Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association (PA Chapter of APA) awarded a certificate of merit to the Township of Pine’s Performance Workbook, which was completed in 2014-2016 by Pashek+MTR.
Larry Kurpakus, Pine Township’s director of code enforcement and land development, accepted the award at the annual conference and awards lunch on Oct. 24, 2017. Elaine Kramer, planner and landscape designer at Pashek + MTR, who worked on the plan along with Jim Pashek, planner and registered landscape architect, attended the awards event.
Judges said the workbook format, with how-to check lists, cost estimates and project timelines, made it particularly user-friendly. They cited its creative organization and design as helping make the comprehensive plan “implementable.”
Jim Pashek was an instructor for the Local Government Academy for a course offered this fall titled “The Role of the Planning Commission in Assuring Community Vitality.” His presentation included a discussion about short-term planning like development reviews and the updating of ordinances. Emerging issues Planning Commissions face include urban farming, mini communication towers, medical marijuana/Seboxone clinics and shale extraction. A representative of the Wilkinsburg Planning Commission added concerns about people renting out rooms in their homes for short duration which may have a negative impact on a residential neighborhood.
Pashek also discussed long term planning responsibilities of the Planning Commission including the importance of comprehensive planning. He recommended that Planning Commissions seriously consider a new model for long term planning recently developed called the Implementable Comprehensive Plan. This process:
- Focuses on real, relevant topics
- Organized the way citizens and elected officials think
- Devises practical and workable recommendations
- Recruits partners and creates capacity
- Gets local ownership and commitment to implement
A new trend in developing ordinances is the desire to address sustainability throughout the zoning and SALDO ordinances. Pashek, in collaboration with planner Richard Grossman, developed a section of a new ordinance for Edgewood Borough called “Urban Sustainability.” This ordinance provides credits for permeable paving, bike racks, buildings designed with sustainability in mind, charging stations for electric cars and other green initiatives.
New illustrations for the Edgewood Borough Zoning Ordinance
Jim Pashek and Denny Puko (from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development) presented a new model for planning communities across the country. Their approach, the “Implementable Comprehensive Plan” focuses on outcomes, not the process alone and relies heavily on public involvement and matching planning recommendations to the capacity of the community. According to Puko, “history shows that plans with hundreds of recommendations simply don’t lead to positive change in our municipalities.”
Their new planning process includes five keys for an implementable plan:
- Focus the plan on relevant, real community issues
- Organize the plan the way local officials and citizens think
- Devise practical and workable recommendations
- Recruit partners and create capacity to implement the plan
- Get local ownership of the plan – commitment to implement it
The presentation was very well received with over 100 people attending the session at 7:30am on the last day of the conference. Thanks go to Bruce Betty, John Trant, and Allen Cohen for providing a western PA cheering section at the session in Chicago.
How does a community proactively plan for the impacts of the oil and gas industry? This is one of the most important issues we are exploring with Crawford County while developing their Comprehensive Plan. Jim Pashek presented some interesting information to the Crawford County Oil and Gas Task Force on Friday, February 22nd. Here are a few fun facts that we discovered while conducting our research for the County’s plan:
- The truck traffic generated by a single drilling site is the weight equivalent of 14,400,000 standard cars using the roadway. Imagine the impact of 14 million cars on the small locally-maintained roads!
- Workers, typically young males that have been transplanted from Oklahoma or Texas, want to live within 13 miles of their worksite. Is there available housing/lodging in your community for these workers? If these workers displace existing residents, are there other housing options available to these residents?
- This is a 24-hour industry and 12-hour shifts are common. How might local businesses change their hours of operation or products to capitalize on the economic opportunities presented by the industry?
The impacts spread wider than these of course. There are environmental challenges and requests for information and permits at county and local government offices will undoubtedly increase. Pashek Associates and the County are both learning how the impacts of this industry can spread into many different facets of life in the County.
Jim Pashek , Paul Gilbert, and other members at Pashek Associates have been developing, with representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), a new model for community comprehensive planning.
The goal is to truly focus on the key issues of a community or region and to craft a clear, step by step response to those needs. An important component of this model is identifying the community’s capacity to implement the strategies. Gone are the spreadsheets with hundreds of recommendations, replaced with realistic strategies that can be done in response to issues the community really cares about.
To spread the word about this new model for planning the Western Section of American Planning Association of Pennsylvania sponsored two workshops, one in Latrobe and the other in Carnegie, PA. The sessions, led by Denny Puko (DCED) and Jim Pashek were very well received. DCED then sponsored similar workshops near Philadelphia, Scranton, State College, and Meadville.