What is RenewLV?
According to the LVPC, 146,000 more people are projected to move to the Lehigh Valley in the next 20 years. What do we do NOW to accommodate this influx in a sustainable way?
RenewLV is an advocacy organization that works to advance ideas, engage and educate the public and enrich the regional political debate. As the only organization in the Lehigh Valley dedicated to smart growth, we vigorously promote:
- Farmland preservation
- Food sustainability
- Smart transportation
RenewLV pushes for Smart Growth and sustainable solutions by connecting people, supporting Smart Growth developments, promoting a localist perspective on economic development by encouraging growth of the local food economy and supporting multi-modal transportation planning.
Mission Statement: To promote Smart Growth and efficient governance in the Lehigh Valley in order to revitalize our core communities, preserve open space, and create an economically and environmentally sustainable foundation for our region’s future growth.
LOOKING BACK: 4th Annual Summit for Smart Growth & Sustainable Communities
RenewLV hosted our 4th Annual Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities. This year we focused on Social Entrepreneurship by covering, “Local Economies: Powerful Ideas, Practical Actions” on Friday, December 9th from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Allentown.
This year’s event was a major success! It was covered by The Morning Call (video and article) and the Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal. We had about 200 people attend at this year’s Summit as we brought together national, regional, local leaders as well as entrepreneurs and activists, who desire to be a part of the solution to help shape a vibrant local economy that creates prosperity for all our region’s neighborhoods, while being responsible stewards of our resources.
Our keynote speakers Alan Jennings from CACLV and Ben Price from CELDF, and a panel of experts spoke on local economies, socially responsible businesses, social entrepreneurship and the intersection of money and meaning. We now wait to see what ideas will be taken from the summit and put into action from attendees engagement in the action plan sessions.
Turn ideas into action!
LOOKING BACK: THE EASTON EXPERIENCE
The Easton Experience was a great success! A huge thank you to the Mayor and the City of Easton and State Representative Bob Freeman!
At our Easton experience Dundore and Heister began the afternoon with a cooking demonstration performed by Chef Mike Schnalzer. This was followed by Mayor Sal Panto’s detailed account of the transformation of the City of Easton and State Rep Bob Freeman’s telling of the history of the Farmer’s Market in Easton.
All of our panelists did a wonderful job in describing and answering questions on what role they have played in making Easton’s Public Market and Local Economy what it is today. Our attendees then had the opportunity to speak with our panelists and other key contributors about how they can get involved in making this a reality in their local communities.
If you have not already please take our survey and tell us what you thought of the event, we would love your feedback! Thank you for coming!
1. Farmland Preservation
RenewLV’s goal is for the region to meet the farmland preservation goals as stated in the LVPC’s regional comprehensive plan — 25% of the land in Lehigh and Northampton Counties for agricultural use. Meeting farmland preservation goals in the Lehigh Valley will prevent urban sprawl, preserve air and water quality, support a sustainable food supply, mitigate increases in traffic congestion and ensure vibrant urban areas through higher levels of investment and planned, contiguous development in the urban cores.
In order to preserve farmland while preserving the region’s quality of life, congestion, RenewLV encourages citizens to advocate for farmland preservation and farmland preservation funding at the local, county and state levels of government. We also support a multi-pronged strategy utilizing various tools in a Farmland Preservation Toolbox, an “all of the above” approach.
Lehigh Valley residents strongly support preserving the dwindling amount of farmland in the region and want their government bodies to take action to save it, according to a poll commissioned by Renew Lehigh Valley and conducted by the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, under the direction of Dr. Christopher Borick.
The poll indicates that 94% of residents in Lehigh and Northampton counties either strongly agree (63%) or moderately agree (31%) with the premise that funding should be restored for farmland preservation to previous levels for the next 10 years. The poll asked whether residents of Northampton and Lehigh counties authorize their county to restore funding for farmland preservation to past levels of $1 million and $2 million respectively per year for 10 years, either through a tax increase or an issuance of bonds. About three-quarters of residents – 77% in Northampton County and 73% in Lehigh County — indicated they would vote for this ballot measure.
Additionally, about 80% of all respondents in both counties indicated a willingness to dedicate up to $10 a year per household in taxes or through a bond issue toward farmland preservation. Preliminary calculations by RenewLV show that yearly household contributions would need to average just over $14 to realize $2 million per year in each county.
