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Living with Logistics: PennFuture's Model Zoning Ordinance for Logistics Facilities.

As online shopping has become a major source of retail goods in the 21st century, logistics industry practices have changed, and so has the industry’s demand for land. Although often referred to as “warehouses,” today’s logistics facilities are not the long-term-storage-based warehouses of the past — they are huge distribution and fulfillment centers with the potential to generate far-reaching traffic, noise, aesthetic, and environmental impacts unanticipated by zoning ordinances drafted long before this development pattern was even a remote possibility. Communities across the Commonwealth are now faced with the influx of these massive logistics facilities, and municipalities are struggling to figure out how to respond before it’s too late. Zoning is perhaps the most powerful tool municipalities have to do this. In order to help Pennsylvania’s municipalities proactively prepare for this incoming land use, PennFuture has created a model zoning ordinance and guidebook. The Model Logistics Use Zoning Ordinance is based on the information and experience that PennFuture’s staff has gained through our engagement with community members and municipalities in the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern Pennsylvania, the logistics hub of the East Coast. We will share what we have learned in this process: how the logistics industry has changed in recent decades; how existing zoning ordinances are often inadequate to effectively address modern logistics uses; pitfalls we have noticed in the way zoning ordinances that do address these uses are doing so; and suggestions for how to draft an effective zoning regulation.