Webinar will highlight land development guidelines for better design

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A Web-based land-use seminar offered by Penn State Extension will focus on the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center's Subdivision and Land Development Guidelines, which are intended to be a tool for better design in Pennsylvania.

Presenting the 75-minute webinar, which takes place at noon May 21, will be Neal Fogle, community development extension educator, and Katie Blansett, associate director of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center at Penn State.

Local regulations that haven't kept pace with state-level regulations and that vary greatly between neighboring municipalities often can be a major obstacle blocking the implementation of innovative design and low-impact development, or LID techniques, Blansett noted.

"The Pennsylvania Housing Research Center at Penn State developed the Subdivision and Land Development Guidelines for Pennsylvania as a tool that can be used by both local governments and the design community to update local regulations or codes and provide alternative design options," she said.

Existing standards were compiled and research was conducted to determine scientific or engineering justification or basis for current guidelines, Blansett explained. The final document is laid out with two panels: the code and commentary.

The code portion presents the guidelines in typical ordinance language. The commentary portion explains in plain language the basis for the guidelines and also provides additional alternatives and options that might be more appropriate under different conditions. Illustrations, photographs and case studies provide further explanation of the code and alternative approaches.

"The guidelines put science and engineering into code while making it understandable to both technical and nontechnical audiences," she said. "The guidelines cover design standards -- criteria -- for all major areas of land development, including streets, sidewalks, parking, stormwater management, wastewater, potable water and other utilities."

The Subdivision and Land Development Guidelines for Pennsylvania currently are being revised to reflect updated design publications and recent regulatory changes. The current version of the document is available for download from the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center website at http://www.engr.psu.edu/phrc/.

Webinars offered in the monthly land-use series, which all start at noon and are recorded for future viewing, include the following:

-- Feb. 19: "Transit-Oriented and Walkable Communities," presented by Angela Murray, of the Lower Merion Township planning department, and Patrick Roberts, a planner with the city of Pittsburgh.

-- March 19: "Understanding Data for Community Leaders," presented by Tim Kelsey, Penn State professor of agricultural economics, and Jeff Himes, Penn State Extension community development educator.

-- April 16: "Landscapes and Greenways in Pennsylvania -- What Is the Meaning of These Terms, and What Are their Implications for Pennsylvania Communities?" presented by Brad Clemenson, Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape; Jane Sheffield, Allegheny Ridge Corp.; and Tom Buck, Northcentral Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission and the North Central Greenways Program.

-- May 21: "Pennsylvania Housing Research Center's Subdivision and Land Development Guidelines: A Tool for Better Design in Pennsylvania," presented by Katie Blansett, associate director, Pennsylvania Housing Research Center, and Neal Fogle, Penn State Extension community development educator.

-- June 18: "Easements Made Easy -- Applying Conservation Easements on the Landscapes and Greenways of Pennsylvania's Communities," presented by Andrew Loza, executive director of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, and Ronald Bailey, executive director of the Chester County Planning Commission.

The cost of the webinar series is $30 for all five webinars and $60 for all five webinars for those who want to receive certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association.

For more information, contact Jeff Himes at 570-724-9120 or by email at jjh149@psu.edu, or visit the website at http://agsci.psu.edu/land-use-webinar to register for the webinars.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015