A discussion of regional development by the Centre Region Council of Governments Executive Committee turned to worries of overdevelopment at a meeting Tuesday.
The issue arose during a proposal to bring an update of the regional development capacity report to the COG General Forum at its meeting Monday.
The REDCAP update will cover new development within the regional growth boundary in 2014. The data represent the “future development potential of unidentified properties under the existing zoning in each municipality,” according to COG.
“We’ll see where we are with our capacity mostly based on the public sewer capacity,” said senior planner Eric Vorwald. The report will show how many residential and non-residential units are possible in terms of municipal capacity.
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“The real problem is all the development happening out in the rural areas, gobbling up farmlands and adding traffic to the rural highways,” State College Borough Council President Jim Rosenberger said. “Who’s addressing that question?”
The planning agency completed an analysis of properties outside the sewer service areas earlier this year, Vorwald said. The analysis focused on what type of residential areas could be developed outside of this boundary.
The development is typically residential, Vorwald said, as rural areas don’t have the facilities to support commercial development.
Rosenberger asked if preservation would be a cheaper alternative to development if the cost of an expanding road network was added to the equation.
Vorwald explained that more property owners could be brought on board with the idea of preservation if some municipal regulations would change. In typical cases, one unit requires 1 acre of lot space. If one unit required 11 acres, this would provide additional incentive to property owners to support the change in lot sizes.
“That’s the kind of regulation that could help north and east of us,” Rosenberger said.
Regulations are different in each municipality, Vorwald said. The planning agency is working with each municipality before bringing any proposals to the county level.
In other business, the committee held a brief discussion of the continued flooding problems at Oak Hall Regional Park.
“It’s not just the planting,” College Township Council Chairman Eric Bernier said. “There are design issues, swales, grading and planting. Even if it had been planted, it still would have issues.”
Water is designed to run down the access road, he said, but volume and speed were the problems. Even when fully designed and fully built, water will still come down the road, but not as much. By the time the project is finished, stormwater will be infiltrated and captured at the top.
If any one thing failed individually, there would not have been a problem, he said. But collectively, design flaws, backlog and excessive rain caused an issue.
“We should be ramping up for a celebration of the field,” he said, “instead of scrambling to fix problems.”
The committee agreed that the job needs to be finished before any fingers are pointed at whomever may be at fault.
According to Codes Director Walt Schneider, it will be three to four years before fault is found. However, the design firm, Altoona-based Leonard S. Fiore Inc., is legally on the hook for 14 years for any issues with the park.