Smart Growth Book Discussion Club tomorrow – You’re invited!

We look forward to seeing more of you at our second meeting at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, December 17 in the mezzanine at the Allentown Brew Works, 812 Hamilton St. You can use the parking garage behind the Holiday Inn where the Smart Growth Summit was held, or there is a lot behind the building across Hamilton St. from the Brew Works for no charge.

The discussion between the four of us at the first meeting was lively and promising. This time the plan is to actually discuss Kunstler’s ideas in Home from Nowhere. Click here for his article (excerpted from the book) in The Atlantic Monthly.

Again, if you can’t read the book, come anyway with your ideas, or to network, listen, or learn. We need you!

If possible, sign up on Facebook, or email Joanne Guth at joguth@live.com to let me know you’re going.

Spread the word!

PUBLIC NOTICE PUBLIC REVIEW OF DRAFT FAIR HOUSING ANALYSIS

Lehigh and Northampton Counties and the Cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton are soliciting comments on a draft Regional Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice. The Regional Analysis of Impediments (RAI) is a review of barriers that affect the rights of fair housing choice and is required by HUD as a condition of receipt of funds under the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program.

 

Public Comment Period

A draft of the RAI will be available for public examination and comment from November 18 to December 22, 2013. Copies may be downloaded from http://www.envisionlehighvalley.comor may be viewed in the following locations: Allentown Public Library, Bethlehem Public Library, Easton Area Public Library. After the close of the Public Comment Period on December 18, the counties and cities will move forward with formal approval of the document and submission to HUD.

 

Public Hearing

A Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, December 17 at 6:00:00 PM at the Lehigh County Government Center, 17 South Seventh Street, Allentown, PA. During this hearing, the LVEDC and its consultants will present information on the draft Regional Analysis of Impediments and receive comments from the public regarding the draft.

 

To Make Written Comments

Written comments can be made until 5:00 p.m. on December 22. Comments may be emailed to hedinger@lehighvalley.org. Alternatively, comments may be mailed to: Envision Lehigh Valley, c/o LVEDC, 2158 Ave. C, Suite 200, Bethlehem, PA 18017

 

 

How do you Envision Home and Neighborhoods?

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The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission is undertaking a Regional Housing Analysis of the LehighValley. How do you envision home and neighborhoods? Join in on a discussion on housing availability and choice and what you like and don’t like about your neighborhood.  Come share your vision and concerns.

Come to the Community Housing Plan meeting tonight November 25, 2013 at 6:30 PM at the East SideYouthCenter on 1140 E. Chair Street in Allentown. This event is a part of a series of discussions in the region that will support a new regional housing plan.

Can’t make it tonight?  A similar meeting will be held on December 3rd at 6:00 PM at the NCCCFowlerFamilySouthsideCenter on 511 East Third Street in Bethlehem.  These are the last two housing meetings so make sure to attend and make your voice heard.

If you can’t make these meetings, you can still participate! Follow this link to complete the Housing Matters survey being administered by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.  Your opinion is important, so make sure you participate.

On a similar note, if you’ve missed all of our Food Forums but would still like to learn about Fresh Food Access in our region, visit this link and you will be able to see our Fresh Food Access presentation right on YouTube.  Additionally, we encourage you to share your opinion and take the Fresh Food Forum Survey!  Thank you all for your continued support!

These meetings are a part of the EnvisionLehighValley managed by LVEDC.  With the Lehigh Valley projected to add another 145,000 new residents over the next 20 years (more than have moved here in the last 20 years), your input is needed to make sure that we create a sustainable future for the region.

Go to the envisionlehighvalley.com website and register to get email blasts about upcoming meetings.  Under events, you will see what meetings are coming up, so that you can participate.  Go to our Envision Lehigh Valley Facebook page and like us.

The Smart Growth Book Discussion Club: Help Us Kickoff this Tuesday!

Come to the Allentown Brew Works at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, November 12 for the first meeting of the Smart Growth Book Discussion Club.

Come to network, educate yourself, and talk about how we can explore ideas to make the Lehigh Valley better.

We’ll dive right into James Howard Kunstler’s Home from Nowhere.  Publishers Weekly says, “In a slashing, fervent, practical, brilliant critique of the philosophy, or lack thereof, underpinning today’s dismal American cities and isolating suburbs, Kunstler argues that our streets, malls, parks, civic buildings and houses frustrate innate psychological needs, violate human scale and thwart our desire to participate in the larger world. An architectural design critic (The Geography of Nowhere) and a novelist, he champions “new urbanism,” an architectural reform movement dedicated to producing cohesive, mixed-use neighborhoods for people of widely different incomes, neighborhoods resembling U.S. towns prior to WWII. Using photos and line drawings throughout, he highlights numerous new urbanism-inspired projects around the country, from Seaside, a resort town on the Florida panhandle, to redevelopment schemes in Providence, Memphis, Columbus and Corning, N.Y.”

