Land-use webinar to focus on zoning during the COVID-19 pandemic era

August 06, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, is it time to consider a wide range of changes in American zoning laws as potential steps to take in anticipation and preparation for future pandemics and other unprecedented public health emergencies?  

That question will be the topic of a web-based seminar presented by Penn State Extension at noon on Aug. 19.

In the webinar, Michael Wolf, attorney with the University of Florida Levin College of Law and Richard E. Nelson Eminent Scholar Chair in Local Government, will address these aspects and their impacts on the built environment and the people who live in it as related to community planning. 

Ever since zoning became part of our legal system in the opening decades of the 20th century, there has been a strong connection between land-use regulation and congested, dense development patterns. But it might be time for a change, Wolf suggested.

“In many ways, the past of the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 is the prologue for today and the future,” he said. “The current pandemic has exposed many weaknesses and shortcomings of zoning that local communities will need to address to exist with COVID-19. These include restrictions on home occupations, accessory uses, noncumulative zoning, medical hardships, municipality responses, inclusionary zoning, socioeconomic zoning and online public hearings.”

This webinar is the second in a Penn State Extension land-use webinar series that is running through November. The webinar series assists municipal elected and appointed officials, planners, landowners, farmers, and community organizations in being informed about land-use issues and decisions in their communities.

Other topics and dates in the webinar series include:

  • July 15: “Pedestrians: Safety, Speed and Crosswalks”
  • Aug. 19: “The Future of Zoning: The View from the COVID-19 Lens”
  • Sept. 16: “Farmers Markets Before, During and Post COVID-19”
  • Oct. 21: “Planning Commission Boards in PA: Requirements and Recommendations”
  • Nov. 18: “Changing Consumer Food Sourcing in the COVID-19 Pandemic”

All webinars will be recorded and available for viewing later.

Participants in the Aug. 19 webinar, titled “The Future of Zoning: The View from the COVID-19 Lens,” will be eligible for 1.5 CM Law credits for AICP planners. 

The cost of the webinar series is $50 for all five sessions, or $95 for all five sessions for those who want to receive AICP certification-maintenance credits from the American Planning Association. The cost is also $95 for all five sessions for professional engineers needing PDH credits. 

In addition, registered landscape architects can receive continuing education credits for a fee of $65.

For more information, contact Peter Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or by email at To register for the webinars, visit the website.

Last Updated August 07, 2020