FINAL COMPLETE PLAN - Borough of State College



FINAL COMPLETE PLAN - Borough of State College
tate College
Land Area Plan
Centre Regional Planning Agency
2643 Gateway Drive Suite #4
State College, PA
uly 2008
July 2008
Executive Summary
Chapter One:
Stable Neighborhoods
Chapter Two:
Commercial Redevelopment Areas
Chapter Three:
Gateways, Promenades, and Corridors
Chapter Four:
Interconnected Greenways
Chapter Five:
Community and University Integrations
Chapter Six:
Environmental Protection
Chapter Seven:
Neighborhood Commercial Opportunities
Chapter Eight:
Transitional Areas
Appendix A—Maps
Enlarged Plan Document Maps
Generalized Existing Land Use Map
Downtown/Highlands Transitional Area
Generalized Plan Element Locations
Appendix B—Photo Credits
Appendix C—Identified Challenges & Opportunities
Location Map of Challenges & Opportunities
Appendix D—Proposed Project Scope of Work
This document would not have been possible without the dedication and continued hard work of the following
individuals and organizations:
The State College Area Plan Steering Committee:
Dave Baker—State College South Association
Ann Bolser—Vallamont Neighborhood Association/Borough Planning Commission (2007)
Zoe Boniface—Holmes-Foster Neighborhood Association
Adam Brumbaugh—College Township Council
Cynthia Carpenter—College Heights Neighborhood Association
Ginny Chuba—College West Association
Pat Daugherty—Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County
Anthony Fragola—College Township Planning Commission
Elizabeth Goreham—State College Borough Council
Peg Hambrick—Highland Civic Association
Jeffery Kern—State College Borough Council (2006-2007)
Nancy Kranich—College Heights Neighborhood Association
Trisha Lang—Ferguson Township Planning Commission
Andy Lau—State College Borough Transportation Commission (2008)
Silvi Lawrence—State College Borough Planning Commission
Steve Miller—Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors
Jean Najjar—Greentrees Area Association
Christina Rambeau—State College Borough Transportation Commission (2006-2007)
Doreen Strauss—Penn State Off-Campus Student Union (2007-2008)
Elizabeth Toepfer—State College Borough Planning Commission
Gordon Turow—Penn State University
Pat Vernon—Northern Highlands Association
Steven Watson—Penn State University
Dave Williams—Penn State Off-Campus Student Union (2006-2007)
George Woskob—Downtown State College, Inc. & Heritage I
Dennis Younkin—State College Area School District
While the membership may have changed throughout this process, the commitment did not.
State College Borough Council
Catherine G. Dauler, President of Council
Thomas E. Daubert
Ronald L. Filippelli
Elizabeth A. Goreham
Donald M. Hahn
Craig R. Humphrey
Jeffrey R. Kern
Elizabeth A. Goreham, President of Council
Ronald Filippelli
Donald M. Hahn
Theresa D. Lafer
Silvi Lawrence
Peter Morris
James L. Rosenberger
William Welch, Mayor
Thomas J. Fontaine II, Borough Manager
State College Borough Planning Commission:
Ron Madrid, Chair
Charles Gable, Vice Chair
Michael Freeman
Silvi Lawrence
Evan Myers
William Ryan
Elizabeth Toepfer
Even Myers, Chair
Ron Madrid, Vice Chair
Ann Bolser
Cynthia Carpenter
Charles Gable
Michael Roeckel
Elizabeth Toepfer
2008 College Township Council:
2008 Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors:
David Fryer, Chair
Daniel Klees, Vice Chair
David Koll
Forrest Remick
Mary Shoemaker
Richard Mascolo, Chair
Richard Killian, Vice Chair
Cecil J. Irvin
Robert Heinsohn
Steve Miller
Adam Brumbaugh, Manager
Mark Kunkle, Manager
State College Borough Planning Department Staff:
Centre Regional Planning Agency Staff:
Carl R. Hess, AICP, Director
Anne Messner, AICP
Robert A. Crum, Director
D.J. Liggett
Eric J. Vorwald, AICP
• Penn State Off-Campus Student Union
• State College Area School District
The Centre Regional Planning Agency’s 2006 work
program included the preparation of a very detailed
and specific comprehensive land use plan for the
Borough of State College and parts of the adjacent
municipalities of College Township and Ferguson
Township. The study area included State College
Borough in it’s entirety and encompassed parts of
the adjacent municipalities therefore recognizing the
specific land use planning issues that are important
to the overall community. This also emphasized the
fact that these planning issues do not stop at the municipal boundaries and a coordinated approach was
tantamount to a successful planning effort. Ultimately, the land area plan will be used as a guidance
document for a complete update to the Borough of
State College’s Zoning Ordinance and provide similar guidance to College and Ferguson Township, particularly in terms of a coordinated and complimentary approach to zoning at the municipal edges. This
will allow future land use development to follow the
specific vision that has been identified by this document.
The steering committee met once a month over a two
year period to determine what specifically would be
included in the plan. These meetings served to educate the steering committee on the various aspects of
land use within the study area and to solicit comments and suggestions. This was accomplished by
touring the study area; information exchanges about
the area’s challenges and opportunities; and examining past and current applicable planning studies and
major land use developments that may have an effect
on the overall direction of the land area plan. The
first step in the process however, was the establishment of the overall study area which is roughly
bound by Whitehall road on the south, The Mount
Nittany Expressway (U.S. 322) on the east, College
Avenue & Blue Course Drive on the west, and Aaron
Drive on the north. A specific map of the study area
is included in Appendix A.
Working closely with the Steering Committee, Centre Regional Planning Agency staff has developed a
land use plan that provides a solid framework to
achieve this goal. Staff provided the steering committee with a draft of text for each chapter of the
document. The steering committee recommended
specific changes, additions, or corrections, and staff
made the necessary changes to reflect the steering
committee’s position. Through each step of the process the steering committee provided specific guidance to determine the ultimate direction of the planning effort.
State College Borough Council appointed a steering
committee to provide guidance to staff and direct
this planning effort. The steering committee also
helped establish the goals and policies and guide the
overall direction of the plan. The steering committee
consisted of 26 members and included representation
from the following groups:
State College Borough Council
State College Borough Planning Commission
College Township Council
College Township Planning Commission
Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors
Ferguson Township Planning Commission
Penn State University
Downtown State College
State College Borough
Neighborhood Associations
• Chamber of Business and Industry of
Centre County
• Heritage One
• State College Borough
Transportation Commission
The resulting plan consists of eight different chapters. Each chapter represents a guiding element to
help direct the future land uses within the overall
study area. Each chapter also has specific goals and
policies to help achieve the concepts outlined. The
eight chapters are:
Stable Neighborhoods
Commercial Redevelopment Areas
Gateways, Promenades, and Corridors
Interconnected Greenways
Community and University Integration
Environmental Protection
• Neighborhood Commercial Opportunities
• Transitional Areas
Throughout the document issues related to transportation and transportation needs are woven into the
text. It is important to note that as the cost of living
increases on a national spectrum, alternative (and
typically less expensive) modes of transportation are
becoming more prevalent. Locally, smaller, more
fuel efficient vehicles, pedacycles, and motorcycles
are becoming more common on the local streets.
Also, public transit, car pooling, and ride sharing are
becoming more viable options for some members of
the community. Due to this change in transportation
choices, there may be a need to further explore
means of accommodation for these types of vehicles.
This change from large, inefficient vehicles may become a more permanent transition. As a result future
planning may need to address a broader range of
public transit options or alternative and subsequently
smaller vehicles.
On a final note, there are several over-riding themes
that appear in specific chapters, but should be considered in the context of the overall document. In
particular, the idea of an overall aesthetic is introduced. Specific care for keeping the community
clean, well maintained, and safe can create a positive
and pleasing aesthetic throughout the entire area.
While this idea is expressed in more detail in Chapter Three, it should be considered an important element throughout the document and the study area.
stable neighborhoods within the study area while allowing complementary uses to be incorporated into
these neighborhoods. Chapter One also provides
guidance on design elements such as lighting, landscaping, and signage to allow various uses to integrate into neighborhoods without adversely impacting them.
The Centre Regional Planning Agency is pleased to
present the State College Land Area Plan. This
document is being offered as the culmination of over
two years of work by the Centre Regional Planning
Agency as directed by a Steering Committee consisting of community residents, elected and appointed
municipal officials, Penn State University, and representatives from several community organizations. It
is being presented to the Borough of State College
Council, College Township Council, and the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors for their consideration and future adoption.
The second chapter examines commercial redevelopment areas within the study area. Several specific
areas are identified as key locations for redevelopment opportunities to occur such as the Westerly
Parkway Plaza and the Hamilton Shopping Center.
One site in particular is the Hills Plaza on South
Atherton Street located in College Township. This
property has seen a variety of uses come and go
throughout the approximately 30 years since it was
first developed and is a key redevelopment opportunity for the community. Chapter Two also outlines
potential ways that commercial areas can be redeveloped to create a mix of uses and more density providing opportunities to reenergize these commercial
areas that are vital to the community.
A main premise behind this document is not a reaction to something that is in need of change, but the
recognition that there are many things about the
State College Community that are done well, properly planned, and necessary to preserve, protect, and
enhance. In order to ensure that future planning for
the community continues to support and enhance its
valuable resources, it was determined that a specific
and detailed land use plan be developed to address
future land use needs.
Chapter Three looks at the various entrances to the
community and how these can be enhanced. The
gateways, promenades, and corridors identified in
this chapter include gateways into the community as
well as into various districts within the community
such as Downtown State College and specific
neighborhoods. The main focus of this chapter is the
enhancement of these places throughout the study
area to provide a positive first impression to people
as the visit they community. A secondary focus of
this chapter is to inspire a coordinated effort on elements such as signage to provide a more efficient and
consistent way-finding system throughout the community.
This plan document consists of eight distinct chapters that provide detailed information on different
aspects of land uses within the community. Each
chapter provides a specific prescription of goals and
policies that will help achieve the land use ideas that
are outlined within each chapter. The eight chapters
included in this document are:
Stable Neighborhoods
Commercial Redevelopment Areas
Gateways, Promenades, and Corridors
Interconnected Greenways
Community & University Integration
Environmental Protection
Neighborhood Commercial Opportunities
Transitional Areas
Chapter One begins with a discussion of stable
neighborhoods. An important concept of this land
use plan is the protection of the stable neighborhoods
within the community. In particular, this chapter
looks at techniques to maintain and preserve the
The fourth chapter looks at some of the opportunities
within the community related to greenways and open
spaces. In particular this chapter examines ways to
connect the various greenways and trails throughout
the community in order to create an integrated network of greenways and multi-use trails. Specific recommendations are made regarding the location of
future greenways or trails to provide additional connections to various locations within the community.
tail and guidance on how to accomplish this integration. This chapter examines regulations relative to
design elements such as building heights, densities,
scale, massing, lot orientation, parking standards,
signage, landscaping, lighting, and pedestrian amenities. Also, the concept of Form-Based Zoning is introduced in this chapter. Form-Based Zoning is a
technique that doesn’t restrict use, but regulates design in the context of the surrounding uses.
This chapter also looks at the broader uses and importance of greenways as wildlife corridors, buffer
areas, stormwater infiltration areas, and recreational
Chapter Five provides an overview of the important
relationship between the community and Penn State
University. This chapter describes the various opportunities that exist to provide continued integration
between the community and the university. It also
highlights existing aspects of integration between the
two, such as cultural and recreational opportunities.
The eighth and final chapter examines transitional
areas within the community. This chapter identifies
several specific locations within the study area such
as East College Avenue & Downtown State College;
West College Avenue & the West End; and the
Highlands Neighborhood & Downtown State College. Chapter Eight profiles several considerations
that should be taken into account when identifying
specific uses for the transitional areas. It also offers
guidance on design considerations to integrate the
transitional areas with the surrounding uses to create
a more consistent land use pattern.
Chapter Five also provides details on specific locations that are key connections (physical or perceived) between the two entities, and provides suggestions on how to enhance these connections. This
includes the recent acquisition of the O.W. Houts
property on West College Avenue by Penn State
University. This property is located in both the Borough of State College and Ferguson Township and
will be incorporated into Penn State’s University
Park Campus Master Plan making it an important
property based on its relationship to the surrounding
municipalities and its location in the community.
Key Goals & Recommendations
The goals and policies at the end of each chapter
provide a specific set of action items that can be used
to achieve the key planning principles outlined
therein. The following items can be identified as
primary goals of the plan.
Chapter Six looks more specifically at the sensitive
environmental areas within the community. This
chapter provides analysis on the areas within the
community that need to be protected based on their
environmental contribution to the community.
These areas include the Millbrook Marsh Nature
Center and the Big Hollow area. This chapter includes information on the environmental systems
within the community, looking at things such as wetlands, stream buffers, groundwater recharge areas,
native plants, soils, air quality, and stormwater infiltration. Specific goals and policies outline ways to
protect these vital and important environmental resources, while still allowing for development to occur within the study area.
The seventh chapter explores neighborhood commercial opportunities. This chapter outlines how
commercial and retail uses can be integrated into the
neighborhoods without adversely impacting them.
These concepts were introduced in the first chapter;
however, Chapter Seven provides more specific devi
Maintain and preserve existing stable neighborhoods while allowing complementary uses to be
incorporated into the neighborhoods where appropriate.
Encourage revitalization of commercial centers
by permitting mixed uses such as residential or
office uses.
Create specific, unique, and identifiable areas
throughout the community by incorporating gateways, promenades, and corridors to promote superior accessibility, walkability, and livability.
Protect and preserve the natural areas throughout
the community and provide logical links between
various recreational and natural areas through the
use of interconnected greenways.
Continue to expand the integration of activities
between the community and Penn State University through specific land uses, as well as by providing cultural and recreational opportunities for
all community residents.
Identify, protect, and preserve environmentally
significant resources throughout the community
and to ensure their continued protection through
established land use regulations and other preservation activities.
Create opportunities for commercial uses in or
near established residential neighborhoods to
provide community residents with localized
commercial outlets that are appropriately scaled
for the specific location.
Establish regulations for transitional areas that
can serve as buffers between distinct land uses
and can provide a mix of uses that can benefit
and strengthen the surrounding community.
This land use plan provides a solid framework for
future growth and development of the core community. It was created by the citizens of the community
and outlines goals and policies established to fulfill
the specific vision identified for the study area. This
plan should be used as a guidance document for the
establishment of future land use regulations within
the study area and also within the three municipalities that participated in this planning effort.
SN—1: The various neighborhoods within the State College Land Area Plan are depicted in yellow. The areas in blue represent
lands owned by the Pennsylvania State University. The bold red line indicates the extent of the Land Area Plan Study Boundary.
Throughout the study area for the State College Land
Area Plan, there are approximately 25 established
neighborhoods. These neighborhoods range from the
historic, such as Holmes-Foster and College Heights,
to the relatively new, such as Greentrees and Haymarket.
different definitions and components. One definition
of a neighborhood is:
A district or locality characterized by similar
or compatible land uses. Neighborhoods are
often identified by a place name and have
boundaries composed of major streets, barriers, or abrupt changes in land use.
The neighborhoods range in size from only 20 acres
in Sylvan View to approximately 450 acres in the
Highlands. Regardless of their size, these neighborhoods are integral parts of our community and make
the area what it is today. Therefore, protecting and
maintaining the overall character and integrity of
neighborhoods throughout the community was identified as one of the main goals of this planning effort.
Residential neighborhoods are often identified with a subdivision, an elementary school
attendance zone, a major public facility such
as a college, or a small town within a larger
urban area. Homes in the neighborhood are
of similar style, age, and value.
What actually constitutes a neighborhood has many
Commercial neighborhoods are generally
a sense of place for its residents. Without stable
neighborhoods, communities become a mix of buildings that don’t relate to one another and don’t provide a sense of place.
associated with a major road, shopping center, or Central Business District1.
Another way to define a neighborhood is:
The idea of stability in a neighborhood can take on
many different aspects as well. What actually makes
up a stable neighborhood depends on the perspective
being offered. In general however, stability within a
neighborhood can be defined as:
Neighborhood is also used to describe an
area surrounding a local institution patronized by residents, such as a church, school, or
social agency. It can also be defined by a
political ward or precinct. The concept of
neighborhood includes both geographic
(place-oriented) and social (people-oriented)
The ability of a neighborhood to adapt and
accommodate changing conditions and
trends while maintaining a strong identity, a
strong sense of place, shared culture and values, and a unique character within the community.
There is no one right or wrong way to define a
neighborhood. In fact, there are multiple factors that
make up a neighborhood and, for the most part, those
factors depend on each person’s individual perspective. Therefore, for the purposes of this discussion,
we will define a neighborhood as:
Through this planning effort, the Steering Committee
was asked to identify challenges and opportunities
within the overall study area. The following items
were most applicable to the ideas and concepts of
protecting or maintaining established stable
A district or locality that is typically anchored by a predominant use and has an
identifiable edge. A neighborhood may consist of commercial uses anchored by a shopping or retail destination; a neighborhood
may be more residential in character and be
anchored by a park, civic use, or other predominant land use or feature; or a neighborhood could be a mix of both residential and
commercial uses that function together.
Neighborhoods typically have a geographic
boundary, but the boundary does not define
the neighborhood. This is accomplished by
establishing a sense of place that is unique to
a particular location within one’s overall
For most communities, one of the elements that
makes people want to settle in a particular area is the
ability of that community to maintain stable
neighborhoods. Stable neighborhoods are the fabric
of the community and provide all the necessary elements of community life such as schools, parks, and
Taken from the website
Taken from the website
Enhance neighborhoods near downtown with
Encourage synergy between new and existing
developments such as the Imbt/Circleville developments to complement State College Borough,
not be in competition – strive for synergy.
Soften the impact of high density housing on the
single family neighborhoods with transitions or
Establish an adequate mix of housing in downtown to encourage year-round residents.
Encourage the integration of some small stores
(corner stores) in each neighborhood.
Establish visual gateways within the neighborhoods.
Encourage a mix of students and non students to
foster diversity in some areas.
Explore the possibility of providing CATA stops
closer to schools.
The abundance and variety of neighborhoods within
the study area offers a diverse range of uses. These
uses include owner and renter occupied units, single
family and multi-family dwellings, commercial businesses, offices, and other ancillary uses mixed
throughout. Having a broad mix of uses can be
beneficial to a neighborhood if the mix is appropriate
and proportionate to the overall scale and density of
the neighborhood. In fact, the right mix of uses can
take a neighborhood from a bland, single use identity, to a thriving and lively node within the larger
community. While each neighborhood has unique
characteristics that define its identity, there are some
common themes that should apply to all the
neighborhoods collectively to ensure that their values
and contributions to the community are not lost in
the future.
One purpose of this plan is to explore the ingredients
necessary to ensure that a neighborhood will remain
vibrant and stable. The following are some of the
key components to help establish stability within the
neighborhood. These factors can lead to the preservation and longevity of the neighborhoods while ensuring that they maintain their sense of place within
the community. Each element is explained to provide perspective on the role it plays within a
neighborhood and why it’s important.
It should also be noted that the elements listed herein
are in line with specific criteria established by the
U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) program. This certification program (still in a pilot stage) examines the building
practices for neighborhood developments and awards
points based on specific criteria that represent best
practices in neighborhood development. Specifically
the program encourages elements such as creating
density, in-fill development, limiting sprawl, and
similar techniques.
A critical component to ensuring a neighborhood remains stable over a long period of time is the mix of
housing types, including single-family, duplex, and
multi-family dwelling units. It should be noted,
however, that a mix of housing types may not be appropriate for all neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that
are primarily composed of low-density, single-family
dwellings will (for the most part) remain as such.
Neighborhoods that currently include a more diverse
housing stock could support the integration of denser
housing opportunities such as duplexes or townhomes if deemed appropriate.
SN—4: Row homes and single-family houses in the Kentlands
Neighborhood (Gaithersburg, Maryland) line the same street
providing a mix of housing types.
A mix of housing can provide a broader range of living options and affordability levels for all members
of the community. As a result of this diversity, a
greater number of people will be able to participate
and become active members in the community. An
adequate mix of housing types can also provide continued investment in a neighborhood adding to its
continued stability.
a local neighborhood and contribute to the community. Rental units can also provide residents the opportunity to participate in a neighborhood without
making the investment of home ownership.
Another tool to aid in maintaining stable neighborhoods that is a direct benefit from having a mix of
housing types is the opportunity to reduce lot sizes
and increase density. With a variety of housing
types comes a variety of lot sizes and therefore some
areas will have more density while others will be less
SN—2: Single family detached homes in the Millcreek Development (West
Lampeter Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania) provide homeowners
with a more traditional
living arrangement.
SN—3: Row homes or
town homes in the Millcreek Development provide another option for
individuals that prefer less
outdoor space and upkeep.
The concept of mixed housing types offers opportunities for both owner occupied housing and rental
housing. Including a mix of owners and renters in a
neighborhood will allow both permanent (long-term)
and transient (short-term) residents to become part of
SN—5: Town homes in the Highlands Neighborhood incorporate unit density by maximizing the overall lot and take advantage of common walls to eliminate side yard setbacks.
ties. These uses may come in the form of a corner
store that can provide the surrounding neighborhood
with items such as milk, bread, and general day-today needs, or small businesses such as professional
offices or craft studios such as woodworking or artist
Providing for an appropriate mix of densities will
allow for a greater mix of residential options and opportunities in a neighborhood.
One important factor to be addressed when discussing density is the potential need for additional parking. In particular, as density increases, so may the
need for parking that is located in close proximity to
the specific uses. Efforts should be made to provide
SN—6: A downtown parking
lot is buffered from street
view. Benches provide a
convenient gathering place
for pedestrians and plantings
create a park-like setting.
SN—7: Looking from
the parking lot, the
roadway is buffered by
the vegetation making
this centrally located
parking area blend in
with the surroundings.
SN—8: A commercial use occupies the street level façade while
the second story contains a residential use in this West College
Avenue building.
shared parking where appropriate so both residential
uses and neighborhood commercial uses can take
advantage of the same parking areas and reduce the
need for large parking facilities.
This mix of uses provides a diverse blend within the
neighborhood and gives the residents a locally convenient outlet to get basic necessities or to live and
work within close proximity therefore maintaining
the neighborhood investment and reinforcing its stability. In order to appropriately incorporate mixed
uses within a neighborhood, zoning regulations
should be crafted to maintain the overall character of
the neighborhood and not allow it to be overwhelmed by commercial or professional uses. This
will help provide future stability to the residential
While it may be important to ensure adequate parking is available and properly buffered from adjacent
uses, it may be equally important to ensure alternative transportation options exist. An increase in density should also equate to an increase in transportation options so reliance on the automobile is decreased and pedestrian facilities are increased. This
can include public transit, bicycling, and walking.
Providing additional choices for transportation can
encourage more people to interact in their neighborhood helping to increase it’s stability.
In order to ensure any non-residential uses are compatible within a neighborhood, the scale and massing
of such uses needs to be regulated. More specifically, in stable neighborhoods it would be more suitable to have a small store (or stores) located within
close proximity to each other thereby concentrating
the more intense uses together.
Greater densities within a neighborhood also provide
the opportunity for the development of mixed uses.
With greater densities comes the need for small, locally convenient commercial and business opportuni7
SN—10: Housing footprints are staggered to illustrate various
setback locations and various lot widths.
SN—9: Neighborhood businesses are scaled with the pedestrian
in mind at this West College Avenue business.
This approach provides a direct and personal connection between the private building and the public
street allowing residents to interact directly with
passers by. Also, when the home is located close to
the street it gives a perception or sense of density and
can serve as a way to calm traffic.
Also, by grouping similar uses into smaller clusters,
nodes can be created that may become focal points
within the overall neighborhoods. This can provide
an additional component to a neighborhood’s identity and also provide a sense of place within the community.
Another factor related to building orientation is the
idea of limiting side yards or allowing for minimal
distances between buildings. Again, this can provide
an opportunity for more density within a neighborhood and encourage a sense of community and
neighborliness among the residents. By moving
The scale of a commercial use within a neighborhood should only be large enough to serve the surrounding residential areas. The scale should not be
such that it draws people from outside the neighborhood and creates a more widespread service area.
Also, these uses should be scaled with the pedestrian
in mind thus limiting the need for vehicular transportation to access the use. This will help create a pedestrian friendly atmosphere and provide a destination for pedestrian trips that originate within the
When discussing density, mixing of land uses, and
scale, it is important to talk about building orientation. The way a structure is oriented on a lot can
have a significant impact on the functionality and
connection the building has with the neighborhood as
well as the surrounding structures. From a residential perspective, a common lot orientation in stable
neighborhoods would place the home close to the
street with a minimal front yard setback.
SN—11: Homes are located close to the street in the Mason
Run Community indicating reduced front yard setbacks and
promotes interaction between people on the sidewalks and the
front porches (Monroe, Michigan).
houses or buildings closer together you can increase
density while minimizing lot sizes and therefore
bring down the cost of housing while stimulating and
encouraging the stability of the neighborhood by providing more opportunities for people to purchase
property and invest in the neighborhood.
plished by establishing major intersections at predominant block locations and minor intersections at
secondary block locations. This approach will help
to funnel traffic to collector streets while leaving minor roads more accessible for bicycle and pedestrian
As discussed earlier, to accommodate density, it is
important to incorporate adequate facilities to support public transit. This could be in the form of centralized bus shelters to conveniently located transit
stops. By providing public transportation to a
neighborhood, not only do the opportunities increase
for the use of transit, but it also provides access to
persons from outside the neighborhood to take advantage of uses within the neighborhood without adversely impacting the area through individual trips
and added parking requirements.
When examining the definition of a neighborhood,
many elements come into the equation including
sidewalks, street widths, public transit service, and
bicycle routes. Overall, a common theme that all
neighborhoods have with regard to transportation is
that the scale of the neighborhood must be comfortable to the pedestrian.
SN—12: Wide sidewalks are adjacent to streets that provide
dedicated bicycle lanes.
SN—13: Dedicated public transit stops in downtown provide
convenient access to mass transit.
Pedestrian scale should be woven throughout the
components that make up a neighborhood. One element this can have an impact on is block lengths.
When the length of a block is short, it can be more
manageable from a pedestrian perspective and not
seem overwhelming. This is an important consideration when trying to encourage people to use alternative forms of transportation such as walking or bicycling.
Another concept that addresses transportation issues
is the idea of Complete Streets, where roadways are
designed to accommodate all the different aspects of
transportation. This includes sidewalks, bike lanes,
wide shoulders, raised crosswalks, refuge islands,
bus pull-offs, audible pedestrian signals, and sidewalk bulb-outs.
Block length can also be important for establishing
transportation routes to minimize the conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles. This can be accom-
While not all of these components can be incorporated into existing roadways, all aspects that can be
incorporated make neighborhood streets more user
friendly for a wider range of transportation options.
both the park and the neighborhood.
It should be noted however, that not all parks need to
be active. While there is a need to provide a variety
of activities within the parks and open spaces, it’s
equally important to provide passive spaces as well.
This mix of active and passive parks will provide a
needed diversity and functionality of the park and
open space areas within the community.
Another factor that is common to most stable
neighborhoods is the presence of a park or open
space area. It is integral to the overall vitality of a
neighborhood to provide an easily accessible community space that can be used by all residents. Parks
and open space can take on many forms. They can
be small pocket parks that serve only a small section
of a neighborhood or a community green that is used
by the entire community. Also, linear parks can be
used to provide connections between smaller parks
or open space areas. In either case, parks and open
space provide a common space for residents to interact and participate in the neighborhood.
Parks and open space areas are usually found in conjunction with another component of stable neighborhoods and that is the inclusion of schools or other
civic facilities such as churches or community buildings. Often times, neighborhoods are built around a
civic or community use that anchors the area. This
helps identify the neighborhood and provides a gathering area and sense of place within the neighborhood.
SN—14: Multiple parks are located throughout the study area
and are important components of neighborhoods.
SN—15: Schlow Centre Regional Library provides a centrally
located community facility in downtown State College.
While parks and open space are important to have
within or near the stable neighborhoods, it’s equally
important to provide a logical and diverse mix of
landscaping and furniture within the parks. These
amenities provide a different feel in each park area
and encourage citizens to explore unique qualities of
the different parks throughout the community. Similarly, parks and open space provide a logical location
for the display and interaction with public art. This
mixture of elements within the parks can be tied to
the local neighborhood and provide an identity to
Similarly, community facilities provide a space that
is accessible to the entire neighborhood and can help
provide a common link to all the members of the
neighborhood. Community facilities that are mixed
into a neighborhood allow members of the neighborhood more options for accessing the facility. For
example, if a school is located within a neighborhood, children have the option of walking or riding
bikes instead of being driven to school. Maintaining
the continued use of these community facilities and
their associated green spaces within the stable
neighborhoods will be important to the continued
viability of the neighborhoods and provide a continued focal point that can attract new residents to locate within a particular neighborhood.
