Officials plan for region's future
While Armstrong County officials pursue a countywide comprehensive plan, South Buffalo and East Franklin supervisors teamed up to plan for the future locally.
Since both municipalities have similar demographics, it made sense for the townships to share the cost of the plan, said South Buffalo Supervisor Ron Covone.
"The state's really pushing for joint efforts right now, and there's more grant opportunities," Covone said.
The comprehensive plan is partially funded by a $16,000 state grant. The remaining cost — $16,000 — will be split equally by the townships.
A comprehensive plan will lay out how the communities want to grow in the next 10 to 20 years, according to East Franklin's Business Manager Donna Rupert.
Rupert said it's difficult for her to deal with zoning issues in the township because the zoning ordinance was written nearly 20 years ago.
"The way the community was planned, it looked different than it is today," Rupert said.
But in order to change the ordinance, she needs to update the comprehensive plan that dates to the 1970s.
"We need to take a comprehensive look first," Rupert said. "Then I can zone according to the results."
Covone said South Buffalo's plan also needs updated, as it was drawn up in the 1960s.
"We need to plan where we're going in the future," he said.
Covone said the townships are only in phase one of a process that could take a year.
A public meeting was held in South Buffalo earlier in October, and another was held Monday night in East Franklin. Covone said about 30 township residents attended the first informational meeting.
The next step is for the planning firm, Mackin Engineering, to do some studies of the area. Meanwhile, a steering committee of various township officials will meet monthly to gather community input and decide what the plan's focus will be.
Then more public meetings will be held, Covone said.
"We're looking at how fast we want to grow, are our roads sufficient, are our sewage and water sufficient, and so forth," Covone said.
In addition to planning for the future, Rupert at East Franklin said state agencies look more favorably on municipalities that demonstrate a willingness to work together and to plan for the future.
"They don't want to fund something if they think you don't know what you're doing," Rupert said.
"Joint purchasing, equipment sharing, buying in bulk — it can really save when you work with other communities," Covone said.
|What the plan will cover|
The joint comprehensive plan will allow East Franklin and South Buffalo officials and residents to communicate desired growth in the communities. Issues addressed by the plan will include: