Legislative Update in Pennsylvania

February 2011Newsletters In the Zone

Act 111 of 2010, which was approved by former Governor Rendell on Nov. 23, 2010, and took effect 60 days thereafter, amends the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) by (1) further defining “traditional neighborhood development,” (2) further providing for grant of power to municipalities for standards and conditions for traditional neighborhood development designations and for manuals of written and graphic design guidelines and (3) providing for subdivision and land development ordinance provisions applicable to traditional neighborhood development.

The revised definition of “traditional neighborhood development” reads as follows (with language added to the definition bolded and language deleted from the prior definition in brackets): “[A]n area of land typically 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 discernible edge. The center of the 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] with an interconnected network of streets and blocks that provides multiple routes from origins to destinations and are appropriately designed to serve the needs of pedestrians and vehicles equally.”

The foregoing revised definition appears to provide more discretion in finding that a development is a traditional neighborhood development.

Additionally, Act 111 provides that a zoning ordinance or amendment may authorize and provide standards, conditions and regulations for traditional neighborhood development that: “(i) designate a part or parts of the municipality as a district or districts which are reserved exclusively for traditional neighborhood development; or (ii) permit the creation of a traditional neighborhood development in any part of the municipality or in one or more specified zoning districts.”

Finally, Act 111 provides a municipality additional power to enact subdivision and land development ordinance provisions applicable to a traditional neighborhood development to address the design standards appropriate to a traditional neighborhood development. Pursuant to Act 111, such design standards include, but are not limited to, compactness, pedestrian orientation, street geometry or other related design features.

For more information, please contact David H. Comer at 610.397.7963 or [email protected].