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The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania

Comprehensive Plan

Web Version – Updated with 2010 U.S. Census information

Existing Land Use(click to enlarge)

Lansdowne and East Lansdowne’s Comprehensive Plans


Future Land Use(click to enlarge)
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(detailed docs for download are in the plan organization section)

A comprehensive plan is a long-range planning tool used to define an area’s vision, goals, and policies. An effective plan accurately communicates citizens’ needs and desires about their community and recommends specific strategies to achieve those values. A typical plan sets a 10-year vision for the community.

The process of revising Lansdowne and East Lansdowne’s comprehensive plans was begun in spring 2003. The Boroughs determined that the policies in the 1983 (Lansdowne) and 1976 (East Lansdowne) plans needed updating to guide the communities into the twenty-first century and the new millennium. The goals set for the comprehensive plan update were to create a document that is based on the community’s vision of Lansdowne and East Lansdowne’s future. The Boroughs wanted to complete a document that is user friendly, incorporates all of the amendments to the previous plan, and is more comprehensive than previous plans.

The Comprehensive Plan Task Force (CPTF) provided general guidance throughout the plan process. The CPTF is comprised of citizens from diverse backgrounds and interests and includes two Borough Council members, two Borough Managers, one Planning Commissioner, and three members of the local business community. The CPTF provided a variety of input including general policy guidance, strategies for receiving public input, ideas for inclusion in the plan through brainstorming, and review and refinement of plan drafts. The Planning Commissions and Borough Councils also reviewed plan drafts and held public meetings to engage the community in the planning process and receive public input.

The comprehensive plan is a document prepared to assist in guiding future growth and development. It contains sections on various aspects of the Lansdowne and East Lansdowne community such as community development goals and objectives, environment, housing, transportation and land use. It is officially adopted by the governing body of a municipality, and is implemented to a large extent by zoning and by subdivision and land development ordinances. The plan must be periodically reviewed and updated and must have the understanding and support of local residents, the planning commission and the governing body.

A comprehensive plan is more that 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 strategy for land use patterns of tomorrow. Even to not plan is a strategy for dealing with what lies ahead. Community planning is an organized way or process of thinking about tomorrow. Thinking about how a community changed in the past can help predict what changes might occur in the future. When this type of thinking translates into action, it needs to be done in an orderly fashion and made part of a routine administrative process.

Lansdowne and East Lansdowne Comprehensive Plan Planning Process

The Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) Act 247 as amended, requires comprehensive plans to include a statement of the community’s development goals and objectives, as well as plans for land use, transportation, community facilities, housing, historic preservation, and the environment. In addition to these required plan elements; this plan contains sections and chapters about the Boroughs’ demographic characteristics, their vision for the future, sources of funding and technical assistance and implementation tools and methods. The goals, objectives, and recommendations outlined in the plan are based on the combined input from local residents, Borough staff, elected and appointed officials, as well as that of the Delaware County Planning Department.

The 2003 plan process began with a review of the community’s vision of Boroughs and an overall evaluation of the future elements expected to shape land use throughout the Boroughs. The Vision Statement represents the overall long-range vision for the Boroughs. The remainder of the plan contains detailed analysis and action strategies to help achieve this community vision.


Visioning is a relatively new and commonly used tool in developing the goals, objectives, and policies of a comprehensive plan. A vision statement describes in general terms the residents’ overall opinion of and commitment to their ideal community. Therefore, it identifies the community’s ultimate long-range goal.

The vision of the Boroughs is… “…to create a community that cherishes its heritage, fosters socially and economically healthy environments, encourages safe human-scale development, and efficiently uses land, infrastructure, and public facilities and services.”

While this vision statement provides the broad concept of the community’s long-term vision, some elaboration is necessary to provide a clearer picture of this idealistic society. The statements below are designed to portray this long-term vision. The Boroughs are striving toward a community that:

  • Maintains and encourages stable, blight-free neighborhoods where homeowners and residents can invest with reasonable assurance that their investment is secure.
  • Preserves the layout of the Boroughs, ensuring compatible, neatly spaced residences along streets that are pedestrian oriented and discourage high volumes of vehicular traffic and speeds;
  • Encourages diversity in land uses, economic development, housing opportunities, and social and cultural activities;
  • Encourages and supports business, government, and citizens to work together to attain common goals and fully capitalize on the community’s resources;
  • Capitalizes on its unique cultural characteristics to develop new retail and service opportunities;
  • Supports planned and designed public spaces and facilities that promote the maximum opportunity for social interaction and engagement;
  • Promotes the conservation of open spaces and the provision of parks and public recreation facilities designed for all members of the community, regardless of age, interest or physical ability;
  • Offers age-appropriate recreational facilities and programs to residents of all abilities;
  • Encourages outdoor recreational activities, festivals and events;
  • Provides and supports pedestrian-oriented and human-scaled streetscape and urban design that fosters a sense of place, pride of place, belonging, and accessibility for all members of the community;
  • Provides a setting that encourages people to locate, remain or return to the Boroughs out of choice because they offer a healthy, safe and enriching environment in which to raise their families;
  • Preserves its cultural resources by supporting the protection and rehabilitation of historically or architecturally significant structures and sites;
  • Provides an integrated network of multi-use paths/trails utilizing public rights-of-way and stream valleys;
  • Provides and maintains attractively landscaped entranceways and streetscapes containing shade trees along clean, well-maintained streets;


