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Township leaders say 2006 laid foundation for improvements

January 02, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

FRANKLIN COUNTY, PA. - Looking back on the events and challenges of 2006, leaders from two growing Pa. townships say the last year was preparation for the next.

Leaders in Antrim and Washington townships speak of accomplishments in 2006 as the foundation for growth and improvement in the coming year.

With the housing market on the downswing and the number of added units remaining about the same, 2006 allowed Antrim and Washington townships to grow in areas other than population.

Washington Township saw its greatest growth in communication. Adding a Web site, newsletter and citizen committees, Manager Mike Christopher said the township became more accessible over the past year.

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"We have been able to get more information to the public," he said.

Carroll Sturm, chairman of the Washington Township board of supervisors, said the changes fulfilled a goal.

"We set the goal of increasing township communication with citizens," he said.

Sturm said while supervisors met the goal for 2006, they hope to take it one step further in 2007.

"We will continue to work on communication, fully populate our Web site and expand use of our computer," he said.

In 2006, Washington Township began digitizing plot plans and using a computer projector to display the plans in meetings. Providing digital plot plans is voluntary, but the township is looking to make it an ordinance requirement in 2007, Sturm said.

Antrim Township Board of Supervisors Chairman Robert Whitmore said where Antrim grew the most was in its developmental philosophy.

After about five years of debate, discussion and draft ordinances, Antrim adopted a conservation-by-design (CBD) ordinance in 2006. Whitmore said the ordinance has "changed the mind-set" of development in the township by shifting the focus more toward preserving green space.

"Going to conservation by design will have a huge impact on future residential development," township Manager Ben Thomas said.

Whitmore said changing to CBD in May 2006 created a decline in proposed developments for the rest of the year, but said he anticipates it to increase in the coming year.

"This is the requirement now; everyone will be doing it," he said.

As everyone looks ahead at 2007, leaders for Antrim and Washington townships speak of expanding their facilities.

Whitmore said Antrim hopes to start construction on its new facility in the new year. For Washington Township, Sturm said a committee will be commissioned to draft a facilities master plan for a move or an expansion.

Of all that was said and done in 2006, township leaders have few regrets.

"2006 was challenging, but I think it was productive," Thomas said.

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