Landscaping can play an important role in maintaining an aesthetic appeal throughout a neighborhood
that is appealing to both residents and those visiting.
In particular, ensuring that yards are maintained and
free of debris can provide an immediate visual impact. This can also be incorporated into community
spaces such as community gardens or green spaces.
Landscaping can also play a significant role in creating gateways into a neighborhood. This can be done
by demarcating the boundaries of a neighborhood
with specific landscape elements that are then continued throughout the area. Landscaping can act as a
continuing theme and provide a specific identity to
the neighborhood, thus giving it a sense of place.
SN—17: The tree-lined streets of West Ridge Avenue provide
cover and visual appeal for the College Heights Neighborhood.
immediate visual impact as well as a traffic calming
effect due to their proximity to the roadway. Also,
street trees are beneficial in helping to provide a human scale in an area. Finally, an important role of
street trees is to provide shade and cool the surrounding area including the street. Coupled with other
amenities like benches, street trees offer an inviting
place to meet neighbors.
While maintaining existing trees is an important
component to the overall visual appeal, it is equally
important to establish a program where specific trees
that are removed get replaced by new trees. This
will ensure that some degree of tree cover and canopy is provided throughout the neighborhoods.
One way to ensure the neighborhood will retain its
residential character while permitting non-residential
uses is to control signage. Businesses that are designed on a neighborhood scale and positioned to
cater primarily to the neighborhood don’t need to do
much advertising as the need is not there due to the
scale of the operation. This will limit the need for
bulky or inappropriately sized signs that are out of
character with the surrounding area.
SN—16: A landscaped berm in Ferguson Township provides a
visual screen as well as buffering between residential and industrial uses.
One particular element of landscaping that can provide a lasting impression on an area is the use of
street trees. Street trees can have a significant effect
on the character of a neighborhood by providing an
A business can still advertise it’s location without
having a large sign. Some examples of how this is
business hours, but is reduced or shut off during nonoperating hours. This will help ensure the neighborhood character remains while adapting to the businesses that are operating within the neighborhood.
A business can thrive in a neighborhood without
having lighting that is out of scale for the neighborhood. Over-powering or obtrusive lighting schemes
for mixed uses within a stable neighborhood can lead
to disinvestment of the area and the potential for a
neighborhood to become more commercial in nature.
If done properly, low-level, pedestrian scaled lighting can be attractive and welcoming for a business in
a neighborhood setting.
SN—18: An appropriately scaled sign provides adequate identification of the use without being overwhelming.
accomplished are through the use of awning signs;
canopy signs; small wall signs or door signs; Aframe signs that can be removed during non-business
hours; or even small lamppost signs.
One prominent way to ensure the stability of a
neighborhood and to give a neighborhood a sense of
character is to protect the historic resources within
the neighborhood. One technique to preserve and
ensure future uses take advantage of and preserve the
historic framework is to incorporate design guidelines into a neighborhood. It is important to note
however, that separate design guidelines can be developed for commercial land uses or residential land
Similar to signage is lighting. It is important to limit
the amount of lighting or illumination that can be
used to accent facilities within the neighborhood.
The lighting for business signs should be done in a
manner that is appropriate to illuminate a sign during
SN—20: Various styles of historic architecture exist throughout
the study area and are an important part of the community.
SN—19: Directional lighting provides illumination to this sign
without causing excess light to spill-over to neighboring uses.
A sense of safety in stable neighborhoods can be increased through certain design elements as well. By
incorporating simple ideas such as increased density,
decreased front yard setbacks that move the houses
or building closer to the street, and front porches on
residences all provide opportunities for increased
visibility and “eyes on the street.” This increased
presence by the residents can lead to increased safety
within the neighborhoods.
Design guidelines typically provide some general
rules for the treatment of a building’s exterior. Design guidelines do not dictate the use of the building,
rather how it will look in relation to the rest of the
buildings in the same general area. This can be accomplished on a block scale or a neighborhood scale.
One advantage to a common design theme is that it
creates a sense of place and provides a unique identity to a neighborhood. Also, design themes will directly relate to the future stability of a neighborhood
as redevelopment will follow the existing design and
development pattern.
Maintaining a sense of safety can be an important
component in establishing a neighborhood’s stability. It is important for people to feel safe to walk
through the neighborhood after dark, or feel safe to
let their children walk to the local parks or schools.
Regardless of the activities, a feeling of safety can
enhance and help maintain stability within a
SN—21: A police bicycle patrol provides a more personal interaction with citizens when traveling through the community.
By creating a safe environment, the residents of the
neighborhoods are more likely to participate in the
day-to-day activities within the neighborhood. They
are typically more active in the overall community to
ensure a certain level of safety is maintained.
Neighborhood groups or associations can promote
this community involvement and can work to maintain a certain standard for the community.
POLICY 1.2: Transportation systems shall incorporate interconnected streets as well as multi-modal
transportation options.
Future regulations and programs should incorporate
the following goals and policies to protect and enhance the study area’s stable neighborhoods.
Zoning and land development regulations
must require pedestrian amenities for future
development and redevelopment projects.
These amenities will include sidewalks on
both sides of all streets, and curb cuts, ramps
and pedestrian crosswalks at all intersections.
When possible, pedestrian crosswalks should
be demarcated with colored pavers to clearly
identify pedestrian areas.
Interconnected/grid street systems provide
neighborhood continuity, multiple ingress
and egress points, and potentially reduce traffic speeds through neighborhood areas. Grid
systems disperse traffic and provide motorists
and emergency response personnel multiple
options. Subdivision and Land Development
regulations shall include standards which promote grid street designs and discourage the
use of cul-de-sac street designs.
Within a stable neighborhood, multi-modal
transportation options shall be incorporated
or maintained to provide alternatives to vehicular travel. At a minimum, this will include provisions for walking, bicycling, and
mass transit.
GOAL: Maintain and preserve existing stable
neighborhoods within the study area while allowing
complementary uses to be incorporated into the
neighborhoods where appropriate.
The Area Plan may provide recommendations to improve the quality of these stable neighborhoods, the
Plan will not recommend major land use changes in
these locations. Protecting the stable neighborhoods
within the study area is a priority of this planning
The following policies are recommended to help
maintain and preserve the stable neighborhoods
within the study area.
POLICY 1.1: Providing locations for multiple land
use opportunities is integral to maintaining stability
and prosperity within the neighborhoods.
Future zoning for stable neighborhoods shall
maintain the current land use character while
adapting to accommodate a certain degree of
compatible uses where appropriate. For example, predominantly single family neighborhoods will be zoned single family residential,
however there may also be provisions to permit attached single family residential, multifamily residential or commercial uses. This
will provide the ability for mixed uses and
mixed housing types to be incorporated in to
established neighborhoods while still maintaining the overall neighborhood character.
POLICY 1.3: Well designed neighborhood commercial land uses may be appropriate within stable
Zoning regulations must ensure that future
infill development within stable neighborhoods is consistent with the building height,
area, density and character of existing buildings within the stable neighborhood.
Future zoning regulations shall allow
neighborhood commercial opportunities with
certain limitations and design controls:
The number of neighborhood commercial opportunities permitted within
a stable neighborhood shall be limited
to an amount that is appropriate for
the overall scale and size of the
The scale of a neighborhood commer-
wall, or awning signs shall be used as
the preferred signage type, however if
appropriate, free standing or other
signage may be permitted.
cial use shall be regulated to ensure
that the use is compatible with adjacent residential uses. In addition, a
square footage limitation shall be established to ensure that the size of
these uses does not exceed a
neighborhood commercial scale.
The façades of neighborhood commercial land uses shall be designed to
match the character of the stable
neighborhood. A design manual, containing a list of acceptable building
materials and building designs, shall
be prepared and implemented for stable neighborhoods.
The primary purpose of a neighborhood commercial area is to provide
services to the surrounding residential
area. The design of these land uses
shall focus on pedestrians and bicyclists from the adjacent neighborhood.
Parking for these land uses will be
limited to on-street parking. Regulations will require the provision of bike
racks, benches and outdoor seating
areas for these land uses as well as
accommodations for public transit.
POLICY 1.4: Parks and open space areas are important components of a quality neighborhood.
POLICY 1.5: Civic uses can be an integral component to stable neighborhoods.
Civic opportunities shall be maintained and
encouraged within stable neighborhoods
where deemed appropriate. These uses include schools, churches, and other community facilities such as lodges or fraternal organizations. They can provide enhanced pedestrian amenities to serve the local
neighborhood and minimize parking requirements.
POLICY 1.6: Creating a safe environment in stable
neighborhoods will provide an opportunity for residents to be more active and feel comfortable when
moving throughout their neighborhood.
The hours of operation for neighborhood commercial land uses in stable
residential neighborhoods shall be
established as to not disrupt the overall neighborhood environment and are
compatible with other community
When appropriate, neighborhood
commercial uses shall use minimal
exterior lighting as necessary to illuminate the use. Lighting shall only be
used during business hours or a separate lighting scheme shall be used
during non-business hours.
Design elements such as increased density,
decreased front yard setbacks and front
porches shall be encouraged in residential
areas. These elements will help increase the
presence of people and therefore increase the
visibility for activities within a neighborhood.
POLICY 1.7: Building orientation on individual lots
can create a unique sense of place and provide
needed density.
Existing parkland and open spaces shall be
maintained and enhanced within stable
neighborhoods. Opportunities for new parks
will also be explored. These new parks may
take the form of neighborhood scale parks or
pocket parks depending on the need for the
specific location.
Signage for neighborhood commercial
uses shall be limited in size. Window,
Buildings shall be oriented on lots in a manner that provides for density yet maximizes
the usable area of the lot. This can be done
through staggered setbacks, including sideyard, front-yard, and rear-yard. These approaches can help create more density while
allowing for smaller lots and potentially reduce the need for additional infrastructure.
POLICY 1.8: Proper landscaping can create interest
and identity for an area while reducing the need for
additional environmental systems throughout the
Existing landscaping and vegetation shall be
preserved and, where possible, additional
landscaping should be added to enhance the
overall aesthetic of stable neighborhoods.
This may include additional landscaping requirements for commercial uses or major increases in residential density.
POLICY 1.9: Specific design requirements can help
establish a consistent perspective in a stable
neighborhood. Design requirements can help protect
or enhance specific neighborhoods such as historic
Within established local and national register
historic districts, efforts shall be taken to preserve the historic integrity of the neighborhood by providing some general guidelines
that pertain to exterior changes including façade design, roofing materials, and windows.
complete list, however these are usually the most
common elements that can help revitalize the commercial areas and help solidify their place in the
The study area contains several locations where existing commercial properties are not being utilized to
their full potential. This could be due to the age of
the facility or a change in the market conditions that
has led to disinvestment in these areas. For the most
part, these are predominantly commercial centers
that fit into a mold of the late sixties and early seventies, but no longer are desirable to new retailers, restaurants, or other types of commercial uses looking
to locate in the area. With an over abundance of unused commercially zoned property, it’s easier for national retailers and other businesses to construct a
new building that suits their specific needs than it is
for them to try and retrofit an existing structure. Because of these trends, there are several commercial
plazas that are experiencing difficulties in leasing
space or retaining businesses.
For a majority of the strip commercial centers that
were built in the sixties and seventies, their location
is a key factor to their ability to maintain some degree of occupancy, even when new and larger retail
centers are being built. Since most of these commercial centers were built when the community was still
developing, they were able to be located in high traffic or highly visible locations. Due to the autocentered focus of their market strategies, it was common that these commercial centers were located on
or near major roadways. At the time, this was an important component to their success.
Even though these commercial centers are experiencing a decline in their utilization, there is still hope for
making these areas vibrant centers that will once
again capture a market and see renewed vitality. The
key to making this happen will be to determine what
components are needed to transform these strip shopping centers from asphalt jungles to destination locations for the nearby neighborhoods and the community as a whole.
While the commercial redevelopment areas may not
be seeing the vitality they once did, their location
and auto dependency is still the same, only now, additional development has occurred around them. In
some cases, this has taken the form of residential development while in others, there has been continued
commercial land uses that have developed. In either
case, the density near these areas has increased to a
point where the commercial centers can be integral
components to the community and provide local residents with a local destination for goods, services, and
possibly entertainment.
Recent economic studies for the Centre Region indicate that the local retail market is over-developed.
This trend is evident by the number of vacant retail
structures which exist within the Centre Region. In
addition, these studies point out the challenges which
face traditional retail centers located in the core area
of the community. The completion of the I-99 highway corridor has reoriented market interests for commercial development to this new highway corridor.
In order to overcome the loss of market share generated by this reorientation and remain competitive in
the Centre Region marketplace, commercial areas
must incorporate more innovative designs. Traditional 1960’s and 1970’s suburban strip center designs that focused on the automobile will not be successful in the State College core area.
The following is a list of key principles that can help
create more efficient and vibrant commercial redevelopment areas. It should be noted that this is not a
Within the study area, there are specific examples of
commercial redevelopment areas that the steering
committee has identified. These are areas that are
operating as commercial centers; however there has
been either disinvestment or an inadequate level of
reinvestment by the owners over the years that has
lead to increased rates of turnover within the shopping centers.
Three specific areas identified by the Steering Committee as commercial redevelopment opportunities
are the Westerly Parkway Plaza, Hills Plaza , and the
Hamilton Avenue Shopping Center. It should be
noted that the O.W. Houts property on West College
Avenue was also identified by the Steering Committee as a potential redevelopment site, however during
the development of this plan the O.W. Houts property was purchased by Penn State University. The
University will incorporate this property into their
University Park Campus Master Plan and therefore it
is no longer a viable property for commercial redevelopment in the context of this chapter.
CRA—1: Aerial view of the Westerly Plaza Shopping Center
and adjacent uses. Parking dominates a majority of the site.
It is important to note however, that some of the potential commercial redevelopment areas are outside
the Borough of State College. There will be a need
to include the adjacent municipalities and Penn State
University to develop an effective redevelopment
strategy. Similarly, most of the potential redevelopment areas are privately owned. This will require
involvement from the property owners to ensure all
interested parties have a say in the final outcome and
are included in any discussions regarding redevelopment opportunities. It should also be noted that involvement from the property owners could help establish a public/private partnership to make the redevelopment of some commercial areas more realistic
and more specific.
CRA—2: Aerial view of the Hills Plaza Shopping Center and
adjacent uses. Parking dominates a majority of the site.
CRA—3: Aerial view of the Hamilton Shopping Center and
adjacent uses. Parking dominates a majority of the site.
When possible it will be important to incorporate
affordable housing units into the commercial redevelopment areas where residential uses are incorporated. Affordability will be an integral component to
providing housing opportunities that are conveniently located near or in commercially oriented areas,
therefore, the surrounding residential areas can benefit from having a variety of uses in close proximity to
where they live.
As stated previously, the location of these commercial redevelopment areas make them prime sites for
redevelopment that better fit today’s needs. In particular, these areas could benefit greatly from a mix
in the uses that are provided. It is generally understood that these commercial locations should retain a
substantial commercial component; however, certain
regulations such as parking standards, building setbacks, or building heights should be modified to incorporate a better balance that will provide more of a
destination for the surrounding neighborhoods such
as specialty shops, art studios, restaurants, community spaces/plazas, and service shops.
In many of the commercial redevelopment areas,
there is an existing inventory of buildings that are in
sound and stable condition. These buildings could
be reused to incorporate some of the new uses that
would be incorporated into the commercial redevelopment areas. Adaptive reuse of existing structures
can help reduce some of the costs associated with
new construction. This could be done through reuse
of building materials or tax incentives through various state and federal programs. New construction
costs can make necessary developments like affordable housing or business startups difficult projects to
finance, therefore, adaptive reuse becomes a viable
option in certain situations.
One way to encourage the mixing of uses in the commercial redevelopment areas is through the use of
overlay districts. Overlay districts allow additional
controls to be incorporated into specific locations
without altering the base zoning district. Depending
on the specifics, an overlay district can assist in the
development or incorporation of office, residential,
or other uses within a commercial redevelopment
area. Overlay districts are currently used in other
parts of the study area so the idea is not new. An
example would be the Mixed Use Overlay District in
the Borough of State College.
CRA—4: The Addison Circle Neighborhood in Addison, Texas
provides a walkable mixed use area with commercial storefronts on the first floor and residential units above.
Some of the other uses that might be beneficial to the
commercial redevelopment areas could include office uses and residential uses. In essence, the commercial areas could become a live/work type of environment where a person can live, work, and have
easy access to a majority of the goods and services
necessary to support their daily activities. Also, providing residential opportunities will allow more people to establish permanent residency which can provide economic benefit not only to the commercial
redevelopment areas but also to the municipalities
they reside in through increased tax revenues. This
is of particular importance to the Borough of State
College as their only tax income is generated from
property tax and income tax.
Increased density will need to be an integral component of any effort to provide an adequate mix of uses
within the commercial redevelopment areas. This
can be accomplished through either a vertical or
horizontal density increase, depending on which is
more appropriate for the particular setting. By increasing the allowable base density, the likelihood of
revitalization becomes more realistic. In order for
cessibility, and will also help to better integrate the
commercial redevelopment areas with the surrounding neighborhoods.
some of the older commercial areas to compete
against the new centers, there needs to be more base
activity that caters to the surrounding residential developments and possibly any new residential development that could occur on-site. Similarly, by increasing density, it can be easier to maximize the
overall site to provide a more economically viable
mix of uses.
In the late sixties and early seventies when most of
the underutilized commercial centers were developed, the primary means of transportation was the
automobile. This auto-centric way of living led to a
need for vast parking lots that could accommodate
many more vehicles than necessary. In many cases,
the parking lot is a predominant feature in the commercial centers as it is located in front of the buildings. This vast expanse of asphalt is not always necessary and can be reused to accommodate new land
uses that can help rejuvenate the commercial areas.
CRA—5: A typical commercial property within the study area.
Overall density of the parcel is not maximized and parking
dominates the front of the site.
It is important however, to ensure increases in density are not too far out of scale with surrounding developments. In some cases, the uses being compared
are not the same (i.e. residential to commercial) and
therefore it may be difficult to determine what
should be an adequate or acceptable increase in the
base density. There should be a limit to the increase
in density and also the building height so the surrounding uses and existing infrastructure are not
overwhelmed by redevelopment efforts. These limits
will vary depending on the context in which each
commercial redevelopment area is located.
CRA—6: A possible redevelopment of the same site in CRA—5.
The parking has been reused for residential units and additional green space and plantings have been added as well as
pedestrian amenities. Adequate parking still exists, however it
no longer dominates the site.
By relaxing the parking regulations as they pertain to
the required number of parking spaces, some of these
older commercial centers can use part of their parking lots for redevelopment. This will allow for
added density and the ability to integrate more and
diverse uses within the existing lot boundaries. Also,
by decreasing the overall parking for the automobiles, the opportunity exists for increasing alternative
transportation facilities for bicycle, pedestrian, and
Along with locating density increases to avoid adverse impacts on existing commercial and residential
areas surrounding the commercial redevelopment
areas, it’s important to ensure these increases are not
out of scale from a pedestrian perspective. Maintaining a pedestrian scale within the commercial redevelopment areas will help ensure pedestrian use and ac24
Reusing some of the surface parking for development opportunities, will place an increased emphasis
on shared parking that is logical for the entire commercial area. When addressing the parking needs for
multiple structures as a singular issue, the overall
parking plan and parking facilities can be better
suited to serve all the uses collectively. This approach can help reduce the total number of parking
spaces as well as provide a more logical and usable
parking field to serve all the uses in the commercial
redevelopment area. Structured parking may also be
explored as a shared option. This could provide a
smaller overall footprint for parking and therefore
allow for more overall density.
CRA—7: Transit facilities at the Colonnade are incorporated
into commercial areas in an aesthetically pleasing manner and
provide adequate services to support the surrounding commercial uses.
As these areas are redeveloped, parking should be
reoriented to the backs of the facilities or central to
the overall site. This will allow the buildings or
businesses to be the focal components in the commercial centers and minimize the visual impact of
the parking facilities from the street level. This design provides a more direct street presence for the
businesses located in the commercial redevelopment
areas and increases the potential for more people to
frequent the establishments.
velopment efforts that include enhanced public transit facilities, it will be necessary to integrate the transit facilities with the bicycle and pedestrian facilities
to create a continuous network of alternative transportation options.
One key element when redeveloping the existing
commercial areas is to integrate and upgrade bicycle
and pedestrian facilities. This can include elements
such as bicycle racks or dedicated bicycle parking as
well as pedestrian furniture such as benches and
waste receptacles. Creating a more open and walkable environment can help focus attention on the pedestrian and cater to their needs. By encouraging
alternative modes of transportation, the commercial
center can reduce the need for parking and, therefore,
use some of the paved parking area for development
as stated earlier.
Public transit amenities should be incorporated into
the commercial redevelopment areas. If public transit facilities are bolstered in and around the commercial redevelopment areas, the need for additional
parking can be reduced. This will allow for more of
the lot to be developed, thus increasing the density
and reducing the unnecessary parking commonly associated with the older commercial centers.
Dedicated transit stops that are conveniently located
within the commercial redevelopment area will provide direct access to the uses within the development. Also, it will be important to provide convenient and consistent public transit to the commercial
redevelopment areas. One way to do this would be
to incorporate service from existing transit routes to
the commercial redevelopment areas. This can provide another option for transportation to and from the
commercial redevelopment areas and help reduce the
need for individual vehicular trips. With any rede-
Furthermore, it may be necessary to provide enhanced pedestrian facilities such as play areas or
gathering spaces that can be used by both patrons of
the businesses in the commercial redevelopment areas, but also by the community as a whole. Coupling
this with a logical and properly planned out pedestrian circulation system can create an environment
vegetation or trees that are appropriately scaled, pedestrians can have an increased sense of place and
feel comfortable walking within the environment.
that is seen as a destination and in turn create active
or passive community spaces within the commercial
redevelopment areas.
The idea of open space as it relates to commercial
redevelopment areas can be separated into two distinct components. First, there is the idea of pedestrian or gathering spaces for individuals to use and
congregate either passively or actively such as an
outdoor market or plaza space. The second aspect of
open space could include providing open space from
an environmental perspective to assist with stormwater infiltration and reducing the amount of impervious surface in the commercial redevelopment area.
In either case, the open space areas within the commercial redevelopment areas are integral to their
overall success.
CRA—8: Enhanced pedestrian crossings at the Colonnade provide safe and convenient access for pedestrians while dedicated
bicycle lanes encourage alternative transportation.
CRA—10: A view of Hills Plaza from South Atherton Street.
The site is dominated by parking located in the front of the
property with limited green space or open space.
CRA—9: Outdoor facilities at the Colonnade provide a convenient and friendly gathering space for persons patronizing the
shops. Benches, greenspace, appropriately scaled lighting and
bicycle parking create a welcoming and inviting space.
Along with accommodating pedestrians through design components such as wide sidewalks and appropriately scaled buildings would be the incorporation
of pedestrian furniture or pedestrian spaces within
the commercial redevelopment area. Providing
benches or dedicated open spaces or plazas within a
commercial area encourages pedestrians to spend
more time in the area thus establishing a sense of
place and a destination for pedestrians. Similarly,
these spaces could also be used to incorporate public
Catering to pedestrians can also be done through the
types of businesses that are located within the commercial redevelopment areas and how the structures
are laid out or oriented. By incorporating a walkable
area with wide sidewalks, narrow internal roadways,
and textured pavements as well as incorporating
art or even be used as outdoor retail space during
certain times or occasions.
Due to their location throughout the community,
many of the commercial redevelopment areas are not
only located in close proximity to major roadways,
they are also located near major residential areas.
One way to encourage people to walk or bicycle to
the commercial redevelopment areas is to provide
enhanced connections to the neighborhoods. This can
be done through dedicated pathways, increased sidewalk widths, improved pedestrian scale lighting, or
pedestrian refuges where potential vehicle conflicts
may exist along the route to the commercial areas.
CRA—11: The same view of Hills Plaza from photo CRA—10
with a portion of the parking lot converted to open space. Additional pedestrian facilities are added with a sidewalk and
benches as well as lighting scaled more for the space. Also, a
raised and planted median has been added to South Atherton
Street which will help reduce speeds and increase visibility as
vehicles pass this open space area. This concept can contribute
to an aesthetically pleasing gateway to the Region’s core area.
It will be important, however, to provide sufficient
visibility to any pedestrian or community facilities
within the commercial redevelopment areas. This
will allow passersby to view the activities and may
encourage others to use the facilities within the commercial redevelopment area or provide adequate visibility to ensure after hours safety.
CRA—12: Connections to the Highlands Neighborhood around
the Hamilton Shopping Center (highlighted in yellow). The
sidewalks (indicated by the green lines) provide access through
the neighborhoods. There are three main connections to the
neighborhoods indicated by the red circles. These points could
be made more prominent to provide safer and more convenient
access to the shopping center.
From an environmental perspective, open spaces can
assist with stormwater infiltration and also limit the
amount of heat that an area produces. The more
open space that is provided on site, the better a location can handle stormwater infiltration, thus limiting
the amount of run-off that is produced. Similarly
reducing the amount of asphalt and impervious surface in the commercial redevelopment areas can help
reduce the environmental impacts on the overall
By increasing accessibility to the surrounding
neighborhoods, the commercial redevelopment areas
will have the ability to draw more spontaneous trips
from surrounding residents. Increasing the accessibility and connections to the surrounding neighborhoods will also encourage people to walk or bicycle
to and within the commercial redevelopment areas
thus reducing the number of vehicle trips and therefore reducing the need for additional parking on site.
More importantly, however, it will be necessary to
ensure the commercial redevelopment areas do not
turn their backs on the surrounding neighborhoods or
the landscaping doesn’t overwhelm those patronizing
the businesses within the commercial redevelopment
community from the perspective of design as well as
access. Instead, it will be essential that these areas
are inviting to the surrounding community and encourage interaction with the neighborhoods. With
proper association and relationships, the commercial
redevelopment areas can, in a sense, become an extension of the neighborhoods. The open spaces and
pedestrian spaces integrated into the commercial redevelopment areas could serve as destinations for
local residents.
When addressing lighting for the commercial redevelopment areas, it is important for lighting to be
handled in an appropriate manner to minimize the
impact on surrounding residential areas. Too much
lighting or lighting that is inappropriately designed
or located can lead to light spill over into a neighborhood and adversely impact the residences. While it
is important to use directional and pedestrian lighting
to adequately provide illumination at night, it is
equally important to ensure the lighting is properly
shielded or dimmed when businesses are not in operation. This will reduce the amount of light spillover into the adjacent neighborhoods but still provide
enough illumination to adequately view the site after
hours to meet the need of site security.
In order to effectively provide for the redevelopment
of the commercial areas, it will be necessary to ensure they do not adversely effect the surrounding developments. One way to improve the aesthetics of
the commercial areas is through the use of landscaping and lighting. In particular, landscaping can provide a visual appeal and help mask any undesirable
features about the commercial area.
Also, it will be important to ensure the lighting fits in
with the overall character of the area. This character
can vary depending on the location of the commercial redevelopment area, so providing some connection to the surrounding land uses will be an integral
component of a cohesively developed site.
Most of the commercial centers from the late 1960’s
and early 1970’s are designed and oriented with the
intention of all businesses having separate, exterior
entrances. If redevelopment occurs using the existing building shells, it will be important to use the
outdoor orientation in a more advantageous manner
and therefore encourage the use of the outdoor space
as part of the overall site. By providing outdoor cafes, open air market spaces, or gathering spaces, patrons will have opportunities to shop and spend additional time in the commercial redevelopment area.
Since there will be something else for the patrons to
do other than shop, the commercial redevelopment
area will become more of a destination point.
CRA—13: Pedestrian scaled lighting as well as enhanced landscaping at the Colonnade provide adequate buffering between
parking, drive isles, and pedestrian amenities while still providing functionality.
Also, proper landscaping can provide shade and refuge for pedestrians and provide additional areas on
site to handle stormwater runoff while reducing the
heat island effect from excess pavement. Therefore,
it is important to provide landscaping that is scaled
with the pedestrian in mind. This will help encourage pedestrian interaction within the site and ensure
Similarly, providing views both from and into the
outdoor spaces can be a visual queue for others passing by. Being able to see the different dimensions of
the commercial redevelopment areas and their out28
door spaces can lend to their popularity. This may
encourage others to stop and explore the different
uses and spaces that are offered within the commercial redevelopment areas.
