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Join RenewLV for Smart Growth Book Discussion Club 2/14


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Be our Valentine!

What says LOVE more than civic activism?  Show some love for your neighborhood, your community and your region. Join Lehigh University Community Fellow, Kate Cavazza, and Coffee House Without Limits entrepreneur and internet sensation, Billy Mack this Saturday, Feb. 14th for a book discussion of this book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin.

We have extra copies of this transformative book, so don’t worry if you haven’t read it.  Plus, this one is quite a unique book.  This book doesn’t need much of a time commitment to change your perspective.  You can literally open it on any page and get a blast of inspiration.  If you want to hear from the author directly or order a copy of the book for your own library, click here.

If you don’t have anything going on this Saturday at 2 p.m., be our Valentine!  We’ll see you at the Coffee House Without Limits in the Alternative Gallery on 707 North 4th Street in Allentown (a stone’s throw to the C-Town grocery store on Tighlman Street.)

Billy Mack, local entrepreneur and owner of the Coffee House Without Limits would like to make you a coffee and talk to you about civic engagement
Billy Mack, local entrepreneur and owner of the Coffee House Without Limits would like to make you a coffee and talk to you about civic engagement




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


“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.

Summit for Smart Growth Next Friday…Register NOW for This Exciting Event


Before You Leave for the Holiday
Register NOW for Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities
Hear Inspiring, Nationally Known Keynote Speakers

charles-marohn-hi-res judywicks

(Pictured above) Chuck Marohn of StrongTowns and Judy Wicks of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and White Dog Cafe.


You’re coming to the 3rd Annual Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities on Dec. 4, at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown, right?
If you’ve come in the past, then you know we assemble a diverse crowd of dyamic regional leaders. You’ve felt the energy in the room. You know that you’ll learn a LOT, come away inspired, informed and connected.
If you’ve never been before, it’s not too late to sign up. There are still some seats left and we warmly welcome you to join us. The event is scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and breakfast and lunch will be served.
The Summit has a reputation as being the place where real questions are asked and answered about real issues, such as:

  • how to grow a local economy while preserving quality of life,
  • how to connect regional transportation systems,
  • how to preserve farmland and regional identity most effectively, and
  • how to mitigate the negative impacts of gentrification on our urban neighborhoods so that “ALL boats” actually DO “rise with the tide.”
  • We’ve got an incredible day lined up with three good reasons for you to sign up TODAY, before you sit down for Thanksgiving turkey!

Reason #1: Inspiring, Nationally Recognized Speakers:
Hearing our breakfast speaker, Judy Wicks of the White Dog Cafe and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and our lunchtime speaker, Chuck Marohn of StrongTowns, are each alone worth the price of admission of $75. Both are inspiring, nationally recognized pioneers in their fields (local food entreprenership, local economies and smart transportation planning, respectively.) Come, sit back and expect to be inspired and impressed.

Reason #2: Dynamic, Informative and Thought-Provoking Panel Discussions:
As is our tradition at the Summit, we pull together dynamic thought-leaders from the Lehigh Valley and beyond and ask them difficult questions. This year, two panels will answer the following thought-provoking 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 and rail system rather continuing to maily focus on widening our highways?

Our panelists include:
Panel #1 Regional Challenges of Land Use and Urban Revitalization (facilitated by former RenewLV board co-chair, Deana Zosky, Principal of FourScore LLC)

  • Dr. Percy Dougherty, PhD - Board of Commissioners, Lehigh County
  • Gary Smith, President & CEO of Chester County Economic Development Corporation
  • David Jaindl, Owner and President of Jaindl Farms
  • Dennis Benner, Developer on Bethlehem’s Southside and Attorney at Benner & Piperato
  • Rev. Gregory Edwards, PhD, CEO of Resurrected Life Community Development Corporation

Panel #2 Real Life Stories From the Farm, the Suburb and the Neighborhoods (facilitated by Holly Edinger, director of Government and Community Services, Sacred Heart Hospital. Edinger is the former director, ENVISION Study, LVEDC.)

