the region.

The report is designed as an easy to digest look at development in the Lehigh Valley that is used routinely by municipal leaders, school districts, builders and investors as a roadmap for future development and planning.

Those who don’t want to wait for the annual report to arrive can view the data we use to build the annual report in our monthly Subdivision Snapshot report, available online and by email within days of the previous month’s close.

BuildLV is among the LVPC’s most popular products and it will continue to be key in managing a successful region’s future growth. Both BuildLV and the monthly Snapshot are available at lvpc.org.

begin with

fact-based

optimism

housing sales +

rental data

Few issues have a greater impact on the Lehigh Valley economy and daily life than housing sales. They affect land costs, where people live and work, the growth of our economy and ultimately the region’s quality of life. That’s why every two years the LVPC produces a report based on every housing sale recorded anywhere in Lehigh or Northampton counties. As the only comprehensive report based on all recorded sales—including those that do not go through a realtor—it allows us to track trends of the type, size and location of home sales.

Every two years, we add in a Census-based analysis on all rental units in the region, providing a good view of how rental prices are changing. It all provides municipal, school district and development leaders, as well as buyers and sellers, a clear picture of where the market may be headed and how the region may need to adjust. Online interactive maps make it easy to find the information most relevant to your community.

And when the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic put thousands Lehigh Valley residents at risk of losing their homes, the LVPC developed a Foreclosure and Eviction tool designed to help government and non-profit agencies direct resources where they're needed most.

Where ever the market goes, the LVPC will be there to track its path—and impact on the community.

one stop data

repository

The LVPC is home to one of the region’s most extensive data repositories on land use, the environment, transportation and demographics, but for all that data to have the most impact, it has to be accessible to everyone.  That’s why we launched DataLV in 2017, giving people 24-hour access to important information and interactive maps that can’t be found anywhere else.

DataLV is a carefully crafted story of the Lehigh Valley, told through the prism of key data points. That story is displayed on separate webpages that describe Who We Are, Agriculture, Development, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, Housing, Tourism and Transportation.  But DataLV is more than the story it tells. It’s also the power provided by LVPC staff expertise that allows them to analyze the data of the past to predict the future.

 We’ll add new data as it comes in and build new partnerships, such as our official affiliation with the U.S. Census Bureau, to make DataLV the one-stop repository for the most relevant and most important Lehigh Valley data.

DATA

LV

DATA LEHIGH VALLEY

funding

Over the next two decades, $2.5 billion will be spent to repair, improve and expand the Lehigh Valley’s road, bridge, bicycle, pedestrian, and transit system, and the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study --- staffed and managed by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission --- will play a key role in deciding how the money is spent.

FutureLV: The Regional Plan combines the bi-county comprehensive plan and long-range transportation plans into a single, cohesive and innovative strategy to manage, preserve, develop and redevelop the Lehigh Valley.  FutureLV also outlines how transportation dollars will be spent over the next 20 years, with investments reaching into every corner of the region, from a Route 22 that sees over 115,000 motorists a day to the smallest bridges in our rural townships.

The Lehigh Valley Transportation Study approved a $452 million, short-term transportation improvement package to implement FutureLV in July.  The funding, provided by the US Department of Transportation and PENNDOT, maintains the Lehigh Valley’s transportation system with a high priority on preventing congestion, increasing safety, efficiently allocating limited resources and promoting the growth of a diverse, multimodal network.

shape your future

The US Census is critical to maintaining the level of federal transportation dollars and making sure that they grow with our population and the exponential increase in freight and logistics businesses in the Lehigh Valley. The LVPC and LVTS are actively promoting the value of being counted in 2020.  In fact, a group of over 20 partners that include the Census Bureau, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, and the counties of Northampton and Lehigh are working together to ensure a complete count that will determine funding not only for transportation, but our education system, elder care facilities and public safety entities, among many other critical services that all Lehigh Valley residents and businesses enjoy.

travel farther by standing on the shoulders of the past

municipal

collaboration

The Lehigh Valley is one of Pennsylvania's most desirable regions. It's why thousands of new residents move here every year. Local leaders are advancing policy and investment to prepare for the future.