CRA—14: Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri provides shopping and retail opportunities in an outdoor setting
where parking does not dominate the storefront view and sidewalks provide a safe, comfortable, and inviting environment for
the pedestrians.
Another concept that can be integrated into the outdoor orientation is the flow throughout the site for
pedestrians. It should be encouraged to arrange the
pedestrian flow to elicit some degree of interaction
among the users. This will create an environment
where people can interact with one another and, in a
sense, establish additional pedestrian activities
within the commercial redevelopment area.
excellent opportunities for affordable workforce housing near the region’s core area.
Zoning regulations shall require a percentage
of new residential units developed within
these commercial redevelopment areas to
meet the definition of affordable/workforce
housing. This can be accomplished on-site,
off-site, fee-in-lieu, or other options to accomplish the intended goal of increasing affordable housing in the community. In addition, the host municipality(s) shall apply
available resources and programs to these
The redevelopment of the commercial centers within
the study area is a priority of this planning effort and
adding additional land uses or mixing of land uses in
order to help improve the commercial centers will
become a key element to this plan. Future land use
regulations for the study area should incorporate the
following provisions for commercial redevelopment
GOAL: Established commercial centers are important to the overall vibrancy of the community. It is
important to maintain some level of commercial
activity within the commercial centers while still
allowing for a range of redevelopment activities
that can help reinvigorate and strengthen these
commercial areas while still providing the necessary commercial component that is integral to the
surrounding community.
POLICY 2.3: Density is a key component to sustained economic viability of the commercial redevelopment areas. Increases in density can provide the
necessary foundation to take advantage of existing
infrastructure and provide opportunities for infill or
redevelopment in designated commercial redevelopment areas. Similarly, increased density can potentially increase returns on investment and therefore
make redevelopment a more attractive option for the
private sector.
POLICY 2.1: Multiple uses shall be encouraged
within commercial redevelopment areas; however an
emphasis should be placed on continuing a certain
level of commercial use.
Zoning regulations shall create a new mixed
use redevelopment district which will prescribe a land use mix for these areas. This
mixed use approach will provide a population
base within walking distance of these commercial redevelopment areas. This increased
activity will help revitalize these underutilized areas.
Zoning regulations shall provide incentives
for mixed use buildings within commercial
redevelopment areas. For instance, regulations will encourage residential units located
above commercial buildings or density bonuses for integrating the above principles.
POLICY 2.2: Residential opportunities shall be incorporated into the commercial redevelopment areas
where appropriate and won’t adversely detract from
the overall commercial character of the area.
Within commercial redevelopment areas, increased densities will be encouraged. This
can be in the form of vertical density or reorientation on the site to maximize buildable
Mixed uses will be required to be eligible for
density bonuses. This can be in the form of
residential, commercial, or office uses. Provisions for affordable housing will be given
priority when pursuing increased densities for
residential uses.
Any increases in density will be appropriately
scaled and massed (i.e. positioned) to adequately integrate into the surrounding development pattern.
POLICY 2.4: Existing surface parking lots serving
strip commercial centers is an inefficient use of valuable land in the core area. Most of these parking lots
are typically unused impervious areas, which produce stormwater runoff and offer no community
The commercial redevelopment areas provide
benefits from an aesthetics standpoint.
Adequate parking shall be incorporated into
the commercial redevelopment area, but shall
not be a predominant feature whereby the
parking facilities dominate the site and limit
pedestrian access.
Shared use parking shall be encouraged to
reduce the required number of parking spaces
for each site. This idea can be based on time
of day when usage is at its peak, not necessarily from an occupancy perspective.
When possible, regulations shall require
parking to be oriented to the rear or side of
the buildings or internal to the overall site.
Maximum parking standards shall be established. If parking on a site exceeds an established percentage of the maximum standards,
additional amenities will be required.
Bicycle and pedestrian furniture such as bicycle racks, dedicated bicycle parking, benches,
and waste receptacles will be integrated
throughout commercial redevelopment areas
to promote a pedestrian environment.
Adequate and appropriate vegetation shall be
utilized that establishes a pedestrian scale
throughout commercial redevelopment areas.
Pedestrian access and circulation throughout
the interior of a commercial redevelopment
area will be such that conflicts with vehicles
are minimized while pedestrian safety and
interaction is promoted. This will include but
not be limited to, pedestrian refuge islands,
wide sidewalks, textured pavements, and narrow vehicular travel lanes.
POLICY 2.7: Pedestrian oriented spaces shall be
integrated into commercial redevelopment areas.
This can be done in the form of active or passive
spaces where pedestrians can gather and interact.
POLICY 2.5: Public transportation shall be incorporated into commercial redevelopment areas to provide convenient, reliable, and consistent trips from
existing major transit routes.
Commercial redevelopment areas are typically located near public transportation service provided by the Centre Area Transit Authority (CATA). The commercial redevelopment areas shall incorporate transit oriented
design concepts to ensure that public transit
service can be effectively provided interior to
the site.
New land use regulations shall include provisions for public spaces to be located within
commercial redevelopment areas.
amenities shall be located and designed to
contribute to the commercial redevelopment
area’s sense of place. The public gathering
spaces can take many forms, but are envisioned as parklets or plazas that can serve as
a focal point within the commercial redevelopment areas.
Existing CATA routes shall be integrated into
the commercial redevelopment areas. This
will ensure safe, efficient, and reliable transit
service exists and connects the commercial
redevelopment areas to other population centers throughout the community.
The community spaces will be designed to
facilitate activities such as artisan displays
and community events. Regulations shall
require these spaces to be connected with the
front of retail storefronts and residential areas
with dedicated pedestrian walkways.
Where site characteristics permit (including
soils and geology) pedestrian spaces and public spaces shall be designed to handle some
percentage of stormwater infiltration that may
occur due to run-off from impervious surfaces throughout the commercial redevelop-
POLICY 2.6: Enhanced bicycle and pedestrian facilities will help ensure alternative transportation
methods can be utilized in the commercial redevelopment areas.
POLICY 2.10: Appropriate lighting to provide a
sense of security and safety within commercial redevelopment areas will be required.
ment area.
Pedestrian spaces and public spaces shall be
oriented whereby there is a visual presence
both from the roadway and to the roadway.
This will help provide a connection to and
from the surrounding developments.
POLICY 2.8: To help promote their vibrancy, the
commercial redevelopment areas shall have linkages
to the surrounding neighborhoods.
POLICY 2.9: Landscaping and lighting provide an
immediate aesthetic improvement to a commercial
redevelopment area and can be used to enhance the
environmental components of a site.
Enhanced landscaping and lighting that is
appropriately designed shall be incorporated
at a pedestrian scale throughout a commercial
redevelopment area.
Landscape features shall be used to assist
with on-site stormwater management and infiltration through the use of (but not limited
to) pervious materials, curb breaks, and recessed planted islands.
Commercial redevelopment areas shall be
adequately buffered from adjacent uses that
are not compatible. The degree of buffering
will be determined by the specific use that
Lighting shall be designed to incorporate directional illumination and varied cut-offs to
minimize unnecessary illumination on adjacent properties.
Lighting plans shall be designed to provide
illumination during business hours and be
adjusted to lower levels during off-peak
hours. This will provide adequate illumination for on-site security, but reduce the impact on adjacent properties.
POLICY 2.11: Aesthetically appropriate design elements that incorporate ideas of efficient land use
shall become essential components to commercial
redevelopment activities.
Direct, convenient, and logical access to surrounding neighborhoods will be provided.
This may be in the form of bicycle and pedestrian access or another type of low intensity
access. These access points shall be directly
connected to the internal pedestrian network
of the commercial redevelopment area.
Within commercial redevelopment areas, a
common architectural theme shall be used to
provide a connection to any structures that
are located on the site. These architectural
features shall be used throughout the site and
be incorporated into the pedestrian spaces
and other common use areas.
G A T E W A Y S, P R O M E N A D E S & C O R R I D O R S
beyond the specific gateway point. The corridor can
lead up to or extend past the specific gateway point;
however, in either case the corridor will reflect specific elements of the designated gateway to provide
continuity between the two components.
Throughout the study area for the State College Land
Area Plan there are areas that are important for more
then just their impact on land uses. In particular,
these locations often provide individuals with their
first perspective of the community. These are the
places where one’s opinions can be formed or shaped
without ever experiencing the community as a
whole. A community’s gateways, promenades, and
corridors provide the initial impact a person has
when traveling through a community for the first
time and it’s important to ensure a positive impact is
This chapter will discuss four different components
that have relatively similar characteristics. For the
purposes of this chapter, we will define each element
as follows:
Gateways – Gateways typically mark the entrance
into a specific area, and could be the entrance into a
community or a certain district within the community
such as the downtown or a historic neighborhood. A
gateway can be in the form of a single point or a linear space. Gateways are typically associated with
vehicular travel; however, gateways can be specific
to pedestrian travel as well.
GPC—2: The South Atherton Street gateway corridor traverses
past Hills Plaza and other commercial establishments as Atherton Street continues from College Township into The Borough
of State College.
Promenades – Promenades are linear features that are
specific to pedestrians. They are often located adjacent to or through a recognizable feature or area
within the community. Promenades usually have
retail spaces located along them or some type of destination area such as a restaurant or a café. Often
GPC—1: This gateway arch marks the boundary of the Carmel
Arts & Design District in Carmel, Indiana.
GPC—3: The Waterfront Promenade along Marilyn Bell Park
in Toronto, Canada provides opportunities for walking, bicycling, or congregating without vehicular intrusion.
Gateway Corridor – A gateway corridor is similar to
a gateway in that it incorporates the singular point of
a gateway, however, a corridor extends for a distance
lege is a designated “Tree City, USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Accentuating this designation through the use of augmented tree plantings
will help maintain and enhance this designation
throughout the community.
times promenades are done in conjunction with specific districts such as the arts or other cultural areas.
Corridors – Corridors is a general term to define a
linear space that may act as a gateway or a promenade. Corridors typically have some distinctive purpose or features such as landscaping or architectural
features; however, they can also be associated with a
specific type of business or activity such as a restaurant corridor or an arts corridor.
The landscaping for the gateways, promenades, and
corridors should have a consistent form within each
area. This could be an elaborate water feature that
includes plants and other water-specific vegetation,
or it could be a simple plant design. Similarly, the
landscaping can be in the form of hard-scaping or
xeriscapingTM and could include brick or stone
pavers or similar elements to provide a visual impact
in the gateways, promenades, or corridors.
GPC—4: The College Avenue Corridor provides a variety of
uses including restaurants, specialty shops, and general retail
establishments for daily needs.
Even though each of the four components have differences about them, the following list of criteria
should fit all four. Where specific differences or
situations occur, additional information will be provided.
GPC—5: The 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California is lined with trees and incorporates natural areas through
the center of the space to enhance the amount of plantings and
landscape materials. The natural areas also serve as gathering
spaces along the promenade.
Overall, landscaping is an important component of
establishing an identity for a community and can be
used in many different applications. It can be used to
mark specific points within a community and it can
also provide vegetation, shade, and color to various
areas creating a friendlier and more inviting environment.
Landscaping plays an important role in the visual
aesthetics for the gateways, promenades, and corridors. In particular, landscaping can provide an immediate visual impact and provide a theme for how a
community is perceived. For example, if a community is known for a particular plant species, incorporating that species into the overall landscaping
scheme for the gateways, promenades, and corridors
will provide a direct connection between the citizens
and the community. Along these lines, State Col-
Landscaping is an easy way to create a pedestrian
scale thus providing a more convivial atmosphere for
pedestrians. Finally, pedestrian amenities should
include additional separation between the roadway
G A T E W A Y S, P R O M E N A D E S & C O R R I D O R S
Lighting should not be over-powering to neighboring
uses. Lighting should be used to accent certain features without adversely effecting adjacent uses. This
goal can be achieved by using specific directional
lighting for signs or other accent lighting that helps
create an atmosphere for the different land uses. In
either case, lighting should be used to help establish
a sense of place and accentuate specific features
within an area.
and the sidewalks or other off-street pedestrian facilities. This will ensure some degree of safety between
the two uses and this median can serve as an additional location to add landscaping or landscape features.
To ensure that the gateways, promenades, and corridors are prominent and inviting, it is important to
provide adequate lighting for each intended location.
For example, lighting in the gateways should be used
to enhance or emphasize certain features while lighting in the promenades should be done at a pedestrian
scale to encourage use during the evening hours.
Specific guidance for lighting should comply with
the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) or the
Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council (POLC).
These organizations work to reduce the amount of
light pollution that may occur from improperly
placed or designed lighting fixtures. Resources from
either organization can help establish the best location and style of lighting to use.
It is important to maintain a certain level of pedestrian viability in the gateways and corridors, but
more specifically in the promenades. Promenades
are pedestrian oriented areas where private vehicular
traffic is restricted. This allows the pedestrians to
move freely in a promenade and provide the necessary vibrancy that is required to sustain the uses located in the area.
GPC—6: Pedestrian scaled lighting helps to illuminate this
corridor on Penn State’s University Park Campus.
Lighting can not only be used to accent certain features or guide people in a certain direction, it can
also be used to instill a feeling of safety and security
for individuals using the areas during evening hours.
This can be important for continued usability of certain areas and to attract individuals to other spaces to
experience the locations during all hours.
GPC—7: A promenade in the Southbank area of Melbourne,
Australia incorporates wide sidewalks and other pedestrian
oriented uses to cater to the local population.
pavers. The different materials can be used to accent
the gateway, promenade or corridor, or for the actual
construction and design of the gateway, promenade,
or corridor.
Gateway corridors must also have adequate facilities
for pedestrians. This should include sidewalks, bike
lanes, and transit facilities. By providing multiple
options for transportation through the gateways and
into the corridors, a community can become more
inviting to a wider variety of travelers. This will encourage people to utilize modes of transportation
other than automobiles.
By distinguishing an area with a unique characteristic, an identity is created that can be used throughout
a specific corridor to tie different elements together.
For example, a downtown gateway may include a
specific type of lighting fixture that is historic in nature or has some local significance. This same fixture can then be used throughout a downtown promenade to tie the gateway and the promenade together,
thus creating a specific sense of place whereby making an area unique and recognizable within a community.
GPC—8: A bench, bicycle rack, trash receptacle, and street
planter adorn this corner at Allen Street and Beaver Avenue.
These facilities provide convenience for pedestrians using this
Pedestrian amenities that should be incorporated into
the gateways, promenades, and corridors include
benches, bicycle racks, waste cans, and other elements designed to accommodate pedestrians. By
including these amenities, we can encourage pedestrians to use these areas while helping to minimize
the need for individual vehicular trips.
GPC—9: Brick pavers provide an alternative to standard concrete sidewalks on this section across from the State College
Borough Building.
Another way the use of certain materials can be
beneficial to gateways, promenades, and corridors is
helping with stormwater run-off. If the materials
used to create these areas allow some level of infiltration for stormwater, it can help alleviate some of
the need to bolster the stormwater management systems within the community. This can provide an
alternative to developing large-scale detention areas
within the specific locations where we are trying to
One way to accentuate the gateways, promenades,
and corridors is to use specific materials in their construction including native species of plants, indigenous geologic elements, and colored or textured
G A T E W A Y S, P R O M E N A D E S & C O R R I D O R S
promenades, and corridors. By establishing consistent land use regulations and design themes for these
areas, developments can cross municipal boundaries
without changing the regulations. Therefore, the
transition from one jurisdiction to the next can be
done without interrupting the overall development
plan or concept for the gateways, promenades, or
establish a unique aesthetic for these gateway,
promenade, or corridor.
Finally, when addressing vegetation, it will be important to consult the Borough of State College’s
Municipal Tree Plan that was completed in 2007.
This plan identifies different tree species and varieties that are recommended for use in State College.
Also, the Tree Plan discusses tree planting, removal,
replacement, maintenance, and education.
One very important component to consider when addressing gateways, promenades, and corridors is
where these facilities will be located geographically,
and more importantly, if more than one municipality
or jurisdiction is included in the desired path. For
the most part, gateways have the most potential to
cross multi-jurisdictional boundaries. When a gateway is identified as a corridor, the chance of more
than one municipality or jurisdiction being involved
is high. When this occurs, it is imperative that all
entities involved are included in the process and have
compatible ideas as to how the corridor should be
treated. This cooperation will ensure there is a seamless transition between one jurisdiction and the next,
creating a cohesive and uniform gateway.
GPC—10: The Study Boundary (indicated by the red line) for
the State College Land Area Plan crosses several municipal
boundaries making coordination a key factor to developing and
maintaining attractive gateways, promenades, and corridors.
An enlarged map can be found in Appendix A.
While this component applies mainly to gateways
and gateway corridors, it can also be an important
element to promenades. Denoting the entrance to a
particular geographic area is an important part of establishing an identity for the location. This can be
the entrance to the community, or a sub-area within
the community such as downtown or a specific district such as a historic district. Establishing an appropriate point where these important districts of the
community begin (or end) provides the citizenry with
a clearly defined sense of place.
To accomplish this goal, there will need to be coordination between the municipalities or jurisdictions to
develop compatible and consistent regulations to dictate the land uses within the gateways, promenades,
or corridors. This can be done by establishing an
open dialog among the different jurisdictions that are
within a specific gateway, promenade, or corridor to
ensure that all parties are able to provide input and
comment on any future plans that might affect their
jurisdiction. This approach will also help ensure that
local regulations are taken into account and future
plans for gateways, promenades, or corridors do not
run counter to existing ordinances or regulations.
As an example, the entrances into the community
may all have a similar theme while entrances into
downtown may be marked with a theme more in context with the uses that are prevalent in the downtown.
Also, other locations such as historic districts or the
university may have a unique identifier to mark the
Finally, creating a timeline that is reasonable and implementable will help establish a mutual understanding regarding the roles and responsibilities of the different jurisdictions that are included in the gateways,
consistent signage, the overall pedestrian and vehicular flow can be improved, thereby making travel
more efficient throughout the gateways, promenades,
and corridors.
In certain corridors, providing uniformity among advertising signs can establish a character or feeling
that ties the entire corridor together. This issue becomes increasingly important when trying to establish a specific ideal or theme within a gateway,
promenade, or corridor. Requiring consistency with
advertising signage provides a distinct sense of place
and can provide character to an area. It’s important
however, to allocate enough flexibility in signage to
allow businesses to show their own individuality and
style. If too much consistency is required, the gateway, promenade, or corridor may appear plain or ordinary. One technique to help maintain consistency
and originality is to only regulate the overall size,
location, or materials permitted for signs.
GPC—11: The same view on South Atherton Street (GPC—2)
with additional greenery, plantings, and signage in the median.
This can help to provide identification to motorists but also
help to calm traffic along this busy corridor.
entrances to those important areas as well. In order
to establish a sense of place for the entrances into the
community, creating well thought out and uniformly
designed gateways, promenades, and corridors is an
important component to having a vibrant and prosperous community.
When addressing signage in gateways, promenades,
and corridors, two distinct concepts can be established. First, are way-finding signs to provide direction within the community and second is the idea of
establishing continuity and uniform design among
advertising or business signs.
It is important to have way-finding signs that are uniform throughout the gateways, promenades, or corridors for ease of use and to provide adequate direction
for first-time visitors to an area. It will be essential
to ensure adequate pedestrian signage exists in areas
that experience high pedestrian traffic. In many
cases, the pedestrians utilizing these areas are new to
the community therefore it is important to ensure a
certain level of comfort to guarantee a pleasurable
experience in the community. This will provide a
consistent flow throughout the community so people
will be able to navigate the community in a more efficient manner. Similarly, by providing clear and
GPC—12: Signage for businesses in Calder Alley consist
mainly of window signs, awning signs or removable sandwich
board signs. This creates a clean appearance of the building
façades while still providing visibility for the businesses.
One component that is more subjective is establishing an overall aesthetic for the gateways, promenades, and corridors. While it’s important to provide
adequate way-finding, proper lighting, and an overall
G A T E W A Y S, P R O M E N A D E S & C O R R I D O R S
Ensuring an area is safe and provides a friendly environment can also contribute to the overall aesthetic.
Creating an atmosphere in which pedestrians and vehicles have limited conflict points and pedestrians
are free to move about, a place can be more inviting.
This will help instill a feeling of safety and therefore
create an environment where people want to spend
time and congregate. Also, many of the previously
mentioned components can help an area establish a
friendly and safe environment. Ensuring a low incidence of crime can make people more apt to utilize
the gateways, promenades, and corridors.
Throughout the study area for the State College Land
Area Plan, there are several gateways, promenades,
or corridors that were identified by the Steering
Committee. These areas were chosen because they
are key locations throughout the community where
the most benefit can be achieved by incorporating
the above principles. The following is not a complete list; however it does highlight some of the primary areas within the community that were identified by the Steering Committee. Not all of these areas exist as a recognizable corridor today, however it
is important to identify the locations to potentially
establish these places in the future. These areas include:
GPC—13: Centennial Alley provides a clean, well kept, and
safe pedestrian corridor between College Avenue and Calder
Alley. Also, the businesses that are located on the alley provide
a continual presence and attraction for pedestrians.
safe and comfortable environment, it’s equally important that the areas are aesthetically pleasing.
Aesthetics have different values and qualities for different people making it difficult to quantify what
makes an area pleasing. There are however some
aspects that can generally be agreed upon by everyone.
One element is providing a clean and well kept environment. This can be accomplished by ensuring the
areas are free of loose debris and rubbish. Similarly,
it’s important for businesses within the gateways,
promenades, or corridors to maintain a clean exterior
where plants and vegetation are maintained and
properly pruned and in good health. This can provide a more inviting and comfortable atmosphere for
patrons and visitors alike.
West College Avenue Gateway Corridor
East College Avenue Gateway Corridor
North Atherton Street Gateway Corridor
South Atherton Street Gateway Corridor
Park Avenue Gateway Corridor
Downtown State College
Allen Street Promenade
Calder Alley Promenade
West Beaver Avenue Corridor
South Fraser Street Corridor
(College Avenue to Memorial Field)
University Drive Corridor
(Park Avenue to Atherton Street)
Locust Lane Corridor
Grass Alley Promenade
A Map of these locations can be found in Appendix A
It should be noted that each has its own specific issues and complexities in regards to developing gateways, promenades, or corridors. Similarly, many of
the locations cross multiple jurisdictional boundaries
and therefore will require the coordination and approval by each jurisdiction that is affected.
G A T E W A Y S, P R O M E N A D E S & C O R R I D O R S
scale that provides a sense of place for the community and its citizens.
In order to achieve or incorporate the concepts identified in this chapter, goals and policies that pertain
to gateways, promenades, and corridors need to be
developed. Providing friendly and inviting entrances
to the community as well as safe and accessible pedestrian facilities within the study area is a priority of
this planning effort. Therefore it is important to establish specific goals and policies to address the
gateways, promenades, and corridors that exist today
and those that may be created in the future. Land use
regulations for the study area should incorporate the
following provisions to help define and shape the
gateways, promenades, and corridors.
Enhanced landscaping shall be provided
throughout all gateways, promenades, or corridors. Landscaping shall provide a consistent theme for the area and be used to establish a sense of place for motorists or pedestrians that are traveling through these locations.
Landscaping shall include native and noninvasive plant species. Similarly, when possible, landscaping shall incorporate adequate
stormwater facilities to reduce or eliminate
the need for separate stormwater areas.
POLICY 3.3: Proper lighting schemes within gateways, promenades, or corridors will create an atmosphere that is both inviting and pedestrian friendly.
Lighting can also add to security and provide ambiance that can be used to direct and encourage pedestrian interaction.
GOAL: Providing well designed, inviting, and consistent gateways, promenades and corridors in the
community will help provide an overall identity for
State College and the adjacent municipalities. By
creating and maintaining these elements and providing superior accessibility, the community can
establish itself as a premiere livable and walkable
community. While the gateways, promenades, and
corridors have distinctive components that are
unique to each element, they all strive to achieve a
similar outcome. The following policies and action
items will help create an atmosphere that is inviting
and enjoyable to all.
Lighting shall be appropriate for the surrounding uses and incorporate best practices
in regard to style, cutoffs, amount of light
being produced, and similar factors.
Lighting in the gateways, promenades, and
corridors shall be designed to accentuate specific features without overwhelming adjacent
land uses. Within these areas, and specifically within the promenades, pedestrian lighting shall be required. The lighting fixtures
shall be of a consistent design or pattern to
establish a uniform style and character
throughout these areas.
Lighting for businesses or other establishments within the gateways, promenades, or
corridors shall provide sufficient exterior illumination necessary for day and evening operations of the establishment. Excessive
lighting used to draw attention to a business
or retail establishment through color, intensity level, or similar technique shall not be
POLICY 3.1: Gateways provide the first impression
of our community. Gateways and their corridors are
the primary point where opinions about a location
are formed and they shall be used to assist in creating
a positive image for the community
Gateway points shall be specific and identifiable. Similarly, the gateway points shall be
located in logical areas that provide context
within the overall community. This may include but not be limited to municipal boundaries, district boundaries (such as historic districts or cultural districts) or other commonly
accepted boundaries.
POLICY 3.2: Landscaping is an integral part of ensuring the gateways, promenades, and corridors are
aesthetically pleasing and helps create a pedestrian
POLICY 3.4: Provide adequate pedestrian and transit amenities and create an environment that is scaled
with the pedestrian in mind to offer facilities that are
dedicated to pedestrians and their movement. Ensuring dedicated pedestrian and transit facilities and
amenities are present will encourage regular usage of
the gateways, promenades, and corridors.
Regulations for public transit facilities shall
be established within the gateways, promenades, or corridors. These facilities shall provide direct access to major transit hubs in
Downtown State College and provide frequent access to the areas being served. This
will help encourage alternate forms of transportation to these areas, thus minimizing the
need for vehicular amenities.
POLICY 3.6: Multi-jurisdictional cooperation is
paramount to ensuring the gateways, promenades,
and corridors in the community are developed in a
coordinated and cohesive manner. Coordination and
communication among the different jurisdictions
within the study area will help guarantee the best
possible solution is reached.
Dedicated and well-designed sidewalks/
pedestrian amenities shall be provided
throughout the gateways, promenades, or corridors. These amenities shall be located on
both sides of the roads that traverse the areas.
These dedicated sidewalk facilities shall be
buffered from the curb/cartway of the arterial
street by five to six feet of landscape material.
The American Association of State Highway
and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) publication entitled “Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities”
shall be used as a design guide for these locations.
Whenever possible, the materials used to create the gateways, promenades, and corridors
shall be indicative of the surrounding environmental aspects. These materials can include native stone, timber, or other materials
found locally. When possible, pervious materials shall be used to reduce stormwater
runoff and help reduce the need for detention
Several of the proposed gateway, promenade,
and corridor areas traverse municipal or jurisdictional boundaries and will require a coordinated approach to land use and design.
Regulations shall be developed that provide a
consistent land use pattern across the municipal and jurisdictional boundaries. This shall
be a joint effort among all effected entities to
ensure a uniform and seamless development
pattern is established among these multijurisdictional areas.
POLICY 3.7: Proper signage in the gateways,
promenades, and corridors will ensure people are
able to navigate through the areas with minimal confusion. Providing uniformity among signage will
assist in getting people through the gateways, promenades, and corridors more efficiently.
Pedestrian amenities such as street furniture
shall be included in the gateways, promenades, and corridors. This will provide pedestrians with specific refuge locations and
also create a more inviting atmosphere specifically for pedestrians.
POLICY 3.5: In order to provide consistency and
continuity among the various gateways, promenades,
and corridors it is important to use materials that are
native to the surrounding area. This will also help tie
the community to the overall region and create symmetry within the community.
Consistency in sign regulations shall be required. This shall include but not be limited
to overall height and size. In some areas,
more regulations may be required that establish criteria for materials, colors, or permitted
sign locations.
Within each corridor public signs (i.e. wayfinding or informational signs) shall be of a
consistent style or design. This will help establish an identity for the corridor as well as
G A T E W A Y S, P R O M E N A D E S & C O R R I D O R S
continuity when traveling through the gateways, promenades, and corridors.
POLICY 3.8: Determining what qualities are desirable for the gateways, promenades, and corridors can
make them aesthetically pleasing. Providing a plan
for the overall aesthetics can also create a sense of
pride within the community and encourage participation from the public.
Within these locations, and in particular the
gateways and corridors, parking lots shall not
be located adjacent to arterial roadways.
Parking shall be located to the rear of the facilities to provide a uniform aesthetic
whereby the buildings or specific gateway
elements are the predominant features. This
will provide a more direct visual appeal
throughout the gateways and corridors.
