Month: January 2014

EnvisionLV Encourages Public Input - How Do YOU Envision Home?

Traditional Neighborhood Developments such as the Kentlands in Gaithersburg, MD encourage walking and a  sense of place
Traditional Neighborhood Developments such as the Kentlands in Gaithersburg, MD encourage walking and a sense of place

What is our vision of the Lehigh Valley?

I spoke with a group of citizens last Sunday morning at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethlehem.  In that relatively small forum (40 people) folks expressed clearly to me that they are not happy with the growth the valley has seen in in the last 20 years. On Monday, I met with a business leader, a government leader and a citizen who wanted to make the point that “Open space is economic development,” that people move to the Lehigh Valley for quality of life.  They asked how we could be smarter about assembling all of the tools that elected and appointed officials and land owners need in order to do a better job of preserving and protecting open space from the type of development that deteriorates our environment and our quality of life.

But what is that?  I have personally been intrigued by the principles of New Urbanism.  I know that development will take place, but wish that we could see new neighborhoods being built as mixed use, beautiful, walkable, functional places with a strong sense of place.  Why can they do it in Gaithersburg, MD in the Kentlands, and we cannot do it in the Lehigh Valley?  What New Urbanist developers tell me is that they make more money with TND (traditional neighborhood development) than CSD (conventional suburban development).

So why have we not seen it here?  Zoning codes that don’t permit it.  We need more people who understand what it is (check out the checklist at the end of the book Suburban Nation).  We need township planning commissions and township councils who support TND and will hire the appropriate planners to help them put the zoning in place for TND to be built.  And, we need citizens who cry out for it.

Which gets me to the host of meetings the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has scheduled as a part of the Envision Lehigh Valley process to develop its new housing plan.  The next one is next Monday, Jan. 27th in Old Zionsville, but there are another seven more scheduled for all over the Lehigh Valley through the middle of February.  For other dates and locations, go to   The Kentlands proves that “density” can be a gracious, civilized way to live — and an efficient use of our land.

New Regional Housing Plan Discussion: How Do You Envision Home?
Monday, January 27, 2014 at 7:00pm
Upper Milford Municipal Building, 5671 Chestnut St., Old Zionsville, PA


Can the Boston Revival Serve as a “How-to Guide” for the Lehigh Valley Revival


The link below will take you to and article from the New York times, that examines the revival Boston has experienced within the last two decades. The different methodology Boston implemented in its revival may be applicable to what can be done to revive and grow the Lehigh Valley.

Are there opportunites from Boston’s revival experience that are relevant to the Lehigh Valley?





Boston Waterfront Lesson


RenewLV Boardmember, Michael Drabenstott, recommended the following article be posted here on our blog regarding the Boston Waterfront revitalization and environmental renewal.

Read the article and comment.  Are there lessons to be learned and inspiration in Boston’s efforts for those of us in the Lehigh Valley?

Contact Us!

Restarting the Sustainability Book Club

Come talk about cool books with us on Saturday, March 12 at the Coffee House Without Limits in Allentown!

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Make friends, discuss civic activism, new urbanism, smart growth, making a difference, and anything on your mind about your neighborhood or regional growth. We will be discussing What To Do When It's Your Turn (and It's Always Your Turn)  by Seth Godin (we have copies, so come even if you don't have this book).

The chat will start at 2:00 pm at The Coffee House Without Limits in Allentown!

In future weeks, we will read Becoming Jane Jacobs  by Peter Laurence, which you can order for $34.95 by calling Allentown's Moravian Book Store at 610-351-0849.

Hope to see you there!

Moving Ideas to Action

3rd Annual Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities "Our Towns, Our Farms, Our Future"

On 12/4/15, almost 200 community leaders and concerned citizens gathered at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown for RenewLV's third annual Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities to discuss strategies for land preservation, community revitalization and municipal cooperation.

At the Summit, we asked the questions:

•How can we preserve open space while supporting job creation and economic development?

•How does a municipality strike a balance between paying its bills, preserving its individual appeal and supporting the local economy?

•Given the increasing market demand for locally grown and organic food, how can the region better grow a vibrant local food economy?

•How do we capitalize on our central location through an interconnected mass transit system rather than continuing to focus on widening our highways?

A big thank-you to all of the Summit for Smart Growth sponsors who contributed! You made this event possible.

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Report Highlights Fiscal Benefits of Smart Growth Renew Lehigh Valley has often noted the benefits of smart growth development for municipalities, including cost savings. A new report by Smart Growth America details the benefits for municipalities realized through smart growth development. Read the full report here.

Watch the Envision Lehigh Valley Virtual Meeting

RenewLV and our partners at the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, the City of Allentown, the City of Bethlehem, and the City of Easton held a one-of-a-kind virtual public meeting for Envision Lehigh Valley. 100 participants logged in through a live video feed, Facebook, Twitter, and live chat. Missed the meeting? View the full recording on YouTube here