Planning and the Planning Department
The role of the newly created Planning Department and Planning Director for the City of Erie has been evolving since the City’s first Director was appointed in January, 2018. The focus of this department is to coordinate the efforts of the City to achieve its goals and implement the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Erie Refocused, and its 5 Year Action Plan. Ensuring that the community’s vision for the future is understood, memorialized and then acted upon is paramount to the mission of planning and will help drive progressive change in Erie. This endeavor will take the collective effort of the City and its community partners to realize so coordination at this moment is key.
The Department works with all other City departments to align resources to meet community needs as well as help identify areas where additional research, policy development, or planning is needed and fill those areas of need. The Planning Department and Director works with the Planning Commission in order to provide the citizen planner’s voice to meet the challenges and opportunities for the City as well as with a multitude of neighborhood groups, businesses, residents, and other agencies within the City and the region.
- A Planning Commission’s primary activity is planning, which according to the American Planning Association, “is a dynamic discipline that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations. Planning enables civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people’s lives. Good planning helps create communities that offer better choices for where and how people live. Planning helps communities to envision their future. It helps them find the right balance of new development and essential services, environmental protection, and innovative change.”
In Pennsylvania, planning commissions are primarily responsible for and charged with developing a comprehensive plan that outlines its specific community planning objectives. As such, planning commissions are on the front line regarding the issues that matter most to many communities. Their leadership is crucial in developing recommendations for implementing change as well as promoting responsible and sustainable community planning practices that have not only local implications, but multi-municipal and regional implications as well.
- A comprehensive plan is more than just a document disclosing past and present land use trends with a proposed course of action. It is a process of organizing for the future. It creates a blueprint for our land use patterns of tomorrow. Community planning is an organized way of thinking about tomorrow. By thinking about how a community changed in the past can help predict what changes might be in store for the future. When this type of thinking translates into action, it needs to be done in an orderly fashion and made part of a local process.
Pennsylvanians know that land is one of our most valuable natural resources and the way it is used or developed creates a significant part of our physical surroundings. Any change in land use becomes a permanent part of our daily lives in the future. Yet all valuable resources must be used reasonably, economically and equitably to benefit both the property owner’s interest as well as the general public. An important power of local government is to plan for and guide the way land resources are used. We hope that this publication assists local officials in this stewardship and planning endeavor.