TCRPC Launches Online “Planning Toolkit” to Serve Local Municipalities Around Region & State

After more than a year of research and preparation, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC) has launched an online toolkit whose aim is to provide local governments with – and educate the public about -- a wide variety of techniques and policies that promote up-to-date Smart Growth principles.

TCRPC received a $37,500 grant from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to develop the toolkit, which provides numerous fact sheets and reference materials on environmental, subdivision, transportation and zoning topics, as well as model ordinances that municipalities can use to create their own.

For example, under “Environmental Topics,” visitors to the site can find fact sheets on Agricultural Resource Protection, Brownfield Redevelopment, Conservation Easements and Stormwater Management, just to name a few. Under “Transportation Topics” are issues such as Complete Streets, Impact Fees, Transit Oriented Development and Walkability, among others. “Zoning Topics” includes Accessory Dwelling Units, Affordable and Attainable Housing, Short-Term Rentals, Zoning for Warehouses and more. Other relevant topics covered on the site include Cluster Subdivisions, Drones, E-Scooters and Bikes, Rural Broadband, etc.

Additionally, model ordinances on the toolkit include Medical Marijuana, PA Conservation Easement, Riparian Forest Buffer Protection, Solar Energy Systems, Subdivision and Land Development, Stormwater Ordinance, Zoning Ordinance and more.

“The purpose of the toolkit is to better enable municipalities across Central Pennsylvania and around the state to address planning-level issues in consistent and effective ways,” said TCRPC Executive Director Steve Deck, AICP. “Many of these issues are fairly complex and may be new to local planners and government officials. We’re happy to provide this easily accessible resource to help them deal with these topics as they arise in their communities.”

To create the site, Deck said TCRPC staff sought input from municipalities and stakeholders across PA and conducted an online survey about resources and key issues that should be included. He added that the toolkit will be updated regularly to keep up with changing issues and trends.

The grant funding came from DCED's 2020-21 Municipal Assistance Program. David R. Brinton, local government policy manager for the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services, said, "DCED is pleased to support this project, which will focus on providing these materials in an easy-to-use, online format that is tailored to address the greatest current needs.”

The toolkit can be accessed here.