Shared parking areas between adjacent land
uses will be encouraged and in some cases
required to reduce the need for large unsightly impervious areas.
POLICY 3.9: Establish a prioritized list of gateways, promenades, and corridors within the community to help ensure actions are taken to improve the
selected areas.
Community goals and objectives shall be determined and prioritized before any actions to
improve or create gateways, promenades, and
corridors occur. This will help establish logical links between the different areas and provide for better continuity among the different
gateways, promenades, and corridors
throughout the community.
feature. Greenways can have unimproved trails or be
left in a natural state. They could include pedestrian
amenities such as trails, lighting, directional signage,
or any other components that help to establish the
greenway or greenway corridor.
The study area contains numerous parks and open
space areas that provide the community with necessary active and passive recreational opportunities.
These areas include Central Parklet in Downtown
State College, Welch Pool near the State College
High School, Millbrook Marsh Nature Center in College Township, the future Whitehall Road park in
Ferguson Township and other recreational opportunities distributed throughout the study area. Overall,
the State College community has been proactive in
promoting the need for and use of these recreational
opportunities. One way to help maintain the continued use of the designated recreational opportunities
within the community is through the use of greenways.
Greenways are generally defined as corridors of undeveloped land preserved for recreational use or environmental protection. They typically follow natural land or water features and link nature reserves,
parks, cultural features, and historic sites within a
population center. They can be publicly or privately
owned and sometimes greenways are established
through public/private partnerships.
ICG—1: A gravel road that provides access to Penn State University’s waste water treatment facility incorporates a greenway on each side of the road.
Greenway Trail (or Trail) – A greenway trail is a
path that accompanies a greenway. This can be an
unimproved pathway or it can be something more
like a gravel surface. In some cases, depending on
Greenways can incorporate trails or simply be left in
a natural state. Whether done in conjunction with a
trail or left in an undisturbed condition, greenways
almost always incorporate a natural vegetative buffer
to separate trails or other pedestrian facilities from
development, thus creating a wide, unbroken, natural
strip of land.
More specifically however, the components being
discussed in this chapter are intended to be nonvehicular facilities, although they may be coordinated with automobile facilities. The following are
definitions that will be used specifically for the discussion of greenways in this chapter :
Greenway/Greenway Corridor – A greenway or
greenway corridor can be any strip of unbroken
vegetative area. A greenway can be naturally occurring and follow another environmental feature such
as a stream course, or it can be a section of green
space that is adjacent to a roadway or other manmade
ICG—2: A trail through the Thompson Woods Preserve provides an integrated venue for people to enjoy the greenway via
the established trial.
urban context, trails or pedestrian facilities are usually more permanent. Often times the trail surface is
paved and there is pedestrian furniture incorporated
along the trail such as benches, kiosks or directional
signs, exercise stations, bicycle racks, links to transit
facilities, and, in some cases, artwork. In this type of
a situation, the greenway takes on the form of a linear park, providing additional passive and active recreational opportunities.
the application, this may be an improved trail that
has a more solid surface.
Multi-use Trail – A multi-use trail is typically an improved path or trail that is intended for bicycle and
pedestrian use. Multi-use trails usually consist of a
paved surface that is easily traversed by bicycles or
pedestrians and may follow other transportation
routes; however it may be used independently of
other transportation routes.
Greenways can also be used to establish connections
between habitat areas for wildlife. Creating greenways as wildlife corridors can provide opportunities
to promote wildlife areas within the community.
These may not be suitable for the urban areas, however providing opportunities for and facilitating
movement of wildlife can prove to be beneficial to
the overall community. Since the State College area
is in the predominantly rural setting of the Centre
Region, the potential for interaction with wildlife is
increased. There are State Gamelands that surround
the community as well as undeveloped areas that
provide habitat for a variety of species. Greenways
can link different habitat areas and promote the
health and well-being of native plants and animals.
Greenways can act as buffers between incompatible
uses. The greenways can provide necessary green
space and vegetation to fulfill buffering requirements
by helping to screen uses as well as provide some
degree of sound dampening. Buffer yards can provide the necessary buffering requirement as well as
provide potential green space that could be used as a
greenway. In either case, buffer yards and greenways fulfill very similar land use requirements and
may be used as such.
ICG—3: A multi-use trail in Ferguson Township follows along
Blue Course Drive and provides a safe and convenient transportation route for bicycles and pedestrians.
The study area contains many well established greenways or trails that provide links to other facilities.
By taking advantage of existing infrastructure including bicycle paths and existing transportation corridors, greenways could be established that can provide dedicated access to a large majority of the recreational opportunities within the study area while
providing dedicated linear open space areas. These
facilities can also provide a framework for establishing future greenways and connections.
The study area contains an extensive network of
multi-use paths that could be expanded and used to
make connections between the existing open space
areas. In particular, there are three major routes
within the community. First, there is a path along
Blue Course Drive providing a north/south route on
the western portion of the study area. This path pro-
Typically, when a greenway is located in a more rural area, the trails consist of pervious surfaces that
allow for some active uses such as walking or bicycling, however they have minimal impact on the
overall greenway and still allow for infiltration of
stormwater. When greenways are located in a more
Finally, a third existing route is the College Township Bike Path which provides north/south access on
the eastern side of the study area. This route extends
from the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center near the
College Township Municipal Building south to the
Scenery Park area and Centre Hills Country Club.
vides a connection from Orchard Park at the south to
Tudek Park and other areas on the north.
These three major routes are used regularly by bicyclists and pedestrians and fit into the general definition of greenways since they incorporate trails and
provide some amount of undisturbed vegetation
along their routes. Therefore, these trails already
provide a basic network of greenways and greenway
corridors throughout the community. By incorporating greenways to provide additional linkages to these
paths, a greater overall network of trails and greenways can be created and therefore enhance the already significantly connected and integrated greenway and trail system.
ICG—4: The multi-use path and associated green space along
Blue Course Drive provides a possible connection to various
other pathways throughout the community.
A second path travels through the Big Hollow and
follows the old Bellefonte Central Railroad providing an east/west connection in the northern part of
the study area. This path provides a link from Overlook Heights Park and Sunset Park through the Big
Hollow and into the Toftrees Planned Community.
A proposed future connection will allow this route to
continue on to the Borough of Bellefonte.
ICG—6: The College Township Bike Path travels beside the
Millbrook Marsh Nature Center and through Slab Cabin Park
as it continues to the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg.
With any greenway system that is being used as a
trail network, providing good directional and wayfinding information is a must. This can include directional signs to different points of interest and locations, and distance markers.
ICG—5: The Bellefonte Central Rail Trail travels through the
Big Hollow and provides connections to the Overlook Heights
Neighborhood in Ferguson Township and the College Heights
Neighborhood in the Borough of State College.
since there is a large international community in the
region, it may expand the opportunities for more
people to use the greenways and trails throughout the
Centre Region.
Along with specific signage, kiosks could be incorporated at specific points along the greenways such
as trail intersections. Kiosks can provide an overall
locational perspective so the greenway users know
where they are in relation to the rest of the community. Kiosks can also include information on specific
points of interest or destination points as well as
community information to provide users with details
on other activities within the community. They can
help direct people to specific places within the community that might be of interest.
As stated earlier, greenways are not only used as recreational opportunities or natural areas, they also
provide an environmental component that is significant to the community. Greenways, when properly
established, can provide significant filtration for water running off of impervious surfaces. Greenways
help to reduce the amount of sediments getting into
streams or other water bodies.
ICG—7: Specific signage along the Puddintown Bike Trail provides directional and distance information for users of the
multi-use path.
ICG—8: The Millbrook Marsh Nature Center provides a valuable environmental resource for the community as it helps to
filter stormwater and provides drainage for three significant
water bodies in the community; Bathgate Springs, Thompson
Run, and Spring Creek.
Whether using kiosks or wayfinding signs, it is important to provide consistency in signage to help ensure adequate directional and locational information
is conveyed to greenway users. This approach could
be taken one step further to include a consistent approach to the style of signage (including size, colors,
and text) throughout the entire region. Expanding
the wayfinding system to include trails, greenways,
and other paths throughout the community could provide a link to a majority of the recreational opportunities and provide a more consistently integrated trail
system throughout the Centre Region.
By creating and establishing a logical and interconnected system of greenways, a community can help
supplement its stormwater runoff infiltration areas.
The greenways in turn can help filter out sediments
and other pollutants that may otherwise find their
way into streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water.
Similarly, as mentioned earlier, greenways can provide habitats for plants and animals. This can be accomplished by providing an undisturbed natural area
for wildlife and plants to flourish without being dis-
One component to consider for wayfinding throughout the study area and the region is the idea of using
international symbology. Not only can this make the
overall signage infrastructure more universal, but
Access along the College Township Bikeway provides a connection to the Millbrook Marsh Nature
Center to the north and the Pennsylvania Military
Museum in Boalsburg. This greenway will also link
the future Whitehall Road Park (at the intersection of
Whitehall Road and Blue Course Drive) with Millbrook Marsh and, with future planned connections,
provide a link to the Bellefonte Central Rail Trail
that will provide access to the Borough of Bellefonte.
rupted by external influences. Creating wildlife corridors can provide for the safe movement of wildlife
within the community.
When establishing new greenways or trails, it will be
important to ensure the vegetation that is preserved is
native to the area and does not include invasive species. Depending on the location of the greenway,
this may be done in conjunction with new plantings
when the greenway is near a developed area, but it
could also include the clearing of non-native species
when a new pathway is created in a vegetated area.
In either case, ensuring the plant materials included
in a greenway are not harmful to other native species
will ensure the overall health of the greenway.
While there is an existing network of trails and green
spaces within the study area, there are some locations
that could benefit from better linkages between recreational and community facilities. In particular
there exist several locations that have or will have
development activity that could greatly benefit from
the incorporation of greenways and trails to provide
more accessibility and connectivity.
ICG—9: The above map shows existing bicycle facilities
throughout the study area. The purple line indicates a route
that would traverse Westerly & Easterly Parkway from Blue
Course Drive to University Drive creating a major east/west
connection and provide linkages to future and existing facilities. The yellow dot indicates the location of the future Whitehall Road Park while the green dot is Walnut Springs Park and
the red dot is Slab Cabin Park. An enlarged map can be found
in Appendix A.
The Parkway
Within the study area, there are few centrally located
east/west bicycle and pedestrian routes. There exist
several north/south routes and several segments that
traverse in an east/west direction; however, there is
not a continuous link. An ideal greenway connection
would be a route that follows Easterly and Westerly
Parkway from Blue Course Drive to University
Drive. This would provide a link from the multi-use
path along Blue Course Drive to Walnut Springs
Park. This in turn could lead to a connection through
Thompson Woods to Slab Cabin Park. Easterly and
Westerly Parkway is already signed as a bicycle
route therefore it would be logical location for enhanced facilities to potentially increase its utilization
by bicycles and pedestrians. This could include elements such as wider sidewalks or dedicated multiuse paths, benches, lighting, signage, and similar
Another benefit to incorporating a greenway along
the parkway would be linking multiple neighborhoods with other community facilities. For example,
State College High School and the Welch Pool are
both located along the parkway. A greenway connection could provide easy access to these facilities
from the nearby neighborhoods and also provide a
safe route for neighborhoods that may be a little further away geographically. Also, the Westerly Plaza
shopping center provides a commercial and retail
location along this potential route.
A greenway along the parkway could provide a convenient connection to this commercial area from the
surrounding neighborhoods thus providing an alternative transportation option for people to access
these facilities.
to safely traverse across the community.
Finally, incorporating a greenway connection along
Easterly and Westerly Parkway would link eight existing or proposed recreational opportunities. These
include the future Whitehall Road Park, Haymarket
Park, Orchard Park, Holmes-Foster Park, Welch
Pool, Lederer Park, Walnut Springs Park and the
State College High School. Also, Community Fields
would be linked by an existing bicycle path providing an additional recreational resource.
Circleville & West End
A second greenway that should be considered would
connect the future development on the Imbt and Circleville Farms properties along Blue Course Drive
with the population centers of the West End (former
Urban Village) and subsequently Downtown State
This connection could use some of the existing infrastructure that is provided by the Blue Course Drive
Path and traverse near the Penn State golf course.
With the future development proposed on the Imbt
and Circleville Farms properties, there will be a significant population base along Blue Course Drive.
ICG—10: This photo depicts Westerly Parkway as more of a
true parkway. A center median provides additional greenery
and traffic calming. Similarly lighting and plantings are incorporated along the roadway. Additional bicycle and pedestrian
facilities could be added to provide additional connections to
the multi-use pathways that intersect the parkway. A design
theme could be established to guide the selection of street furniture and wayfinding signs to help establish an identity for this
ICG—11: The future development of the Imbt tract is identified
by the purple box and blue dot. The West end district is identified by the area in orange and the yellow dot. Some facilities
are in place, however additional resources may make this linkage more accessible to the future development and increase the
continued green space throughout this location. An enlarged
map can be found in Appendix A.
It should also be mentioned that the Blue Course
Drive Bicycle Path provides access to the Penn State
golf course, Tudek Park, Overlook Heights Park, as
well as access to the Circleville Bicycle Path which
provides access to State Gamelands 176 and the Science Park Road Bicycle Path.
While these future developments have a commercial
component, providing additional opportunities for
conveniently located commercial and retail facilities
will allow residents to take advantage of the land
uses in and around Downtown State College, and
conversely, citizens can have a convenient link to the
commercial uses and potential promenades within
the Imbt and Circleville Farms developments.
By incorporating this connection along Easterly and
Westerly Parkway, the opportunity to create a true
parkway starts to become a reality. Adding a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian facility along the parkway with benches, street trees, wayfinding information, as well as pedestrian scaled lighting and landscaping, Easterly and Westerly Parkway can become
a major east west route for bicyclists and pedestrians
Providing a greenway connection between these two
be appropriate to consider formalizing this route for
bicycles and pedestrians in the future. Once in Slab
Cabin Park there is access to the College Township
areas allows for additional transportation options and
creates a more walkable and inviting atmosphere for
individuals. This also provides a dedicated route for
bicyclists and pedestrians that runs parallel to the
West College Avenue Corridor.
A new path could be incorporated into Slab Cabin
Park that provides more direct access into Downtown
State College. By using a combination of existing
roadways and existing paths along with proposed
routes, there could be a connection between Lemont
and downtown. A possible route would start in Lemont and travel along Elmwood Street to Slab Cabin
Park. Once in the park, a connection could be made
through the back (southern end) of the park and onto
Slab Cabin Lane. This will provide an on-street link
via Squirrel Drive to Oak Ridge Avenue.
Lemont to Downtown
A third route to consider is providing access from the
Village of Lemont into Downtown State College.
Currently, the only option for bicycles or pedestrians
to travel from Lemont into Downtown requires
crossing East College Avenue (S.R. 26) to access
Spring Creek Park and subsequently the College
Township Bikeway or traveling along East Branch
Road to access the College Township Bikeway via
Slab Cabin Park. There is no direct link that provides access to the Village of Lemont; however parts
of the infrastructure are in place.
ICG—13: Existing trails through Walnut Springs Park could
potentially be used to provide a connection from the Village of
Lemont into Downtown State College.
ICG—12: A potential greenway from the Village of Lemont
takes advantage of Slab Cabin Park (the yellow dot) and a proposed trail through the Thompson Woods Parklet in College
Township. Through the use of existing and proposed facilities,
this connection would provide a dedicated greenway and multiuse path from Lemont into Downtown State College. The red
dot indicates the intersection of University Drive and Walnut
Springs Lane. An enlarged map can be found in Appendix A.
At the intersection of Oak Ridge Avenue and Country Club Drive a proposed path is being investigated
by College Township that would provide a connection from the State College Borough Water Authority’s water tower to Walnut Springs Lane/Walnut
Springs Road. This provides a link to Easterly Parkway which provides a link to the Garner Street bicycle lane and therefore a link into Downtown State
The largest hurdle to accomplishing this connection
is crossing the U.S. 322 Bypass. Currently, Elmwood Street crosses over the U.S. 322 Bypass and
provides access to Slab Cabin Park. While this is not
the most ideal route for bicycles or pedestrians, there
is a wide shoulder along Elmwood Street that provides some level of safety along this roadway. It may
The discussion of successful greenways and greenway corridors must include elements of safety. It is
important to ensure the greenways and greenway
corridors (including any trails that maybe associated
with them) are safe so people feel comfortable using
these facilities throughout the day.
ICG—14: The College Township Bike Path travels along U.S.
322 and the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center. This provides
visibility from the highway thus helping to increase safety along
this stretch of multi-use trail.
Safety can be promoted through additional lighting
or simply making the facilities accessible and viewable from multiple areas. This can help increase the
amount of users and the number of people that can
see the greenways therefore increasing their potential
degree of safety. If there is a true degree of safety,
the potential for increased use of the greenways and
greenway corridors is amplified.
In order to achieve or incorporate the concepts identified in this chapter, goals and policies that pertain
to interconnected greenways need to be developed.
Establishing interconnected greenways and greenway corridors within the study area is a priority of
this planning effort and establishing logical and appropriate locations for the greenways will become a
key element to this plan. Future land use regulations
for the study area should incorporate the following
provisions to help establish and maintain greenways
and their connections to other community amenities.
When new greenways are created or connected for recreational purposes, informational and directional signage shall be included in the greenway.
Uniform signage shall be used in conjunction
with all new greenways. This will provide
consistency for users and provide appropriate
directional and wayfinding information for
greenway users.
When major greenways intersect, informational kiosks shall be incorporated to provide
users with an overview of the greenway system. This will help provide directional assistance to greenway users. Kiosks or other information signs shall be consistent throughout the greenway system in terms of size,
style, informational symbology and overall
GOALS: Establish and maintain interconnected
greenways. Protect and preserve the natural areas
throughout the community. Provide logical links
between the various recreational opportunities and
natural areas.
POLICY 4.1: Preserve and enhance existing greenways and greenway corridors by incorporating connections to recreational opportunities as well as to
other greenways. By linking existing greenways and
greenway corridors, an interconnected green network
can be created providing an alternative transportation
route throughout the community.
POLICY 4.3: Encourage greenways at locations
identified in the study area. These locations have
been identified as major routes that will provide
needed connections or routes throughout the community where facilities are lacking.
When possible, connections to existing
greenways or pathways shall be provided in
conjunction with new developments. These
connections shall be designed to accommodate both bicycle and pedestrian users and
meet all applicable accessibility requirements.
Existing greenways and greenway corridors
shall be preserved and protected when in
close proximity to new development. This
will allow for the continued use of these areas
for both pedestrians and wildlife.
When development or redevelopment occurs
near these identified areas, efforts shall be
made to provide the necessary links or greenway corridors to achieve the overall goal of
creating a linked network of greenways and
trails throughout the community.
In order to prioritize future connections for
greenways, the following locations have been
identified as key areas for incorporating
POLICY 4.2: Provide adequate directional assistance to users of the greenways. This can be in the
form of directions to points of interest, distances to
other trails, or overall greenway maps that provide
general information on the entire greenway network.
Easterly & Westerly Parkway from Blue
Course Drive to University Drive
Between the future development at the
Imbt and Circleville Properties along
Blue Course Drive and the West End
(former Urban Village).
Lemont through Walnut Springs Park and
Slab Cabin Park into Downtown State
POLICY 4.4: Greenways and greenway corridors
serve many uses and purposes within a community
and shall be incorporated into the overall design of
the community. While some are used for active recreation, others are more suited for passive recreation
as well as providing buffers and corridors for wildlife movement, therefore specific circumstances shall
dictate which type of greenway will be encouraged.
POLICY 4.6: Use greenways and greenway corridors as environmentally significant features within a
community and to bolster or create new environmentally significant areas. Greenways provide benefits
to both wildlife and plants and shall not just be
viewed as recreational corridors.
The uses and purpose of a greenway or
greenway corridor shall be determined based
on the location as well as the uses that are
near by. Priority in use shall be given to providing connections with other greenways or
trails throughout the community to establish a
broad network of interconnected greenways.
When possible, greenways shall be used to
connect points of interest within the community. This may include parks, recreational
areas, shopping districts, residential areas,
and cultural opportunities.
Greenways shall not be used for motorized
vehicles other than maintenance or other service vehicles.
When greenways are developed with multiuse trails, the trail surface shall consist of a
pervious material to allow for water to infiltrate the ground and to minimize the amount
of surface water runoff.
Buffer yards are required in certain situations
to minimize the intensity of adjoining land
uses. When possible, buffer yards shall be
used as greenways and provide potential connections to other greenways.
Greenways do not always need to be used for
recreational opportunities. In some cases,
greenways are better suited as wildlife corridors to aid in the safe passage for animals.
Where wildlife is prevalent, greenways may
incorporate some recreational component,
however a proper evaluation shall be done to
determine the best use of the greenway corridor.
Greenways and greenway corridors provide
ideal locations for stormwater infiltration.
The large expanses of linear green space provide an ideal situation for allowing stormwater runoff to infiltrate into the ground and potentially reduce the need for dedicated stormwater facilities. When developing greenways
and greenway corridors, stormwater infiltration shall be a priority. Any improvements to
greenways such as trails shall be constructed
of pervious materials to allow for maximum
infiltration of stormwater.
Throughout the study area, there are environmentally sensitive areas. Greenways can be
used to protect or enhance these areas. When
developing locations for future greenways or
POLICY 4.5: Greenways shall not be perceived as
stand alone uses. Integrating greenways and greenway corridors with other uses can help establish a
local network of interconnected greenways as well as
provide alternative connections to businesses, residential areas, and various other public uses.
Parks, open space, and other recreational areas shall include greenways and greenway
corridors to provide links between these
nodes within the community. New parks or
open space areas shall provide logical links to
existing greenways or trails to provide continuous recreational opportunities.
Greenways and greenway corridors shall be
incorporated into residential developments
and commercial developments and redevelopments to provide links between populated
areas and activity centers and create opportunities for alternatives to vehicular trips.
greenway connections, environmentally sensitive areas shall be identified for possible
protection or enhancement. In some cases,
specific environmental areas can be used as
points of interest along the greenway.
In order to better protect and preserve the
natural features within the community, greenways and greenway corridors shall follow
natural features such as stream courses or
specific contours. This will help ensure minimal impact to natural features and provide
additional protection for identified natural or
important environmental areas.
POLICY 4.7: Safety along and within greenways
and greenway corridors is crucial to continued use
and providing a sense of security for individuals using the greenways and greenway corridors.
Where appropriate and feasible, pedestrian
lighting shall be included to enhance and provide additional safety during evening hours
or times where natural light is less than adequate.
Greenways and greenway corridors shall be
accessible to emergency vehicles to provide
access in the event it’s deemed necessary,
however access points shall be limited and
vehicular access discouraged.
Specific areas or pathways shall be identified
and prioritized as being essential for potential
winter maintenance to provide year round
accessibility and usability to allow the community to utilize the greenways and greenway corridors all year long.
Where possible and appropriate, emergency
call boxes shall be incorporated into the design of greenways and greenway corridors to
aid in the overall safety of these facilities.
create activity nodes throughout the study area. Currently, there are several areas within Downtown
State College that have University associated uses.
In particular, there are several office buildings including the 300 Building, Rider House, Rider Building, and the James M. Elliott Building located along
Burrowes Street. These buildings all help to integrate the University into Downtown. Further east in
Downtown State College is the Calder Square II facility which serves a similar function as the buildings
along Burrowes Street.
The Borough of State College and the adjacent municipalities that make up the Centre Region have the
distinction of not only being a thriving metropolitan
area in otherwise rural Central Pennsylvania, but also
home to the University Park Campus of The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). With approximately 42,000 students attending the University
Park Campus, there is a unique mix of local citizenry
and students that creates both unique opportunities
and challenges for Downtown State College and the
surrounding neighborhoods, but more importantly,
for the overall community.
Penn State University has become not only a local
attraction, but also a regional and multi-state attraction depending on the events that are taking place on
campus. Home football games draw over 100,000
spectators to Beaver Stadium from all over the Eastern United States and the performances and cultural
events attract both local and regional audiences making the University a focal point within the State College Community.
The issues facing the community and the University
are not unique to this area. In fact, many communities with a major university face similar issues. The
key, however, is determining the best ways to approach each situation and ensure the best possible
outcome has been identified for the overall community.
CUI—1: The James M. Elliott Building (former Rider I Building) is located on the 100 block of South Burrowes Street in
Downtown State College.
One other example of University integration in the
downtown core is the Penn State Downtown Theatre
Center. Located at the corner of Beaver Avenue and
Allen Street, this facility is part of the Penn State
School of Theatre and provides an outlet for theatre
students to perform with theatre professionals and
hone the skills they are taught. This provides an integration of the community and the University as
well as a cultural outlet for the University in Downtown State College.
Over the years, the relationship between Penn State
University and the surrounding community has
formed an engaged partnership where the community
and the university actively and cooperatively involve
each other in activities. This relationship has helped
establish appropriate land uses within the overall
community and has provided the ability for growth
to occur in a logical and efficient manner. It’s important, however, to maintain continued support and
interaction between the community and the university. This will help ensure future land uses are integrated to provide the most benefit for both entities.
Along with several buildings located in Downtown
State College, there are other research oriented facilities within the study area. In particular, there are
several offices of the Applied Research Laboratory
(ARL) located in the CATO Industrial Park located
in the western portion of the study area in Ferguson
As a primary focus of this chapter, integrating University related uses within the community may help
Township. The ARL facilities are designated by the
United States Department of Defense as a Navy University Affiliated Research Center and provide science and technology support for national security
with a focus on naval missions.
traffic counts of approximately 25,000 vehicles per
day. This number can be increased dramatically depending on the time of year and the activities that are
underway on campus such as home football games
and fall semester move-in.
It is important to maintain these existing facilities
while allowing opportunities for additional university
functions within the community. This will help encourage continued integration between the community and the University. Similarly, with the establishment of University related uses in the community, opportunities for other uses may occur. For example, commercial or office uses may locate near the
established University activity nodes within the community.
Impediments to connectivity throughout a community can come in many forms. They can include
natural elements like rivers or streams; or a manmade element such as a roadway and even the geographic location of a specific use. However, these
perceived barriers are often positive aspects within
the community that can become focal points and provide opportunities to integrate vibrant and active districts or nodes within the community.
CUI—2: The bicycle and pedestrian bridge integrated into the
IST Building provides a safe and convenient passage over the
top of Atherton Street.
There are several controlled crossing points at street
level to provide access between West Campus and
the main campus, however one element that has dramatically improved the pedestrian flow between the
two sides of campus has been the construction of the
Information Sciences and Technology (IST) Building
Establishing proper connections between the community and university will help ensure a free and active flow between the community and the university
and help instill an energy and vibrancy between
them. It should also be noted that many of the roadways noted in this section are state or federal facilities and therefore the Pennsylvania Department of
Transportation (PennDOT) should be included in
discussions that involve any roadways within their
Atherton Street
One of the busiest roadways in the State College area
is Atherton Street. Atherton Street is the major east/
west thoroughfare for the State College area and is
also the business route for U.S. Highway 322. Because of this designation, Atherton Street sees daily
CUI—3: A pedestrian refuge island provides a safe midpoint
for pedestrians to wait while crossing the four lanes of North
Atherton Street.
An increasing number of students, faculty, and staff
cross College Avenue every day to get from their
homes in Downtown and the Highlands Neighborhood to campus and vice versa. Similarly, students,
faculty, and staff from the University cross College
Avenue throughout the day to frequent the businesses in Downtown State College. Ensuring safe
passage for pedestrians while allowing for continued
vehicular movement is crucial to ensuring the vitality
of downtown.
and the pedestrian bridge that is included with it.
The IST building spans Atherton Street and connects
the two sides of campus while providing a dedicated
bicycle and pedestrian route over top of Atherton
Street. This unique solution provides a safe and effective way to move bicyclists and pedestrians across
Atherton Street and subsequently from the eastern to
western portions of campus.
College Avenue
Even though this is a state designated roadway, solutions are possible, however they may take additional
steps and additional partners to ensure the projects
are implemented in the best possible way to suit the
community and the University, as well as the State of
Pennsylvania. Currently, the Borough of State College has identified multiple projects in their 20082012 Capital Improvement Program that will help
establish additional elements that should help bolster
the pedestrian friendly nature of College Avenue,
and in particular, Downtown State College. These
include projects like widening sidewalks, adding
street lighting, incorporating intersection improvements along College Avenue as well as adding textured cross-walks or pedestrian refuge islands.
