Council unanimously voted Monday to approve the borough’s neighborhood plan, bringing almost two years of work and planning to a successful conclusion.
The plan was presented to the board by borough planner Meagan Tuttle. Tuttle had previously presented the plan to the board during the July 14 work session.
She explained that following board feedback, the planning staff looked into the borough’s role in realizing several of the goals presented. Some changes were made from the version presented on July 14 that moved the borough to a leadership position, and the council would see those changes on the final draft.
It is the first planning activity to engage all of the borough’s neighborhoods in one coordinated effort, according to plan documents. Utilizing neighborhood associations and residents as well as borough officials and staff, the plan will explore information about each of the 10 respective neighborhoods and priorities for future growth.
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The goals of each neighborhood include: maintaining neighborhood facilities, appearance and housing stock; balancing renter- and owner-occupied housing; and improving relationships among neighbors and borough leaders. Each goal has an expected timeline and identifies the responsible organizations and resources needed lead it to completion.
Work on the plan began in 2012. Borough residents were invited to give their input over 17 special meetings of the Planning Commission.
Before the council voted, Councilman Tom Daubert requested to add an amendment to the motion that would require a quarterly report to the council on the progress of the neighborhoods.
Council President Jim Rosenberger asked if there was a priority of one neighborhood over another. Tuttle said the process would set up a timeline for all the neighborhoods simultaneously.
“I’m looking to see good communication between the neighborhoods and the borough,” Rosenberger said. “I ask about priorities, because maybe all the attention goes to downtown or in the nearby neighborhoods, and I want to make sure everyone gets in the loop to be communicating with staff.”
Tuttle agreed that communication is a large part of what will make the plan work. She said the biggest challenge now that the plan is approved will be to find which items take priority.
“There were a lot of ideas that came forward from the neighborhood residents and the Planning Commission,” she said, “and I think the natural tendency when you adopt a plan is to want to do everything right away.”
She said in terms of physical changes that could be seen within the neighborhoods, “there are a lot of cool little ideas for neighborhood partnership projects.” Examples of these projects include tree-plantings, flower-plantings and cleanup projects.