Acting in Your Community

With all the ways that scenic resources are under attack in southwestern Pennsylvania, you may be wondering what you can do in YOUR community to preserve scenic resources. Below are some strategies we suggest – and you are always welcome to email us for more guidance and input.

This article has lots of strategies for how to deal with a poorly planned development project in your community.

This article has some valuable info about how to act during the review process for a development.

1. Find or form a group in your community.

Garden clubs, historical societies, and community preservation and beautification groups can help you bring some organizational might to any efforts to preserve scenic resources. Elected and appointed officials are more likely to listen to the concerns of an organized group, and if the group is a 501(c)3 you can also apply for funding for beautification, cleanup and preservation projects. Your local Chamber of Commerce can also be helpful in helping to promote and advocate for beauty, espeically if its members understand the connection between beauty and good business. No group where you are? Here’s some detailed information about how to found a neighborhood beautification group.

2. Familiarize yourself with your local representatives and community leaders.

City and borough councils are where a lot of decisions are made about community’s scenic resources. Make sure you know who represents you, and find out where they stand on preserving and improving scenic resources. And acquaint them with where YOU stand. Need help convincing your local leaders of the importance of scenic resources? A big part of what we do is educating community leaders. Get in touch.

3. Ask questions about your community’s zoning.

Zoning is one of the best ways residents have of shaping the character of their community. If you’re concerned about poorly planned development, giant signs, oversize billboards, treeless parking lots, lack of greenspace and similar issues, zoning can prevent these issues in your community – IF your zoning code is up-to-date and includes language and guidance on them! Find out how old your community’s zoning code is and if it covers the situations you’re concerned about. If it’s more than 10 years old, it’s likely that your town or muncipality needs to update its zoning. We can help.

4. Get informed.

It’s easy to feel powerless when you’re not sure how to present your case for scenic resources to community leaders, or you don’t have a lot of information about what your local laws require. We will be rolling out more citizen advocacy tools to help you make your case, and more resources to inform yourself by the end of 2020! Until then, we have some great info about why billboards are bad (and it’s not just because they’re ugly) and why they owe the residents of the City of Pittsburgh tens of millions of dollars in back taxes.

5. Fight back.

We firmly believe that zoning is the best way to deal with attacks on a community’s character. But if prevention fails, sometimes it’s necessary to marshal support and fight back. We can offer advice on strategies and resources.