As it traverses through town, College Avenue proves
to be a significant feature that separates campus and
Downtown State College. Even though it is a one
way road (paired with Beaver Avenue), there are still
complex issues that need to be addressed when trying to establish more defined and safer crossing between Downtown State College and the Penn State
It should also be noted that the Borough of State College and Penn State University have been discussing
the improvement of College Avenue to enhance the
boundary between the community and the university.
Recent upgrades to Pollock Road and Curtin Road
on the University Park Campus have helped to provide examples of how College Avenue could become
a more lively outdoor space and enhance the connectivity between the community and the university.
CUI—4: College Avenue creates a separation between Downtown State College (left side of the photo) and Penn State University (on the right).
Burrowes Street & Garner Street/Shortlidge Road
One consideration is the fact that College Avenue is
also State Route 26, and sees a daily traffic flow of
approximately 15,000 vehicles. This includes passenger vehicles, buses, motorcycles, and also heavy
trucks and delivery vehicles. The last category
(delivery vehicles) often times are making frequent
stops along the way to provide vendors and businesses in downtown with their daily needs and temporarily altering the traffic pattern.
As the only two vehicular entrances to the University
Park Campus from Downtown State College, Burrowes Street and Garner Street/Shortlidge Road offer
unique opportunities to provide enhanced bicycle
and pedestrian amenities. Since these two intersections cross from downtown onto campus, opportunities exist to establish improvements that can create a
distinct connection between the community and the
University. Common themes in streetscape improve67
ments, enhanced bicycle and pedestrian facilities,
and street lighting could be used to not only improve
the street intersections, but to increase the movements across College Avenue. These intersections
may also be considered for more innovative options
such as narrowed lanes, increased landscaping,
raised crosswalks, or other traffic calming measures.
CUI—7: A view from Burrowes Street looking north as it
crosses College Avenue. Burrowes Street Provides one of the
few direct vehicular access points from Downtown State College onto the University Park Campus.
serving as focal points. Burrowes Street and Garner
Street/Shortlidge Road could serve as two of the key
intersections to this type of activity. This would provide a logical basis for embarking on redevelopment
or master planning activities for the whole of College
Park Avenue
In order to adequately review connections between
the community and the University, the Park Avenue
corridor on the north side of campus should be explored as well. In this instance, Park Avenue separates the University from the College Heights
Neighborhood on one half and from intramural fields
on the other. This is a completely different scenario
than College Avenue which separates the University
from the commercial core of Downtown State College.
CUI—5 & 6: A view of Shortlidge Road (top photo taken from
Garner Street) as it crosses College Avenue and onto the University Park Campus. Garner Street (bottom photo taken from
Shortlidge Road) provides a vehicular connection and a major
bicycle connection between Downtown State College and the
Park Avenue has several entrances onto campus at
various points however Allen Street tends to have the
most pedestrian traffic crossing Park Avenue since
the College Heights Neighborhood is accessed by
Allen Street. The other major intersections with Park
Avenue are Bigler Road which sees numerous vehicle trips and University Drive, which is almost exclusively vehicular in orientation. There is some pedestrian activity at these two intersections; however it is
As specific intersections along College Avenue are
redeveloped or enhanced, it may become easier to
create an overall streetscape plan for the entire College Avenue corridor with specific intersections
primarily associated with the intramural fields. Future pedestrian traffic is anticipated to increase with
the completion of the Arboretum at Penn State and
the Lewis Katz Building (the Dickinson School of
Law, University Park facility).
measures have been added to alert motorists of the
bicycle crossing. Once on campus, the bicycle path
is continued to Curtin Road and beyond. This connection has helped provide a safe and convenient access point for bicycles and pedestrians to cross Park
Since the Allen Street and Park Avenue intersection
is the only other main crossing between the community and the University for motor vehicles, bicycles
and pedestrians, additional amenities could be added
to help identify the intersection and create a better
physical connection between the community and the
University. This could be done in a similar fashion
to intersections along College Avenue and incorporate consistent themes between the Park Avenue and
Allen Street intersection and the Park Avenue and
McKee Street intersection.
West Campus/West End Neighborhood
CUI—8: The Park Avenue Corridor provides a different perspective of the separation between the Community (on the right)
and the University (on the left). Residential homes line this
corridor opposite the University in contrast to the commercial
uses along College Avenue.
Another location where connectivity between the
community and the University could be upgraded is
in the area of West Campus and the West End
(former Urban Village) Neighborhood. In this location, there is not so much a physical barrier like a
roadway, but more an associational barrier. In particular, there seems to be very little relationship between the West End Neighborhood and West Cam-
There has been a very successful effort however,
where McKee Street meets up with campus. McKee
Street is a designated bicycle facility and at the intersection of McKee Street and Park Avenue additional
CUI—10: A large row of evergreens separates the West End
Neighborhood (on the left) from West Campus (on the right).
Improving the association between these areas could encourage
more interaction between the Community and the University.
CUI—9: Intramural fields along Park Avenue (in the left of the
photo) create a destination for students and encourage midblock pedestrian crossings along this section of Park Avenue.
consultant team to provide a revitalization plan for
the West End Neighborhood which includes recommendations for providing better association and improved connections between the West Campus and
the West End Neighborhood. Penn State University
has been an active participant in this process and has
provided input to the consultant team on ways to incorporate redevelopment activities in the West End
Neighborhood with future planning activities on west
campus. This will help create a better integrated area
where movements between the neighborhood and the
University are maximized.
pus. There are no public roadways that link the two
areas and there are few pedestrian connections providing convenient access between the two areas.
With a growing number of students living in both the
West End Neighborhood and on West Campus along
with the increased classroom space and research activity on West Campus, this area can be expected to
see increased usage that will compound the current
lack of adequate connections and integration between the two areas.
In an effort to provide better connectivity between
the community and West Campus, the Borough of
State College and Ferguson Township have collectively studied this area to determine what type of redevelopment might be appropriate for the future stabilization and continued use of the area. Specifically, a 2005 report from Economics Research Associates provided a market analysis of the properties
along West College Avenue and noted particular
uses that could be incorporated into this area. Some
of these uses included retail opportunities such as
restaurants or service oriented uses, as well as in-fill
housing. It also noted a lack of association between
the uses along West College Avenue and Penn State
University's West Campus.
Finally, the recent purchase of the O.W. Houts property by Penn State University provides an opportunity to create connections or associations between
portions of West Campus and the West College Avenue corridor. Ultimately, the property will be incorporated into Penn State University’s University Park
Campus Master Plan and the University will have the
control over how the property is utilized, however
since the O.W. Houts property is located in both the
Borough of State College and Ferguson Township,
potential opportunities exist to integrate uses and
connections between the community and the University.
Penn State University provides a very diverse range
of majors and curriculum for students to follow including the theatrical and visual arts as well as specialized sciences and engineering fields. Similarly,
the University offers many recreational and cultural
opportunities that are a regional draw and benefit
more than just the local community. This provides a
unique opportunity for both the community and the
One way to better integrate the University with the
overall community would be to provide venues for
students and non-students to display their work both
on and off campus. The University has an Outdoor
Public Art Master Plan that could assist in this aspect. These venues could be dedicated indoor spaces
or outdoor community spaces. In either case, continuing to provide opportunities to showcase the
CUI—11: An aerial view of the O.W. Houts property (outlined
in yellow) and adjacent land uses. Penn State University’s
West Campus can be seen in the upper left corner of the photo.
The red line indicates the municipal boundary between the Borough of State College and Ferguson Township.
More recently, the Borough of State College, in conjunction with Penn State University, has employed a
Spaces in the community and on the University Park
Campus that act as outdoor classrooms or areas that
can function as gathering spots for people throughout
the day are valuable assets to the overall community.
These areas include Willard Plaza and the Hintz Gardens on the University Park Campus or Central
Parklet in Downtown State College. A larger and
more prominent example of a community space is
the creation of the Arboretum at Penn State and subsequently the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. These
gardens will be the first phase of the Arboretum at
Penn State and are a prime example of how the University is helping to create a space that is accessible
and open to the entire community.
many disciplines offered at the University into the
overall community as well as the talents of community members may help to foster the existing relationship between the community and the University.
By trying to incorporate the activities occurring at
the University into the community, the opportunities
to provide activities for the faculty, staff, students,
and the full-time residents within the community are
increased. Through the work with the State College
Land Area Plan Steering Committee, comments have
been made that there are limited activities in and
around downtown for families or activities that could
be done throughout the day. Incorporating specific
spaces within the community can help provide the
outlets that are seen as lacking within the community. Similarly, increasing the number and mixture
of activities in and around the downtown core can
promote the diversity that may be needed to help
draw more people downtown and therefore increase
the vibrancy of the area.
CUI—13: A view of Allen Street looking south towards Beaver
Avenue. If recommendations in the Downtown Vision and Strategic Plan are implemented, Allen Street could get a new look
that is more conducive to pedestrian interaction.
CUI—12: An artist’s rendering of the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens in the Arboretum at Penn State. These gardens will be
completed during phase one of the Arboretum development and
will provide a resource available to the entire community.
Another example of where these ideas could be incorporated is along Allen Street between College
Avenue and Beaver Avenue. The Downtown Vision
and Strategic Plan (DVSP) addresses this particular
space and offers suggestions for future treatments to
make a more pedestrian friendly area year round and
provide a better physical connection between the
Downtown and the Penn State campus. Some of the
recommendations include elements such as removing
the curbs and raising the pavement to create a seamless transition between the sidewalk and the street
creating a more cohesive pedestrian space in this
area when this section of Allen Street is closed for
The principles that apply from a cultural standpoint
can also be integrated into a recreational perspective.
Currently the Old Main Lawn acts as an active and
passive recreation space for both the community and
the University, however increasing the amount of
open space or recreational opportunities whereby
both the community and the University can actively
use the areas will help establish a stronger relationship between the two.
The housing issue presents a unique challenge since
the faculty, staff, and student population contribute
heavily to the overall community. Student housing is
often interspersed through the neighborhoods and
provides necessary housing opportunities for the students. There are some areas however, where high
concentrations of student housing exists and does not
provide any integration of the non-student population
creating an atmosphere that may not be in the best
interest of the community. The challenge however is
how to provide the necessary housing opportunities
while integrating the students into the community.
This should also be balanced against the need to
maintain the character of the existing stable
specific events such as the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
Similarly, the DVSP recommends incorporating
unique paving for both the sidewalks and the cartway
along this stretch of Allen Street. Finally, the DVSP
recommends adding street trees or planters, banners,
and other elements to create a more pedestrian
friendly atmosphere in this portion of town. The
State College Land Area Plan supports these concepts and encourages their implementation.
One major component to focus on when discussing
community and University integration is housing opportunities for all the individuals associated with the
University, but more specifically, student housing.
In 2007 the enrollment at the Penn State University
Park Campus was approximately 42,000 students.
The University has housing on-campus for approximately 12,000 students leaving approximately
30,000 students to find residential options offcampus. Many of these housing opportunities are
within close proximity to campus allowing students
to walk or bicycle; however with public transportation serving the entire State College area, many students live slightly farther from campus.
CUI—15: Eastview Terrace provides over 800 units for students who choose to live on-campus and is conveniently located
near many of the downtown amenities.
Similarly, it is important to locate the student populations near the campus or transit routes while maintaining an appropriate mix in these areas between
students and non-students. This technique can help
minimize the need for students to have automobiles
allowing them to have access to their daily needs
without individual vehicle trips. These population
nodes can also provide a direct correlation to the
need for additional parking associated with studentoriented dwellings by reducing the amount of pavement needed for additional parking.
CUI—14: Large apartment buildings like this one on Beaver
Avenue cater primarily to students. It’s location in Downtown
State College and proximity to the Penn State Campus make it
convenient for students.
the completion of the Curtin Road Transit Center and
Fisher Plaza. This area, located along Curtin Road in
front of the Pattee Library provides additional space
for CATA buses to park and optimize the number of
buses that are able to park along Curtin Road. This
has created a more efficient use of the space along
Curtin Road and has also helped to increase the efficiency of the CATA buses which translates to fewer
interruptions in service for both the community and
the University.
Penn State has been very progressive in redeveloping
portions of campus for student housing. In particular, Eastview Terrace on the east end of campus was
a project that redeveloped out-of-date housing and
established new opportunities for student residences
on campus. The 806 units offer state of the art accommodations for undergraduates in a location that
is convenient to campus activities and Downtown
State College. This redevelopment project has
helped ease some of the housing burden from being
absorbed by the community.
A major component to integrating the community
and the University is to ensure the transportation
needs of all the citizens are met. This includes public transit facilities, bicycle and pedestrian facilities,
as well as ensuring effective vehicular flow and
parking opportunities. Currently the Centre Area
Transit Authority (CATA) operates 52 buses as well
as four mini-buses that serve a 133 square mile area.
A large majority of this operation provides service
between downtown and the central campus area with
the University providing funding for the “Loop” and
“Link” services operated by CATA. This connection
between the community and the University offers
very reliable service for individuals that choose to
utilize the public transit system. It may be necessary,
however, to encourage additional use of the transit
routes to help reduce the number of vehicular trips.
CUI—16: New bus pull-offs at the Curtin Road Transit Center
and the redevelopment of Fisher Plaza provide reliable and
convenient service from the Centre Area Transit Authority in a
more pedestrian oriented setting.
There are multiple bicycle and pedestrian routes that
traverse throughout the community and the University, however there are limited points where these
routes meet, connect, or provide adequate connections between the community and campus. In many
cases, the bicycle and pedestrian routes cross busy
roadways such as Park Avenue, Atherton Street, or
College Avenue. These potential conflicts between
the pedestrians and vehicles can limit the amount of
integration between the community and the University on a free-flowing basis.
One way CATA and the University are working to
encourage ridership is the “Ride for Five” program.
Through this program, full-time Penn State University employees can receive a monthly pass to ride
any CATA bus at any time. The program costs the
employee five dollars and the University pays the
difference. In order to qualify for the program the
employee must relinquish their parking pass (if they
have one). Approximately 450 employees currently
take advantage of this program. The University has
also assisted CATA with their vanpool program as
part of the Centre Commute by providing program
information on participants and other support.
One last item to note as related to the issue of transportation and interconnectivity between the community and the university is the Penn State University
Bicycle Master Plan that is currently being developed. This plan is a collaborative effort involving
One recent example of how the University has
helped to accommodate additional transit services is
synchronized, additional transit routes are incorporated, and new development projects are able to
serve the needs of both the community and the University. Currently there are several venues where
this communication is actively taking place including
the Centre Region Council of Governments General
Forum and the Centre Regional Planning Commission. In both instances the university has representation and provides input as well as information regarding land use activities on campus and within the
community. It may also be important to encourage
student groups to participate in the various public
meetings in order to receive and provide information
regarding their specific needs in the community.
Penn State University, the Borough of State College,
the Centre Regional Planning Agency, the Centre
County Metropolitan Planning Organization, and local bicycle advocacy groups. The intent of this plan
is to enhance the various connections between the
community and the University, identify new routes
throughout campus, and help provide safer and more
effective connection points between the community
and the University. Once completed, this plan will
offer additional options for connections and integration between the community and the University.
One aspect that is of utmost importance and can have
the most effect on what happens with community
and University integration is to ensure open communications exists between both parties. This seems
like a simple concept however, it can sometimes be
taken for granted. Between the community at large
and the University, there are numerous projects and
activities occurring almost on a daily basis that effect
how the overall community will function.
Another program that is helping to increase the communications between the community and the University is called the F-8 or First Eight. The name refers
to the first eight weeks of the fall semester for Penn
State University when new students are first arriving
and engaging in the State College Community.
Through this program officials from the Borough of
State College and Penn State University meet once a
week for eight weeks to discuss any issues that may
be present from either group’s perspective. Typically, the meetings include administration and police
from both sides as well as ordinance enforcement
officers. Other agencies are also included depending
on the needs or issues being discussed. This program is intended to increase communications between the community and the University and to ensure resources are properly allocated appropriately
thus creating a positive experience for the entire
CUI—17: The Centre Region Council of Governments General
Forum provides a venue where all the elected officials in the
Centre Region as well as representatives from Penn State University can gather and discuss issues that are important to the
entire community. Penn State University is also a member of
the Centre Regional Planning Commission.
Ensuring proper communication on projects can provide for the necessary planning to ensure bicycle and
pedestrian connections are made, traffic patterns are
Avenue shall be established for increased pedestrian crossings and other types of amenities. This may include additional sidewalks
or refuge areas, raised pavement or pavers, or
similar measures to warn motorists of the
high volumes of pedestrian traffic.
To achieve or incorporate the concepts identified in
this chapter, goals and policies that pertain to community and University integration need to be developed. Establishing better integration between the
community and University is a priority of this planning effort. Future land use regulations for the overall study area should incorporate the following provisions to help establish and maintain integration between the community and the University.
In particular, these approaches shall be explored for the intersections along College
Avenue at Burrowes Street, Allen Street,
Pugh Street, and Garner Street/Shortlidge
Road with special attention at Burrowes
Street and Garner Street/Shortlidge Road due
to the increased vehicular traffic entering and
exiting campus. Additional points along
Atherton Street shall be established to provide multiple connection points between west
campus and main campus. This could include additional amenities at the intersection
with White Course Drive, Park Avenue, College Avenue, and Beaver Avenue. Finally,
Park Avenue at Allen Street and Bigler Road
should be investigated for increased amenities.
GOAL: Expand the integration of activities between
the community and the University. It is important
to ensure efforts are not duplicated as they pertain
to physical and perceived linkages between the
community and the University. This will help ensure an ongoing commitment to provide the best
possible integration of land uses between the community and the University.
POLICY 5.1: Integrate university related land uses
within the community to help create activity nodes
that can foster an atmosphere to encourage accessory
If deemed appropriate, corridor plans shall be
explored for both Park Avenue and College
Avenue. These plans would provide a comprehensive look at ways to upgrade these areas and establish a more consistent and cohesive approach to improvements along these
Whenever possible, the goals, policies, and
recommendations in the West End Revitalization Plan shall be incorporated into land use
regulations to ensure a cohesive land use pattern is established that compliments West
Campus, the West End Neighborhood, and
the Holmes-Foster Neighborhood.
Office or similar uses affiliated with the University will be encouraged in the community.
This may create activity centers within the
community and provide opportunities for
supportive uses to occur.
POLICY 5.2: Reduce physical barriers that stifle the
free flow of pedestrian traffic between the community and the University. While there are specific
points designated to ensure adequate crossings are
established, more attention should be given to the
areas that see elevated numbers of pedestrian crossings.
Throughout the study area, physical barriers
between the community and the University
shall be minimized whenever possible to allow for the free flow of bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
POLICY 5.3: Expand recreational and cultural opportunities within the community to help foster a relationship between the community and the University. Providing recreational and cultural opportunities within the community will offer a more diverse
blend of activities to be utilized by both the State
College Community and the Penn State Community.
Specific intersections along College Avenue,
Atherton Street, University Drive, and Park
size, and location throughout the community.
Efforts shall be taken to incorporate additional venues for artistic displays within the
community. These may be dedicated spaces
for displays or public/private partnerships
that offer space for utilization by anyone
within the community.
When new development or redevelopment
occurs in and around the core area of the
State College community, regulations shall
require a specific amount of public or recreational space be incorporated to provide additional opportunities for passive recreation
within the community.
Off-campus housing for students shall be located within close proximity to commercial/
retail opportunities, transit routes, as well as
bicycle and pedestrian facilities reducing the
need for individual vehicular trips.
POLICY 5.5: Ensure adequate transportation alternatives exist to integrate the community and the University. Linking the various aspects of transportation
can create a seamless transportation network
throughout the overall community.
Efforts to create a pedestrian mall for passive
recreation shall be explored for the section of
Allen Street between College Avenue and
Beaver Avenue and shall conform to the objectives and recommendations outlined in the
Downtown Vision and Strategic Plan.
Transit service shall be utilized as a primary
alternative to individual vehicular trips for
transportation on or around campus. This
will help reduce the need for additional parking facilities on or near campus.
POLICY 5.4: Provide housing opportunities for students, faculty, and staff of the University to increase
the sustainability of the community as a whole. This
will help ensure a diverse residential base and help to
create vibrancy or revitalization in older neighborhoods.
Transportation routes that serve public transit
as well as bicycle and pedestrian facilities
shall be linked together and integrated to create a transportation network that can serve the
needs of the entire community with multiple
transportation options.
Efforts shall be taken to ensure bicycle and
pedestrian routes throughout the community
are adequately sized and in appropriate locations to serve the needs of both the community and the University.
Pedestrian facilities and connections accessing campus (both main and west campus)
shall be bolstered to provide the most safety
and convenience for pedestrians. This may
Affordable or workforce housing opportunities shall be included in all the neighborhoods
throughout the study area. This will help ensure a diverse mix of residential opportunities
throughout the community.
Housing for students shall be interspersed
with non-student housing to help limit the
clustering and potential over crowding of student oriented dwellings.
When located within existing neighborhoods,
student housing shall conform to the design,
architecture, or style of the surrounding
dwelling units in order to more adequately
blend in and be part of the neighborhood.
Additional signals
Raised walkways or pavement
Pedestrian refuge islands
POLICY 5.6: Maintain and strengthen communication between the community and the University. In
order to guarantee specific goals and policies are
met, the existing relationships and channels of communication should be taken into account when activi-
Large housing complexes that cater exclusively to students shall be limited in number,
ties are planned.
Open communication between the community and the University shall continue when
land use changes or plans may affect the activities of either the community or the University.
Providing a venue for regular on-going communications shall be encouraged. This will
help provide an outlet for active and continued communications between the community
and the University.
Millbrook Marsh Nature Center
When looking at any land use plan, one component
that deserves special attention is the existing natural
environment and its the historic context. Over millions of years, changes have occurred to the landscapes that have created certain environmental features that are vital to the environmental health of an
area. It may not always be evident under everyday
conditions, however certain events such as heavy
rains can detrimentally impact an area if the environmentally sensitive areas have been neglected or adversely impacted.
The Millbrook Marsh Nature Center (MMNC) is a
62 acre facility consisting of a 12 acre farmstead and
50 acre wetland area. The MMNC is operated by the
Centre Regional Parks and Recreation Agency and is
open year round for visitors. In particular, the
MMNC serves a greater purpose then just providing
educational opportunities for the surrounding community. The wetlands and marsh serve as a filter for
three different stream segments including Thompson
Run, Slab Cabin Run, and Bathgate Springs Run.
The Millbrook Marsh also serves as a habitat area for
many different bird species including bluebirds and
kestrels as well as small animals such as groundhogs,
foxes, and rabbits.
Many of the primary areas within the Centre Region
that need environmental protection have been identified and preserved, or in some cases enhanced to ensure their stability and longevity is maintained.
However, there are many other areas and environmental aspects that serve a valuable purpose in the
community that need to be identified and protected
as well. While some areas have already been lost,
there are still many to preserve and protect. Proper
land use regulations can help ensure this happens.
Throughout the study area, there are significant environmental resources that are very important to the
community. Most of the areas are important to the
overall community either through assisting with
stormwater control, flood protection, and wellhead
protection for drinking water sources or as a plant
and animal habitat. Some of these environmentally
significant areas have development encroaching
upon them, while some are protected and therefore
less susceptible to direct influence. While this may
be the case, indirect influences can still have a significant impact on the areas.
EP—1: The Millbrook Marsh Nature Center provides activities
and educational opportunities for the community. The Nature
Centre consists of a 12 acre farmstead and 50 acre wetland.
Environmentally speaking, the Millbrook Marsh is a
critical area not only because of the plant and animal
life that exists, but because the wetland area helps
with flood control for the community and provides
an area for the three water bodies to meet and receive
some filtration before they discharge and join with
Spring Creek. It should also be noted that the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center is one of the Centre Region’s best facilities for environmental education.
Many of the local schools and other organizations
utilize the unique habitats and educational opportunities that are presented at the marsh.
The following describes several important environmental areas within the study area that should be preserved or protected. While these are just a few of the
identified locations within the study area, there are
many other significant areas that should be identified
and preserved. Encouraging such efforts will be a
necessary step for future protection of sensitive environmental areas throughout the entire Centre Region.
Fortunately, the Fox Hollow recharge area is located
on property that is owned by Penn State University.
The University is committed to protecting this area
due to its vital role in the community and it’s ability
to absorb surface water. The University has designated this area, and several other recharge areas, totaling approximately 455 acres of its land as Water
Resource Preservation areas in its Master Plan.
Natural Recharge Areas/Wellhead Protection
Some areas within the region are highly infiltrative
due to a combination of soils, geology, and topography. These areas play a critical role in groundwater
recharge and also protect downstream areas by buffering (reducing) stormwater runoff downstream. For
this reason, these areas are also referred to as
“sponges” because of their ability to absorb water.
While these areas exist throughout the region, the
difficulty lies in documenting their effectiveness so
they can be protected.
Another aspect of protecting groundwater supplies is
wellhead protection. The groundwater in the Centre
Region is of such high quality that it requires very
little treatment before it’s distributed to the customers and therefore the costs for treatment are minimal.
Establishing wellhead protection areas can help protect the sensitive recharge areas that replenish the
groundwater in the Centre Region and ensure that
harmful contaminants will not reach the aquifers that
are being used for drinking water. By establishing
wellhead protection areas, all uses that could adversely affect the water supply are identified and
therefore management of these critical recharge areas
can be done more effectively. Wellhead protection
areas can help ensure a safe drinking water supply is
maintained well into the future.
The Big Hollow
EP—2: One of the “sponge” areas located along Fox Hollow
Road. These “sponges” absorb large quantities of water and
serve as natural recharge areas.
The Big Hollow is a unique under-drained carbonate
valley because it is an influent (losing) stream for its
entire length. The Big Hollow provides drainage for
a large part of eastern Ferguson Township including
the Circleville Farms property, Imbt property and the
Greenleaf Manor subdivision. This drainage area
continues behind the Radio Park Elementary School
and across Atherton Street where it eventually makes
its way into the main drainage way through the Big
Hollow. This portion of the Big Hollow follows
along with the Bellefonte Central Rail Trail and
eventually meets up with Spring Creek. The Big
Hollow drainage area is approximately 17 square
miles in size but rarely has surface runoff that
reaches Spring Creek.
One example of such an area is along Fox Hollow
Road near the Army Reserve facility. Penn State
University has collected data at the Fox Hollow site
for over five years and it is one of the most studied
recharge areas in the Country. The University conducts these studies not only to protect its downstream
well field, but also to transfer the technology to other
similar areas. The University constructed experimental low-head weirs at the site in 2002 to determine if the areas infiltration capacity could be increased without a risk to groundwater quality. While
these “sponges” can absorb large concentrations of
water, the key to their sustained use is to protect the
properties that drain to them. Since the “sponges”
absorb water quickly, any contaminant in the water
can reach the groundwater quickly as well.
The Big Hollow is critical because it handles the
drainage for such a large area of the community.
This fact alone makes it one of the most significant
environmental components within the overall study
area. One factor that should provide for some protection of the Big Hollow is that it lies primarily
within Penn State University property and like the
Fox Hollow Recharge area, is protected under the
University’s Water Resource Preservation area classification.
EP—4: A view of the Big Hollow as it extends through the Arboretum at Penn State. This area handles the surface water
runoff for a large portion of the community.
tem such that it does not require filtration. Therefore increased upslope development may continue to
stress the area bringing surface water closer and
more frequently to the University’s well field. This
may increase the urgency to establish an effective
and comprehensive solution to help upslope municipalities reduce the amount of surface water runoff
and thus reduce the impact on the Big Hollow.
EP—3: The Big Hollow drainage area (depicted in blue) captures surface water runoff from a large portion of the study
area (the red outline) and beyond. An enlarged map can be
found in Appendix A.
Biological Diversity Areas
Additionally, a large portion owned by the University will be included in the Arboretum at Penn State.
The Arboretum at Penn State should provide some
enhanced protection for the Big Hollow as the master
plan depicts this area being left in a natural state. In
particular, preliminary plans for the development of
the Arboretum call for a four acre wetland to be built
at the upper end of the Big Hollow. This wetland
area would be designed to capture runoff from the
commercial development along North Atherton
Street and help diversify the area.
According to the 2002 edition of the Centre County
Natural Heritage Inventory, there are several significant Biological Diversity Areas (BDA) within the
overall study area. This includes the Overlook
Heights BDA in College and Ferguson Townships,
the Millbrook Marsh BDA in College Township, the
Thompsons Meadow Spring BDA in The Borough of
State College and College Township, and the State
College Limestone Quarry BDA in the Borough of
State College. All of these areas have specifically
identified plant or animal species that are ecologically significant.
One of the most important reasons for protecting the
Big Hollow from the University’s perspective is because of its Big Hollow Well Field. The water system at the University Park campus supplies over one
billion gallons of potable groundwater annually,
mainly from Big Hollow, to over 41,000 customers.
