Month: January 2016

The Future of Northampton County Parks, Farmland Preservation and Conservation Efforts Up for Debate Tomorrow

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“The future of Northampton County’s parks, farmland preservation and conservation efforts will be up for debate when county council holds its first regular meeting of the year Thursday.”

If this statement from a recent Morning Call article, is as concerning to you as it is to us, then we hope you’ll attend the Northampton County Council meeting tomorrow, Thursday, at 6:30 p.m.

The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission is expected to present details from the 185-page report, Livable Landscapes. The report was 18 months in the making and sets base goals for the county to meet over the next 25 years. The report is intended to be a plan that Northampton County legislators can use when approaching projects involving recreation, farmland preservation and natural spaces.

The 2003 Lehigh Valley Comprehensive Plan states the regional goal for farmland preservation as “To preserve approximately 25 percent of the land in Lehigh and Northampton counties for agriculture. We ask:  “Does the Livable Landscapes report support this goal?”

According to the Livable Landscapes draft, its goals are as follows:

  • Goal 1 – Conserve, restore and enhance natural resources;
  • Goal 2 – Provide and maintain an exemplary park, trail and recreation system to meet residents’ needs and enhance tourism opportunities;
  • Goal 3 – Conserve, restore and enhance a greenways and blueways network;
  • Goal 4 – Preserve farmland and farming to meet food production, economic and open space needs;
  • Goal 5 – Preserve historic, cultural, and scenic resources and landscapes;
  • Goal 6 – Advance County open space resources and usage through funding, promotion, education, partnerships and other strategies.

With the arrival of the LVPC’s projected 146,000 more people to the Lehigh Valley over the next 20 years, it is RenewLV’s position that as we see development outpacing farmland preservation, efforts to preserve farmland need to be supported and increased.

This idea is further supported by Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s  Assessment Report: Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy.  In it, the report states, “the biggest challenge facing the Lehigh Valley local food economy is the loss of farmland (page 1).” It continues, “The local food economy generates $17 million in economic activity for the Lehigh Valley annually and has the potential to contribute much more.”

Join us at the Northampton Council Meeting on Thursday. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, located on the third floor of the Northampton County Courthouse at 669 Washington St. If you live in Lehigh County, this issue also impacts you as, according to the Morning Call article, the LVPC will start work on a Livible Landscapes plan for Lehigh County when Northampton’s plan is finalized.

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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

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