Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Chance to Share in a Shared Vision

The cover of 'Montgomery County Today,' the report written in preparation of an new comprehensive plan for Montgomery County.

An opportunity for any Tom, Dick or Harry (Or Flo, Jill or Mary for that matter) to have input into the future of Montgomery County (and thus Pottstown and environs) will take place Monday night at Steel River Playhouse at 245 E. High St.

That is when the Montgomery County Planning Commission will hold the first of its series of four public input sessions before embarking on writing a new comprehensive plan that will guide development in the county until 2040.
Source: Montgomery County Today
Commuting patterns in and out of Montgomery County 
are an important 
consideration when planning for the future.

The session will run from 7 to 9 p.m. and is just about the only session to occur in western Montgomery County.

Other sessions are in Colmar, Fort Washington and King of Prussia.

Why is this important?

Well, how many times have you seen a development go up, a bridge fixed (or abandoned), or a new shopping center put an old one out of business and thought to yourself, "why the heck did they do that?"

The answer may well be, "it was part of the comprehensive plan."

Although these plans do not always get down to the kind of detail as to dictate the circumstances of a particular parcel, they often set regional trends, such as steering development along the Ridge Pike and Swamp Pike corridors up through Gilbertsville.

The plan "will provide an overall framework that guides decisions about important issues such as
highways, public transportation, trails, growth trends, redevelopment opportunities, overall housing needs, and natural systems," read an e-mail from the county, inviting residents to participate.

Think about how these things can be interconnected.

Houses, parking lots, roads can affect water run-off, which can cause flooding, which can affect land value, which can effect the economy, which can affect development....

You get the idea.

County income has dropped in the last 10 years.
Comprehensive plans are not always predictive; more of a guess-plus-wish-list than an iron-clad dictate for future development which is, after all, under the primary control of the local municipality.

When it comes to development, we want more in Pottstown.

A smaller version of the county comprehensive plan exists -- the Pottstown Metropolitan Area Regional Comprehensive Plan -- and encompasses the goals of the borough, the three surrounding Pottsgrove townships, Douglass (Mont.), New Hanover and the Chester County townships of East and North Coventry.

It calls for as much commercial development as is practical to be steered into the borough, to make it a commercial center and the hub of the region, thus also preserving open space in the surrounding towns.
Who says poverty is concentrated in a few 
older boroughs in Montgomery County?

That smaller comprehensive plan is also in the process of being updated, and the work is being done by the very same Montgomery County Planning Commission. 

Although one would hope the fact that both plans are being written by the same agency would mean they would complement each other, it never hurts so show up at the meeting and make sure.

The plan, which will be called “Montco 2040: A Shared Vision,” has begun with a look at current conditions, titled Montgomery County Today, that will serve as the launching point for planning for the future and the writing of Montco 2040.

You can read a summary of "Montgomery County Today" by clicking here; or read the entire plan by clicking here; or you can look at the 220-page flip-book version of Montgomery County Today below:

Why not have a look through the plan? It might give you some ideas about what you might like to see the county look like in the future. This is your chance to have a say.

(You can click this link to look at what the county plan will have to say by issue: such as health, housing, infrastructure, transportation, economy, cultural resources and more.)

This map shows Pottstown gained little population
in the last 10 years.
The writing of the county comprehensive plan will be overseen by a steering committee that will include two Pottstown representatives, Borough Manager Mark Flanders and David Kraybill, executive director of the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.

Other area representatives include Scott Exley, a planning commission member, resident of Lower Pottsgrove and the president of Bursich Assoc.; Judy Memberg, executive director of Genesis Housing Inc., the non-profit housing agency so deeply involved in reviving Pottstown’s core neighborhood; Karen Stout, president of Montgomery County Community College and Charles Tornetta, local realtor and developer.

"Come and check out our display boards, ask our staff questions, and voice your opinion. Expect an interesting, interactive, and informative experience," said the county invitation.

If you can't make the Pottstown workshop meeting, here are the others: 


  • Nov. 19, 4 to 6 p.m. — North Penn Community Health Foundation, 2506 North Broad
    Street, Colmar;
  • Nov. 20, 7 to 9 p.m. — Upper Dublin Township Building, 801 Loch Alsh Avenue, Fort Washington;
  • Nov. 25, 4 to 6 p.m. — Upper Merion Township Building, 175 West Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia.
If you can't make any of the meetings, you can take an on-line survey to have some input. (You can access the survey by clicking here.)

Or heck, you can start your own public meeting and ask the planners to address your civic or neighborhood group. Find out how by clicking here.

But probably the best thing to do to start, would be to show up.

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