Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code

Article VII-A - Traditional Neighborhood Development

Section 701-A. Purposes and Objectives.

(a) This article grants powers to municipalities for the following purposes:

(1) to insure that the provisions of Article VI which are concerned in part with the uniform treatment of dwelling type, bulk, density, intensity and open space within each zoning district, shall not be applied to the improvement of land by other than lot by lot development in a manner that would distort the objectives of Article VI;

(2) to encourage innovations in residential and nonresidential development and renewal which makes use of a mixed use form of development so that the growing demand for housing and other development may be met by greater variety in type, design and layout of dwellings and other buildings and structures and by the conservation and more efficient use of open space ancillary to said dwellings and uses;

(3) to extend greater opportunities for better housing, recreation and access to goods, services and employment opportunities to all citizens and residents of this Commonwealth;

(4) to encourage a more efficient use of land and of public services to reflect changes in the technology of land development so that economies secured may benefit those who need homes and for other uses;

(5) to allow for the development of fully integrated, mixed-use pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods;

(6) to minimize traffic congestion, infrastructure costs and environmental degradation;

(7) to promote the implementation of the objectives of the municipal or multimunicipal comprehensive plan for guiding the location for growth;

(8) to provide a procedure, in aid of these purposes, which can relate the type, design and layout of residential and nonresidential development to the particular site and the particular demand for housing existing at the time of development in a manner consistent with the preservation of the property values within existing residential and nonresidential areas; and

(9) to insure that the increased flexibility of regulations over land development authorized herein is carried out under such administrative standards and procedure as shall encourage the disposition of proposals for land development without undue delay.

(b) The objectives of a traditional neighborhood development are:

(1) to establish a community which is pedestrian-oriented with a number of parks, a centrally located public commons, square, plaza, park or prominent intersection of two or more major streets, commercial enterprises and civic and other public buildings and facilities for social activity, recreation and community functions;

(2) to minimize traffic congestion and reduce the need for extensive road construction by reducing the number and length of automobile trips required to access everyday needs;

(3) to make public transit a viable alternative to the automobile by organizing appropriate building densities;

(4) to provide the elderly and the young with independence of movement by locating most daily activities within walking distance;

(5) to foster the ability of citizens to come to know each other and to watch over their mutual security by providing public spaces such as streets, parks and squares and mixed use which maximizes the proximity to neighbors at almost all times of the day;

(6) to foster a sense of place and community by providing a setting that encourages the natural intermingling of everyday uses and activities within a recognizable neighborhood;

(7) to integrate age and income groups and foster the bonds of an authentic community by providing a range of housing types, shops and workplaces; and

(8) to encourage community oriented initiatives and to support the balanced development of society by providing suitable civic and public buildings and facilities.

Section 702-A. Grant of Power. The governing body of each municipality may enact, amend and repeal provisions of a zoning ordinance in order to fix standards and conditions for traditional neighborhood development. The provisions for standards and conditions for traditional neighborhood development shall be included within the zoning ordinance and the enactment of the traditional neighborhood development provisions shall be in accordance with the procedures required for the enactment of an amendment of a zoning ordinance as provided in Article VI. The provisions shall:

(1) Set forth the standards, conditions and regulations for a traditional neighborhood development consistent with this article.

(i) In the case of new development a traditional neighborhood development designation shall be in the form of an overlay zone. Such an overlay zone does not need to be considered a conditional use by the municipality if it chooses not to.

(ii) In the case of either an outgrowth or extension of existing development or urban infill, a traditional neighborhood development designation may be either in the form of an overlay zone, or as an outright designation, whichever the municipality decides. outgrowths or extensions of existing development may include development of a contiguous municipality.

(2) Set forth the procedures pertaining to the application for, hearing on and preliminary and final approval of a traditional neighborhood development, which shall be consistent with this article for those applications and hearings.

Section 703-A. Transfer Development Rights. Municipalities electing to enact traditional neighborhood development provisions may also incorporate provisions for transferable development rights, on a voluntary basis, in accordance with express standards and criteria set forth in the ordinance and with the requirements of Article VI.

Section 704-A. Applicability of Comprehensive Plan and Statement of Community Development Objectives. All provisions and all amendments to the provisions adopted pursuant to this article shall be based on and interpreted in relation to the statement of community development objectives of the zoning ordinance and shall be consistent with either the comprehensive plan of the municipality or the statement of community development objectives in accordance with section 606. Every application for the approval of a traditional neighborhood development shall be based on and interpreted in relation to the statement of community development objectives, and shall be consistent with the comprehensive plan.

Section 705-A. Forms of Traditional Neighborhood Development. A traditional neighborhood development may be developed and applied in any of the following forms.

(1) As a new development.

(2) As an outgrowth or extension of existing development.

(3) As a form of urban infill where existing uses and structures may be incorporated into the development.

(4) In any combination or variation of the above.

Section 706-A. Standards and Conditions for Traditional Neighborhood Development.

(a) All provisions adopted pursuant to this article shall set forth all the standards, conditions and regulations by which a proposed traditional neighborhood development shall be evaluated, and those standards, conditions and regulations shall be consistent with the following subsections.

(b) The provisions adopted pursuant to this article shall set forth the uses permitted in traditional neighborhood development, which uses may include, but shall not be limited to:

(1) Dwelling units of any dwelling type or configuration, or any combination thereof.

(2) Those nonresidential uses deemed to be appropriate for incorporation in the design of the traditional neighborhood development.

(c) The provisions may establish regulations setting forth the timing of development among the various types of dwellings and may specify whether some or all nonresidential uses are to be built before, after or at the same time as the residential uses.

(d) The provisions adopted pursuant to this article shall establish standards governing the density, or intensity of land use, in a traditional neighborhood development. The standards may vary the density or intensity of land use, otherwise applicable to the land under the provisions of a zoning ordinance of the municipality within the traditional neighborhood development. It is recommended that the provisions adopted by the municipality pursuant to this article include, but not be limited to, all of the following:

(1) The amount, location and proposed use of common open space, providing for parks to be distributed throughout the neighborhood as well as the establishment of a centrally located public commons, square, park, plaza or prominent intersection of two or more major streets.

(2) The location and physical characteristics of the site of the proposed traditional neighborhood development, providing for the retaining and enhancing, where practicable, of natural features such as wetlands, ponds, lakes, waterways, trees of high quality, significant tree stands and other significant natural features. These significant natural features should be at least partially fronted by public tracts whenever possible.

(3) The location and physical characteristics of the site of the proposed traditional neighborhood development so that it will develop out of the location of squares, parks and other neighborhood centers and subcenters. Zoning changes in building type should generally occur at mid-block rather than mid-street and buildings should tend to be zoned by compatibility of building type rather than building use. The proposed traditional neighborhood development should be designed to work with the topography of the site to minimize the amount of grading necessary to achieve a street network, and some significant high points of the site should be set aside for public tracts for the location of public buildings or other public facilities.

(4) The location, design, type and use of structures proposed, with most structures being placed close to the street at generally the equivalent of one-quarter the width of the lot or less. The distance between the sidewalk and residential dwellings should, as a general rule, be occupied by a semi-public attachment, such as a porch or, at a minimum, a covered entryway.

(5) The location, design, type and use of streets, alleys, sidewalks and other public rights-of-way with a hierarchy of streets laid out in a rectilinear or grid pattern of interconnecting streets and blocks that provide multiple routes from origins to destinations and are appropriately designed to serve the needs of pedestrians and vehicles equally. As such, most streets, except alleys, should have sidewalks.

(6) The location for vehicular parking with the street plan providing for on street parking for most streets, with the exception of alleys. All parking lots, except where there is a compelling reason to the contrary, should be located either behind or to the side of buildings and, in most cases, should be located toward the center of blocks such that only their access is visible from adjacent streets. In most cases, structures located on lots smaller than 50 feet in width should be served by a rear alley with all garages fronting on alleys. Garages not served by an alley should be set back a minimum of 20 feet from the front of the house or rotated so that the garage doors do not face any adjacent streets.

(7) The minimum and maximum areas and dimensions of the properties and common open space within the proposed traditional neighborhood development and the approximate distance from the center to the edge of the traditional neighborhood development. It is recommended that the distance from the center to the edge of the traditional neighborhood development be approximately one-quarter mile or less and not more than one-half mile. Traditional neighborhood developments in excess of one-half mile distance from center to edge should be divided into two or more developments.

(8) The site plan to provide for either a natural or manmade corridor to serve as the edge of the neighborhood. When standing alone, the traditional neighborhood development should front on open space to serve as its edge. Such open space may include, but is not limited to, parks, a golf course, cemetery, farmland or natural settings such as woodlands or waterways. When adjacent to existing development the traditional neighborhood development should either front on open space, a street or roadway, or any combination hereof.

(9) The greatest density of housing and the preponderance of office and commercial uses should be located in the center of the traditional neighborhood development. However, if the neighborhood is adjacent to existing development or a major roadway then office, commercial and denser residential uses may be located at either the edge or the center, or both. Commercial uses located at the edge of the traditional neighborhood development may be located adjacent to similar commercial uses in order to form a greater commercial corridor.

(e) In the case of a traditional neighborhood development proposed to be developed over a period of years, standards established in provisions adopted pursuant to this article may, to encourage the flexibility of housing density, design and type intended by this article:

(1) Permit a variation in each section to be developed from the density, or intensity of use, established for the entire traditional neighborhood development.

(2) Allow for a greater concentration of density or intensity of land use, within some section or sections of development, whether it be earlier or later in the development than upon others.

(3) Require that the approval of such greater concentration of density or intensity of land use for any section to be developed be offset by a smaller concentration in any completed prior stage or by an appropriate reservation of common open space on the remaining land by a grant of easement or by covenant in favor of the municipality, provided that the reservation shall, as far as practicable, defer the precise location of such common open space until an application for final approval is filed so that flexibility of development which is a prime objective of this article can be maintained.

(f) Provisions adopted pursuant to this article may require that a traditional neighborhood development contain a minimum number of dwelling units and a minimum number of nonresidential units.

(g) (1) The authority granted a municipality by Article V to establish standards for the location, width, course and surfacing of streets, walkways, curbs, gutters, street lights, shade trees, water, sewage and drainage facilities, easements or rights-of-way for drainage and utilities, reservations of public grounds, other improvements, regulations for the height and setback as they relate to renewable energy systems and energy-conserving building design, regulations for the height and location of vegetation with respect to boundary lines, as they relate to renewable energy systems and energy-conserving building design, regulations for the type and location of renewable energy systems or their components and regulations for the design and construction of structures to encourage the use of renewable energy systems, shall be vested in the governing body or the planning agency for the purposes of this article.

(2) The standards applicable to a particular traditional neighborhood development may be different than or modifications of the standards and requirements otherwise required of subdivisions or land development authorized under an ordinance adopted pursuant to Article V, provided, however, that provisions adopted pursuant to this article shall set forth the limits and extent of any modifications or changes in such standards and requirements in order that a landowner shall know the limits and extent of permissible modifications from the standards otherwise applicable to subdivisions or land development.

Section 707-A. Sketch Plan Presentation. The municipality may informally meet with a landowner to informally discuss the conceptual aspects of the landowner’s development plan prior to the filing of the application for preliminary approval for the development plan. The landowner may present a sketch plan to the municipality for discussion purposes only, and during the discussion the municipality may make suggestions and recommendations on the design of the developmental plan which shall not be binding on the municipality.

Section 708-A. Manual of Written and Graphic Design Guidelines. Where it has adopted provisions for a traditional neighborhood development, the governing body of a municipality may also adopt by ordinance, upon review and recommendation of the planning commission, where one exists, a manual of written and graphic design guidelines to assist applicants in the preparation of proposals for a traditional neighborhood development.

Section 709-A. Applicability of Article to Agriculture. Zoning ordinances shall encourage the continuity, development and viability of agricultural operations. Zoning ordinances may not restrict agricultural operations or changes to or expansions of agricultural operations in geographic areas where agriculture has traditionally been present, unless the agricultural operation will have a direct adverse effect on the public health and safety. Nothing in this section shall require a municipality to adopt a zoning ordinance that violates or exceeds the provisions of the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the “Agricultural Area Security Law,” the act of June 10, 1982 (P.L.454, No.133), entitled “An Act Protecting Agricultural Operations from Nuisance Suits and Ordinances Under Certain Circumstances,” and the act of May 20, 1993 (P.L.12, No.6), known as the “Nutrient Management Act.”


Table of Contents

  • Article I General Provisions (click here)
  • Article II Planning Agencies (click here)
  • Article III Comprehensive Plan (click here)
  • Article IV Official Map (click here)
  • Article V Subdivision and Land Development (click here)
  • Article V-A Municipal Capital Improvement (click here)
  • Article VI Zoning (click here)
  • Article VII Planned Residential Development (click here)
  • Article VII-A Traditional Neighborhood Development (click here)
  • Article VIII Zoning Challenges; General Provisions (click here)
  • Article VIII-A Joint Municipal Zoning (click here)
  • Article IX Zoning Hearing Board and other Administrative Proceedings (click here)
  • Article X Appeals (click here)
  • Article X-A Appeals to Court (click here)
  • Article XI Intergovernmental Cooperative Planning and Implementation Agreements (click here)
  • Article XI-A Joint Municipal Zoning (click here)
  • Article XII Repeals (click here)

 

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