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Murrysville officials seek a 'vision' for its future

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By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Murrysville officials say they aren't looking for a comprehensive plan — they want “a vision.”

That's how council defined the embattled draft of the comprehensive plan, which has been criticized by council and residents in recent months for not having enough public input. Last week, officials agreed to look at the plan — which has been in the works since 2012 — as a 10-year tool to help guide future decisions.

“People see the word ‘plan' and think it's cast in concrete,” Council President Joan Kearns said. “They have a hard time grasping that this is a tool that we use when looking at capital improvements and other things.”

A committee of residents and officials worked on the plan, which is a set of goals designed to shape the future of the community.

“Generally, this is the vision,” chief administrator Jim Morrison said. “If the goals and objectives meet the desires of council, the real debate begins on how we meet those.”

In the coming months, council will review each of the 10 objectives and five goals outlined in the plan. Each one has three to six “action items” that council can decide to follow up with, Morrison said.

“Typically, a plan has been approved and put on a shelf,” Morrison said. “We don't want that to happen.”

Municipal planner Allen Cohen said the plan can be used to delegate responsibilities to various staff members to make sure that certain objectives are met.

“It's keeping a scorecard,” Cohen said. “It's about having the goals, what is expected out of the plan, who is supposed to do what and keeping track of it on an annual basis.”

Councilman Josh Lorenz said no one would have predicted the way the housing market would change when the last plan was developed in 2002. Instead of trying to craft a plan that will meet every need of the municipality, he suggested focusing on goals that the municipality can move towards.

“Things can and do change,” Lorenz said. “If we had a crystal ball and could fast forward 10 years and write the perfect comprehensive plan, that would be great.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2365.

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