Educating citizens about local government

Course Content

Neighborhood University of Greater West Chester


PA Local Government Structure

This session will provide an extensive and detailed look at stormwater.  Stormwater is the term used to describe runoff from anything from a light rain to flooding due to a hurricane.  Municipalities are required under the 1972 Clean Streams Act to manage stormwater, reduce pollutants entering streams, control or eliminate sediments and reduce flooding.  As stormwater regulations increase, municipalities look to new technologies and best management practices to meet permitting standards and to provide clean streams.


Stormwater Management

Public Safety

Presentation about and tour of the Chester County Public Safety Training Campus in South Coatesville.

This will provide an understanding of the statutory basis for, and overview of, municipal financial practices and revenue generation.  Topics will include Accounting & Financial Reporting, Budgeting & Financial Planning, Capital Improvement Planning, Debt Management, Financial Management, Pension & Benefit Administration, Treasury Management and Taxation & Fees.

 2019 NU Finance and Taxation Presentation

Public Finance & Taxation

Multi-Modal Transportation will involve a discussion of comprehensive, coordinated, and effective approaches to roadway mobility and safety in the West Chester area.  Speakers will discuss existing and proposed multi-modal transportation programs aimed at safely and efficiently moving people and goods throughout the area.  These programs consist of the funding, planning, design, construction, and maintenance of roads, bridges, pedestrian and parking facilities, and mass transit.  Traffic, Transportation and Roadways will include a discussion on a variety of topics, including: local and PennDOT roads, traffic signals and traffic control signs, pavement maintenance and markings, street lighting, intersection improvements, bridges, traffic calming and guiderails.


Multi-Modal Transportation

This session will focus on the duties and responsibilities of the Public Works Departments. Participants will see the various types of equipment used to maintain roads, parks and the public sewer system and see how municipalities use technology to improve their productivity.

Funding the Capital Reserve Presentation (PDF)

Public Works, Infrastructure & Public Utilities

Pennsylvania has given local municipalities - townships, boroughs and cities - the primary responsibility for regulating land use. The legal structure for planning is laid out in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. Actions of local municipalities must conform to limits imposed by the Pennsylvania Constitution and United States Constitution. Municipal actions are subject to judicial review and also must meet legal standards established by the courts.  

Municipalities' authority to control land use is exercised through zoning, subdivision and land development ordinances, and limited to those delegated to them by state legislation.  Zoning is an important municipal tool to regulate the future use of land. A zoning ordinance divides all lands within a municipality into zones or districts, and establishes regulations for various types of land uses and development. Local subdivision and land development ordinances are the most commonly used land use control in the state and are intended to protect against unwise and poorly planned growth.

This session will provide students an in-depth overview of the land development process.  This session will cover the process of land development and the role of zoning in Pennsylvania in great detail.  Additionally, students will gain a greater understanding of the role of their municipality's planning commission.


Zoning & Land Development


Visit and tour a local fire company to see a live example of volunteer fire department services.

This session will include a presentation about police services at the local level as well as a tour of the West Goshen Police Department.