Many Mon Valley communities have limited tax revenues, and struggle to provide basic services. Updating their planning and zoning regulations under those conditions can be difficult, because the specialized skills may not be available within the municipalities — and hiring outside consultants can be prohibitively expensive.
As a result, beginning in the 1980s, these communities were forced to manage decline, rather than planning for future growth.
Unfortunately, their planning and zoning ordinances became more and more outdated. In some cases, communities rejected developments that their existing ordinances couldn’t accommodate. In other cases, municipal governments provided developers with variances for construction projects that sometimes violated either the spirit or the letter of their own laws — or both!
Beginning in 2012, MVI began working with the communities it serves to make sure their planning and zoning ordinances were fully compliant with state and federal law, and addressed 21st Century development needs.
In six municipalities, MVI brought financial and staffing resources into communities to help them develop new zoning ordinances that were created with the help of ordinary residents.
And as a result of the process in which MVI and the communities engaged, residents are coming forward to volunteer to serve on their local planning commissions and zoning boards.
In addition, developers are expressing more interest in building in communities that have clear and modern zoning and planning codes.