Communities throughout the commonwealth are faced with many challenges that require the insight, intuitiveness and energy of its local residents, some of whom are appointed by their governing body to serve on their municipal planning commission. These “citizen planners” are tasked with developing plans and implementation policies that provide the foundation for the community to manage changes caused by a variety of internal and external forces including community growth or decline, and changes in demographics, economies, technology, natural resources, the environment, housing, transportation, etc.
As its name implies, a planning commission’s primary activity is planning, which according to the American Planning Association, “is a dynamic discipline that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations. Planning enables civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people’s lives. Good planning helps create communities that offer better choices for where and how people live. Planning helps communities to envision their future. It helps them find the right balance of new development, essential services, environmental protection and innovative change.”
In Pennsylvania, planning commissions are primarily responsible for and charged with exercising a municipality’s legal right to develop a comprehensive plan that outlines its specific community planning objectives that may focus on environmental protection; agricultural, historical, and cultural resource preservation; business retention, expansion, and recruitment; urban redevelopment; housing opportunities; parks and recreation amenities; transportation and utility infrastructure; or other health, safety, and public welfare needs and issues that are critical to a community’s overall well-being and prosperity.
As such, planning commissions are on the front line regarding the issues that matter most to many communities. Their leadership is crucial in developing recommendations for implementing change as well as promoting responsible and sustainable community planning practices that have not only local implications, but multimunicipal and regional implications as well.
Morrisville Borough Planning Commission
Don Diretto – Chairperson