However, no public, private or government entity can rise to the social, technological, environmental, economic, educational, health, equity or infrastructure challenges or opportunities on their own.

For that reason, the LVPC forges partnerships each year, including some that reach well outside our regional borders.  For the past three years, the LVPC has held a seat on the Metropolitan Area Planning Forum, for the first time enabling us to share best practices and plan across regions with nine other planning organizations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Soon after the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, we partnered with the Allentown School District to identify thousands of students that didn’t have internet access to help bridge the digital divide so students could continue school remotely.

In August, the LVPC joined the Federal Highway Administration and PennDOT to host one of the nation’s few Truck Parking Roundtables to tackle a growing problem by finding strategies that can be used not only in the Lehigh Valley, but nationwide.

In September, the LVPC developed a partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia to combine resources to identify the people most likely to lose their homes or jobs so government and non-profit entities know where to direct resources.

And the LVPC has long had a partnership with the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley that grew in this year of extreme need. The LVPC is helping enhance food access by mapping where food pantries are, not only so people can find the resources they need, but so non-profits could identify holes in the food access network. The LVPC also worked with the United Way and Lehigh Valley Health Network to enhance the 211 non-profit information line that’s become so vital to families across the region.

The LVPC is working with the United Way to develop an Age-Friendly Communities Plan designed to help communities adapt to changing needs of our aging population.

In short, the LVPC will continue to foster partnerships with key providers, inside and outside the region, that can help the Lehigh Valley adapt to the rapidly changing needs of our growing population.

fill the space between people with collaboration

multi-municipal

planning

There is always strength in numbers and the LVPC is here to assist any municipality that’s chosen to work with its neighbors. Through multi-municipal comprehensive plans, communities can address common priorities, while maintaining local autonomy and control. That can mean sharing costs for goods and services or partnering on issues that cross municipal borders, such as roads or economic development. Perhaps the biggest benefit is the ability to collectively manage development.

The LVPC completed the Southwest Lehigh County Multi-Municipal Comprehensive Plan in 2016 and is currently working on three additional efforts that include ten communities in the Nazareth area, six communities in the Northern Lehigh Area and ten communities in a first-time effort Slate Belt Multi-Municipal Comprehensive Plan. Another five communities in the River Central area are kicking off a first-time planning effort, as well. With the addition of the Saucon Valley Multimunicipal Plan, a total of 39 of the region’s 62 municipal governments will be managing their future together. Whether preserving agriculture and open space or fostering downtown redevelopment, we’re honored to help more Lehigh Valley communities prepare for a balanced, successful future.

growing region

key participation partners

Planning for a successful region like the Lehigh Valley is not only important, but it’s a big job that requires help from a lot of partners. Expert partners not only help the LVPC understand the needs of the region and aid us in crafting policies that best fit the community, but they also help us promote and advance those policies, including those recommended in the recently adopted FutureLV: The Regional Plan and the region’s first-ever active transportation plan, Walk/RollLV. These organizations are looking to foster cooperation and collaboration among private and public entities through their meetings and events.

The LVPC sits on the local chapters of these organizations:

• Green Building United

• Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association–Lehigh Valley Berks Section

• The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s Alliance on Aging

• The Workforce Board Lehigh Valley’s Next Generation Manufacturing and Logistics committees

• The Urban Land Institute–Lehigh Valley Chapter

• Lehigh Valley Community Foundation

and we’re participants on the boards of:

• LANTA Board of Directors

• Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative

• Sterling Raber Farmland Preservation Board

• Northampton County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Board

• The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce

• Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Freight Advisory Committee

• Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Delaware Basin Regional Water Resources Committee

• Pennsylvania AARP

• Lehigh Valley Partnership

• And The LINK Trails Partnership

lehigh valley gala + awards

What better way to recognize the goals and values of the Lehigh Valley community than by awarding projects that exemplify them? Every year since 2014, the LVPC has held a fall gala to give out Lehigh Valley Awards to communities and their private and non-profit partners that help make the region a better place to live, work and play.