In order to attain or at least come close to the generalized ends expressed in its Vision Statements, a comprehensive plan must contain a clear statement of goals and objectives. This statement should be a reflection of the needs and desires of the community as well as an indication of the actions required to achieve the envisioned future.

The term goal, as used in this plan, is an expression of the generalized end-points or ultimate purposes that the Boroughs strive to achieve. Objectives on the other hand are more specific and measurable actions necessary to move towards these goals. In most cases, several objectives must be achieved or nearly achieved before the goal is reached.

Recommendations are the very specific actions or directions that must be taken and effectively carried out so that a given objective is attained. Frequently, an objective can be reached only by carrying out several recommendations.

The goals, objectives, and recommendations identified in comprehensive plans typically contain highly interrelated statements. For example, goals/objectives stated in terms of land use issues are frequently strongly related to those framed as of transportation issues. Whenever this occurs, it is important to assure that these statements are reasonably consistent with one another.

One of the most critical elements of well-crafted goals and objectives is that they reflect the needs and desires of the community. Accordingly, it has been necessary to elicit the views and opinions of local officials and residents to prepare useful statements of goals and objectives.


This plan is a multi-municipal comprehensive plan for Lansdowne and East Lansdowne. Before the adoption of this Plan, the Boroughs were using comprehensive plans prepared in 1976 (East Lansdowne) and 1983 (Lansdowne). At the time, both documents met the requirements of the MPC, but today are extremely out of date and do not comply with the year 2000 amendments to the MPC.


On behalf of the Boroughs, the Delaware County Planning Department secured a Land Use Planning and Technical Assistance Program (LUPTAP) state grant in the amount of $21,850 and a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in the amount of $17,480. The remaining 10% of the total project cost ($43,700) was provided by the Boroughs. The state grant was obtained through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the block grant was obtained through the Delaware County Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), and the local match was divided equally between the two participating boroughs.


In April 2003, Lansdowne and East Lansdowne began working with the Delaware County Planning Department (DCPD) to update their comprehensive plans. This plan is the result of an extensive effort by many persons. The DCPD staff performed much of the research and drafted the text in coordination with the CPTF consisting of representatives of each Borough. This CPTF and DCPD staff met regularly to exchange information and review the work performed by DCPD staff.

This document contains significant data describing conditions in the Boroughs, as it was in 2003-2004. Much of the information was obtained from an analysis of U.S. Census data, zoning hearing board records, and County documents such as subdivision reviews, parcel records, and maps. Information concerning the Boroughs’ existing development was obtained from land-use surveys conducted by DCPD staff in 2003.


In June 2000, Pennsylvania adopted its own “smart growth” legislation uniquely tailored to the traditions, law and politics of Pennsylvania. Act 67 (House Bill 14) and Act 68 (Senate Bill 300) both amend the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). These reforms enable counties and municipalities to take more control over their destiny by planning together for both development and conservation of resources, and, most importantly, implementing such plans through cooperative agreements and consistent ordinances and actions.More specifically, multi-municipal planning under Act 247, as amended by Acts 67 and Act 68 can:

  • Promote the protection of rural resources: The laws enable require all municipalities to plan and zone for natural and historic resources, and agricultural lands. Within a multi-municipal plan, it is easier to protect larger areas of lands from intense development by designating growth areas in or around existing developed places and rural resource areas for more limited development. Promote development in older boroughs and suburbs: The laws give municipalities the opportunity to plan with neighboring municipalities for more dense development in their municipalities, by making use of and improving existing infrastructure and providing for infill and traditional neighborhood development.
  • Provide funding incentives: The laws authorize state agencies to provide funding priority under state funding programs for multi-municipal planning and implementation.
  • Require state agencies to incorporate local plans in decision-making: The laws require state agencies to consider and/or rely upon the multi-municipal plan in making funding and permitting decisions.
  • Address regional issues: The laws enable municipalities to identify and address issues that are regional in nature, such as sewer and water provisions, emergency services, agricultural preservation, transportation issues and developments of regional scope. Planning for these issues together can eliminate duplication of efforts, encourage communication among municipalities and create opportunities for more efficient use of resources.
  • Allow cost sharing: The laws allow sharing of the significant costs of a sound land use plan, and the ability to use the technical assistance and expertise of county planning departments, state, regional, and local agencies, and/or to share planning tasks among the participating municipalities.
  • Protect against curative amendment lawsuits: Municipalities within a multi-municipal planning area no longer necessarily have to provide for every use. The laws now direct the court in a zoning challenge to look at the availability of uses under the zoning ordinances of municipalities participating in a plan and not to limit its consideration to the zoning ordinance being challenged where all municipalities have adopted and are implementing a multi-municipal plan.
  • Authorize Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) across municipal boundaries: The laws authorize adoption of a transfer of development rights program across municipal boundaries, for the region of the plan. The use of transfer of development rights in an area that combines rural lands and urban municipalities could enable farmers to sell development rights to developers for use in a city, borough or more suburban township within the plan, thereby relieving pressure on rural lands, and helping to sustain developed areas.
  • Allow tax-base sharing across municipal boundaries: The laws authorize agreements for the sharing of tax revenues and fees within the region of the plan. The tax and revenue sharing tools mean that the burdens and the benefits of such development are shared and contribute to the economic health of all the municipalities in the plan. For example, some percentage of the real estate tax from a large shopping mall or industrial park could be shared among municipalities in the plan on a formula basis.
  • Retain local control: The laws allow municipalities to retain local control over implementation and local issues so long as implementation is consistent with the multi-municipal framework plan.*

[* Planning Beyond Boundaries: A Multi-municipal Planning and Implementation Manual for Pennsylvania Municipalities, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, 2002.]


This plan is organized into twelve chapters and is bound into a three-ring binder. This provides the Boroughs with the maximum convenience in making future plan revisions as conditions warrant. It allows the Boroughs to incrementally update the plan one section at a time.Each section has been carefully prepared to support and enhance the other sections but is not dependent on them. This allows the sections to act independently, as well as cooperatively with one another to meet the overall vision of the region. The general organization of the plan is as follows: (hotlinks below link to .pdf chapter files for Acrobat Reader)

* Chapter 1 – (reproduced here for the web) Introduction: provides an overview of the comprehensive plan, and includes the Vision Statement.

* Chapter 2 – Community Profile: presents a brief history of the Boroughs and analyzes their demographic characteristics.

* Chapter 3 – Community Facilities and Services: describes the level and adequacy of community facilities and services such as police protection, fire protection, library service, and borough administration.

* Chapter 4 – Historic Preservation: provides a detailed history of the area and a plan for the preservation of the Boroughs’ cultural and historic resources.

* Chapter 5 – Environment: describes the area’s natural features and explores the region’s environmental issues.

* Chapter 6 – Parks and Recreation: discusses existing conditions of parks and open space areas and presents recommendations for additional recreation areas, facilities, and recreation programs.

* Chapter 7 – Housing: presents various housing conditions and recommendations to improve them.

* Chapter 8 – Transportation: discusses methods to enhance and expand the local and regional transportation system.

* Chapter 9 – Land Use: is an inventory of present land uses, discussion of principal problem areas, and recommended actions for the revitalization of the Boroughs.

* Chapter 10 – Implementation: is a discussion of the tools and strategies available to the Boroughs to implement the recommendations stated in the Plan.

* Chapter 11 – Two-Year Action Agenda: lists the priority actions that the Boroughs should take within the first two years after adoption of this plan.

* Chapter 12 – Funding and Technical Assistance: lists the funding agencies and programs and sources of technical information needed to pay for and properly implement plan recommendations.


This plan has been written in a consistent and straightforward manner, intended to be read either from cover to cover OR consulted as needed as a reference. The reader can flip to any chapter, read the existing conditions for the topic discussed, and continue to the recommendations designed to alleviate any deficiencies or shortcomings. A funding program and/or source of technical assistance follows each recommendation, where applicable. Chapter 12 – Funding Programs and Technical Assistance, provides a description of the applicable funding programs, sources of technical assistance, and specific contact information. The sources of funding and technical assistance are listed alphabetically and are divided into two sections – Funding Programs and Technical Assistance.

Members of each Borough Council should always turn to this plan when considering policy matters. They should consult this report to see the basic direction the plan sets forth and the more specific objectives it outlines for the various areas such as land use, transportation, housing, etc.

Similarly, when Council or other local boards or officials are considering specific matters, they should consult the goals and objectives as well as the text of the specific chapter that addresses the topic in question, to see if it provides guidance and direction through its recommendations. The goals, objectives, and recommendations outlined in the report are based on the combined input from local residents, staff, and elected and appointed officials, as well as that of the Delaware County Planning Department.

Unfortunately, in many cases, municipalities ignore their own comprehensive plan, which contains valuable information on how to approach and make decisions on the very topics with which they are having difficulty. Therefore, the plan should be used as a reference for providing guidance on a wide variety of issues, problems, and challenges facing the Boroughs.

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