The University has developed this water supply sys-
Within the Overlook Heights BDA there is a population of the serviceberry plant which is listed as an
endangered plant in Pennsylvania. The serviceberry
is a flowering shrub that is part of the rose family
and is typically removed to make way for develop83
fifty acre wetland area has contained as many as ten
species of sedge that are of special concern, however
recent studies have reconfirmed only three species.
Some of the other species of sedge may still exist,
however more study would be required.
ment activities. Similarly, the State College Limestone Quarry BDA is designated for rare species of
the serviceberry and faces similar pressures from an
urban perspective.
EP—6: The Walnut Springs Wetland lies adjacent to the
Thompson Woods Preserve and provides additional habitat for
plant and animal species in the Centre Region.
EP—5: Several Biological Diversity Areas exist within the
study boundary (identified by the red line). Four areas described in the associated text are highlighted on the above map
by the white areas. An enlarged map can be found in Appendix
While there are currently no identified animal species of specific concern in the Millbrook Marsh
BDA, many animals do inhabit the area. One topic
of concern for the animal species in the Millbrook
Marsh BDA stems from its location. The Marsh is
surrounded by development and this poses challenges for the migration of the animal species that
inhabit the marsh. For some animals their sustainability is dependant on their ability to migrate and
the isolation of the marsh may limit the migratory
routes for these animals.
The Thompsons Meadow Spring BDA contains an
extremely rare animal species that has been documented to inhabit the underground aquifers that feed
into this particular BDA. Not much is actually
known about this particular animal species, however
it has been documented in this area. It is important
to maintain a water quality level in this aquifer to
ensure the longevity of this particular animal species,
however the specific locations that feed the aquifer
are unknown. It’s possible that the aquifer is fed by
surface water and therefore it becomes more important to protect the surface waters throughout the
study area and the region.
When looking at environmental protection, one aspect that should come to the forefront is establishing
where and how stormwater is going to be handled. If
not properly managed, stormwater runoff can cause
localized flooding within a community. It is important to ensure there are adequate drainage areas set
aside within the community and on individual properties to handle the quantity of stormwater that may
be produced by the ever increasing amount of imper-
Finally, the Millbrook Marsh BDA contains one of
the only sizable examples of an open sedge fen in the
county (a fen is a low land area that is covered
wholly or partially with water and sedge is a marsh
plant similar to grass only with a solid stem). This
stormwater management that addresses stormwater
concerns on a watershed level rather than on an individual site. This approach helps communities to look
at the overall impacts development may have on an
entire watershed rather than focus concerns on an
individual site.
vious surfaces created from development activities.
On-site storage of stormwater is an integral component to ensuring the collection and conveyance system for stormwater is not overwhelmed during rain
events. One way to handle on-site stormwater is
through the use of detention basins. These can take
the form of a traditional basin where runoff is slowly
released into the storm sewer system or downstream
If a watershed based approach is not practical, the
LEED guidelines recommend exploring a larger area
or multiple development sites to incorporate (and
potentially master plan) a more comprehensive
stormwater approach. This can help provide economies of scale for instituting innovative (and potentially costly) measures, increase natural settings, and
provide more opportunities to cluster development to
minimize the overall impact to an area. Similarly,
elements such as vegetative roofs, pervious pavements, or grid pavers are recommended to promote
infiltration of stormwater. These methods can help
with filtration of the stormwater.
However, more creative options can be implemented
so stormwater collection areas can be dispersed
throughout a site. This can include depressed landscape islands, artificial wetland areas, infiltration basins, or other water features that collect stormwater
and reuse it on site. The Pennsylvania Department
of Environmental Protection has recently created
new stormwater guidelines that emphasize local infiltration and managing all increased runoff for up to
the 2-year runoff event from development on site.
These requirements have been incorporated into local stormwater management ordinances.
It should be noted that the Centre Region has been
involved in protection of streams and watercourses
from unnecessary runoff for many years. In particular, in 1996, The ClearWater Conservancy hosted an
International Countryside Stewardship Exchange
through the Glynwood Center, which lead to the
creation of both the Spring Creek Watershed Community and the Spring Creek Watershed Commission. The creation of these groups was supported by
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The Spring Creek Watershed Community is a broadbased stakeholder initiative whose mission is to promote actions that protect and enhance the quality of
life, environment, and the economy throughout the
watershed while maintaining and improving the high
quality of Spring Creek and its tributaries. The
Spring Creek Watershed Commission is a group of
elected and appointed officials from most of the
fourteen watershed municipalities (Benner, Boggs,
College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, Patton, Potter,
Spring, and Walker Townships and Bellefonte, Centre Hall, Milesburg, and State College Boroughs). The commission meets regularly to share
issues of watershed concern.
EP—7: Stormwater floods the bike path and surrounding fields
behind Radio Park Elementary School. This stormwater will
eventually drain into the Big Hollow.
Specific regulations are established by the United
States Green Building Council as part of their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
program. These regulations are a way to incorporate
best management practices within a development or
redevelopment. In particular, preference is given to
These two facilities are examples of major components of the collection and conveyance of stormwater
not only within State College Borough, but also
within Eastern Ferguson Township and Western College Township. This particular area is a critical link
to stormwater management throughout the core study
area of this plan.
Stormwater Facilities
Within the study area, there are several locations that
are designed to handle large volumes of stormwater.
Also, some of these areas have multiple uses. One of
the most common uses for stormwater detention areas are parks. Two examples are Haymarket Park
located in Ferguson Township and Orchard Park in
the Borough of State College. These two basins collectively act as stormwater detention ponds during
high volume rain events. However, these two ponds
function significantly different from a larger conveyance perspective.
Overall, throughout the core urban locations of the
study area, there tends to be more emphasis on joint
solutions to stormwater management, while in the
more suburban areas there tends to be more individual stormwater control measures. Some of this may
be attributed to the age of the urban area and the fact
that when most of it was developing, there was no
need to have the more stringent controls that exist
today. However, it may be argued that the more regionalized approach to stormwater management is
better for the overall community then individual basins. Innovative on-site stormwater solutions that
attempt to reuse the water for things like irrigation or
providing greater levels of pervious surfaces to aid
with infiltration seem to be the more accepted trend
in environmentally friendly site development. These
concepts lend themselves to a reduced need for large
stormwater basins and can easily be integrated into
site designs.
It’s important to note however, that all man-made
conveyance facilities (channels and/or conduits) are
considered minor conveyance systems, which when
their design capacity is exceeded, overflow to the
major conveyance systems. Major conveyance systems include natural drainage-ways, floodplains,
wetlands, and recharge areas. To protect and sustain
the long-term health of the watershed and the community, development activities should be limited
near the major conveyance systems. Similarly, these
systems should be identified and inventoried to ensure they are protected from adverse development
EP—8: The Duck Pond along East College Avenue provides an
intermediate holding basin for stormwater before it’s discharged into Thompson Run and subsequently Spring Creek.
The Haymarket pond discharges directly into the
Struble sinkhole located adjacent to the Borough’s
maintenance facility. During large floods the Struble
sinkhole can be overtaxed resulting in localized
flooding. The Orchard Park basin discharges water
into a large detention area located at the intersection
on Westerly Parkway and Plaza Drive near the State
College Area High School. After the water is collected in this detention basin, it is released and transmitted via pipe along Easterly Parkway and out to
Walnut Springs Park where it eventually is released
into Thompson Run. Once the water is discharged
into Thompson Run, it continues until it reaches the
Millbrook Marsh Biological Diversity Area and
eventually joins with Spring Creek.
Throughout the community there are certain locations and environmentally important areas that
bution) extends beyond the localized well location.
In some cases, the zone of contribution for a well
may extend up to fifteen miles from the actual well
location. Establishing and protecting these various
recharge areas is important to ensuring the groundwater supply, and consequently the drinking water
supply is not adversely impacted by incompatible
land uses located within these contributing groundwater areas.
should be protected and preserved due to their ability
to maintain a certain level of environmental stability
within the community. For example, in the Centre
Region, the gaps in the mountains and ridges are
identified as having an impact on the groundwater
wells that supply drinking water to the community.
This would make protection of the ridges an important community initiative and would help to minimize the development impacts on the groundwater
No discussion of the environment should be complete without mentioning native plants and native
species. In many cases non-native or invasive species have been introduced into communities because
they are more aesthetically pleasing or easier to
maintain. Some invasive plants, however, are native
to Pennsylvania. While this may be the case, invasive species can be harmful to native species around
them since the invasive species have no natural enemies. Similarly, invasive species often exhibit characteristics such as rapid growth, highly successful
seed dispersal and reproduction, as well as rampant
spreading that can take over native species.
EP—9: Boardwalks throughout the Millbrook Marsh Nature
Center allow individuals to experience the marsh and wetlands
areas without adversely impacting the site.
Similarly, wetlands and floodplains help to regulate
surges in rivers or streams to ensure their seasonal
flows are regulated. By filling wetlands or covering
floodplains with impervious surfaces, their ability to
manage rising water levels is diminished and potential problems with flooding can occur. This increases the importance to incorporate elements for
riparian areas such as buffers to help minimize the
overall impacts on streams and wetlands from developments. This will help maintain the important riparian and wetland locations within the study area to
ensure development pressures will not adversely impact these sensitive environmental components.
EP—10: The Eastern Redbud has a vibrant pink blossom and is
considered a native tree to Central Pennsylvania. Many properties throughout the study area are planted with Eastern Redbuds.
In the Centre Region, almost all of the drinking water comes from groundwater wells. These wells are
dispersed throughout the region; however the area
that impacts each particular well (the zone of contri-
It’s important to curtail the spread of invasive species since not only do they harm native plants, they
structure, infiltration, permeability, and the available
water holding capacity of the soil. However, some
features such as type and health of vegetation, depth
to bedrock, organic matter, rock fragments, and restricting layers can also play a significant role from a
wellhead perspective.
also cause potential harm and degrade habitat for native insects, birds, and animals that need the native
species for survival. This is of particular importance
to rare or endangered native plants since they grow
in small populations and are more susceptible to invasive species. It should also be noted that invasive
species can easily infiltrate areas of disturbed land so
it’s important to ensure invasive species are not
growing in gardens or other planted areas.
Many soils in the area that are being developed are
also defined as prime agricultural soils or soils of
state-wide importance for agricultural activities. Unfortunately, many of the best soils for development
activities are also the best lands for agricultural use.
Additionally, some soils, such as Andover soils
(commonly located on wooded slopes) are so problematic when developed that they cause problems on
site, or to the larger community. These types of soils
should be protected from development whenever
When examining the earth’s surface, there are many
layers that make up the specific soil characteristics
and classifications. The upper horizons (or layers) of
soil are the most important natural features for protecting groundwater quality from surface water pollutants. The Centre Region has a diverse range of
soils with some soils poorly drained while others
drain extremely well. This range of soils makes it
important to be aware of specific soil properties in
developable areas.
EP—11: A field on Penn State land near Beaver Stadium is
used for both agricultural purposes and protected for it’s ability to recharge groundwater supplies.
EP—12: Large sinkholes can be found throughout the Centre
Region. This hole was approximately eight feet across and six
feet deep.
As water moves from the soil surface to the groundwater, biological, chemical and physical processes
are at work to remove or renovate pollutants; however, existing pollutants in the soil can also be mobilized. The most important soil properties related to
water movement and renovation are soil texture,
Similarly, the Centre Region has areas of soils that
are classified as local alluvium, such as Nolin soil.
Nolin soils are relatively flat, well drained soils that
are rarely flooded due to being highly infiltrative.
Most areas where Nolin soils exist can initially be
with all applicable federal standards. Similarly, this
may promote the use of alternate transportation
methods such as mass transit, bicycle, and pedestrian
facilities as a way to reduce levels of ozone and
therefore bring Centre County (and the Centre Region) back into compliance.
assumed to be located in natural recharge areas for
planning purposes. Also, Nolin soils are often times
found in agricultural areas as the soils are ideal for
farming due to their ability to resist erosion and retain nutrients. However, because the soils are typically flat, they are often times identified for
greenfield developments. Because of their ability to
effectively drain and renovate water, they are important to managing stormwater and are most effective
when maintained as agricultural land.
When looking at the geologic features , the most predominant aspect is the karst limestone that exists
throughout both the study area and the entire Centre
Region. This karst geology is formed when water
reacts with the underground limestone (which has a
high calcium carbonate content) and dissolves it
away leaving caves and underground channels.
These karst areas are very prone to collapse as the
underground caverns and channels are no longer able
to support the soils above. This causes many of the
sinkholes that have formed throughout the study area
and the overall community.
EP—13: Within the Arboretum at Penn State is an air quality
learning and demonstration center. This is the location of the
specific monitoring station that gauges the air quality levels for
all of Centre County.
In June of 2004, Centre County, and subsequently
the Centre Region were identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) to be in violation of the State’s requirements
for maximum allowable levels of ozone based on
Federal Clean Air Standards and therefore listed as a
non-attainment area. While ozone is the only area
where the Centre Region exceeds acceptable levels,
there are other pollutants that could affect air quality.
These include particulate matter and carbon dioxide.
Currently, DEP operates one monitoring station for
Centre County. This monitoring station is located
within the Arboretum at Penn State and is used to
assess air quality levels for all of Centre County.
When looking at a broader definition of environment, we can extend environmental protection to urban areas as well. Within the study area for the State
College Land Area Plan there are both urban and
sub-urban areas therefore it’s important to acknowledge the urban influences on the built environment
and the need to ensure the urban landscape is protected similar to the rural and natural environment.
While the land uses in each may be different, some
of the same environmental challenges are evident in
both areas. For example, lighting, alternative energy
sources, and recycling are components that have environmental significance in both the urban and suburban areas.
The issues of air quality mainly affect the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Based on the
non-attainment status of Centre County, new projects
that are proposed by the MPO cannot worsen or
cause new violations of the federal standards. This
means that any new project being proposed needs to
address air quality issues and maintain compliance
Lighting can be used to help draw attention to businesses through the illumination of signs or storefronts and lighting can be used to provide illumination to streets and sidewalks to increase vehicular
and availability of resources are helping to reduce
the costs. Overall, however, solar options may not
present the same concerns as wind options, however
it needs to be considered in the overall spectrum of
available options for alternative energy sources.
and pedestrian safety. It’s important to provide
enough lighting to ensure it adequately serves its intended purpose but does not infiltrate into areas that
do not need illumination. This idea is best outlined
by the Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council
(POLC). The POLC works with communities to reduce the amount of light pollution that may occur
from improperly placed or designed lighting fixtures.
Resources from this organization can help establish
the best location and style of lighting to use.
EP—15: The Center for Sustainability at Penn State performs
practical research and outreach on ecologically and environmentally friendly sustainable technologies including green
building, hybrid energy systems, food security, and water conservation.
Finally, a way to address environmental concerns
from an urban or built environment is through recycling and recycling programs. While it may not be
viewed as a specific land use issue, recycling facilities should be accommodated within the built environment to make it easy and convenient for members
of the community to participate in such activities.
This can be done through specific site design elements that require areas for recycling activities similar to accommodating solid waste facilities. Currently, the Centre County Solid Waste Authority provides curbside recycling for residents and commercial recycling for businesses within the Centre Region. This helps reduce the amount of recyclable
products that enter the solid waste stream and reduces the amount of material entering our landfills.
EP—14: Specific directional lighting illuminates this downtown
business sign. The lights are focused on the sign to help minimize over-spill and limit excessive lighting.
One issue that is gaining more attention in communities across the country is alternative energy. In particular, wind energy is advancing in popularity and is
becoming more prevalent in some communities. For
the most part, the occurrence of wind energy has
been in the form of large turbines or what are known
as wind farms, however as technology improves and
becomes more affordable, turbines are becoming an
option for individual land owners. This trend presents a new focus on land use regulations that will
protect the health, safety, and well-being of the community while potentially permitting individual wind
turbines to be located in residential areas.
Also, solar power is becoming a more viable option
for individual consumers as advances in technology
opment to ensure significant environmental
areas are protected will be required.
To achieve or incorporate the concepts identified in
this chapter, goals and policies that pertain to environmental protection need to be developed. Establishing environmentally sensitive locations within the
study area is a priority of this planning effort and establishing measures to protect and maintain the environmentally significant areas within the community
will become a key element to this plan. Future land
use regulations for the study area should incorporate
the following provisions to help protect and maintain
the environmentally significant locations throughout
the community.
POLICY 6.2: Stormwater collection and conveyance is important to ensure adequate drainage and
filtration of the water occurs throughout the community before the water is discharged back into the aquifer.
GOAL: Establish and protect environmentally significant areas of the community. It is important to
protect and preserve the environmentally significant areas throughout the community and provide
measures to ensure their continued protection while
minimizing negative impacts to these areas. The
utilization of low impact development regulations
will help ensure the environmentally significant
components are preserved while still allowing for
continued growth in the community.
POLICY 6.1: Throughout the community there are
specific environmentally significant areas to protect
in order to minimize the impacts from development
pressures. Some areas contribute to the overall
health of the community while others are inhabited
by endangered flora or fauna.
Specific environmentally sensitive areas and
biologically diverse areas shall be identified
and inventoried to ensure their proper locations are known and the extent of the environmental significance is documented.
Development regulations shall be established
to minimize the impacts on environmentally
significant locations. This shall include, but
not be limited to incorporating buffers, limiting inappropriate uses, or requiring additional
controls to limit possible contaminants from
entering the specific locations.
Existing stormwater facilities shall be evaluated for capacity before new development is
allowed to occur.
Where appropriate, regional community
based approaches to stormwater management
shall be encouraged. This may include multiple developments or drainage areas utilizing
similar practices or drainage facilities to ensure continuity.
Innovative measures for on-site stormwater
management or reuse will be required. This
may include specific design elements or techniques such as pervious pavement or aquatic
landscaping to limit the amount of stormwater that leaves a particular site.
If possible, LEED (Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design) standards will be incorporated in development regulations to ensure stormwater is managed on-site to reduce
overall impacts on existing facilities.
When new development or redevelopment
occurs, incorporating stormwater management into other elements of site design shall
be encouraged. These elements may include
required landscaping with native plants,
buffer yards, or green spaces.
Limiting the amount of impervious surfaces
shall be encouraged. This may require existing ordinances or regulations to be reevaluated to ensure unnecessary or outdated
practices do not require overbuilding of sites
based on the intended use.
POLICY 6.3: Wetlands, streams or water courses,
Incorporating innovative measures for devel91
plants shall be conducted before any land disturbance activities occur. This will help identify what plants may be invasive and require
and groundwater recharge areas provide a significant
benefit to the community through their natural roles
of providing flood control and filtration for water
runoff. Protecting existing riparian areas within the
community will help to preserve and protect the
community’s hydrologic amenities.
Riparian buffer regulations shall be adopted
to ensure streams (and in many cases floodplains) are not impacted by development.
This will help provide necessary vegetation
for filtration of water runoff and erosion prevention.
Identified groundwater recharge areas and
zones of contribution for public water wells
shall be protected from adverse development
impacts. Approaches may include limiting
certain uses near these areas or developing
wellhead protection regulations.
Wetlands provide necessary filtration for water runoff, habitat for various plants and animals, and therefore they shall be maintained.
Identified wetlands shall be protected and
filling of these areas for development shall be
POLICY 6.5: The Centre Region has a varied and
diverse soil profile. Some soils are more suited for
development while others are better served in an environmental capacity. Also, the Region’s Karst geology is prone to sinkholes. Continued development in
the Centre Region shall occur within the Regional
Growth Boundary and in areas where the soils are
suited for development activity.
Nolin soils shall be identified and protected
from intense development or large quantities
of impervious surfaces due to their ability to
drain water and aid in recharging the underground aquifer.
Areas that are highly susceptible to sinkhole
activity shall be identified and protected from
adverse land development impacts to limit
the potential risk caused by land disturbance
Uses that may degrade the quality of wetlands or other surface water courses shall be
discouraged in order to ensure the longevity
and continued usability of these areas for recreational activities such as fishing.
POLICY 6.6: Air quality issues in the Centre Region and Centre County are a fact of life. Since the
study area for the State College Land Area Plan is
considered non-attainment for ozone levels, efforts
shall be taken to reduce the amounts of ozone being
POLICY 6.4: Native plant species are important to
the overall longevity and sustainability of the growing environment. Non-native or invasive species of
plants shall not be permitted to be grown as they are
damaging to existing native plant and animal habitats.
Removal of non-native species shall be required when areas are cleared for development or redevelopment and replenishment of
native species shall be mandatory when repopulating areas.
Adequate inventory of existing species and
A list of invasive species shall be compiled to
determine what plants will require removal.
Similarly, a list of native species or recommended species for planting shall be established to aid in the landscaping of development activities.
Projects that seek to reduce the amounts of
contaminants released into the atmosphere
shall be encouraged. When possible, these
development activities shall consult the actions and recommendations outlined by the
U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
Alternative forms of transportation that help
to reduce the amounts of pollutants shall be
encouraged in the land development process.
This includes provisions for transit stops or
dedicated pull-offs as well as increased connectivity to population centers for bicycle and
pedestrian uses.
POLICY 6.7: Urban and sub-urban activities contribute to the impacts on the environment. This includes components such as lighting levels, alternative energy sources, and recycling. In order to adequately minimize the impacts urban and sub-urban
activities have on the environment, specific controls
should be continued or implemented.
Lighting for residential areas or businesses
shall be designed in a manner to illuminate
specified areas while maintaining a balance
in the lighting levels that provide adequate
lighting for safety but do not disrupt normal
day-to-day activities.
Provisions shall be made to allow for environmentally sustainable sources of energy
where deemed appropriate. This may include
provisions for wind turbines, solar panels, or
other energy sources that may be environmentally friendly.
Recycling activities shall be required in conjunction with all development activities. This
may include provisions in the overall design
of a site to require areas that can be used for
collection (in commercial applications) or
providing more accessibility to recycling facilities.
As discussed in previous chapters, neighborhoods are
key to the sustainability and viability of our communities. While it’s important to maintain the delicate
fabric of the neighborhoods, it may also be important
to incorporate specific commercial areas to provide
additional services and amenities for neighborhood
residents. In order to make a mix of residential and
commercial uses viable, it’s important to regulate the
scale, density, and architectural characteristics of the
commercial use while maintaining a balance of site
amenities like lighting, landscaping, street furniture,
and providing bicycle and pedestrian amenities.
When integrating commercial uses in with residential
neighborhoods or locating the commercial uses adjacent to residential areas, the scale and massing becomes critical to the overall ability for the commercial uses to blend in. By regulating the scale and
massing of the commercial uses, the residential areas
can still maintain their character and benefit from
having commercial uses in close proximity for daily
Currently, the activities included in the West End
Revitalization Plan as well as the proposed West End
Traditional Neighborhood Development Zoning District call for commercial or mixed use development
to occur at the corners of road intersections. For example, In the West End Revitalization Plan, the corner lots that form the intersection of College Avenue
and Gill Street are being recommended for commercial or mixed use development due to their high visibility. This principle can be transferred throughout
the Borough of State College as redevelopment efforts take place.
For the purposes of this chapter, neighborhood commercial uses will be defined as those types of uses
that are commercial in nature but are scaled and located to serve a localized population. These uses
will frequently be located on corner lots or edges of
significant road intersections and are typically found
on arterial or collector roads. These uses are intended to provide convenient commercial facilities
for those residential areas. The businesses designated as neighborhood commercial will typically cater to a limited service area and provide day-to-day
needs of consumers for a limited range of convenience goods and services. This will allow the commercial uses to serve the surrounding residential areas, however it will also limit the amount of nonresidential traffic entering the neighborhoods. Similarly, the commercial uses will be established individually and will not constitute a larger commercial
complex like a shopping plaza or commercial center
therefore limits should be placed on where neighborhood commercial uses can be located within the
NCO—1: A small printing business is located on the ground
floor of an apartment building in a mixed residential area. It’s
scale is more pedestrian oriented for walk-in customers.
In order to provide the necessary commercial opportunities to the community without adversely impacting the residential areas, limits should be placed on
the overall allowable lot size for commercial uses.
Similarly, since the neighborhood commercial opportunities are intended to serve a neighborhood
population and provide the ability for local residents
to easily access these areas, maintaining a pedestrian
or human scale is important.
As discussed previously in the Stable Neighborhoods
chapter, there was a context of scaling and massing
for integration of commercial uses within a neighborhood. For this chapter, scale could be increased
more than the surrounding residential, but it should
not be done to the extent that it overwhelms the residential areas. In order to provide for adequate com97
It will also be necessary to establish guidelines that
regulate the number of neighborhood commercial
uses in a designated area. This could be done by establishing required distances between neighborhood
commercial uses, maximum square footage for
neighborhood commercial uses, or similar techniques
to limit competition between these designated locations.
mercial opportunities, the overall size of the building
footprint should be proportionate to the surrounding
residential uses, but allow additional size to accommodate larger commercial uses. It will be necessary
to establish a specific market area that might be
served by the commercial use to ensure that the scale
of the use is adequate to serve the neighborhood but
does not require a more regional base to support the
Mixing uses within the commercial buildings may
help to incorporate additional residential density into
a neighborhood. Mixed use facilities can create an
added feel of community since residential uses will
be included in with the commercial uses. Also, mixing residential with commercial uses can create an
added benefit of having occupancy in a commercial
building that would otherwise be vacant in the evening hours or when the commercial business is
closed. It may also be appropriate to allow for some
office uses within the neighborhood commercial areas. Office uses could be included on a second or
third floor space where the commercial use is still the
dominant first floor use.
Similar to scale and massing, the density of
neighborhood commercial uses should allow for several small scale uses but should be less than what
would be allowed for commercial shopping centers.
It’s important to provide enough density that commercial uses will be viable options for neighborhood
areas and can be supported by the surrounding residential uses. It will be important to limit the number
of uses so there isn’t undue competition that may
lead to underutilized or vacant commercial spaces.
Lot orientation is important to help commercial uses
integrate with residential uses. One way this can occur is to follow some of the initiatives of the West
End Traditional Neighborhood Development Zoning
District that requires commercial uses to be located
on corner lots at major road intersections. Furthermore it will be important to locate the structure on
the site to have similar building lines or setbacks as
the adjacent residential structures. This will help the
commercial uses better integrate in with the residential uses.
By locating the commercial buildings closer to the
street frontage, parking and other ancillary uses can
be located in the rear of the lot. This may help hide
or screen incompatible uses from view. It will be
important to ensure the commercial uses blend into
the residential areas while still maintaining their ability to serve a commercial purpose.
NCO—2: The Sign in front of this downtown building indicates
multiple businesses and residential uses all occupying the same
space and therefore increasing the overall density.
It will be necessary to designate specific locations
for vehicular ingress and egress in regards to the spe98
Neighborhood Development Zoning District. These
design guidelines could be used as a basis for integrating design standards throughout the Borough.
This could be particularly important where commercial uses may be integrated into areas where residential is the predominant use by helping establish visual consistency between the different uses.
cific site. Depending on the specific location it may
be more appropriate to use an alley or similar street
as the designated point for vehicular ingress and
egress on the site. Conversely, the designated ingress and egress for pedestrian access should be oriented to the site from the major street frontage. This
will help provide a more specific pedestrian presence
and create an emphasis on pedestrian traffic over vehicular traffic to the specific neighborhood commercial uses.
NCO—4: This business on Pugh Street takes advantage of the
existing structure to maintain consistency of structural uses on
this lot. Although parking is provided, a significant number of
pedestrians from surrounding residential areas frequent this
NCO—3: Hamilton Shopping Center (located on Hamilton Avenue) is directly across from a residential area, however the
buildings are oriented to the rear of the lot and the parking is
located on the front making this a vehicular oriented site.
In order to make sure that a commercial use is viable
within a residential setting, parking facilities will
need to be adequate to accommodate the use, but not
be overwhelming to the surrounding residential uses.
In residential areas that have commercial uses, conventional parking standards may not be appropriate.
For the most part, existing parking standards for
commercial uses are established based on peak flows
during the busy shopping seasons for larger commercial facilities.
In order for commercial uses to integrate into
neighborhood areas, it will be important for there to
be some consistency in the design and overall look of
the structures. This may include elements such as
façade design, materials used in construction, as well
as the overall ability of a structure to blend into a
residential setting. By creating a set of standards for
design compatibility, there can be some assurance
that the residential neighborhood will not be adversely impacted by commercial uses in or adjacent
to the neighborhood.
