State Land Use Planning Provisions in Pennsylvania

State Planning Enabling Law


State Land Use Planning Provisions

    State Planning Agencies/Responsibilities

The Center for Local Government Services, located within the Department of Community and Economic Development, provides professional and administrative support to the State Planning Board and is charged generally with serving as the link between the Commonwealth and local governments (71 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 1709.301).

The State Planning Board is a citizen’s advisory board within the governor’s office responsible for developing “strategic plans and programs to promote and enhance the welfare of the Commonwealth and mak[ing] such recommendations thereon to the Governor as it may deem proper and advisable.” (71 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 161(c)(3)). The Board also has six ex-officio members, including the secretary of the state environmental agency (71 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 161(b)).

    State-Level Planning Goals/State Development Plan

The Center for Local Government Services is required to issue a Land Use and Growth Management Report every five years. The report is to be a “comprehensive land use and growth management report…which shall contain information, data and conclusions regarding growth and development patterns in [the] Commonwealth and which will offer recommendations to Commonwealth agencies for coordination of executive action, regulation and programs” (53 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 10107).

Inter-Jurisdictional/Regional Elements

The Regional Planning Law (53 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 2341-48) authorizes the governing bodies of two or more municipalities to establish or join a regional planning commission (53 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 2344(a)). If established, the regional planning commission must prepare a master plan for the “physical development of the region” (53 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 2346) and must encourage the cooperation of municipalities “in matters which concern the integrity of the master plan (53 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 2347). The commission may provide planning technical assistance and do planning work for any municipalities within the region (53 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 2345). Pennsylvania municipalities are authorized to join a regional planning commission established in another state, and vice versa (53 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 2348).

Intergovernmental agreements for adopting and implementing a comprehensive plan may be established among the governing bodies of multiple municipalities, as well as among counties and municipalities for areas that include municipalities in more than one county (53  Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 11102). These multimunicipal comprehensive plans must include the same elements required for county and municipal comprehensive plans (see below) (53  Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 11103).

Planning to Protect Specific Areas

State Assistance to Localities

Pennsylvania law directs the Center for Local Government Services to “work with municipalities to coordinate Commonwealth agency program resources with municipal planning and zoning activities” and to “assist municipalities in identifying and assessing the impact of Commonwealth agency decisions and their effect on municipal and multimunicipal planning and zoning” (53  Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 10619(2)(b)).

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