Over the course of 2012, a Comprehensive Plan Working Committee has been gathering thoughts and opinions from the community through a survey. The responses were compiled and analyzed, and over 20 presentations were made to community groups on the results of the survey to insure that it was representative of the community’s goals for the future of Derry Township. A vision statement was then created to define an  direct the focus of the plan update. Here isthe full Vision Statement “Smart Growth Pinciples: 20-Year Guidelines for a Smart Growth Approach.”


Our mission is to promote and encourage the development of safe, healthy, and distinctive living environments, amenities and services for our residents and visitors.


We envision Derry Township as a safe, healthy and active community valuing open space; vibrant cultural, social and business offerings; and welcoming neighborhoods and gathering places. We envision a variety of housing opportunities with shops and services within walking distance and connected by a network of transportation options accessible to all. We envision a prosperous future driven by our dynamic health care, research, educational, entertainment, business and manufacturing economies, while respecting our cultural heritage and scenic beauty.


The vision statement embraces the following Smart Growth principles:

1. Preserve the Township’s unique character.

2. Focus on the revitalization of downtown with a priority on a mixed-use main street.

3. Promote infill and pedestrian connectivity.

4. Allow for compact, mixed-use development.

5. Create a safe transportation system for all citizens.

6. Require environmentally based stormwater management techniques.

Residents were invited to an informative and interactive workshop presented by Chris Duerksen, Esq., a national planning expert and Roger Millar, PE, AICP, the Vice President of the Leadership Institute with Smart Growth America, held on October 11th at the Hershey Public Library. Around 150 residents and all five of the elected Supervisors attended to discuss key issues and techniques to address challenges and methods to achieve the vision for the future.

The impressive turnout was one of the best that Duerksen has seen for community participation for this type of meeting,; he has worked with communities all over the country. Chairman of the Supervisors, Chris Abruzzo, thanked everyone for participating and emphasized the need for action. He said, “We’ve already begun to undertake some of the recommendations in here and I’m proud of the Supervisors that we’ve gone in that direction, but it’s time to have a more solid plan to help guide us for future boards.”


The land-use planning experts focused on three goals:

1. Encourage compact, mixed-use development in targeted growth areas such as downtown, Palmdale, and Middletown Road.

  • Increase allowable density in residential developments in the downtown commercial districts.
  • Permit live/work units in all commercial, office, and industrial areas, the downtown commercial and village core districts.
  • Allow mixed-use residential by right in growth nodes that are zoned commercial.
  • Reduce excessive setback regulations (i.e., how far a building is from the sidewalk, adjacent buildings, and the alley) and increase the maximum floor area ratio standards (to allow more floor space/density) in the downtown commercial district and designated growth nodes.
  • Adopt simple design standards to assure quality developments and neighborhood compatibility.
  • Focus development in growth areas and reduce sprawl in rural parts of the Township.
  • Encourage the use of the cluster subdivision option to preserve open space.

2. Enhance mobility options with safe alternative methods of travel.

  • Reduce excessive off-street parking requirements in commercial districts.
  • Require bicycle parking facilities in downtown zoning districts and larger commercial and multi-family projects.
  • Reduce setbacks in the downtown commercial district to encourage walking.
  • Require sidewalks that connect the perimeter streets.
  • Require trails around developments and more pedestrian connections.

3. Promote green infrastructure stowmwater management.

  • Reduce impervious pavement and encourage shared and off-site parking.
  • Permit street-side infiltration swales to replace curb/gutter in low-traffic areas.
  • Reduce road pavement widths.
  • Strengthen the required tree replacement ratio.
  • Increase wetland buffers in low density zoning districts.


The next day, Duerksen and Millar collaborated with members of the working committee, staff, and board members to provide tools and options such as removing regulatory barriers, implementing incentives, and identifying regulatory gaps. The following topics were discussed and considered:

The committee identified the most important and feasible areas to be addressed and will begin to work on a strategy and action plan for the following:

 1. Target mixed-use development in priority growth areas and limit retail and mixed-use development in other areas.

2. Update the zoning ordinance to promote suburban-style development that supports smart growth principles.

3. Improve pedestrian and bicycle connectivity requirements.

Contact Us 

If you have any questions about either event or the continuing process in updating the Township Comprehensive Plan, please contact Chuck Emerick, Director of Community Development or Brandon Williams, Assistant Director of Community Development at 533-2057, option 2.



