Franklin Co. comprehensive plan designed to manage growth

March 25, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Traffic jams, sprawl and disappearing farmland are among the consequences of unplanned growth, a future Franklin County is seeking to avoid with its first comprehensive plan in two decades.

"We hope this is an active document. We don't want it to sit on a shelf," County Commissioner Cheryl Plummer said Wednesday. She said the plan is a tool for municipalities, government agencies and developers to chart the county's future.

The plan addresses conservation of natural and agricultural resources, land use and housing, economic development, community services and transportation, according to County Planning Director Phil Tarquino.

"I think they all go hand-in-hand. There's a correlation between transportation, your water and sewer, and land use," Tarquino said.

"The plan will encourage development in those areas that can support development," he said.

The county's comprehensive plan was last updated in 1977, Tarquino said. The new plan took two years to develop and cost about $160,000, he said.


Tarquino said the county, municipal representatives and staff, economic development officials and citizens served on the advisory board that put the plan together.

Among the plan's goals:

- Preserving large parcels of prime farmland.

- Directing residential development to areas where utilities can be provided efficiently.

- Attracting new businesses and redeveloping older sites, such as the Cumberland Valley Business Park on former federal land at Letterkenny Army Depot.

- Identifying where new roads or road improvements are needed.

- Coordinating planning between municipalities and the county.

In transportation, Tarquino said many recommendations for new or improved roads are already in the planning stages.

The plan recommends widening Interstate 81 to six lanes, improving interchanges and adding interchanges north and south of Chambersburg. Tarquino said the plan won't specify a location for the northern interchange, a subject hotly debated since federal funds were approved for the project more than a decade ago.

The plan anticipates the widening of U.S. 30 east and west of Chambersburg and widening sections of Pa. 16.

Improved access from I-81 to the Cumberland Valley Business Park is suggested to encourage development of the 1,500 acres the Army is turning over to the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority.

According to the plan, a new route is needed to link U.S. 30 and Pa. 316 near Chambersburg. It also calls for "relief routes" north of Greencastle and around congested portions of Pa. 16 in Waynesboro and Washington Township and a connector road between exits 2 and 3 in Antrim Township.

Plummer said the plan can help local governments get funding for major projects, particularly those crossing municipal lines. "A lot of federal and state grants want this kind of cooperation," she said.

The county's population grew 5.6 percent to 132,000 between 1990 and 1997 and will increase an additional 25,000 in the next 20 years, according to the plan. Plummer said some nearby counties are growing much faster, increasing development pressures here.

The population in Frederick County, Md., for example, grew by 22 percent during the same period, according to the plan.

A public meeting on the plan is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 29, at 7 p.m. in the County Administrative Annex, Tarquino said. Copies of the plan are available for review at the courthouse and municipal offices, he said.

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