  • Ron Beitler, Commissioner, Lower Macungie Township, “Why We Fight Sprawl”
  • Joe McHugh, Senior VP of Government Affairs, Amtrak, “Stories of How to Make Passenger Rail Happen”
  • Sal Panto, Mayor of Easton, PA, “Living Well Without the NIZ or CRIZ”
  • Forest Wessner, Jr., Farmer, Lehigh County, “Farmland Forever vs. the Lure of Development”
  • Andy Twiggar, Principal with Dunn Twiggar and developer of Allentown’s The Waterfront, “Considerations of Developing the Urban Core”
  • Pam Parker, “Old Skewl” shared use commercial kitchen business incubator, Vera Cruz, “Growing a Local Food Economy”

Reason #3: Afternoon “Table Talks” — Interactive Break-Out Sessions to Mobilize for Action

Following the speakers and the panels, you are invited to join us for “Table Talks,” interactive break-out sessions where we can network, share information and collaborate on various smart growth. This is where we move from ideas to actions. You will hear more about the topics early next week, but, in short, they range from Multi-Modal Transportation Planning through Complete Streets, Creating a Movement of Neighborhood Based Infill Developers and Passenger Rail.

Join our 2015 Sponsors!

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To sponsor this event, call us at 610-893-1060 or email us at
For more information about the 2015 Summit, our nationally recognized Keynote Speakers, dynamic line up of panelists or to register - click here. The deadline to have your logo included in all promotional materials is Monday, Nov. 30 by the end of the day.

Warm Regards,
Joyce Marin
Executive Director, RenewLV
P.S. Sign up for the 2015 Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities.

About RenewLV:
Renew Lehigh Valley is a non-profit organization committed to promoting smart growth and smart governance in order to revitalize our core communities, preserve open space, and establish an economically and environmentally sustainable foundation for our region’s future growth.

Cows Don’t Go to School: Keep Taxes Low Through Farmland Preservation


Cows don't go to school



Cows don’t go to school.

Have you noticed that after farmland is converted to residential developments you end up paying more in taxes for new schools to be built?

Have you wondered why we don’t seem to be doing a better job in the Lehigh Valley of protecting the open vistas that are a part of our heritage and that so many believe are a part of our identity?

The loss of farmland represents the biggest challenge facing the region as it is one of the fastest developing areas in the country. In the past ten years, the region lost 26,785 acres of farmland.

If you are a Republican who resides in Lehigh County, TONIGHT you have a unique opportunity to ask some questions about the future of farmland preservation in Lehigh County.

From 6-8pm, tonight, May 4th, you can ask questions about farmland preservation to all five candidates at the Lehigh County GOP hosted candidates night at the Scottish Rite in Allentown.

Monday, May 4th, 2015
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Lehigh County Republican Committee HQ
Scottish Rite Center
1544 Hamilton Street
Allentown, Pa 18102

All 5 candidates for commissioner are confirmed!

Lehigh County needs a county commission who supports funding farmland preservation!

Find out where the candidates stand on this vital issue.

RenewLV, is the smart growth, regional collaboration advocacy organization for the Lehigh Valley.

Our mission is:

“To promote smart growth and efficient governance in the Lehigh Valley in order to revitalize its core communities, preserve open space, and create an economically and environmentally sustainable foundation for the region’s future growth.”

As related to farmland preservation, we believe that one of the most critical issues is to fully fund the County farmland preservation program.

Did you know that farmland preservation is an investment that pays dividends? Historically, Lehigh County has received $2.50 in Commonwealth funding for every $1 of County funds invested for farmland preservation.

It’s well documented that smart growth and farmland preservation save taxpayer money.

Please join us tonight at the Scottish Rite in Allentown and find out the answers to these and related questions:

1. Do you believe that the preservation of farmland an important function of county government?

2. If elected, will you support the continued allocation of Lehigh County funds for farmland preservation?

3. Would you support the restoration of farmland preservation funding to $2 million annually?

4. Should Lehigh County townships provide funding to assist in the preservation of farmland within their communities?

If you are Facebook-savvy and want to let them know you are coming, here’s a link to the Facebook invitation to tonight.

Warm regards,

Joyce Marin, Executive Director


P.S.  No matter where you live in PA, mark your calendars for the Primary election on Tuesday, May 19th.  “All of the action happens in the Primary.”

Contact Us!

How can you support farmland preservation?

Like urban planning books? Join the Smart Growth Discussion Book Club

Come talk about cool books with us on Saturday, June 18 at 2:00 pm 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.

For June's discussion, we will be reading "The End of the Suburbs" by Leigh Gallagher. Pick up your copy at a local bookstore or swing by the Coffee House without Limits to browse a copy.

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

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