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Design Standards & Guidelines

The Borough has set certain design standards and guidelines for development in the Borough for the following purposes: 

  1.  To encourage appropriate redevelopment and reuse of underutilized sites.
  2.  To improve the appearance of the Borough’s downtown and commercial areas.
  3.  To enhance economic investment for businesses and property owners.
  4.  To protect and conserve neighborhood architectural character.
  5.  To enhance pedestrian safety and the quality of the pedestrian experience.
  6.  To serve the purposes of the Traditional Neighborhood Development provisions of the MPC, and utilize the authority provided under those provisions.
Summary of Recommended Design Guidelines for All Zoning Districts

Site Compatibility (see complete ordinance for more detail)
A.  Properties must adhere to buffer yard requirements in Section 27-1303.4.
B.  Vehicle parking and any garage doors should be placed to the rear of buildings.
C.  Shared parking among property owners and businesses is encouraged.
D.  Landscaping, low walls that have the appearance of brick, or similar features should be used to buffer parking lots from streets.
E.  Various signs on a property should be coordinated and should not cover architectural details.
F.  Adequate lighting shall be provided for security.
G.  Chain-link metal fences should be avoided in the front yard.
H.  New utilities should be placed underground.
I.  Trash dumpsters should adhere to screening and location standards in Section 27-1306.
J.  Where new sidewalks are constructed, consideration should be given to using pervious pavers between the main concrete sidewalk and the curb.
Building Compatibility (see complete ordinance for more detail)
A.  New construction should have a front yard setback that is similar to adjacent older buildings.
B.  Awnings should be used to add visual interest and to provide cover during rainy weather.
C.  Modern additions and features should be placed towards the rear of a historic building.
D.  New construction should have rooflines that are similar to adjacent older buildings. Flat roofs should be avoided, except when a decorative cornice is used.
E.  Where existing older buildings have a certain spacing of windows and doors, similar spacing, and similar sizes of windows and doors, should be continued in new construction.
F.  Particularly where most buildings along a block have front porches, a front porch should be incorporated into new construction.
G.  Tractor-trailer truck loading docks are discouraged from being visible from a street.
H.  Where allowed by the Borough, an applicant should consider offering the option in a building of a “Live Work Unit,” such as a building that encourages a person to work on the first floor and live in the upper stories.
I.  Standard "franchise brand" facades should be modified in such a way as to become compatible with the character of historic areas.
J.  Every effort should be made to rehabilitate and reuse older buildings that have historic architecture.
K.  Along streets in other Districts where two or more story buildings are common, single story buildings should be avoided.
L.  Colors should highlight architectural details and character, and be compatible with the neighborhood context.
M.  Buildings should avoid long, monotonous, uninterrupted walls. Instead, there should be variations in a front facade, such as changes in building setbacks, colors, details, materials or rooflines.
N.  Commercial HVAC systems should be screened from view from the front of a lot using walls, fencing, roof elements or landscaping.
O.  Noisy or odor-producing ventilation equipment should be placed as far away from dwellings as is feasible.
Pedestrian Safety and Orientation (see complete ordinance for more detail)
A.  Pedestrian crosswalks should be provided along arterial street corridors using materials and colors that visually distinguish the crosswalk from the street surface and that include some texture. 
B.  Pedestrian traffic should be separated from major vehicle routes.
C.  Individual buildings and pedestrian entrances and parking areas should be laid out to promote pedestrian access among different uses, and to provide pedestrian connections towards bus and rail stops.
D. Pedestrian-related uses and features providing visual interest and vitality for pedestrians are encouraged along main streets.
E.  Concrete sidewalks should be used for the main route used by wheelchairs and most un-motored pedestrians. Pervious pavers should be used to add decorative elements along the curb, and to allow water and air to reach street trees.
F.  Where there will be a major pedestrian crossing of a busy street, a pedestrian and wheelchair refuge island should be considered, so that they only have to cross one direction of traffic at a time.
G.  Sight distance requirements must be adhered to as addressed in Section 27-1303.3. Signs should also be considered to warn pedestrians and motorists of areas where there are limited sight distances.

Summary of Additional Requirements in the TC, TMN, and OT Districts
Building Compatibility (see complete ordinance for more detail)
A.  Adhere to maximum building setback in Section 27-504.2.
B.  Where it is feasible to use an existing alley to provide access to a new garage door or parking area, such alley shall be used instead of creating a new curb cut onto a street across a sidewalk.
C.  A maximum of 50 percent of the front facade of a new principal building that faces onto a public street shall be comprised of exposed metal panels.
D.  A new principal building over 150 feet in length along a street shall include variations in the front facade in rooflines, overhangs, architectural details, setbacks, colors and/or facade materials and/or use canopies, porches and awnings to provide variation.
E.  Blank walls without at least one pedestrian door and one window are not permitted to face the front facade along a public street.
F.  The applicant for a new principal building in the TC District shall submit a preliminary architectural elevation or sketch of the front facade and a description of proposed front facade materials to the Zoning Officer. 
G.  New exterior fire escapes shall not be constructed on the front facade of a building facing onto a public street.
H.  Solid metal security gates over first floor doors and windows that face onto a public street and that are within 50 feet of a public sidewalk are prohibited. Instead, any security gates shall be mostly transparent, such as using a metal grill.
I.  A new principal non-residential building shall not have an exterior building side that faces onto a public street that is comprised of a total of more than 25 percent of any of the following materials combined: vinyl siding, aluminum siding, T-111 siding, or concrete masonry units that are not shot-blast or ground-face.
J.  A portion of new building occupied by a retail store shall have a minimum of 15 percent of at least one building side that faces onto a public street comprised of windows or transparent doors.
Site Compatibility (see complete ordinance for more details)
A. To the maximum extent feasible, new surface off-street parking shall be located to the rear or side of principal buildings, as opposed to being newly placed between the front lot line along a street and the front wall of a new principal building.
B.  Chain-link exposed metal fencing shall not be placed in the front yard. Picket or ornamental fences are encouraged.
C.  Street tree, parking lot tree and other landscaping provisions in Section 1361.04 must be adhered to.
Pedestrian Orientation and Safety (see complete ordinance for more details)
A.  Pedestrian traffic shall be carefully considered in all drive-through designs, particularly to make sure there are adequate sight distances.
B.  Business buildings shall have their main pedestrian entrance facing a street or a pedestrian walkway/plaza, or be located within a maximum of 30 feet from the front sidewalk along the street.
Summary of Additional Requirements in the CF District
1.  A maximum of 50 percent of the front facade of a new building that faces onto Main Street or College Street shall be comprised of exposed metal panels.
2.  Pedestrian traffic shall be carefully considered in all drive-through designs, particularly to make sure there are adequate sight distances.