Schlossberg bill to plan for regional growth approved by House committee

HARRISBURG, June 26 – The PA House Local Government Committee today approved state Rep. Mike Schlossberg’s legislation to address the effects of mega development on quality of life throughout the region.

“We need to be clear about something: Growth is good,” said Schlossberg, D-Lehigh. “Growth makes our excellent schools and thriving economy possible, along with the balance of urban, suburban and rural settings in our region. Unmitigated growth — growth without adequate planning — may enhance aspects of our economy, but typically at a tremendous cost.”

Those costs, notes Schlossberg, include life-altering traffic congestion, loss of agriculture and open space, higher levels of air and water pollution, crumbling roads, higher taxes, and harm to natural resources and wildlife. Current state law makes it difficult for local governments to adequately protect their communities.

“Lehigh County was the second fastest-growing county in Pennsylvania over the past decade, and our region is booming,” Schlossberg said. “That boom, however, makes for challenges and I have heard loud and clear that those challenges are becoming unbearable for many people who live in Parkland and Allentown.”

In response, Schlossberg introduced H.B. 782 to give local governments more tools, including the requirement of an analysis for projects of regional significance to better understand the impacts and costs of these projects on traffic, future infrastructure, emergency management services, sewer, storm water, damage to agriculture lands, parks, open space, area neighborhoods, and natural resources and wildlife. The legislation also would allow county and regional planning commissions such as the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission to provide stronger feedback to local governments by determining which projects require an impact analysis.

“Reasonable and responsible growth is expected in life as it creates jobs, expands economic opportunities, and supplies needed housing in growing regions such as the Lehigh Valley,” said Schlossberg. “I am grateful to Chairman Bob Freeman for his help and guidance on this legislation and my colleagues who voted to move this legislation forward.”

House Bill 782 now goes to the full House or Representatives for consideration. Full House and Senate is required before it can be presented to Gov. Josh Shapiro for his signature to become law.