Joint planning commission members from East Penn Township, Franklin Township, Mahoning Township and Lehighton were treated to a presentation of the new Central Carbon County Regional Comprehensive Plan that is nearing completion last week by Allen Heist, consultant, of Stell Environmental Enterprises, Inc.

A fifth community involved in the creation of the comprehensive plan is Weissport. No one represented Weissport at the meeting.

Heist presented a display of the maps that he created through the development of the comprehensive plan, which will help community leaders with future development in the five communities that hired Stell to develop the plan.

The plan updates previous individual comprehensive plans and creates a framework for enhancing and protecting the quality of life for these communities,

Heist said that the Central Carbon County Regional Comprehensive Planning Committee provided input and direction for the plan. He said that he also held public meetings and hearings, interviewed key people and did a citizen survey.

The CCCRP focuses on economic development, transportation improvements, preserving community character, protecting critical natural features and historic resources and improving community facilities and services.

He developed the plan by using goals and objectives organized around these five issues and established a foundation for land use control and to provide direction for municipal policies and activities.

Heist said that if communities are successful in implementing the comprehensive plan it will allow new development for expected growth and that the new development will respect natural resources.

"There will be a variety of land uses, agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial and recreational," he said. "The uses will be balanced and interrelate with economic development with preservation of open spaces and greenways."

Heist said that the transportation plan provides for strategies to achieve regional planning goals.

"In order for the plan to become a reality, action must be taken," he said.

Heist also discussed the Parks, Recreation, Greenway and Open Space Plan. He said that the five municipalities and Lehighton Area School District worked together to develop a multi-municipal strategy for protecting, expanding and managing the region's parks, recreation, greenway and open space resources.

The park plan emphasizes a cooperative regional approach to achieving the goals and implementing a plan.

Heist said his recommendation includes forming a regional committee to implement the plan, develop the Packerton Railroad Yard to include recreation and have further development of Riverview Park.

Following Heist's presentation, members of the Franklin Township and Lehighton planning commissions voted to recommend approval of the plan, while members of East Penn Township and Mahoning Township said they will wait to present the proposal at their respective board of supervisors' meetings.

There will be a joint meeting to adopt the plan at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 the Lehighton Annex building, Third Street, Lehighton.