5 Responses to “Vision for the Future”

  1. Jan Huddy Says:

    If the Supervisors are truly interested in what the residents think they should not approve the Sheetz on Middletown Road. Reponses from the townshhip survey on updating the comprehensive plan overwhemingly support preservation of green open space & historic areas. The Stoverdale church, one room school house, & adjacent cemetery represent a historic era in Derry Township. The residents in Deer Run & South Point have requested over and over again at Planning Commission & Supervisor meetings, and by means of petition, to not have the Sheetz and business strip developed. We do not need another gas station/minimarket, since there is a nearby Turkey Hill that is not fully utilized. Another commercial establishment at this site on Middletown Road will only cause increased traffic problems and accidents, and will pollute the natural environment with noise, light, and smell.
    Read the principles of “Smart Growth” and apply them to the entire township, not just the downtown village. Please listen to what residents want, instead of caving in to developers who do not even pay their property taxes!

    1. Natalie Anderson Says:

      I agree–we have a Turkey Hill there, we have a Sheetz on Walton Avenue/Main Street, and we don’t need another huge parking lot/gas station on a beautiful stretch of road. After 20 years living in Northern NJ, then finally coming back to Hummelstown with my husband (he’s the native), I’ve been so disappointed to see Hershey/Derry facilitating the NJ-type sprawl. Once the sprawl is here, there is no going back. And then everyone will lament how this area lost its special feel.

      There are ways to do development intelligently (in Hummelstown, I think of the Kokomo and Verdelli plans) without sacrificing all the open space/farms.

      1. steventodd Says:

        Jan and Natalie:

        If Sheffey put forth a plan which complies with prevailing ordinances, the Supervisors can not deny them approval. If they were to, it would be overturned in court, after great legal expense. The problem is our outdated laws.

        Derry needs new ordinances to control our land use. This Comprehensive Plan update is the first step. Once We The Residents of Derry state (via that Comp Plan) what our long-term intentions are, we can use that to pass laws to enforce that.

  2. steventodd Says:

    Awesome work. Following are my comments on “Smart Growth Pinciples: 20-Year Guidelines for a Smart Growth Approach.” I offer the following to the Comprehensive Plan Update Working Group, as a Derry resident, and a US Green Building Council certified civil engineer with much experience in land development and municipal engineering.

    The first thing any resident will want to know, prior to lending support, opposition or comment, is: “what district am I in?” Map the 6 ‘priority land use districts’ suggested in the Smart Growth Guidleines. Define on this map and in those Guidleines any remaining lands (if any), and the goal and subgoals for them.

    Define the “Comprehensive Plan Update Working Group”: Is this group sanctioned by the Supervisors to speak on their behalf, does it have official advisory capacity or is it ad hoc?

    Many of the goals mentioned for each the “priority land use districts” will not be attainable without adopting Forms-Based zoning. Our current Euclidean zoning will actually prohibit many of the sub-goals: one can not currently put a Mixed Use development out Waltonville, Middletown Roads or SR0743, for example.

    Are there any areas which will allow for non-dense development – larger, more isolated lots – for those who prefer that? That is one type of new development which is lacking in the cookie-cutter subdivisions of the past few decades.

    A bypass of east/west bound through traffic, combined with traffic calming of local traffic, are both integral to addressing the citizens’ stated concerns for traffic within Derry.

    The most crucial factor in the success or failure of existing Mixed Use development schemes, such as TND’s and Planned Residential Developments, is the viability of the commercial center. This depends on local support, and generally one center requires over 1,000 residential units and proximity to a major roadway to sustain it. Analysis and report of the success of the Briarcrest commercial area, would reveal past local trends.

    Preservation of “bucolic open space buffers” along the Hersheypark Drive Corridor may not be advantageous or workable with the other stated goals of this district, particularly the “access management plan.”

    Medical Center / Research Park (HCAR) Area and 743 South both have numerous and very specific restrictive deed restrictions. Other Trust land-heavy areas may as well. These will dictate/limit much of the goals within them.

    ~ Steve Todd, PE, LEED AP
    Candidate for Derry Township Supervisor

  3. Susan Kreider Says:

    Thank you for providing these guidelines and the opportunity to respond. I am especially grateful to all those who have put in countless hours gathering information and presenting updates along the way. The guidelines are thorough, ambitious, and exciting to read!
    Some key points that I hope to see come to fruition are preserving the integrity and character of the community and its historic legacy, developing regional partnerships and collaboration, promoting green design and maintaining farmland in the rural parts of the township. Regarding land use districts, creating a center of town with a true “main street” including a variety of housing types in the downtown core is personally appealing. Mixed use design and alternative transportation options are forward thinking issues that I hope to see in my lifetime.
    I have questions pertaining to the gateway neighborhood to Hershey idea and re-zoning areas in the Waltonville/Middletown area. The recent approval of a Sheetz store is disappointing to those of us who live in this part of the township.
    Overall, it is extremely encouraging to read these guidelines after such a long overdue effort to address the needs of our wonderful community.

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