November 14, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 46

Planning commission initiates new comprehensive plan update process

The Petersburg Planning Commission unanimously approved to send a request to the borough assembly to update the current comprehensive plan.

A comprehensive plan is a guide to how to develop the community and land within the municipality including things such as utilities, recreation and housing.

The plan was last updated in 2001 and updating it is essential to the requirements of borough formation.

“We’re giving an overview of the whole process that’s going to take a very long and involved time,” commission chair Susan Thomason said.

Officials will look at a harbor master plan and rate study. That consists of inventorying existing infrastructure and determining a rate structure to maintain it.

An ‘Economic Development Action Plan’ will also be on the table. The borough might create a survey to hear from the business community for insight into how to prioritize projects.

Borough assembly member Nancy Strand attended the commission meeting and questioned whether areas outside of service area one—the old Petersburg City limits—ought to form their own service areas.

“I have questions about whether there should be service area formation done before this takes place because if service area one is the only service area and they are the ones making the decision for the entire borough…I think service area two or three might want to form so they can make their own decisions,” Strand said.

Commission member Dave Kensinger was concerned about discussing topics that fall outside of the scope of the planning commission.

“I prefer to see in the comprehensive plan an outline without us getting bogged down in the specifics of many controversial issues,” Kensinger said. “I think there’s other committees, there’s other groups in town that have more knowledge of these issues that would be better able to do it.”

Thomason said the old comprehensive plan was too general and that creating a working document is the goal.

“If it’s too general then it stays on the shelf and collects dust,” Thomason said.“So as much as a plan that can be general but with certain objectives, I think that’s generally where we’re going.”

This winter, the borough assembly will designate two representatives from it to join the planning commission in the comprehensive plan process. The commission and representatives will review all proposals and recommend an outside consultant to the assembly for approval.

The commission will also discuss how to give residents borough wide the ability to voice their concerns and identify needs.

By spring, assembly representatives will regularly report at assembly meetings, keeping the public up to date on the comprehensive plan progress.

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