 

The awards are our way of bringing together nearly 300 municipal officials, community organizers, developers and contractors each year to celebrate excellence in planning and community collaboration, and to show examples of best practices that can be emulated across the region.

 

Nominees are evaluated by the Awards Committee on quality of design and planning, collaboration and citizen participation, as well as the positive overall impact to a community. And one community that’s shown a long-term commitment to planning excellence is named that year’s Community of Distinction. To date, 140 projects, plans and communities have been recognized for their collective achievements.

 

In 2020, we had to do things a little different, but the theme for our first-ever virtual gala, in October, was the same. It was a celebration of the great work being done in all 62 municipalities.

community of distinction winners

2014: City of Bethlehem

2015: Bushkill Township

2016: South Whitehall Township

2017: Catasauqua Borough

2018: Macungie Borough

2019: Plainfield Township

2019 Community of Distinction winner Plainfield Township

public outreach

Every Lehigh Valley Planning Commission meeting is open, but we take the extra steps to get our data and analysis to the public, where it can be useful. That includes writing columns for the Morning Call and Lehigh Valley Business Journal, making regular television and radio appearances, being active on social media and placing advertisements, including some printed in English and Spanish inside all 83 LANTA buses.

In addition, our staff make dozens of presentations each year at community gatherings that range from a handful of people at group functions to hundreds of people at ticketed events such as the annual Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Transportation Forum and the annual Real Estate & Development Symposium to even bigger crowds at regional and national events, such as the Pennsylvania Brownfields Conference and the National Association of Regional Councils Annual Conference.

And in this age of COVID-19, we've taken those appearance online, when necessary.

Most LVPC work is accessible to the public 24 hours a day at lvpc.org.

education and

training

Hundreds of people each year take advantage of our education and training opportunities. Some come to our Planning on the Menu series to discuss important issues, while appointed and elected officials attend our Lehigh Valley Government Academy classes to learn about how planning, zoning and development is done, and many join our WorkshopLV sessions to help us find solutions for the important issues of Housing, Environment, Freight and Multimodal Transportation.

One of our longest running programs is our 11-year partnership with PennDOT to host Local Technical

Assistance Program classes that provide transportation network maintenance and best practices information free to hundreds of engineers, municipal workers, and elected and appointed officials each year. With all of our programs, we provide data, instruction and information, and people give us important feedback that helps us shape policy based on the values of the Lehigh Valley residents.

adapt to a continuously changing world

With FutureLV’s goals, policies and actions as the foundation the public, private and non-profit sectors are rethinking the Lehigh Valley as emerging and evolving.

At the core of the Lehigh Valley’s success is the ability to agree to a common set of ideals that serve as a foundation for management, preservation and growth of the region. This is reflected in the Lehigh Valley’s ability to overcome challenges like the decline in the demand for slate and closing of Bethlehem Steel. We have always come together during times of change—positive, negative and everything in between. Really, we have always been one Lehigh Valley. We have evolved our organizational and management structures to adapt to changing needs. We’ve done it through the formation of organizations like the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, LANTA and Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority. We’ve enhanced it with the development of multi-municipal partnerships like the Nazareth Area Council of Governments and Colonial Regional Police. We’ve built cross-industry partnerships through entities like the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley and Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and we’ve marketed our many assets through Discover Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation.

Consistently, through a system of cross-sector cooperation and collaboration, we have planned for, implemented and benefitted from being simultaneously independent and inter-connected. In the face of so many future forces, whether it’s globalization, the shared economy, energy diversification, living longer, substantial population growth or a global pandemic, we will do what we’ve always done: Rise to the challenge, innovate, adapt, evolve and succeed.

now that we can do anything, what will

we do?