According to the survey, a majority of the respondents said the presence of farmland in the Valley has a major effect on the overall quality of life in their counties. They also saw the preservation of farmland as increasing the value of properties near preserved farmland. The survey identified that 67% in Lehigh and 61% in Northampton said that access to locally grown food is very important to their quality of life.
Read the Morning Call’s coverage of RenweLV’s survey here!
RenewLV’s efforts have been recognized by WFMZ-TV – Watch the news coverage here!
Great news! Lehigh County Commissioners Vote to Support Farmland Preservation Through the Capital Plan!
In an 8-1 vote, Lehigh County commissioners budged 2 million dollars to fund farmland preservation
2. Food Sustainability
Understanding the information published in the 2013 Assessment Report: Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy , RenewLV works to grow our local food economy by addressing the gaps in the food system, preserving open space, improving our citizens’ nutritional health and developing jobs and an economic base in the region. We helped jump-start the Lehigh Valley food revolution by gathering hundreds of community leaders, entrepreneurs, employers and farmers to discuss opportunities for growing the local food economy.
The Assessment Report: Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy states, “The local food economy generates $17 million in economic activity for the Lehigh Valley and has the potential to contribute much more. If residents spent just $10/week on locally grown food, nearly $100 million in economic activity would be generated annually, providing jobs, business incubation and expansion, and economic growth for our local farms, businesses and service providers.” (p. 1)
3. Smart Transportation
Our initiative is to expand multi-modal transportation throughout the region, including walking, biking, transit, light rail and passenger rail. This will lead to more efficient development, better land use planning, improved air quality, less congestion and fewer negative environmental impacts.
As part of an effort to reduce traffic congestion and attract investment to the region consistent with Smart Growth principles, a group of community leaders and stakeholders in collaboration with RenewLV and Amtrak is revisiting the viability of restoring passenger rail to the Lehigh Valley. Going forward, RenewLV will advocate for passenger rail by informing and engaging citizens about opportunities and benefits of Amtrak service in our region and identifying supporters with whom we can form lasting partnerships.
The Lehigh Valley is rich in a variety of assets that foster a high quality of life in the region. These include unique cultural, historic, and natural resources.
Significant population growth is projected for the Lehigh Valley over the next 10 to 20 years, and it is crucial that the region grows in a way that not only draws on and preserves these assets, but also ensures that the Lehigh Valley’s older core communities–our cities and boroughs–can thrive.
Making “smart growth” a reality in the Lehigh Valley must involve broad-based regional collaboration and the participation of individuals and organizations across the region’s various communities. Renew Lehigh Valley (RenewLV) seeks to catalyze action focused on creating a vibrant region characterized by strong core communities, abundant open space, and regional thinking.
What do you want the Lehigh Valley to look like in the next 5, 10, or 20 years?
With another 145,000 people projected to move to the Lehigh Valley by 2030, RenewLV believes that now is the time to plan to accommodate for this influx in a sustainable way.
Whether your live or work in the Lehigh Valley, the answer will directly affect you.
Beginning in 2012, Envision Lehigh Valley asked this question. This three-year project, funded by a $3.4 million HUD Sustainability Planning Grant, generated numerous studies on topics from food to transportation.
The EnvisionLV process engaged over 12,000 citizens.
Thank you to the fourteen other consortium partners: The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges, the Counties of Lehigh and Northampton, the Cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, The Nurture Nature Center, the Wildlands Conservancy, and the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium!
The project ended formally on 12.31.14 with the end of the grant.
However, the reports are still available for you to view.
Check out the website to read the reports.
The EnvisionLV process still informs the work of RenewLV, especially our work to support food sustainability and the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council, farmland preservation, multi-modal transportation planning and smart growth education and outreach.
Many people are still interested in seeing the ideas in the reports accomplished as the region “moves from ideas to actions” in a sustainable way.
In early 2015 RenewLV’s board identified four strategic initiatives, informed and inspired from the EnvisionLV reports.
1. Farmland Preservation
3. Smart Transportation
If you are interested in joining with others to forward this work, call the RenewLV offices at 484-893-1060 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will connect you to one of the EnvisionLV consortium partners implementing their plans or a committee of RenewLV.
Smart Growth Principles
Renew Lehigh Valley upholds and advocates for the application of Smart Growth Principles in all planning and development, especially for the future growth of the Lehigh Valley.
1. Mix land uses
2. Take advantage of compact building design
3. Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
4. Create walkable neighborhoods
5. Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
6. Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas
7. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities
8. Provide a variety of transportation choice
9. Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
10. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions