Hershey, PA updates its comprehensive plan

The Hershey Theater in Derry Township, Hershey, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mr. T in DC.

Hershey is a rural town of 25,000 residents in the center of Pennsylvania, best known for being home to The Hershey Company and Hershey Park. Now, Hershey’s Derry Township is working to make sure new development benefits residents and visitors alike.

In 2010, the city’s Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to update Hershey’s 1991 Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinances to include smart growth policies. To help achieve this goal, Hershey applied for and received a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America and Clarion Associates, on Smart Growth Zoning Codes for Small Cities.

Since 2012, city leaders have worked to improve community understanding of and commitment to the smart growth strategies included in the revised plan. Community volunteers even drafted a community survey that was mailed to 10,000 households, emailed to 1,100 residents, and circulated it to a variety of organizations in Hershey to assess community goals. Hershey also reached out to major companies in the area, which own much of the township’s land, to ensure that they were also on board. As it turned out, several of the companies were already implementing smart growth policies for their land on their own.

Over 100 community members came to Smart Growth America’s public evening presentation on October 11, 2012, including all five of Hershey’s elected supervisors – a reflection of this broad public commitment. The following day’s workshop focused on the township’s zoning code and subdivision/land development ordinances. Township leaders identified that these regulations are currently suburban-oriented with low density districts and separation of uses. Smart Growth America and Clarion Associates presented Hershey with a menu of options to consider when amending their development codes, and workshop participants then chose three-to-five potential changes that were considered most important and feasible. Participants identified the following three key issues: encourage compact, mixed-use development in targeted growth areas; enhance mobility options; and promote green infrastructure storm water management. Read more about the potential changes in our next steps memo to Derry Township.

The community will now meeting to discuss implementation steps and which agencies will take the lead in promoting the adoption of specific code amendments. Smart Growth America and Clarion recommended that the township should complete the Comprehensive Plan prior to, on in conjunction with, any major revisions to the ordinances. Follow their progress in the Workshop Materials section.

Workshop Materials

About Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance

Each year, Smart Growth America makes a limited number of technical assistance workshops available to interested communities for zero cost. This competitive award gives communities a chance to understand the technical aspects of smart growth development through a one- or two-day workshop. Applications for Smart Growth America’s 2012 free technical assistance workshops are now closed, but you can learn about the next opportunity by joining our mailing list.

Technical assistance