Goal of planning effort is to maintain Allentown’s historic integrity


ALLENTOWN – Action is expected to be taken in the upcoming months by Borough Council members who may act to refine and define certain elements of Allentown’s master plan.

A master plan is the document that guides the growth and development of a municipality.

During the Jan. 19 meeting of the mayor and council, attorney Michele Donato, who represents the Allentown Planning Board, provided an update to the governing body and members of the public on various aspects of Allentown’s development and some of the ordinances that govern development.

The council meeting was conducted in a virtual manner during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Andrew Thomas of Thomas Planning Associates reviewed many of the borough’s ordinances and the Planning Board has acted to bring your ordinances up to date,” Donato told Mayor Thomas Fritts and members of the council. “Board members worked on this (project) for meeting after meeting.”

The goal of everyone’s work is to protect Allentown’s historic areas and qualities, Donato explained, and she discussed various planning tools, guidelines and standards for development and/or changes to existing structures.

Different types of uses in the borough’s business district “have been geared to national standards. This lets you know exactly what a use is,” the attorney said.

An historic preservation ordinance with mandatory regulations – as compared to an ordinance with discretionary guidelines – will be a key element in this discussion, said Donato, who called Allentown “a jewel” and added that volunteers Jan Meerwarth and Allison Arnone had taken the lead on much of the initiative.

Donato recognized the efforts of the Historic Preservation Commission and said “people buy (homes) here because they respect the historic value of the town.” She said certain proposed standards and guidelines “will give people many advantages at no cost to them.”

Enabling ordinances may be introduced at future council meetings. Fritts said the review of the master plan and related issues that was undertaken by members of the Planning Board, members of the Historic Preservation Commission and professionals who represent the borough “was done with love and care for the community.”