East Penn Township and Mahoning Township supervisors and Lehighton and Weissport council members voted on Thursday night to adopt the new Central Carbon County Regional Comprehensive Plan, developed by Allen Heist, consultant, of Stell Environmental Enterprises, Inc.
A fifth community involved in the comprehensive plan is Franklin Township. Franklin supervisors failed to adopt it due to a lack of quorum since one supervisor was out of town and a another was on sick leave. The third supervisor, Paul Kocher, did attend the meeting.
The board is planning to vote on the plan during the Nov. 15 board of supervisors meeting.
Heist set up maps all around the perimeter of the room that he created through the development of the comprehensive plan, which helped community leaders with their decision. All five communities had 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 public meetings and hearings were held, key people were intereviewed and a citizen survey was conducted.
The CCCRP focuses on economic development, transportation improvements, preserving community character, protecting critical natural features and historic resources and improving community facilities and services.
Heist 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.
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, developing the Packerton Railroad Yard to include recreation, and have further development of Riverview Park.
Heist also read several letters from communities which border Carbon County, and all favored the plan.
During the meeting, Scott Rehrig, council member for Lehighton, said that he would like to see all five community leaders continue to meet and work together for the Lehighton area.
"I would like to see a joint effort behind having the McCall bridge replaced," said Rehrig. "We really need to combine efforts."
Heist said that the plan recommends that communities continue to meet long after the plan is adopted. He said that some communities have continued to meet every month.
"Whether it is always to discuss issues or it turns into a social event doesn't matter because it keeps lines of communication open," said Heist.
Rehrig said after the meeting that it would be a good idea for all the communities to begin sharing equipment.
"Why should each community have to purchase big equipment and then have it rot away in the garage," said Rehrig.