Often times, parking in conventional commercial areas goes unused for the better part of the calendar
year. It may be necessary to establish specific parking standards for commercial uses within residential
areas to ensure there isn’t unnecessary parking. This
Once again, work being done as part of the West End
Revitalization Plan includes design guidelines for
development within the West End Traditional
may include the potential for utilizing on-street parking for the neighborhood commercial uses or establishing shared parking areas that can serve several
commercial uses.
making alternative modes of transportation to these
locations a priority. This may include the need for
incorporating public transit facilities such as bus
stops or bus shelters into the neighborhood commercial site. Also, providing improved facilities for bicycles and pedestrians can potentially increase the
likelihood of residents from the surrounding
neighborhoods using the commercial businesses for
day-to-day needs. Elements such as street furniture
including benches, trash receptacles, bicycle racks,
or outdoor courtyards can help create an environment
that caters to alternative transportation options to access the neighborhood commercial uses. This may
help give the commercial uses a localized customer
NCO—5: Parking facilities like this one in Downtown State
College provide a common vehicular parking area to limit the
need for small businesses or retail shops to provide parking onsite.
Similarly, receiving facilities for goods or services
may need to be designed to accommodate the residential nature of the surrounding uses. This will help
ensure the commercial uses do not adversely impact
the residential neighborhoods. It may be necessary
to limit the types of uses allowed near residential areas to reduce the need for shipping or receiving areas, but even small scale deliveries need to be addressed due to the sensitive nature of the surrounding
residential uses.
A key element to the success of commercial developments located in or near residential areas will be the
incorporation of bicycle and pedestrian facilities. If
implemented successfully, vehicular parking will be
limited on or near the neighborhood commercial sites
NCO—6: Designated bicycle lanes like this one on Foster Avenue provide an alternative means for individuals to access various neighborhood commercial facilities.
An ancillary benefit from having increased bicycle
and pedestrian facilities for the commercial uses is
the creation of an atmosphere that promotes bicycling and walking within the community. This will
provide an increased presence of bicycle and pedestrians and in-turn create a sense of safety while it
helps to foster the sustainability of the community.
If designed appropriately, the commercial uses could
be viewed as local destinations for the neighborhood.
When addressing the possibility of incorporating
commercial uses into residential areas, two issues
that play an important role in the overall ability to
provide a cohesive integration are landscaping and
lighting. These two elements can have a significant
effect on a neighborhood either positively or negatively.
measures that may be contrary to the overall residential neighborhood. This may include elements such
as incorporating hearty plants that can withstand
harsh conditions or irrigation systems that collect and
reuse stormwater runoff.
The lighting systems for commercial uses within or
adjacent to residential areas are important to the
functionality of the commercial establishment. A
key element to providing adequate lighting for the
commercial site is ensuring there isn’t excess lighting that spills off the site and infiltrates the surrounding residential areas. Similarly, it’s important to
consider safety when creating lighting schemes or
profiles. This may help increase the daily pedestrian
trips to the commercial establishments.
NCO—7: Landscaping around this neighborhood business creates an adequate buffer and helps it blend in with the surrounding residential land uses.
Landscaping can be used to help screen specific elements that are necessary for commercial development such as mechanical systems or parking areas.
Similarly, landscaping can help provide a buffer between the commercial uses and the residential uses.
If done properly, landscaping can help integrate the
commercial uses with the surrounding residential
areas by softening their impact. It will be important
however, that the landscaping not create a barrier
between the commercial uses and the residential areas thus creating a deterrent for the surrounding
neighborhood to use the commercial facilities.
Landscaping can also be used to aid in stormwater
control. If properly designed, the landscaping associated with a commercial use can provide the necessary infiltration for stormwater to eliminate the need
for stormwater basins or other stormwater control
NCO—8: Specific directional lighting provides illumination for
the signage but is focused to not spill over into the street or
other areas around the sign.
Another consideration of lighting involves on-site
parking. If on-site parking is provided for the commercial uses, adequate lighting will be necessary to
ensure the safety of the patrons; however, it will be
equally important to minimize the amount of light
permeating into the residential areas. This can be
achieved by limiting the overall height for this type
of light and by incorporating shielding for the lights
or requiring directional lights.
It may be necessary to establish regulations that limit
the amount of light allowed for commercial uses
within or adjacent to residential areas, or possibly
providing for different lighting schemes and intensity
levels during certain times of the day. This will help
ensure the lighting is appropriate for the use, but
does not adversely affect the surrounding residential
uses. It may also be necessary to recommend specific types of lighting such as directional lighting for
the commercial uses. The more care that is taken to
ensure the residential areas are not adversely impacted will help foster a better relationship between
the commercial uses and the residents and, therefore,
allow the commercial establishment(s) to better integrate into the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
Another item to consider when addressing signage is
illumination of the signs. As mentioned above, lighting related to the commercial uses should not adversely impact the surrounding residential areas. It
will be important to ensure any lighting associated
with signage is either direct lighting specifically focused on the sign or internally lit. If however, internal illumination is used, it will be important to ensure the intensity is minimal to reduce the amount of
light that spills off the site into the residential areas.
Signs are an important component of to any commercial use. They can be used as either an identifying
marker or a symbol that represents the business or
use occupying the commercial space. In commercial
areas sign regulations can be less strict due to the
nature of the land uses. However, in residential areas, signage for commercial structures may need to
be addressed with a more restrictive approach. Since
the primary use in these areas is residential, establishing guidelines to regulate the size and number of
signs is important.
NCO—9: This small sign in the Highlands Neighborhood provides enough advertising for the business but does not overwhelm the surrounding residential uses.
tial areas, neighborhood commercial uses
shall be located on arterial or major collector
In order to achieve or incorporate the concepts identified in this chapter, goals and policies that pertain
to neighborhood commercial opportunities need to
be developed. It is important to establish logical and
appropriate land use regulations for commercial uses
that are in close proximity to established residential
areas. Future land use regulations should incorporate
the following provisions to establish a balance between neighborhood commercial opportunities and
residential areas.
GOAL: Provide opportunities for commercial uses
in or near established residential neighborhoods to
provide the residents of the community with localized outlets for commercial ventures.
POLICY 7.1: Determine the appropriate scale and
massing (or grouping) and overall location of commercial uses to achieve an overall cohesiveness with
surrounding residential uses. This will allow commercial uses to better blend into residential areas and
not overwhelm the neighborhoods.
Commercial uses shall be limited to a size
and scale that is appropriate for the surrounding neighborhood. This scale may vary depending on the location of the commercial
use and the surrounding residential structures.
The overall footprint of the commercial
buildings shall be of a similar size with the
surrounding residential structures to ensure
consistency in size and scale.
It may be necessary to incorporate square
footage limits on the commercial uses to ensure their overall scale stays consistent with
surrounding residential uses.
Whenever possible, neighborhood commercial uses shall provide access to both pedestrians and vehicles and be located on or in
close proximity to transit routes.
Neighborhood commercial uses shall not be
located within one half mile of the central
downtown shopping area and shall not be located within less than one quarter mile of
other neighborhood commercial clusters.
POLICY 7.2: Regulate the total allowable density of
commercial uses to maintain consistency with the
surrounding residential areas.
Neighborhood commercial uses shall be
grouped together to minimize the overall impact on the residential areas and create specific activity nodes within the neighborhoods,
however a maximum number of individual
uses shall be established to ensure limits to
neighborhood commercial are established.
An overall density for a residential area will
be established in order to determine what the
permitted commercial density in an area shall
be. This density may be adjusted based on
the specific location.
Where appropriate, residential uses may be
incorporated into the upper floors of commercial buildings. This will provide additional
residential density and possible opportunities
for affordable housing.
POLICY 7.3: Orient commercial uses located in or
adjacent to residential neighborhoods to blend into
the residential area with minimal site impact.
Commercial uses shall maintain similar setbacks and building lines as the surround residential uses. This will help keep a consistent
street presence for both the residential and
commercial uses.
Specific provisions of the West End Traditional Neighborhood Development Zoning
District pertaining to lot orientation shall be
incorporated into other regulations as appro-
In order to minimize impacts on the residen103
not be a focal point of the property. Parking
in front of neighborhood commercial uses
shall be limited to on-street parking where
priate to provide consistency among various
zoning districts.
Vehicular access to neighborhood commercial sites shall be prioritized based on a street
hierarchy that provides the most access to the
individual sites while limiting the conflicts
between vehicles and pedestrians. In some
cases, alleys may receive the highest priority.
Drive-thru windows or similar vehicular oriented businesses shall be prohibited in
neighborhood commercial areas.
Parking facilities shall be adequately
screened and buffered from adjacent residential uses. This may include shrubs to screen
headlights or other similar techniques to limit
the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
Loading or delivery entrances shall be located to minimize conflicts with the daily operations of the commercial use while limiting
the impact on the surrounding residential
uses. Uses that require separate loading or
delivery facilities will be prohibited in
neighborhood commercial areas.
POLICY 7.4: Use the overall design and functionality of commercial buildings within residential areas
to provide visual consistency between the various
uses to limit the adverse impacts on neighborhoods.
The façades of commercial uses shall be designed to match the character and architecture
of the residential neighborhoods.
POLICY 7.6: Bicycle and pedestrian amenities shall
be an integral part in the design of neighborhood
commercial uses.
It may be necessary to develop design guidelines to assist in the development of commercial uses in or near residential neighborhoods.
The hours of operation for commercial uses
in or adjacent to residential neighborhoods
shall be established as to not disrupt the overall neighborhood environment and are compatible with other community regulations.
Land use regulations shall require the incorporation of bicycle and pedestrian amenities
such as bike racks, benches and outdoor seating areas.
Adequate sidewalks as well as safe and convenient bicycle and pedestrian connections to
the surrounding neighborhoods will be required to increase accessibility from the adjacent residential areas.
Facilities for trash and recycling shall be
properly screened and designed to successfully be integrated with the overall site.
POLICY 7.5: Balance parking and loading facilities
with the overall good for the surrounding neighborhoods.
Parking regulations shall be established to
evaluate the true need for off-street vehicular
parking in neighborhood areas to ensure excessive parking is not created.
Off-street parking shall be limited to the rear
of the commercial uses or other location as to
POLICY 7.7: Integrate landscaping and lighting as
an integral part of commercial uses within residential
Requirements for landscaping of the commercial uses shall be consistent with the landscaping regulations for the surrounding residential areas. In some cases, additional landscaping may be required.
Buffer yards will be required to provide additional separation between the commercial and
residential uses.
When possible, landscaping shall be used to
help collect and treat stormwater runoff from
the site to minimize the need for separate
stormwater facilities. This may be in the
form of planting beds to collect runoff or incorporating plants that can be irrigated with
the stormwater.
When appropriate, neighborhood commercial
uses shall use minimal exterior lighting as
necessary to illuminate the use. Lighting
shall only be used during business hours or a
separate lighting scheme shall be used during
non-business hours to limit the impact on the
surrounding neighborhoods.
Pedestrian scale lighting shall be incorporated
into the overall design of the commercial use.
Similarly, large commercial style lighting
typical of commercial shopping areas will be
POLICY 7.8: Establish sign regulations to ensure
impacts on the surrounding residential areas are limited.
Signage for neighborhood commercial uses
shall be limited to a maximum size per sign
face in order to limit the overall impact on the
residential areas.
Window, wall, or awning signs shall be used
as the preferred signage type, however if appropriate, free standing or other signage may
be permitted.
In some cases, unique signs may be encouraged as they will help better identify the commercial use without the need for additional
elements such as illumination.
Lighting for signs shall be limited to directional lighting or similar lighting schemes to
ensure minimal impacts on the surrounding
Within communities there are many areas where the
land use type is not always obvious. For example,
there are residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, and industrial areas, however, there are also
areas that don’t have a specific or identifiable land
use pattern. These are the places that are often classified as transitional areas because they can support a
wide range of uses including residential, commercial,
office, and multi-family uses.
By their individual nature, transitional areas should
not necessarily have a specific land use formula.
Transitional areas are intended to help create a buffer
between two specifically different land use types,
such as residential and industrial. Overall, however,
it is generally accepted that transitional areas will
contain low impact uses such as retail sales, office
uses, service oriented uses, or various types of residential uses.
Transitional areas can also be used to provide a specific decrease or increase between various use intensities (between Downtown State College and the adjacent neighborhoods as an example). In this type of
situation, the transitional areas act more as a buffer
between incompatible land uses. For example, a
large-lot single family neighborhood may transition
to a small-lot duplex development before transitioning again to a multi-unit high density residential area.
In this situation, the residential density is transitioning from low to high while still maintaining a residential land use.
In either case, transitional areas are an important
component of making communities work. The transitional areas provide varied opportunities for mixeduse developments to occur while buffering more intense uses from less intense uses. This allows a variety of land uses to exist in the same general area
without disrupting the integral balance and variety of
land uses. It will be important, however, to ensure
that established neighborhoods are not adversely affected by the uses that may be identified for the transitional areas. Establishing community input and
involvement will be a key component to the success
of the transitional areas.
In the study area there are several locations that can
be easily identified as transitional areas. These are
locations where a mix of uses currently exists and
there may be no clear agreement of what the preferred use category should be. These areas are well
established; however there is also the opportunity to
potentially increase the variety of uses or begin to
establish a new mix of uses that may be more desirable. A key component to all the areas that can currently be identified as transitional is that they are also
stable. This includes existing uses, infrastructural
elements, and population base. Transitional areas,
however, can still change their land uses without major disruptions to the stability.
The Highlands & Downtown
To the south of Downtown State College is the Highlands Neighborhood. This historic neighborhood
consists of many single-family homes that were built
in the 1920’s. The homes are on small lots which
equates to residential density.
The Highlands
neighborhood is well established and has a mix of
housing styles and types.
TA—1: East Foster Avenue provides a major east/west route
through the transitional area between the Highlands Neighborhood and Downtown State College.
Geographically, the Highlands Neighborhood is directly adjacent to Downtown State College. Because
of this proximity, there is a substantial area that extends several blocks south of downtown that has a
greater mix of housing styles and densities as well as
uses. In particular, the blocks between East Beaver
Avenue and East Fairmount Avenue provide the best
illustration of this particular transitional area. There
are large apartment buildings, restaurants, specialty
shops, as well as offices mixed into this particular
area. A majority of the area is zoned for residential
uses, however there is a mix of zoning that allows for
office uses and some commercial uses.
The Highlands Neighborhood is also home to a majority of the fraternities associated with Penn State
University. Many of the fraternities occupy large
historic homes that have existed in this neighborhood
for years. This adds an additional element based not
only on the population density these houses provide,
but also the historic context by where these houses
exist. The fraternity houses are as much a part of the
Highlands Neighborhood as the single family homes
and need to be considered in any discussion regarding this area.
Because there is an increased population density in
this area, it makes it a logical location to incorporate
uses that can easily cater to the existing residents.
Office uses, service oriented uses, as well as locations to get day-to-day needs may be encouraged in
this location. Similarly, continuing to provide a variety of housing opportunities may be encouraged due
to the close proximity to the Penn State campus and
the established downtown shopping core.
As individual lifestyles change and more people return to the urban core of communities, an increased
emphasis is placed on mixed use areas. This trend
can equate to additional opportunities for people to
live within close proximity to their places of work as
well as other commercial activity centers. A potential benefit to people living, working, and recreating
all in the same general area is the reduced need for
vehicular facilities to support the residential areas.
At the same time however, this may require an increase in the need for alternative transportation options such as bicycles or increased sidewalk widths.
Similarly, public transit may become a more convenient method of transportation.
It should also be noted that south of the area in question is a well established neighborhood that should
be protected from future encroachment of incompatible uses. This will help maintain the stability of the
neighborhood while still providing opportunities for
the residents through a potential variety of land uses.
Providing additional land uses on the fringe of the
stable neighborhood may in fact increase the stability
and protect it from future adverse developments.
A general map of this transitional area can be found
in Appendix A.
West College Avenue & The West End
In the western portion of the study area is the West
College Avenue Corridor. This roadway (also listed
as State Route 26) traverses from downtown State
College, through the West End Neighborhood, and
into Ferguson Township. This section of West College Avenue transforms from two lanes of single direction traffic (in the Borough of State College) to a
three lane cross section with one travel lane in each
direction and a center turn lane as it enters Ferguson
Township. This creates a more open feeling along
the roadway as speed limits increase and pedestrian
movements decrease as the pedestrian facilities taper
off as College Avenue meets the intersection of Blue
Course Drive.
TA—2: The West College Avenue corridor transitions from tree
lined residential streets to a more commercial oriented area as
the road traverses from the Borough of State College to Ferguson Township.
neighborhoods. Also, the complementary uses could
provide some buffering for the neighborhood and
therefore provide a level of protection to maintain its
overall stability.
The specific area of note exists at the boundary of
the State College Borough and Ferguson Township.
From this point west along College Avenue there is a
mix of uses that are more commercial in nature. The
portion of West College Avenue in the Borough of
State College tends to be more residential in nature,
however crossing into Ferguson Township, the uses
along this corridor change to a greater mix of commercial, service oriented, office, with some residential. It should be noted however, that to the south of
the West College Avenue Corridor is a well established residential area that should be protected. Uses
may be selected that cater to this area and provide
services in close proximity without intruding into
this neighborhood.
East College Avenue & Downtown State College
Similar to the West College Avenue Corridor is the
East College Avenue Corridor. The East College
Avenue Corridor extends from the intersection of
East College Avenue and U.S. 322 all the way into
Downtown State College. Like west College Avenue this section of East College Avenue is also identified as State Route 26 and lies in two different municipalities; State College Borough and College
This area is a good example of where multiple concepts and ideas from this area plan are coming together. For example, the West College Avenue Corridor is also a potential gateway location. That may
help establish the types of uses that are best suited
for this location. Similarly, the uses can be refined
to provide for a more cohesive mix or incorporate
some design components that will help establish a
uniform style to the corridor while allowing for the
diversity in uses to remain the same.
One final aspect that should be taken into account for
the West College Avenue Corridor is the recent closing of the O.W. Houts General Store and its purchase
by Penn State University. This property is located in
both the Borough of State College and Ferguson
Township. The site is approximately four acres and,
depending on the zoning, could be redeveloped into a
variety of uses. It should also be noted that the redevelopment of the O.W. Houts property is an integral
part of the University Park Campus Master Plan and
West End Redevelopment Plan.
TA—3: A view looking west on East College Avenue into
Downtown State College. The University Drive overpass looms
in the background between the open roadway and the more
commercially oriented downtown.
A major difference between East College Avenue
and West College Avenue is that this section of East
College Avenue is a five lane cross section with two
travel lanes in each direction and a center turn lane.
This provides for an increase in vehicular speeds and
creates a more vehicle oriented corridor. However,
once East College Avenue crosses into the Borough
of State College and subsequently into Downtown
State College the speed is reduced and the road becomes two lanes and is single direction travel until it
crosses back out of the Borough and into Ferguson
This is not the only property along this corridor with
the potential for redevelopment. There are several
other properties that could be redeveloped and therefore make it more important to establish a uniform
design standard. A key to potential redevelopment
of these properties is to provide complementary uses
to enhance the residential areas and provide additional pedestrian amenities in this area thus creating
a potential activity center for the surrounding
Township (as noted above).
The East College Avenue Corridor has a variety of
uses from service oriented such as hotels, restaurants,
and service stations to retail uses such as building
supplies and furniture stores. There are limited pedestrian facilities along this corridor as most of the
uses are accessed by vehicle. Additionally, there are
historic structures such as the Centre Furnace Mansion (set back slightly from the roadway) as well as
an ore furnace. There is also some vacant land along
the corridor that could be developed in the future.
Finally, directly adjacent to East College Avenue is
Thompson Run which is a crucial component to
stormwater conveyance throughout this portion of
the study area.
Like the West College Avenue corridor, East College
Avenue has been identified as a potential gateway
location within the study area and may require some
additional analysis to determine appropriate uses for
this particular area to adequately reflect its importance as a gateway location. This designation can
help establish potential uses or specific design elements for both the buildings and the individual parcels to create a more cohesive and uniform approach
to development within the corridor.
Westerly Parkway
As discussed in earlier chapters, Westerly Parkway
and Westerly Parkway Plaza are key locations to
various potential redevelopment opportunities.
Based on their proximity to both residential and
community based uses such as the State College
Area High School and the Community Field Park,
there is an opportunity to incorporate various types
of uses centered around the Westerly Parkway Plaza
that are compatible with the residential neighborhoods and the civic uses and compliments them both.
eas for the future development and redevelopment of
the community. The fact that various opportunities
have been identified for this location only works to
enhance its importance as a community asset regardless of the specific uses identified for the site.
TA—4: Westerly Parkway Plaza along Westerly Parkway provides an excellent opportunity for a mixed use development that
could support both the nearby residential uses and the community based uses.
While there may be other transitional areas, the locations identified above are indicative of category
types. It should be noted that the various transitional
areas have very diverse and significant segments that
should be addressed as individual areas within their
overall corridor. This will help ensure land use consistency within the corridor while providing opportunities to treat each area differently. The elements
identified above can be easily translated to other locations. Similarly, the goals and policies that will be
identified at the end of this chapter can be utilized
for other transitional areas that may be identified
through this planning effort or in the future.
In previous chapters this document identified several
key ways that the Westerly Parkway area could be
redeveloped as a major focal point within the community. This includes incorporating interconnected
greenways and redevelopment of the specific plaza
site with a variety of uses. Westerly Parkway (and
specifically Westerly Parkway Plaza) are critical ar112
The uses that might be identified for each transitional
area will depend on the specific needs of the community and what will work best based on surrounding
uses, environmental issues, transportation options, as
well as the future land use patterns. Another aspect
that needs to be considered when looking at specific
uses is the 2000 Centre Region Comprehensive Plan.
While the comprehensive plan doesn’t address specific land uses, it does provide an overview and insight into what uses may be appropriate and necessary for the entire community. This can be used as a
basic framework for determining what mix of uses
might be appropriate.
Establishing what land uses are appropriate for each
transitional area will dictate what types of accessory
uses might be permitted. Similarly, the specific land
uses will dictate other issues such as density, scale,
massing, and individual components such as necessary signage as well as landscaping and lighting.
Any uses and their accessory uses will need to be
properly scaled to ensure an appropriate relationship
to the surrounding land use pattern is created. However, this association may vary depending on the specific boundaries of each transitional area.
Whenever possible, pedestrian oriented uses should
be incorporated into transitional areas. This may
help establish more of a community feel and vibrancy regardless of the specific uses that are incorporated. Also, increased pedestrian activity may
help calm vehicular traffic and create an atmosphere
that is more walkable.
One technique that can help accommodate a variety
of uses without adversely impacting the surrounding
neighborhoods is form based zoning. Form based
zoning is a land use tool that does not necessarily
dictate where specific land uses are allowed, but
regulates the uses based on their ability to fit in with
the surrounding development pattern. This is done
through design regulations such as building heights,
set backs, limits on building footprints, and the overall ability for the shell of the building to blend in
with its surroundings. For example, a commercial
use could be located in a residential area if the physical building were designed to look like a single family home, have limited parking, proper landscaping,
and limited signage. Form based zoning allows multiple uses to exist in the same area and therefore permits a greater blend of uses without requiring separations between the uses.
One type of use that should be considered for incorporation into transitional areas is live/work units.
This type of use provides for a commercial, office, or
retail space at street level while incorporating living
spaces on the remaining floors above. As noted previously, the scale, density, and massing of uses in
transitional areas should be determined by the surrounding land use pattern.
TA—5: This business on East Foster Avenue also provides opportunities for residential dwelling units on the upper floors to
create a live/work environment.
Therefore it may be appropriate to have two, three,
or four story buildings which could accommodate
various degrees of residential spaces while still providing opportunities for businesses. This mix of residential and non-residential space can help create
more density and more opportunities for individuals
to reside in close proximity to their daily needs as
well as potential employment.
Affordable Housing
To further expand on the idea of living and working
in or near the same geographic location is the idea of
affordable housing. Affordability in the housing
stock may become more accessible when there is the
potential to have a variety of allowable uses in the
same area. This could be in the form or commercial
uses on the ground floor with residential or office
uses on the upper floors in the same building or stand
alone commercial or office uses.
parking or off-street parking in both surface lots or
As an example, in the transitional area between
Downtown State College and the Highlands
Neighborhood, bicycle and pedestrian facilities may
be the most desirable due to the close proximity to
existing established activity nodes. Also, since the
area is primarily developed, providing additional locations for vehicular parking may not be feasible and
therefore reinforce the option of expanding the bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The specific facilities
that are established could take the form of wider
sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes or possibly offstreet bicycle facilities. These options could allow
for increased densities and aid in the overall patronage of office, retail, or commercial uses.
TA—6: Apartment buildings like this one in the Highlands
Neighborhood provide affordable housing for students or professionals that is close to many of the services in and around
Downtown State College.
This mix of uses may help off-set some of the costs
associated with housing and therefore create opportunities for more affordable units. This will again
provide opportunities for people to live near where
they work and shop to reduce the dependence and
demand on vehicular transportation. Also, providing
for affordable housing units will provide opportunities to potential first time home buyers who can help
establish a more permanent residential base in the
transitional areas and can provide stability to the
overall community.
TA—7: This on-street bicycle facility on Garner Street provides
a north/south route through the Highlands Neighborhood providing access from Easterly Parkway and beyond.
Based on the various uses that might be present
within the transitional areas, there is also the opportunity to emphasize multiple transportation options
and their related facilities. This could include public
transit, bicycle facilities, pedestrian facilities, or even
vehicular options. In most cases, the types of uses,
density, and location that is proposed will determine
what will be the best transportation option. One element that will help determine the need for additional
parking would be the proximity to existing public
parking facilities. This could either be on-street
Another example of the variety of transportation issues can be seen in the West College Avenue transitional area. Since this area is developed with a
greater mix of commercial establishments it may be
necessary to provide opportunities for centralized
vehicular parking that could be utilized by multiple
businesses. This could be done in conjunction with
enhanced pedestrian facilities so individuals can
walk throughout the area once they have parked their
vehicle. A similar approach could be taken for the
East College Avenue area; however the specific uses
that are incorporated should determine the level of
maintaining a consistent aesthetic.
transportation services that are established in each
transitional area.
Design guidelines can take on many different forms
depending on the specific circumstances. They can
be written to regulate all aspects of the site development or can be used to simply dictate limited exterior
components of a development. Regardless of what
approach is taken, design guidelines can ensure that a
uniform approach is adopted across a large area. It
should also be noted that design guidelines can be
adopted by multiple municipalities or jurisdictions to
ensure there is consistency in development patterns
across municipal boundaries. This will become more
important in locations such as East College Avenue
as it crosses between College Township and the Borough of State College as well as West College Avenue as it crosses between Ferguson Township and
the Borough of State College.
TA—8: CATA buses provide routine service throughout many
of the various transitional areas within the study area therefore
providing an alternative to vehicular travel.
Public transit opportunities should be explored for all
the transitional areas. In most cases the Centre Area
Transit Authority (CATA) already has established
fixed route service through the locations in question.
These facilities could be enhanced including increased frequency of buses along the designated
routes. Additional transit service along with increased bicycle and pedestrian facilities could provide enough opportunities for access to land uses
within the transitional areas to greatly reduce the
need for additional vehicular facilities.
TA—9: This multi-unit residential dwelling maintains the original design and character of the neighborhood and therefore
blends in with the surrounding uses.
Possibly one of the most important components for
transitional areas is having a consistent and uniform
set of design standards and principles. Since the
transitional areas will most likely have a variety of
uses, it will be important to ensure that the overall
design and aesthetic for these areas provides a consistent approach. This will ensure there is a cohesive
approach and consistency among the different properties regardless of the specific use. As an example,
the West End Traditional Neighborhood Development is establishing design guidelines for the entire
district. This is being done in order to allow for various uses to exist within the same neighborhood while
Another element to consider is the overlap between
some of the transitional areas and the potential gateway locations previously identified in the plan. Because of this overlap there may need to be additional
design emphasis to address the land uses in both the
context of the transitional areas and the gateways.
This may also help provide additional cohesion in
the established locations to ensure greater continuity
in both use and design for the transitional areas and
the gateways.
veloped to its full potential.
In order to achieve the concepts identified in this
chapter, goals and policies pertaining to transitional
areas need to be developed. It is important to establish logical and appropriate land use regulations for
transitional areas in order to protect and enhance the
adjacent uses that are being buffered. Future land
use regulations should incorporate the following provisions to establish a balance of uses that can exist in
a cohesive manner.
At a minimum, the following areas shall be
GOAL: Establish opportunities for multiple uses to
exist within the same generalized area to strengthen
the overall community’s land use opportunities.