A few libraries have the book, or you can support RenewLV by purchasing it here http://renewlv.org/resources/smart-growth-book-discussion-club/

Don’t have time to read the book? No worries. We want your input about the future of the book club or anything else relevant to implementing smart growth. Or come just to listen and learn.

Email Joanne Guth at joguth@live.com with questions or to RSVP (helpful, but not necessary).  Or better yet, sign up on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/219988521508375/?ref=2&ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Spread the word!

Do Sharrows in Allentown Encourage Cycling?

http://m.wfmz.com/bicycling-experts-demonstrate-proper-ride-techniques-in-allentown/-/15946050/20764214/-/bwrbjaz/-/index.html

Enter to win RenewLV’s Smart Quote and FabFoto Contests!

Congratulations to Dave Lobach, double winner of our Smart Quote and FabFoto contest.  Dave shared with us a beautiful photograph of his farm in the LehighValley, which he personally saved from being developed.  Along with the photograph, he provided us with this poignant quote: “We’re losing the farmland forever. Do you know how long that is?” See it here! 

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In the short term, we may think that greenfield development is a good idea, but thanks to Dave, we are compelled to remember that the farmland being developed would be forever lost.

We look forward to seeing more beautiful photos of the LehighValley and encourage all of you to send us many more for next week’s photo contest.  RenewLV is also eager to read any quotes, ideas, or stimulating thoughts you may have, so make sure to submit those as well.  The LehighValley is a beautiful place with some thoughtful residents and we look forward to hearing from you. Winners will have their photo and/or quote sent to the 2,600 Friends of Renew Lehigh Valley.

Email submissions to smartgrowth@renewlv.org

Lehigh Valley residents urged to attend ‘virtual town hall’ meeting

Lehigh Valley residents are being urged to take part in a “virtual town hall meeting” that’s slated for 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16th. The location: wherever you use your personal computer or tablet device.

Attendees will simply have to log in and make their way to a YouTube video presentation on economic development and the future of the Lehigh Valley. The program is set up to allow input from viewers.

This cutting-edge event is being coordinated by Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) in conjunction with Envision Lehigh Valley.

The entities are attempting to compile a regional approach to development and growth in the Lehigh Valley. During the planning stage, the goal is to engage the organizations, municipalities and individuals who have a stake in future development of the region.

The virtual town hall premise removes all obstacles for interested parties who cannot make their way to a brick-and-mortar meeting location.

The video will feature Jay Garner of Garner Economics, LLC, of Atlanta, Ga. Garner, who has been contracted to conduct this important study, is a nationally-recognized site selector and economic development consultant.

Garner’s work, which is being paid for with a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a key initiative of Envision Lehigh Valley – a public outreach effort designed to engage the citizens of Northampton and Lehigh Counties to create a truly sustainable Lehigh Valley.

“We need to take a hard look at ourselves in comparison to other regions and understand our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and to develop our plans and strategies from an informed and realistic perspective,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC.

“We can’t afford to guess at things. We need to understand our own backyard fully, how we compare in the marketplace, and our unique assets to market. This will make our strategies and efforts informed and cost-effective.”

Once the program is set up, it can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/user/EnvisionLehighValley. The virtual town hall will not get underway until 8 p.m. Monday.

For more information, contact Holly Edinger, director of Envision Lehigh Valley, at (610) 266-6775.

Marin named as Executive Director of RenewLV; brings wealth of experience and passion for smart growth and regional approaches

joyce marin headshotJoyce Marin, a well-known Lehigh Valley community/economic development professional, has been hired as our new executive director here at RenewLV (renewlv.org).

Marin brings extensive experience in downtown revitalization and local ordinances that support traditional neighborhood design from her time as Main Street Manager and council woman in Emmaus, as well as her past service as Director of the Department of Community and Economic Development for the City of Allentown. Ms. Marin was founding co-chair of RenewLV in 2006.

“Having an experienced, strategic and knowledgeable professional like Joyce will enable RenewLV to continue its important efforts to be the voice for regionalism in the Lehigh Valley,” said Deana Zosky, co-chair of the RenewLV board of directors. “Joyce also brings a tremendous amount of passion for smart growth, which will help us engage our stakeholders and the general public and raise the level of discussion Valley-wide.”

Marin’s academic credentials include an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and inclusion in the Knight Fellowship in CommunityBuilding at the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, the recognized center for New Urban thought and practice.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to direct my experience and education toward engaging the region’s leadership and the public more deeply in the discussion of a sustainable Lehigh Valley, regional cooperation and the efficient use of our resources through utilization of smart growth principals and policies,” said Marin.

