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Not many people join a planning commission with a headful of ideas about improving zoning, but Thomas Hylton did. More surprising, in a few years’ time, Hylton had talked his community, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, into rewriting its entire zoning code and instituting a whole new way of judging proposed developments.
He did this in three ways: by presenting his ideas so convincingly that it calmed what might otherwise have been a furious opposition; by bringing a unique set of resources to his cause; and by spending an extraordinary amount of time and attention in winning over citizens and elected officials. In doing so, Hylton offers a textbook case of how planning commissioners – and others with little or no formal power – can be change agents in their communities.
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