If you live in Franklin, East Penn or Mahoning townships or in the boroughs of Weissport or Lehighton and want to have a say in the Central Carbon County Comprehensive Plan, you will have a chance at two upcoming public planning meetings.
The sessions, scheduled for Jan. 28 and Feb. 3, will be held at 7 p.m. in the Lehighton Borough Annex, 110 N. Third St., Lehighton.
During these meetings, residents can offer input and comments that will help Allen Heist of Stell Environmental Enterprises, project manager and consultant, incorporate the ideas and suggestions into a plan to meet the needs of the community. The plan will help guide the communities well into the future.
Heist wants to know how the residents feel about topics that most affect them, such as traffic congestion, how to maintain the local character of their communities, local airports, where residents want to ride their bikes and how economic development affects traffic.
He will also seek input on the housing market and whether the present homes will meet the needs of the aging population and community revitalization projects, and whether the community has enough retail space.
Parks and recreation will also be discussed. Heist wants to learn who maintains the parks and whether there are enough places for children to play.
Members of the CCCCPC met on Thursday to discuss the agenda of the upcoming public meetings and to discuss the costs of the project and how the communities can get the most for their money.
The project is being funded by a $35,000 Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance (NEPA) grant, which will assist in the development of the transportation component of the plan, and a $40,000 Community Conservation Partnership Program grant that will fund the greenways and trails, park, recreation and conservation components of the project through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
While the group was pleased with the funding, it is less than anticipated for the greenways so the scope of that component and open space planning will not be as detailed as the group had originally planned.
Heist noted that he has begun "key person" interviews, whereby he provides a list of important questions to several influential people in the community to gain their input. He hopes to interview at least 20 people, including people in key positions at the schools and hospitals, county level officials, local farmers, financial institutions and local businessmen.
Along with the public meetings, local residents can also have a say by filling out citizen surveys, which will be sent to random households in all participating communities. Citizen surveys will also be available at each of the municipality's offices during regular business hours.
Heist anticipates compiling the results of the public hearings, input from key persons and citizen surveys before the next committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. March 18, when he will provide a report.
The Central Carbon Comprehensive Plan is scheduled to be completed by later part of 2011.