The goal of this e-forum is to serve as an information source, idea exchange and advocacy platform to establish and expand greater citizen awareness of our environmental rights under Pennsylvania law, and to increase involvement by informed citizens in local land use decisions that are the keys to the protection, conservation and the sustainable use of our built landscape and natural resources.
There is now a clear way forward toward this goal, as a result of the December, 2013 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision and subsequent state court decisions. See Community Exchange for background.
With ever-evolving public policy, and with additional positive, pro-conservation/preservation decisions through state courts, we are moving toward realizing more of a balance between recognizing the rights of private property owners and the rights of the public to the protection of the environment in all of its features and forms.
The environment – built and natural – is comprehensive and totally inter-connected with everything we do individually and as citizens in community. Decisions about how we use our land are made every day at local, countywide, statewide and federal government levels. But decisions by local municipal governments – where every citizen can have a direct voice – is where the most important decisions on land use are made under Pennsylvania law.
Citizens need to better understand how those government offices perform their duties. If local government operations are not performing to the benefit of individuals as well as for the public at large, then we all must be part of needed change. How government – especially local municipal government — recognizes its role to protect and preserve the environment is a key indicator of how well those elected and appointed public employees are doing their jobs.
We can never assume that “someone or some organization” is taking care of our environmental heritage. It’s up to all of us as individuals in our own communities, and most critically before the locally elected representatives of our municipal governments.
To that end, this e-forum is intended to serve as an information source — publishing original reports, offering commentary, organizing public meetings and sharing postings of other groups; sharing news accounts and opening this forum to a range of personal opinions about the many threats to unique historic places & abundant natural resources in Lancaster County, PA., and opportunities to protect and preserve them.
Our hope is that more and more citizens act on those opportunities, either individually or with neighbors, with their government representatives, and with property owners, so that more of our special places and irreplaceable resources can be shared with current residents and visitors, and with future generations.Randolph Harris – Editor Independent consulting historian Lancaster, Pa firstname.lastname@example.org