Plainfield Enacts Ordinance To Protect Appalachian Trail from Development Impacts

By a vote of 5-0, the Plainfield Township Supervisors on Wednesday supported a sweeping ordinance (see attached) that will create better protection for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) and the resources of the township. The new ordinance creates a buffer that will prevent projects such as natural gas pipelines, wind turbines, solar panels and cellular towers from being located near the A.T. The new ordinance also addresses the siting of water and mineral extraction, billboards and mobile home units. The A.T. travels along the northern boundary of Plainfield Township crossing into Wind Gap and continuing for a total of 2.4 miles in Plainfield before entering nearby Hamilton Township.

“The action taken by the Board of Supervisors exemplifies the strong commitment that the governing body has to protect the rural environment and character of Plainfield Township, in addition to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which is enjoyed by several million people annually including many Township residents,” said Tom Petrucci, Plainfield Township Manager. “The Ordinance will also protect vital natural resources in the Township, including water and the night sky. The Board and the Environmental Advisory Council are confident that the work we did follows the spirit of PA Act 24 of 2008, which requires municipalities to adopt zoning that protects the Trail values of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.”

In 2017, the Bethlehem-based Urban Research and Development Corporation (URDC) began drafting the ordinance, working with the township’s Planning Commission, Environmental Advisory Council, and others to address many long-standing issues important to the township and its residents.

Ann Hutchinson, Senior Director of Municipal Planning for Natural Lands, was actively involved in reviewing the ordinance. “It has been a pleasure working with Plainfield Township and helping them translate their goals for conserving the best of their community into local regulations,” she said.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), who provided $16,900 to the township to create the ordinance under a National Park Service grant, hopes other townships in the region follow Plainfield Township’s lead and adopt similar ordinances.

“The Appalachian Trail is continually under threat from incompatible development, and we would encourage all townships through which the A.T. passes to take a hard look at the Plainfield Township ordinance and pass similar regulations,” said Brooks Mountcastle, Environmental Planner for the ATC. “We strongly encourage other townships to tailor the ordinance to their needs in order to protect the Appalachian Trail and other local resources.”

This effort is made possible by the ATC Conservation Assistance Mini-Grant Program, which helps local municipalities and partnering nonprofit organizations preserve and promote community character and the natural and cultural assets within the A.T. landscape in Pennsylvania. Funds for the mini-grant come from the National Park Service’s A.T. Park Office and are provided to the ATC through a cooperative agreement. This project is also supported by the National Audubon Society. For more information about this grant program, contact Brooks Mountcastle at bmountcastle@appalachiantrail.org.

 

About the Appalachian Conservancy

The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park Service, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, please visit www.appalachiantrail.org.

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