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Carbon's regional plan group updated

Published May 22. 2010 09:00AM

Members of the Central Carbon County Regional Comprehensive Plan Committee were updated on the past two month's progress at a meeting held Thursday evening at Schwab Law office in Mahoning Township.

Allen Heist of Stell Environmental Enterprises, project manager and consultant, made a presentation along with Nicole R. Kline of McMahon Transportation Engineers and Planners, who gave an update on the transportation component of the plan.

The local committee is comprised of representatives of each of the five communities who have joined together for the project. Representing the communities at the meeting were: Lehighton, Darryl Arner; Mahoning Township, Bruce Steigerwalt; Franklin Township, Paul Kocher and Rod Mann; and East Penn Township, attorney William Schwab.

At the last meeting, Heist reported key person interviews are completed and several of the 872 citizen surveys that were mailed have been returned to him for review.

He reported that 123 surveys were returned and he has compiled the results, plus he has completed his key person interviews. He also noted that he revised the format and focus of his work after discussion with Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

Heist has also collected population and housing plan data and completed a draft of the demographic character and trends chapter. He is also collecting data on natural and cultural features and began a chapter on the conserving the region's natural and cultural resources.

Heist has organized and refined the plan into five focus or issue areas based on the problems, needs and opportunities of the region that will be used to set the framework through which the component elements of the comprehensive plan will be developed.

The comprehensive plan will be organized around the following focus areas:

• Ensure the Economic Vitality of the Community - evaluate local labor, industry, commercial, retail and resort/recreation uses in the region.

• Improve Mobility in the Region - free standing transportation plan.

• Protect and Improve the Character and Sense of Community in the Region - determine area's unique character and identify land use plans and housing plans.

• Conserve the Region's Natural and Cultural Resources - identify physical and historic settings and develop a natural and historic resources plan.

• Build and Maintain a Livable Community with Good Services and Facilities - identify facilities and determine adequacy in serving present and future residents and needs of the area.

Heist will include an action plan and short and long range implementation strategies, plus provide information on energy conservation and existing and proposed development of the region.

Heist also noted that populations trends in boroughs are losing population, while the townships are gaining population. It was pointed out that Weissport lost 19 dwelling units between 1990 and 2000.

Kline said that much of the costs for the transportation component will be at no cost because she plans to incorporate studies already completed by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pa. Turnpike Commission.

"You have approximately 24,000 vehicles using the turnpike in a day, but you also have nearly 24,000 vehicles using Route 248 in a day," said Kline.

Kline reviewed data regarding most minor and major roadways in the Carbon County area, plus offered insight as to her next focus - intersections where there is a lot of traffic, major accidents and poor sight distances or contours.

She came up with 20 intersections that will be studied to determine how to make them safer.

The following intersections were reviewed:

• Route 443, Troxell's Road/Fredericks Grove Road

• Route 443 and Ashtown Drive

• Route 443 and Walmart driveway/Carbon Plaza Driveway

• Route 443 and Mall Road/Mall Lane

• Route 443 and South Ninth Street

• Route 443 and Mahoning Mountain Road

• Route 209 and Packerton Hollow Lane

• South Ninth Street and Mahoning Street

• Bridge Street (Route 209)/Bankway Street/Route 443

• Route 209 and Bridge Street

• Route 209 and Pa. Turnpike/Interchange Road

• Route 209 and Gypsy Hill Road

• Harrity Road and Pohopoco Drive

• Mill Road and Route 902

• Overlook Drive and Pohopoco Drive

Kline said the areas discussed will be studied for speeds, class of vehicles and volume. She said the studies will be done within the next two weeks.

Mann reported that the Recreation, Park and Open Space Plan has been awarded a grant of $40,000 by Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The next meeting of the CCCRCPPC will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 15 at Schwab's office.

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