Planning Smarter Montco 2021

2021 Planning Smarter Masthead

Planning Smarter, an initiative of the Montgomery County Planning Commission (MCPC), provides important planning information that will enable local leaders and citizens to better plan for the future of their community. All Planning Smarter events are free and open to the general public unless otherwise noted. Event details will evolve as the year progresses and we continue to adhere to ongoing pandemic requirements. The 2021 series contains a hot topics event in June, which will focus on some of the effects of the pandemic and other topics that can result in significant community impacts. Given social distancing requirements, the three-session courses we annually sponsor from the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute (PMPEI) are not available. Instead, we have worked with PMPEI to schedule Montgomery County instructors/MCPC staff, who can provide local information, for one date of each of the 90-minute virtual courses being offered by PMPEI statewide in 2021. Each course is $25, and class space is limited. Registration and payment for the courses, as well as additional course dates and credit information, are available at As usual, we will cap off the year with the Montgomery Awards celebration! For more information, contact Rita McKelvey or 610.278.3753.

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Montgomery Awards Celebration
November 17, 2021 | 4:30 PM 
John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, 1201 Pawlings Road, Audubon, PA 19403 

Celebrate a successful year in planning with other municipal officials, developers, and planning design professionals. The Montgomery Awards Program recognizes the best in planning, design, and advocacy in Montgomery County. This annual program promotes awareness of outstanding design and innovative planning in our communities by awarding successful land developments, revitalization efforts, open space enhancements, environmental sustainability, and transportation improvements and recognizes sustained planning advocacy.

Completed Planning Smarter Montco 2021 Courses and Events

The Courts at Spring Mill Station - Whitemarsh 2016 Montgomery Award Winner

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Connected Communities and Vibrant EconomyTOD: A Way to Transform Your Community
October 28, 2021 | 4:00 PM | Free 
Lansdale Borough Hall, One Vine Street, Lansdale, PA 19446

Montgomery County is home to 43 regional rail stations on 6 rail lines of the SEPTA regional rail network—all providing convenient access to Center City Philadelphia for both daily commuters and occasional riders. Communities can transform these station areas by considering transit-oriented development (TOD). Supporting thoughtfully designed, walkable, mixed-use, and transit-oriented development around the county’s train stations can support increased transit ridership and efficient use of land. Join us at this free event for an engaging look at successful TODs in the region and an interactive design exercise focused on looking at how other station areas could be transformed.

Thompson Lexus Willow Grove - Upper Moreland 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award Winner

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Montco Logo - Sustainable PlacesSoak Up More Stormwater: Partnering with Businesses & Homeowners
September 30, 2021 | 4:30 PM | Virtual Event 

Municipalities can address stormwater by enacting ordinances with green infrastructure requirements and developing MS4 stormwater management programs. But did you know that everyone can have a role in managing rainwater and reducing flooding? Opportunities to manage stormwater effectively and aesthetically increase when municipalities, homeowners, and businesses work together. Municipal efforts focus on municipal property including parks and open space, roads, and parking lots. Businesses and residents can help achieve an even more effective stormwater management program by installing green stormwater management facilities on their own properties. This free event will highlight successful projects and programs where municipalities and environmental groups have collaborated with and incentivized individual property owners (residents, institutions, businesses) to retrofit properties. We’ll also revisit recommendations in MCPC’s Sustainable Green Parking Lots guidebook and provide local examples of green parking lots as well as recently adopted ordinance language that strengthens and encourages private investment in green stormwater infrastructure.

Bridgeport Zero Energy Ready Homes - Bridgeport - 2020 Montgomery Award Winner

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Montco Logo - Sustainable PlacesHot Topics: Emerging Challenges in Our Communities
June 30, 2021 | 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM | Webinar | Free 

The pandemic brought home the importance and need for flexibility and resilience. With that in mind, this free event will focus on a combination of hot topics that are at the forefront of our planning and municipal communities. Topics include social equity, multifamily impacts, commercial vacancies, and sustainable housing. Webinar participants can expect succinct but substantial discussions on these important issues being faced by our communities, businesses, and residents. Join us for the start of a new tradition of presenting multiple hot topics in Montgomery County as part of our Planning Smarter series. 

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Building A Strong Planning Commission
April 22, 2021 | 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM | Online Course | Cost: $25

A strong and well-organized planning commission is the key to a successful planning program. While Article II of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) provides the authority to have a planning commission, it offers no guidance for how to be an effective unit serving the elected governing body and the community. Using hands-on activities and interactive discussions, this course will explore the full range of a planning commission’s work, how it can be organized to accomplish more of its goals, and what is needed to prepare members to get involved in the group’s work.

Schuylkill River Trail

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Montco 2040 logoHappy Trails! Planning and Designing Trails for All Users
April 29, 2021 | 4:00 PM– 5:30 PM | Webinar | Free 

Montgomery County has an extensive and very popular trail network. However, the demographics of our trail users do not always reflect the diversity of the communities they pass through and, often, there are physical and cultural barriers preventing local residents from accessing our trail system. In response to this issue and to support the transportation and equity goals established in the county’s comprehensive plan, Montco 2040: A Shared Vision, the county prepared and adopted the Montgomery County Trail Access, Diversity, & Awareness PlanJoin us to explore this innovative plan, which aims to promote equity on county trails, broaden the diversity of trail users, and modernize trail designs to address the evolving demographics of our constituents. This free event, incorporating both virtual and on-site components, will demonstrate how best practices can be applied to any community trail network in the county.

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The Limits to Zoning
May 27, 2021 | 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM | Online Course | Cost: $25

Zoning is a powerful tool of local government, but its power is not unlimited. Community expectations for zoning are high, but ordinance drafters and administrators must know the limitations and the effect they have on a municipality’s zoning program. This course will explore limitations, such as those in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), the Police Power, non-conforming use property rights, and state and federal laws impacting local zoning. This is not a zoning case law update, but it is an interactive discussion of common zoning issues with an opportunity to look at them in the context of the course.

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Managing the Subdivision Review Process
June 1, 2021 | 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM | Online Course | Cost: $25

Subdivision and land development ordinances are the most common land use regulation in the commonwealth. For many local planning commissions, reviewing development applications takes up most of their meeting time. This course will look at the important work of a commission in managing the review process, which is tightly structured by the municipalities planning code. Many procedures can be easily misunderstood and can create problems for municipal planners and officials. This course will examine the complex review process and will point out problem areas and how to avoid them through a hands-on discussion. It describes how planning commissions, along with project applicants, are engaged in a collaborative process to build the future community.

*This online course is one of a series being offered statewide on several dates by the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute (PMPEI). We are sponsoring specific course dates that will be taught by certified Montgomery County instructors or have MCPC staff available to address local issues. Each course is $25. Course registration and payment are handled directly by PMPEI at