In her new role, Ms. Marin will be facilitating the public outreach effort for Envision Lehigh Valley, engaging the citizens of Northampton and Lehigh Counties to create a truly sustainable Lehigh Valley. Additionally, Ms. Marin will be helping to organize the Lehigh Valley’s first smart growth conference, the Lehigh Valley Summit for Smart Growth to be held on October 24th at the Holiday Inn at Center City in Allentown. “The summit is a great opportunity for both the region’s leaders as well as regular citizens to get informed and engaged on what we can each do to have a better Lehigh Valley as we grow,” said Marin. For more information about the Smart Growth Conference, visit renewlv.org.

Marin resides in Macungie, Pa.

Intro to Traditional Neighborhood Development

Smart growth isn’t simply a matter for cities to discuss and work toward, it can be used at the township and borough level to encourage sustainable suburbs. In more rural regions, Traditional Neighborhood Development has taken hold in the planning process for smart communities.

The PA Municipalities Planning Code defines Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) as follows:

“Traditional neighborhood development, an area of land developed for a compatible mixture of residential units for various income levels and nonresidential commercial and workplace uses, including some structures that provide for a mix of uses within the same building. Residences, shops, offices, workplaces, public buildings, and parks are interwoven within the neighborhood so that all are within relatively close proximity to each other. Traditional neighborhood development is relatively compact, limited in size and oriented toward pedestrian activity. It has an identifiable center and a discernable edge. The center ofthe neighborhood is in the form of a public park, commons, plaza, square or prominent intersection of two or more major streets. Generally, there is a hierarchy of streets laid out in a rectilinear or grid pattern
of interconnecting streets and blocks which provide multiple routes from origins to destinations and are appropriately designed to serve the needs of pedestrians and vehicles equally.”

Traditional neighborhoods have several physical features that are recognizable: short front yard setbacks, street walls, and multiple transportation choices (cars, bicycling and walking). Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But what are the objectives?

Communities utilize TND to address concerns in several fields: transportation, safety, sociability, housing access, visual character and identity. For transportation, TND’s reduce the number of commuter miles because of access to public transit and biking which also leads to decreased traffic congestion. TNDs see less crime within their communities because of the secure areas that can easily be surveilled. These neighborhoods promote socialization across diverse groups of people and build a sense of community. One of the most important aspects of TNDs is the variety and affordability of the units. Housing types often associated with TNDs include apartments built over garages and apartments over stores or offices. These scattered units can help meet the needs for rental units without overwhelming an area with massive apartment complexes. The opportunity for creating more affordable housing arises from the higher densities found in TNDs and by the inclusion of rental units and ownership housing units, like condominiums and single family attached housing, in the housing mix.

To learn more about Traditional Neighborhood Development or to see pictures of Lehigh Valley TNDs, check out the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s report here. This fall, Renew Lehigh Valley will be hosting a conference on smart growth and our keynote speaker will be urban planner and specialist in Traditional Neighborhood Design, Tom Comitta. Look for more information soon about registering for the conference!

Farewell & Good Luck

After two years here at Renew Lehigh Valley, first as a Community Fellow and now as the Director, it is a bittersweet Friday.   I will be leaving RenewLV to get married this fall and head north to Connecticut to join my fiance in the next chapter of our lives.  Today is my last day here at RenewLV, but before I left I wanted to say a few words over the blogosphere.

First and foremost, thank you!  It has been an exciting two years to witness change and growth here at RenewLV.  Though our initiatives have shifted since our foundation, our mission remains the same– promoting smart growth and efficient governance in the Lehigh Valley to create an environmentally and economically sustainable future for the region.  The addition of Envision Lehigh Valley, the three-year Sustainable Communities regional planning grant, has gotten stakeholders and communities talking and excited about planning for a sustainable future for the Lehigh Valley.  It has been a privilege to work with so many wonderful and talented people and to talk with so many enthusiastic and active community members across the Lehigh Valley.  RenewLV’s continues to promote regional collaboration and efficient governance through regional crime data-sharing, regional collaborative management of water/wastewater systems, and inter-governmental cooperation for delivery of services in the Slate Belt.  There are many exciting things on the horizon, including our first annual smart growth conference on October 24th and the return of our Brown Bag Discussion sessions.  I’m sorry to be leaving at such an exciting time!

I hope you will welcome my successor (who you will meet shortly) with open arms, as you welcomed me into this new position, and support them in their new role.  This is a long-term agenda, but through this collaborative network that continues to grow, I trust that even more promising things will blossom from the cooperative efforts of the Lehigh Valley.  Though I may be four hours north, I’ll certainly be closely following the progress of this region that has become home.   So thank you to you all for your support, your input, and your conversation over the past two years.  I hope you will continue to support RenewLV and our efforts as we ALL work together to create a sustainable future for the Lehigh Valley.

With all the best,

Rachel

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