Planning Commission

This is the official blog of the Montgomery County Planning Commission.

Feb 01

Never Bored in Montco

Posted on February 1, 2018 at 9:15 AM by Michael Stokes

There is a lot to do in Montgomery County.  Here are a few things that we have done in the past few years to explore our county.  No doubt there are many more things that you can think of .  The most important thing is doing them, then sharing the experience with others.  Good luck and enjoy.
  1. Starting the New Year off in ice cold water at the Pottstown Polar Bear Plunge
  2. Finding unbelievable bargains at the Philadelphia Premium Outlet Mall or other stores throughout the county.
  3. Watching the Pottstown Independence Day Parade or any other great local parades held around the county
  4. Spiking the ball at the Pottstown Volley Ball Rumble- largest grass volleyball tournament in the US
  5. Doing crazy things on a bike at the BMX Track in Pottstown
  6. Visiting  Zerns in Gilbertsville to buy treasures or junk
  7. Seeing the world in living color at Mum Mountain during the fall in Schwenksville
  8. Skiing or zip line soaring at Spring Mountain
  9. Becoming lost in the wilderness in Fulshaw Craeg in Salford Township
  10. Bicycling along Swamp Creek Road from Historic Sumneytown to Finland
  11. Having an ear to ear grinning good time at the Philadelphia Folk Festival
  12. Visiting the historic Speakers House (home of Frederick Muhlenberg  the first speaker of the US Congress) and Henry Muhlenberg House in Trappe
  13. Gliding across the Green Lane Reservoir in a kayak
  14. Strolling on the Perkiomen Trail in any direction
  15. Watching the Civil War brought to life at the Pennypacker Mansion
  16. Running and canoeing the Lenape Challenge or any of the over 300 running races held annual in Montco
  17. Paddling the Schuylkill Canal and River loop in Mont Clare
  18. Running the 5-mile Parade Ground loop through Valley Forge National Historical Park
  19. Hiking through the Schuylkill Gorge from Lock 60 to the Upper Schuylkill Valley Park
  20. Getting local fresh foods at one of the farmers markets in the county
  21. Visiting a real movie theater such as Ambler, Hiway in Jenkintown, Narberth, Bryn Mawr or the Grand in East Greenville.
  22. Catching a play at a great Montgomery County Theater in Souderton
  23. Yukking it up at the Stoogeum in Lower Gwynedd Township
  24. Absorbing past history at local cemeteries- pick your favorite
  25. Marveling the amazing lighting in the Beth Sholom Synagogue-Frank Lloyd Wright’s master  in Elkins Park
  26. Being part of the May Day tradition at Bryn Mawr College
  27. Visiting the historic Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe- oldest continually operating Lutheran Church in the America
  28. Attending a harvest festival at Peter Wentz Farmstead
  29. Diving deeply into the Romanesque and gothic experience at the Bryn Athyn Cathedral and nearby Cairnwood and Glencairn mansions
  30. Understanding life in the wild blue yonder  at the Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum in Horsham
  31. Visiting to the Highlands in Whitemarsh
  32. Being photographed at Council Rock in Lorimer Park
  33. Rocking out at the Keswick Theater  (the Phish Concert from 1992 is still is ringing in my ears)
  34. Spotting the mansions in Cheltenham
  35. Surviving a one-day trek along the entire Wissahickon Trail from Upper Gwynedd to Philadelphia) during the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association trail walk day
  36. Cheering on the soapbox derby racers in Conshohocken
  37. Admiring classic cars at local car shows such as Pottstown, Hatboro, Skippack, Conshohocken and Collegeville
  38. Hiking through the Pennypack Wilderness Area
  39. Walking through Hollywood in Abington Township with real authentic Hollywood style houses
  40. Visiting the historic Quaker Meeting Houses such as the Abington Friends Meeting House
  41. Driving through  a stream in Gladwyne on a road ford
  42. Watching cricket at the Merion Cricket Club
  43. Strolling to Philadelphia over the great Manayunk Bridge
  44. Riding the SEPTA Paoli Local through the MainLine
  45. Shopping till you drop at the King of Prussia Mall or other county malls
  46. Lying on a blanket at a summer concert at various local parks
  47. Rowing the Schuylkill River
  48. Roaming the grounds at the Abington Arts Center amidst the environmental sculpture
  49. Watching big time college baseball at the Villanova  or St. Joes ball parks
  50. Golfing at one of the great  56 courses in the County of Montgomery
  51. Shopping at one of the Nation’s first malls- Suburban Square
  52. Exercising at the Norristown Farm Park
  53. Picnicking at the Lower Perkiomen Valley Park and any other great park
  54. Visiting the Morgan log house in Towamencin Township
  55. Competing at the CanJam at the SlyFox Brewery in Pottstown
  56. Cooling off at the Hatfield Township Pool (and water park)
  57. Strolling, shopping and eating in Skippack Village
  58. Checking out early farming artifacts at the Worcester Museum
  59. Relaxing with fresh ice cream from Merrymeade Farms or other farm stores in the county
  60. Laughing all the way down the 40-foot slide at the Manderach Playground in Limerick
  61. Watching hawks at the lookout in Fort Washington State Park
  62. Picking fresh food at Willow Creek Farm or other county farms
  63. Skating at the historic Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society rink in Ardmore
  64. Hanging out with the animals at the Elmwood Park Zoo
  65. Trying to get your arms around a really big tree like the Methacton Charter Oak
  66. Visiting a by-gone era at the Goschenhoppen Festival held in August in New Hanover
  67. Hiking the trails in Evansburg State Park
  68. Visiting the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville
  69. Bicycling in the Cyclecross events at the SlyFox Brewery in Pottstown
  70. Watching (or even better competing) in a bike races held throughout the county
  71. Strolling through the Berman Gallery at Ursinus College
  72. Attending the International Festival at North Penn High School
  73. Drinking locally crafted beer at many different local brew pubs in nearly all of our classic towns
  74. Taking in the Jenkintown Arts Festival
  75. Ice skating the canal in Mont Clare- in a good winter you can do the whole 2.5 miles of it, but you will also have to skate back.
The pictures of most of these adventures are in our photo site:
Dec 21