Through adequate and appropriate land use controls, multiple and mixed uses can exist within the
same localized area without adversely affecting the
surrounding community. This will create more opportunities for a variety of land uses and provide
more opportunities for the overall community.
POLICY 8.2: Permit uses in transitional areas that
compliment the surrounding land use pattern and create opportunities without adversely impacting the
surrounding uses while providing needed uses for the
overall community.
POLICY 8.1: Identify locations where transitional
areas are inevitable to establish proper land use controls to regulate the uses that may be located within
the transitional areas.
The following features shall be used to help
identify transitional areas within the community:
An area that serves as a transition between two distinct land uses such as
Downtown State College and the adjacent neighborhoods.
There is a disorganized or un-unified
land use type or there are multiple
versions of the same land use type
such as single-family residential,
multi-family residential, owner/renteroccupied residential.
There is an abrupt change in land use
with limited buffering between the
two uses.
An area is under developed or not de-
The portion of the Highlands Neighborhood adjacent to Downtown State College
West College Avenue and The West End
East College Avenue and Downtown
State College
The lands currently zoned R-O or R-OA
in the Borough of State College.
Transitional areas shall be evaluated to establish an adequate variety of land uses to complement adjacent existing land uses.
The uses appropriate for transitional areas
may include but not be limited to commercial, retail, residential, office, or any combination there of.
Accessory uses in transitional areas shall be
established based on the allowable uses determined for each separate area. Accessory uses
may vary depending on the transitional area.
Where residential uses are incorporated into
transitional areas, affordable or workforce
housing options will be encouraged. This
could be in the form of single-family units or
multi-family units.
Where appropriate, live/work units will be
encouraged in the transitional areas. This
will provide additional opportunities for affordable housing as well as provide opportunities for a range of mixed uses.
POLICY 8.3: Explore multiple transportation options to determine what transportation options are
appropriate for each transitional area.
Regardless of the preferred transportation
method in transitional areas, bicycle, pedestrian, and public transit facilities shall be incorporated to ensure transportation options
are provided.
Bicycle and pedestrian facilities such as bike
racks and benches shall be incorporated into
the overall site design and layout for properties within the transitional areas to help encourage the use of alternate forms of transportation.
Consultation with the Centre Area Transit
Authority (CATA) shall be required to establish the most logical and efficient placement
of transit stops or facilities within transitional
areas. This will help ensure continuity with
the existing public transit network.
Where bicycle or pedestrian transportation is
the preferred method, wider sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes, or off-street multi-use
paths shall be required. This will help ensure
bicyclists and pedestrians have all available
opportunities to safely travel to and from the
uses within transitional areas.
Private vehicles may be a preferred method
of transportation for transitional areas; however efforts shall be taken to minimize the
focus on the vehicles. Potential methods may
Limiting or requiring joint parking
facilities for uses within the transitional areas.
Prohibiting the use of drive-thru windows on all properties within the transitional areas.
Requiring adequate landscaping to
shield or buffer vehicular facilities
such as parking areas.
POLICY 8.4: Ensure consistency with design and
appearance of buildings within transitional areas to
ensure multiple (and typically incompatible) uses can
exist within the same area and blend with adjoining
The development of specific design guidelines will allow multiple uses within transitional areas to exist without adversely impacting each other.
Design guidelines shall be established based
on the specific needs and uses within each
transitional area. This will ensure each area
is treated individually and the specific needs
of each transitional area are met.
Design guidelines shall be written to ensure
the uses within the transitional areas are sensitive to the context of surrounding uses and
do not create any adverse impacts.
When establishing design guidelines for transitional areas, the following items shall be
taken into consideration:
The height, density, and massing of
the surrounding buildings should be
taken into account to establish an appropriate scale for the transitional areas.
Specific lighting elements should provide adequate lighting for safety and
functionality but do not create unnecessary off-site illumination.
Landscaping should be appropriate to
provide adequate buffering for the
surrounding uses but not eliminate
any connections with surrounding
Signage should be limited to provide
reasonable identification for the uses
in the transitional areas but should be
limited to not intrude or detract from
dissimilar land uses.
The State College Land Area Plan is the culmination
of over two years of work leading to the creation of a
comprehensive land use plan that establishes specific
goals and policies to help guide future land use and
development within the Borough of State College
and portions of College Township and Ferguson
Township. The plan would not have been possible
without the participation of the dedicated steering
committee members who provided direction and ensured the community’s voices were heard and needs
were met. In particular, the State College Land Area
Plan explores various land use techniques and provides specific detailed recommendations in the form
of goals and policies on how to accomplish the identified future planning and land use objectives within
the study boundary.
As the planning process moves forward, this land
use plan will be presented to the elected officials of
the three municipalities and their planning commissions to determine the specific course of action. It is
anticipated that each municipality will adopt this
plan or relevant elements of this plan and use it to
guide the creation or modification of future land use
regulations where applicable. Adoption of all or part
of this document will be at the discretion of each
municipality; however adoption of the complete
document will help ensure consistency in future land
use planning goals and policies by all three municipalities, creating a more consistent regional approach
for future land use.
The eight chapters of the plan provide a framework
for a comprehensive land use strategy to better serve
the future land use goals of the community. Taken
in whole or in part, they offer guidelines for achieving the vision set out by the Steering Committee. It
should also be noted however, that this is a living
document. As the community continues to grow and
change, so will the land use goals. This plan should
be reviewed and (if necessary) updated periodically
to ensure the community’s needs are being met.
This will help make certain the development regulations will be consistent with the ideals and needs of
the overall community now and in the future.
GPC—10: State College Land Area
Plan Study Boundary as it relates
to the municipalities within the
Centre Region.
West College Avenue Gateway Corridor
East College Avenue Gateway Corridor
North Atherton Street Gateway Corridor
South Atherton Street Gateway Corridor
Park Avenue Gateway Corridor
Allen Street Promenade
Calder Alley Promenade
West Beaver Avenue Corridor
South Fraser Street Corridor
University Drive Corridor
Locust Lane Corridor
Grass Alley Promenade
ICG—9: Potential multi-use path
along the Parkway. The Proposed
Whitehall Road Park (yellow dot),
Walnut Springs Park (green dot),
and Slab Cabin Park (red dot) could
be linked together.
ICG—11: An overview of the potential connections between
the Imbt Tract and the West End, leading to Downtown
State College. The Imbt tract is identified by the purple
outline and blue dot while the West End is identified by
the orange area and the yellow dot.
ICG—12: A possible connection between
the Village of Lemont and Downtown State
College. The red dot is the intersection of
University Drive and Walnut Springs Road.
The yellow dot is Slab Cabin Park.
EP—3: The Big Hollow
drainage area within the
study boundary.
EP—5: Four Biological
Diversity Areas within
the Study Boundary.
This map provides a
visual representation
of where the various
plan elements could
be incorporated
within the study area.
It should be used for
display purposes only
and does not indicate
specific locations or
boundaries for the
various elements.
All photos and images in this document were taken or created by the Centre Regional Planning Agency with
the exception of the following:
Photo of the Kentlands Community in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Taken from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website at:
Sketch image of various lot orientations taken from the Salinas, California Zoning Ordinance
and modified by CRPA Staff. The original image was found at:
Photo from the Mason Run Community in Monroe, Michigan. The image was taken from a
forum at the following website:
Photo showing a “complete street” that meets the standards established by the National Complete Streets Coalition. The photo is from their website at:
Photo from the State College Borough Police Department. The image is from their website at:
Photo of the Addison Circle Neighborhood in Addison, Texas. The photo is from the website:
Photo of Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. The image is from the website:
Photo of Carmel, Indiana Art & Design District. The photo is from the website:
Photo of the Waterfront Promenade along Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto, Canada. The photo is
from the website:
Photo of the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California. The photo was taken from the
Photo of a promenade in the Southbank area of Melbourne, Australia. The photo is from the
Photo of the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens at the Arboretum at Penn State. The photo is from
the website:
Photo of the Eastview Terrace Residence Hall at the University Park Campus of Penn State
University. The photo is from the website:
Photo of the Curtin Road Transit Center and Fisher Plaza courtesy of the Penn State University
Office of Physical Plant
Photo of the sign at the Air Quality Learning and Demonstration Center at the Arboretum at
Penn State. The photo is from the website:
The following is a list of the photos depicted on the front cover of the document and the various photos associated with each chapter in the document.
A view along East College Avenue near the intersection of East College Avenue and Allen
The Landings Neighborhood in Ferguson Township.
Westerly Parkway Plaza along Westerly Parkway.
Centennial Alley in Downtown State College.
The Bellefonte Central Rail Trail as it traverses through the Big Hollow in College Township
Penn State University’s Information Sciences and Technology Building as it crosses over
Atherton Street.
The Millbrook Marsh in College Township.
A view of East Main Street in the Village of Boalsburg, Harris Township.
A view of West College Avenue in Ferguson Township.
The following is a list of the challenges and opportunities that were identified at the steering committee meetings on August 16, 2006 and September 20, 2006. The items are listed in the order they were identified at the
meetings. The numbers also correspond to reference points on a related map of the study area to help locate
specific items. The map can be found at the end of this section on page 161. It should be noted however, that
not all items were geographical in nature and therefore are not specifically mapped.
Westerly Parkway Shopping Center – vacancies – a lot we can do to make center work better.
Hamilton Shopping Center – same issues
Beaver Canyon – concern about encroachment into Highlands neighborhood
Need connections between Hamilton/Westerly Parkway centers and high school.
Provide uses for students.
As development happens at Community Field – opportunities for different uses to support.
Also consider challenges for adjacent neighborhoods.
Do we want to focus student housing in specific areas –
push them outward to Vairo Boulevard, etc.
What housing options should we provide (and activities transition areas).
Hills Plaza/Westerly/Hamilton Plazas – how can we encourage reuse?
Are they viable as residential areas? These centers seem isolated.
Mixed use opportunities? Don’t rule out other uses – they are under-utilized – research/office.
What development incentives are available?
Need greater diversity of residents downtown. Greater variety of shopping/ entertainment.
If downtown were quiet at night – more people would live there.
Older centers need renovated. Uses are not working.
Enhance neighborhoods near downtown with amenities.
Urban Village/Fairmount School
Identify trends that are shifting retail in study area.
Park Avenue/North Atherton
Elementary School/Exxon Station
What opportunities does this area have?
Green space – parks are too homogeneous. Need more diverse recreation opportunities.
Fairmount Park – students/residents
Houts – State College Borough and Ferguson Township are neighbors
Need to work together to enhance this gateway area
Music Academy and athletic club will both be relocating.
How do we make this area a continuation of downtown.
Orient to pedestrians/prevent strip development.
Green Spaces
Bike paths
How do we make Imbt/Circleville complement State College Borough, not be in competition.
Strive for synergy.
Encourage diversity in our community.
Meyers Dairy
Difficult to identify in some corridors
Harner Farm
Stadium/Visitors Center
Route 322
University Drive – ugly gateway
Furnace/Duck pond
Old College Heights Elementary School
Park Avenue most attractive corridor
Some of our gateway efforts have not really produced gateways.
Starts to form
Visitors Center
Park Avenue interchange
Baseball stadium
How do we make attractive?
Does neighborhood want this as a major gateway?
Park Avenue interchange
Hides things – signing is confusing – how do we guide motorists to where we want them to be?
Look at global strategy for what makes an area attractive? Do we have the start of gateways?
What locations have ingredients in place to be a gateway?
Give people a sense they have arrived downtown.
Series of gateways
“Campus is the hardest place in town to get to”
doesn’t feel like a towns person’s territory
Heart of town is PSU.
Not sure where you can park.
Difficult to give directions on how to move around on campus.
Gateways need to be welcoming centers.
Should downtown State College have a different gateway than Meyers Dairy.
Series of gateways.
Ease of accessing campus depends on area you are coming from.
Also depends on land use – its support of public transit.
What are our sacred places
High School football field
Green spaces
Soften impact of high density housing
Late night activity – very festive – not a significant draw for year-round residents.
Library best place to go with children – not a lot going on attractive to kids – concerns with middle
school/high school kids downtown on their own.
Maybe street festival atmosphere on Calder Way – need more areas like pig statue.
Need beauty in downtown area – will attract people.
Need more destination businesses. Takes marketing.
Where do we go for the arts in town?
If you close Calder Alley will you create Bourbon Street?
We ask people from townships to drive by free parking, stores etc. to come to downtown to shop –
need destination businesses.
If you want people downtown year-round, you need a better mix of housing.
Need to start putting utilities underground.
What are economic incentives other communities have used?
Madison Wisconsin – good downtown example.
Suburban malls don’t provide opportunity to observe people – you shop and leave.
Grant funding to encourage housing mix?
Space for student art work to be displayed – combined with other activities.
Parking lot on Garner Street too valuable for parking cars based on land value/location.
Some small businesses feel it is challenging to be in downtown. High lease rates may force them to
suburban areas.
Enough events in Central Parklet to support amphitheatre/covered area – always setting up temporary
Fairmount Elementary has reuse opportunity.
We have advantage of a community that attracts people.
Need diverse attraction centers – diversity/newness. Brick and mortar activities not always the answer.
Providence Rhode Island
Arlington County, Virginia
Bus station area – opportunity to develop ethnic food area.
Need artists downtown
Border between neighborhoods and downtown – Allen/Pugh
How do we keep families?
What land use will preserve architecture/keep residents?
Pugh Street – Dr. White’s dental office was best looking place along Pugh Street before he moved.
Missed opportunity to change some residential areas near corridors to office.
Corneal property – Atherton – should this be residential? Offices don’t make noise at night.
Opportunities to Expand Sidewalks/ Bike Path Network to Increase Attractiveness of Downtown
Incorporate Different Ways of Managing Traffic (IE round –a- bouts)
Traffic Circles – think of as Gateway Projects
Connect Bike Path from High school to Garner
Allen – Easterly to Beaver
Issues Related to Pool
Public Trans.- Incorporate School Transportation with Public Transportation
Need to Promote & Educate
Change in Thinking from Auto to Pedestrian when Planning Trans. Network
Integrate Ped/ Bike System into Traffic Management Efforts
Better Signage would help
Disconnect Between West Campus & Urban Village from a transportation connection standpoint
Would Like to Know More About Extension of Beaver Avenue
Cinn. Example of Depressed Roadway
Would Like to See Some Small Stores (Corner Stores) in each Neighborhood
How were Neighborhood Association Boundaries Drawn?
Some are very large.
Zoning that Provides for Artists – Encourage Presence of Artists/Display work
Little artist towns seem to stay healthy longer.
Neighborhoods can also have Visual Gateways.
Identify Lands that could become Parks.
What do we want as next cycle? (Current cycle seems to be banks.)
What type of Businesses would be attractive as Ground Floor uses in Downtown Area?
Just as easy for people to drive for basic services milk, etc. as to walk
Westerly Parkway Plaza – the largest missed opportunity in the community
Address Needs of Students
Garner St. Parking Lot would be wonderful park with small shops located around it – Maybe something active such as a Skate Park.
Should W. Parkway remain as retail or other employment opportunities?
Neighborhood Commercial Area between PSU & College Heights
Small Ben & Jerry’s Shop Near Bikeway/ School/ Pool
Parking Regs. Produce Large Parking Lots
Maybe don’t require so much on-site parking if we want to encourage people to walk/ bike.
Be Careful of Unintended Consequences making High St. one-way pushed traffic to other streets
Where Should Students Live?
Concerns when you mass or concentrate them
Healthier to encourage interaction with non-students
What do teenagers do? – Maybe W. Pkwy is an opportunity
Aesthetic Issues
Environmental Issues
Sometimes zoning/ code enforcement needs relaxed to allow good development to happen.
Need to Mix Students & Non-Students
too much density in some areas
Market for Boarding Houses
Put in more Family Style Restaurants than Bars in Downtown bring more of a mix down town
Get a Conference Size Hotel Downtown – will bring restaurants downtown
Green Space Near Beaver Avenue may Provide Safer Gathering area for Students
Beaver Canyon – Balconies Contribute to Culture
Physical Barrier Between Downtown and PSU
Management of Establishments Critical (IE Arcade Example)
Beaver Avenue Riots – Everyone Congregates in this Area During Celebrations
D.I.D. Civic Design Comm.
Re-Do Intersection at College & Allen – Focal Point –
Use as Model for other intersections for Town/ Gown Mix
Restrictions on Activities push Students Downtown
Many Suggestions About People Coming Together
Walk/ Bike decrease emphasis on Car
Many Shopping Center Examples of New Town Design
Maybe Opp. For Pkwy Plaza
Increase in use of Skateboard for Transportation
Need for Skateboard Park in Town
Aesthetic Look Along College Ave
Hammond Building Eyesore
Sr. Class Gift – Focus on Blocks
College Ave. Connection to HUB/ PSU/ Create flow from Downtown to PSU
Borough has Rigid Skateboard Rules
Not prepared for individual people movers.
Reduce parking on Allen & Stripe for their use?
Ped Traffic counts less than half on Allen/Beaver as compared to College
For many National Retailers, we don’t fit their Preferred Market.
GAP & Amer. Eagle not successful on College Ave.
Arts are drawn to Downtown
Retail very sensitive
Need to make Downtown a pleasurable experience for pedestriansMake whole corridor area of beauty.
SCASD Community Field/ Fairmont Avenue Location
CATA Transit Consolidation with SCASD Efforts
Transport Adults/Students together
CATA Stops needed closer to School
Late Run Buses with small # of students not efficient
Potential for students who live too close to school to have bus service.
Future Growth Areas.
Type of Housing impacts Student Pop/ Schools
Campus/Town Blend Together
Blacksburg, VA – VA Tech – Free Bus Service for Students 24 Hr. /Day
Ann Arbor, Mich. – Variety of Student Housing Opportunities
SC Land Trust
What are other options i.e. housing coop?
Recycle/ Reuse
Private Dev. Can do projects more cost efficient
Fairmount Condo Project
Don’t have affordable Arts Store, Museum, Dance Schools
Need to know why people go to suburb retail areas.
Taxi stands in downtown.
Proposal to Initiate an Area Plan for
State College Borough and Adjacent Areas in
College and Ferguson Townships in 2006/2007
Centre Regional Planning Agency
February 9, 2006
In 2006 State College Borough, with the assistance of the Centre Regional Planning Agency (CRPA),
will initiate an Area Plan for the Borough and adjacent land areas within College and Ferguson Townships. This Plan will be a multi-year effort which is intended to provide a land use plan and set of goals
which can be used by State College Borough to replace the municipality’s current zoning/subdivision
land development regulations. Following the completion of this Area Plan, it is anticipated that a consultant will be obtained by State College Borough to draft updated regulations based on the recommendations of this Plan. This report provides background information on this proposed planning effort, and outlines the work which will be advanced in Year #1 of this initiative.
Relationship to the Centre Region Comprehensive Plan
Since 1990, the Centre Region municipalities have completed a significant amount of work developing
regional growth management initiatives through periodic updates of the Centre Region Comprehensive Plan and Sewage Facilities (Act 537) Plan. These documents contain a regionally consistent set
of community planning goals and policies which are intended to guide future decision making in each of
the Region’s six municipalities. The Comprehensive Plan also contains recommended future land use
maps for each municipality, which provide a blueprint for how the community should develop in the future. These regional documents were agreed to by all six Centre Region municipalities and were
adopted in a regionally consistent manner.
From a growth management standpoint, the centerpiece of the Comprehensive Plan and Sewage Facilities Plans are the Regional Growth Boundary (RGB) and Sewer Service Area (SSA). The Comprehensive Plan recommends that most of the Region’s future growth should be directed to areas within the
RGB. This area is conterminous with the SSA, and is also served by public water and transportation
service. By encouraging infill development within the RGB and SSA, the Comprehensive Plan works in
concert with the Sewage Facilities Plan to encourage infill development and adaptive reuse of vacant
structures to prevent suburban sprawl, and provide a pattern of development which can be cost effectively served by public utilities, services and infrastructure.
In 2005, the Centre Region municipalities invested a considerable amount of time re-evaluating the RGB
and SSA. The municipalities evaluated 26 requests to expand this area, and have recommended that 5
of these requests receive detailed study for
addition to the RGB and SSA. This process is ongoing and should conclude in the Spring of 2006 with
the adoption of an updated Regional Growth Boundary and Sewer Service Area.
From a regional perspective, the majority of the Centre Region’s land use planning in 2005 has centered
on RGB fringe areas where development pressures have threatened to extend the suburban environment into adjacent rural and agricultural areas. The adoption of an updated RGB and SSA will provide a
regional consensus on planning decisions for
these important areas. However, as this re166
gional effort draws to a close, it is important that the Region’s land use planning efforts re-focus to areas
within the Regional Growth Boundary. For the RGB concept to be a successful growth management
tool, it is important for the Region to maintain a healthy downtown area, evaluate mechanisms to encourage infill development on more than 5,000 acres of vacant land located within the RGB, develop strategies to encourage adaptive reuse of existing vacant structures and ensure that existing and future
neighborhoods within the RGB are attractive locations to live and work.
The Centre Region Comprehensive Plan provides a solid foundation to address these challenges
through its regional goals and policies. However, the successful implementation of these regional goals
will require more detailed study of strategic areas of the Centre Region. To allow the Centre Region to
continue the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Plan, the CRPA is proposing that two Area
Plans be initiated in 2006 for the following locations:
State College Borough and adjacent areas within College and Ferguson Townships
Western Patton and Eastern Halfmoon Townships
CRPA staff proposes that these Area Plans utilize the Shiloh Road Land Use Study, which was developed by CRPA staff in 2004 and 2005, as a prototype. This Land Use Study has been endorsed by College and Benner Townships, and new zoning regulations are currently being developed to implement the
recommendations of this Land Use Plan.
The following narrative focuses on the State College Area Plan, and describes the work to be initiated in
2006 to begin this effort.
2006 State College Area Plan Draft Work Program
During the first quarter of 2006, the CRPA staff will commit its regional planning efforts to the completion
of the Regional Growth Boundary/Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan Update. It is anticipated that work on
the State College Area Plan will begin in May 2006. The following steps are proposed to initiate this effort.
Step 1: Form an Area Plan Steering Committee (May 2006)
The Steering Committee will be responsible for providing oversight during the preparation of the Area
Plan. Since the Area Plan will include land area in adjacent municipalities, representation should be included from College and Ferguson Townships. A recommended roster for the Steering Committee, and
the number of representatives for each entity, is provided below:
State College Borough Council (2)
State College Borough Planning Commission (2)
College Township Council (2)
College Township Planning Commission (1)
Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors (2)
Ferguson Township Planning Commission (1)
Penn State University (1)
Downtown State College (1)
Neighborhood Associations (9)
Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County (1)
Heritage One (1)
State College Borough Transportation Commission (1)
Penn State Off-Campus Student Union (1)
State College Area School District (1)
At Large Representative Appointed by Borough Council (1)
Since the Area Plan will be a multi-year effort, it will be important to appoint members that can make a
multi-year commitment to ensure continuity. The Steering Committee should elect a Chair to serve as
facilitator during the meetings. The Chair will also be responsible for working with CRPA staff to formulate meeting agendas.
Although the Steering Committee will have the primary responsibility to provide direction and oversight
for the Area Plan, a system will be implemented to obtain broader input on this planning effort. A larger
list of community stakeholders will be identified by CRPA and State College Borough Staff. As the Steering Community achieves certain milestones in the preparation of the Area Plan, this Stakeholder Group
will be invited to receive presentations on work of the Steering Committee, and provide input to the planning process. It is anticipated that the Steering Committee will meet with the Community Stakeholder
Group at 6-month intervals.
Step 2: The Steering Committee defines the Study Area (May/June 2006)
After the Steering Committee is formed, a study area must be defined. It is important that this area is
carefully delineated, since this geographic area will be the focus of this study. In formulating the study
area, it is important to remember that the primary goal of the Area Plan is to develop a Land Use Plan
that can be used to update the current zoning map and regulations for the study area. Although many
detailed issues will be studied in the formulation
of this land use plan, the development of de168
tailed action plans for issues such as infrastructure, financing or capital improvements are beyond the
scope of this effort.
To assist in the identification of the study area, CRPA staff will present information related to existing and
forecasted growth areas in portions of College and Ferguson Townships adjacent to the Borough.
Step 3: The Steering Committee evaluates past planning efforts within the Study Area (July
CRPA staff will prepare a synopsis of past planning efforts within the Study Area. A two-page synopsis
will be prepared for each of the following planning efforts:
Neighborhood Plans
College Heights
State College South/Penfield/Nittany Hills East
Holmes Foster
West College Avenue
Access and Uses on West College Avenue in the Urban Village District
Ad Hoc Park and Ride Study Committee Report
1990 Downtown Economic Development and Urban Design Plan (LDR)
2003 Vision and Strategic Plan for Downtown State College (EPD)
ERA Urban Village Plan
The two-page synopsis for each Plan will briefly summarize the problems/issues identified, recommendations, and a review of which zoning/land use recommendations have been implemented.
The Steering Committee will evaluate the outcome of each planning effort, and determine if any of the
recommendations which have not been implemented should be revisited. In addition, an historical summary and location analysis of major zoning changes in the study area will be completed.
Step 4: The Steering Committee will identify existing and anticipated challenges/opportunities in
the Study Area. (September 2006)
CRPA will ask the Steering Committee to form a detailed list of challenges/opportunities for the study
area. This list will need to be very detailed, and include a description of the challenges/opportunities and
a geographic description of where this issue occurs in the study area. CRPA will compile this list of challenges/opportunities, and categorize them by major topic areas. In addition, the location where each of
these issues occurs will be mapped to assist the Steering Committee in its evaluation, and to help isolate specific problem areas.
This step may also involve the formation of subareas based on the locations of anticipated challenges/
opportunities, and the evaluation of demographic trends for the Study Area.
Step 5: The Steering Committee identifies those challenges/opportunities that require more discussion/understanding (October 2006)
After the issues/problems are categorized and mapped, the Steering Committee may identify particular
issues that require more information to understand. CRPA will work with the Steering Committee to
identify guest speakers which should be invited to a Steering Committee meeting to discuss specific
problems that have been identified, and help the Steering Committee understand the cause of these issues.
For instance, input from downtown merchants may be helpful to understand why a certain block may not
be successful from a business standpoint; a presentation from the police department may assist in understanding traffic patterns related to high accident areas or speeding though neighborhoods; or a presentation from public works professionals may be helpful in understanding how growth areas are contributing to stormwater problems.
Step 6: Invite guest speakers to a meeting(s) of the Steering Committee to discuss identified issues/problems (November/December 2006/January 2007)
CRPA will organize guest speakers to address the Steering Committee
Step 7: The Steering Committee evaluates existing zoning regulations in the Study Area
(February/March/April 2007)
The CRPA will prepare a summary of existing zoning practices in the Study Area for review by the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will be asked to evaluate the effectiveness of these regulations.
To assist in this evaluation, a series of case studies will be completed with the Steering Committee. Individual projects which have been built in the study area will be selected for evaluation. The Steering
Committee will be asked to identify positives and negatives of each selected development. The Steering
Committee will be encouraged to ask questions related to the design of these developments. CRPA will
attempt to relate these questions to requirements in existing zoning regulations. It will be important to
include a sample of different development types in this case study. The goal of this effort is to produce a
first draft of broad issues in existing zoning regulations which should be further investigated.
Step 8: The Steering Committee prioritizes the problems/issues and identifies those issues
which can be addressed by land use plan/zoning changes (May 2007)
CRPA will work with the Steering Committee to prioritize the issues/problems identified through the work
completed in 2006. These issues will be prioritized by topic, and an overall ranking will also be completed. Issues which can be addressed through land use planning will be identified. The land use planning issues identified through this process will
form the basis for work to be completed in Year
#2 of the Area Plan effort.
Step 9: The Steering Committee provides a Year 1 Report to State College Borough Council, College Township Council and the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors (July 2007)
Following Year #1 of the Area Plan effort, the Steering Committee will have:
Identified a Study Area
Evaluated past planning efforts in the Study Area
Identified past recommendations that have not been implemented that warrant
Identified existing and anticipated problems/issues in the study area
Evaluated existing zoning regulations through a series of case studies and identified broad
areas of concern which should receive further detailed study.
Prioritized issues/problems, and identified those issues/problems that should be addressed in the Area Plan through recommended land use/zoning changes
At this point in the process, CRPA proposes that the Steering Committee provide a report to each
elected body on these issues (possibly at a joint meeting) and ask for direction on proceeding with Year
#2 of the Area Plan Study. In effect, the Steering Committee’s Year 1 work will develop a scope of work
for the Area Plan. The impacted elected officials should review this information, and provide the Steering Committee direction for proceeding with its Year 2 work tasks.

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