Penn State Extension will offer a Web-based seminar providing guidance for municipalities on a form-based code approach to development.

 Penn State Extension will offer a Web-based seminar providing guidance for municipalities on a form-based code approach to development.

Scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Sept. 18, the 75-minute session, "The ABCs of Form-Based Codes," will feature John Trant Jr. and Thomas Comitta.

Trant is chief strategy officer in the Planning Department of Cranberry Township in Butler County, and Comitta is founder and CEO of Thomas Comitta Associates of West Chester, a town planning and landscape architecture firm serving public and private clients throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

Many suburban communities lack a neighborhood structure like the older cities and boroughs with their existing street network and block structure, according to webinar coordinator Peter Wulfhorst, extension educator specializing in economic and community development.

"These land developments have a lack of connectedness and possess a sprawling character," he said. "In addition, these communities have a lack of charming spaces, a lack of mixed-use spaces and spaces out of scale with pedestrians. The need for infrastructure extensions for these communities has become expensive."

Over the past 10-plus years, many planning and design professionals have hoped for better results with the built environment, Wulfhorst noted. In places like cities and boroughs, we have assumed that the form of infill development and redevelopment would "fall into line" and emulate the neighborhoods, streets and streetscapes that have been in place for the past 50 to 100 years.

When new development, infill development or redevelopment takes place, it can be more fiscally responsible, aesthetically pleasing and memorable when the form is right. The webinar will shed new light on these issues.

"A form-based code approach will offer the opportunity to create places that become immediate assets," Wulfhorst said. "'The ABCs of Form-Based Codes' will present the history and evolution of form-based codes, a menu of options for how to promulgate form for codes and an assortment of examples of form-based codes."

The webinar is the third of five in a summer/fall series focusing on land-use planning and decision making. For a fee of $30, registrants can access all five of the sessions as live events or recordings.

CM credits are available to certified planners at one fee of $60 for all five 1.25-credit, 75-minute sessions.

The sessions in the series include:
• July 17: "Solar Model Ordinance: Not to be Confused with the Sunshine Act," 1.25 CM credits available, (now offered as a recording).
• Aug. 21: "Enhancing Vehicular, Bicycle and Pedestrian Connectivity," (now offered as a recording).
• Sept. 18: "The ABCs of Form-Based Codes" (noon-1:15 p.m.), 1.25 CM credits available.
• Oct. 16: "Fiscal Impacts of Different Land Uses" (noon-1:15 p.m.), 1.25 CM credits available.
• Nov. 20: "Facing the Challenges of Plan Implementation" (noon-1:15 p.m.), 1.25 CM credits available.

This series promotes understanding of current planning issues, creation of local regulations, planning that benefits the community and local resources available to decision-makers. The sessions provide information valuable to landowners and land managers as they contemplate and plan for the future uses of their properties.

A previous winter/spring 2013 series of land use webinars is now also available as recordings. Five, one-hour long webinars are offered as a package for one fee. Sessions include:

• "Planning in PA: Land Use, Communities and Beyond"

• "How Preemption of Zoning and Other Local Controls Impacts Planning"

• "Renewable Energy Implementation and Land Use Regulations -- Is There Conflict?"

• "Developing More Effective Citizen Engagement: A How-to Guide for Community Leaders"

• "Low-Impact Development and Smart Growth: How Are They Best Integrated and Utilized in Our Communities?"

To view the winter/spring series, and to register for other special-edition, land use decision-making, current issue webinars offered by Penn State Extension, go to Also see Click on the "recorded webinars" link.

For more information, contact Jeff Himes at or call 570-724-9120 or visit the website at to register for the webinars.