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Public input needed for municipal plan

| Friday, Aug. 25, 2006

Throughout September, a series of town hall meetings will be held to begin the public involvement process for the Multi-municipal Comprehensive Plan for the townships of Franklin, Jefferson, Menallen and Perry.

Residents of these townships are encouraged to attend the meetings to learn more about the comprehensive planning process and share their vision for the future of the region.

Four town hall meetings will be held:

= 6:30 p.m. Sept. 7 in the Franklin Township Municipal Building, 353 Town and Country Road

= 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14 in the Menallen Township Municipal Building, 427 Searight Herbert Road

= 6 p.m. Sept. 21 in the Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department, 206 S. Liberty St., Perryopolis

= 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26 in the Jefferson Township Municipal Building, 262 Stuckslager Road

Citizen participation is needed to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to issues such as pedestrian and vehicular transportation; commercial and industrial development; new residential subdivisions; land use; zoning; water and sewerage expansion; fire and police protection; environmental protection; and recreation.

The public involvement process, facilitated by Mackin Engineering Co., is a vital component in preparing the comprehensive plan.

Project Manager Joy M. Wilhelm, of Mackin Engineering, said, "Our approach to planning is to engage the public early on in the process to discover and address as many issues and concerns as possible. By doing this, practical strategies to complex issues can be suggested that are most likely to be implemented."

Steering committee member Rick Cimina echoed the need for residents to participate in the process.

"In order for the comprehensive plan to reach its potential, we need to hear from the people who live and work in the area. This is the chance for the average citizen to tell us what they like and don't like about their township. What we hear at these meetings will guide future development patterns."

To better address the impact of future growth, the comprehensive plan will serve as a guide for each municipality to direct development in a manner that is consistent with the existing capacity of roadways and other public infrastructure.

The background study, completed by Mackin Engineering, has revealed an increase in residential development in Jefferson, Franklin and Menallen townships in the last decade. As infrastructure projects are planned, coupled with the construction of Route 43, Menallen Township is expected to see rapid development in years to come.

Perry Township is facing development impacts from Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, and has the potential to see business development along Route 51.

The comprehensive plan will help the communities prepare for this expected growth in a manner that improves the quality of life for residents, but which preserves farmland and open space.

Although not a legally binding document, the plan will be a public statement of desired growth and direction for the townships of Franklin, Jefferson, Menallen and Perry.

Interested residents are encouraged to attend the town hall meetings, including business people, farmers, homemakers, religious and civic leaders, retirees, school representatives and students.

For more information, call Art Cappella, of Fayette County Office of Planning, Zoning and Community Development, at 724-430-1210, ext. 208, or Joy Wilhelm, of Mackin Engineering, at 412-788-0472.

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