Since 1992, the County of Berks has made a concerted attempt to promote greater intergovernmental cooperation in our community. Acting as either a direct provider of programs or as catalyst for change, a real team effort has been underway.
The County, through its Community Development Office and Planning Commission staff, has made a commitment to intergovernmental cooperation. Four programs have been implemented: Joint Local Comprehensive Planning Program; Joint Zoning Program; Agricultural Zoning Incentive Program (AZIP); and Existing Developed Areas Program (EDAP). In 1997, the Berks County Board of Commissioners adopted an Intergovernmental Cooperation Policy that reinforced the County’s overall commitment to regional planning and inter-municipal cooperation. This Policy reflects the growing interest in inter-municipal initiatives that allow municipalities with limited resources to work together to provide future land use policies and programs to their residents as efficiently and inexpensively as possible. This Policy also provides ways to implement the County Comprehensive Plan.
The successes of these programs have not gone unnoticed. In April of 1999, the County of Berks received the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence for Building Community Partnerships. In June of the same year, the Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development presented the Community Development office with the John J. Gunther Award recognizing the Joint Planning Program. Finally, the Planning Commission received the Pennsylvania Planning Association's 1999 Outstanding Planning Award for Implementation, yet again recognizing the Joint Planning Program's efforts.
Through these programs, the County will continue to encourage regional planning through inter-municipal cooperation.
If your municipality is interested in participating in one of our programs, please contact us at (610) 478-6300.
Joint Comprehensive Planning Program
The Joint Planning Program was established in 1992. This program has enjoyed a great deal of success. By the end of 2006, over two thirds of the County’s municipalities had completed a plan under the Program, with an additional 9 municipalities in the process of completing a joint comprehensive plan or update. The Program received statewide attention in 1999 by winning awards from the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Planning Association, and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
- To improve the quality of local comprehensive plans
- To create a greater dialogue between the County and municipal officials during the planning process
- To identify and encourage regional cooperative efforts
- To ensure consistency with the County Comprehensive Plan
This program is for two or more municipalities that agree to complete a Joint Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission staff will assist throughout the process, including applying for LUPTAP grant funds, administering the procurement process for all professional planning services, assisting the municipalities in the development of a work program, and attending monthly progress meetings. The municipalities will be required to make a financial contribution towards the cost of the project. The joint comprehensive plan must, under commonwealth law, be generally consistent with the County Comprehensive Plan.
Joint Comprehensive Plans- Click Here to View Map
The Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) authorizes municipalities to create and enact zoning provisions within their municipality. These provisions guide growth within the municipality and provide regulation standards within the districts identified in the zoning ordinance.
Ordinances prepared jointly must conform to the standards set forth in the Pennsylvania MPC, including the formation of a joint Zoning Hearing Board, and be consistent with the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Municipalities have the option to retain their existing zoning hearing boards to administer the joint zoning ordinance for properties located within their individual municipalities. Municipalities also have the option to appoint a single zoning officer to administer the entire jurisdiction of the ordinance.
These ordinances are regulated and administered by each individual municipality. Municipalities participating in joint zoning are identified on the map below. For the most current ordinances, please contact the appropriate municipality.