Once an EAC is formed, it becomes part of the municipality’s local government structure in much the same way as a planning commission, park and recreation board or other appointed volunteer body would. Its functionality depends upon the ability of its members to work together closely with other municipal officials and staff in an on-going, interactive way. Building and maintaining relationships with others in local government is crucial.
Local Government in Pennsylvania
There are five major categories of municipal government in Pennsylvania: boroughs, townships, cities, counties, and home rule municipalities. There are 2,563 cities, boroughs, and townships in Pennsylvania as of February 2013. There are currently 67 counties. By constitutional and common law, the Commonwealth has authority over the state’s land and water resources, but the power to regulate land use is delegated to the local and county levels of government. The specific powers held by each different municipality depends upon its founding legislation. Other government bodies in the Commonwealth include school districts as well as special purpose authorities such as water and sewer authorities.
For a comprehensive overview of local government structure in Pennsylvania, EAC members should review the Citizen’s Guide to Pennsylvania Local Government published by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. The newest edition (2010) of this guide can be found online.
Municipal Ordinances, Plans,and Maps
EAC members cannot be effective in guiding natural resource management if they are not familiar with the local governing documents: the ordinance creating the EAC, the municipal comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance, subdivision and land development ordinance, open space and/or recreation plan, and the stormwater management ordinance. It is also important to have a working knowledge of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code and the applicable Borough, Township, or City Code.