Northampton County contracted, through Round 2 of the 2021 Grow Norco Program, with the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission to assess the zoning and land uses of all County local governments and provides land use guidance for warehouse and freight-based facilities. Even though many of the local governments in the County have adopted comprehensive plans, zoning and subdivision and land development regulations, many are still confronted with new and exponential challenges of growth unseen until the last several years. This project provides examples of zoning, subdivision and land development ordinances and impact fee guidance to communities by type (urban, suburban, ex-urban or rural).
Work began in early 2022 with Lehigh Valley Planning Commission staff reviewing all local zoning ordinances and identifying which fright based generating uses were allowed in each district. This allowed for the creation of a database outlining zoning districts in every municipality that allowed for freight-based development. That information was utilized to develop an in-depth Freight-Based Land Use Zoning Analysis Tool, to assist municipalities in determining which zoning districts permit freight-based uses, as well as other industrial uses which may also generate significant truck traffic and impact the road network.
Stakeholder meetings began over the summer. We met with municipal officials on July 18th and discussion focused on the types of development that local officials are seeing, what effects that development is having, and ways to mitigate negative repercussions. A meeting with representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the trucking industry, economic development organizations and others occurred on July 25th.with further discussion on local freight-based development and the methodologies available to regulate the industry.
Following those meetings, input was thoroughly considered, and municipal ordinance research commenced. Over the next few months, staff studied ordinance examples and mitigation strategies to understand the best techniques to mitigate the issues associated with this type of development. This culminated in the development of this guide, the mapping analysis tool, and the training session.