Murals in Montco

Posted on December 21, 2017 at 12:40 PM by Michael Stokes

Outdoor murals can be great assets in all types of communities if done thoughtfully.  Murals cover a wide range of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other permanent surface. They are distinctive due to their scale and the fact that they include architectural elements at their location.  Some outdoor murals are painted on large canvases or boards affixed to a wall, while the more traditional mural is painted on a prepared plaster or stucco surface.

Murals can offer engaging social or historic commentary that can be both aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking.  They can humanize and energize barren urban spaces.   If done well, murals can have a very positive effect on a community. 

Developing a mural should be a community process that involves the engagement of various stakeholders working with artists from the initial design through the mural painting. Since murals are large and often become significant features in any community, it is important that they respect their surroundings.  With local support, murals are protected from vandalism and can be created with volunteer participation.  The maintenance of murals and the ultimate removal of them is an important consideration that should be addressed upfront.

There are several interesting murals spread around the county.  Though we may pale by comparison to the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, which has created thousands of transformative murals over the past 30 years, our local murals continue to make an impact. Check out few of them below:

You know that you are near a zoo when you see this mural

Schwenksville_Mural (1)
This prominent blank wall in Schwenksville was transformed into a attractive
mural with the help of the Montgomery County 2040 Grant Program

Thousands of people pass this mural in Norristown along DeKalb Street

This mural inspires gardeners in Pottstown

In Royersford, a mural was painted on the side of an ugly factory building
as part of a riverfront revitalization effort.

Murals are part of place-making as this one in Harleysville demonstrates

Glenside_Train_Station (1)
Transforming dark underpasses is a challenging job for murals such as
this one in Glenside

Nov 28

Construction in Montgomery County Viewed from Two Wheels

Posted on November 28, 2017 at 9:17 AM by Michael Stokes

If you travel around the county, you can’t avoid noticing all of the new construction going on.  Quite a change from many of the last ten years when construction was slowed down due to the Great Recession.   Later next February we will be releasing our annual summary of development activity in 2017.   That report will describe what is being proposed in the county.  During next summer, we will be providing more numbers about new residential and non-residential projects completed in the county during 2017.  So for now here is a quick scrap book of what is being built as seen during weekend bicycle trips around the county. 

No discussion about development in Montgomery County can start any other place than the Village at Valley Forge, clearly the epicenter of the current county building boom.

Amazingly enough despite the fact that over 2,400 apartment units are being built at the Village at Valley Forge, another large apartment complex is being constructed nearby in Upper Merion with access to the new township Schuylkill West Trail and Valley Forge Park.  Overall, apartments are the hottest single type of development taking place in the county.

Lansdale_Station_Apts_ (2)
Speaking of apartments, the ground breaking was recently held for the Lansdale Station Apartments adjoining the newly built SEPTA overpass at the Lansdale Train Station.  Transit accessibility is another hot development trend in the county currently.

One_Ardmore_Place (63)
In Ardmore, that transit accessible theme is picked up in the One Ardmore Place residential apartment building being constructed a block from the Ardmore Train Station.

The largest institutional construction project in the county is also located in Lower Merion.  The new Bryn Mawr Hospital Pavilion will add about 200,000 square feet of space to the already large Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Hatboro_Development_Toll (1)

The transit access theme is also picked up in the new townhouse project in Hatboro being built a few blocks from the Hatboro Train Station.

Other townhouse projects are being constructed around the county such as this stacked townhouse project being built in Lansdale (also within walking distance of the Lansdale Train Station).

We are also seeing different types of attached housing products that are particularly attractive to older adults such as this 84- unit Club View development in Limerick Township.

Carriage homes are also a popular development choice.  This project in Upper Providence Township near the US Route 422 interchange at Route 29 was filled with sold signs on nearly every lot.

Some housing being constructed results from adaptive reuse of older institutional structures such as the former Trappe Middle School being redeveloped into luxury condominiums.

Though most construction projects in the county involve housing, there are a few office buildings under construction such as the Arborcrest building being constructed on the former Unisys campus in Whitpain Township.

To keep up with the new construction, municipal buildings are being expanded to such as the Limerick Township building.  The Springfield Township and Upper Providence Township buildings are also being redeveloped.

Of course with all of the new construction, there will be need for expanded fire services.   Pictured here is the new fire station for the Whitpain Fire Company.

Commercial development is probably the one lagging development type.  There is some retail development taking place, but most of it involves the redevelopment of existing shopping centers.   A new Royal Farms convenience store is being constructed in this Norristown shopping center.

Certainly there are several other projects that we did not show throughout the county.  Overall a very busy year for development.  The numbers that we release next year should document that fact.