The calendar has just turned to 2018, but Hermitage officials already are looking to 2030.
That’s how far ahead they hope the new Hermitage Comprehensive Plan, when it is completed, will be relevant.
City commissioners authorized formulating the plan last summer and hired a consultant, Mackin Engineering Co., Pittsburgh. The new plan will replace one completed in 1993.
A comprehensive plan evaluates a community from many aspects – demographics, housing, zoning and recreation among them – and sets a vision for how the community wants those criteria to look in the future. It includes goals and recommendations to achieve that vision, and guides development efforts.
The plan will not be legally binding, but will set policy that will result in an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance, and guide city staff and elected officials in addressing issues covered in the plan.
City Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning Jeremy Coxe called the plan a “living document” because it should look to the future and be useful even when changes that cannot be predicted occur, such as in the availability of land.
John Hudson, president of Hudson Companies of Hermitage – and a member of a 20-person steering committee designed to give city officials input on issues and scope for the plan, as well as help promote the study in the community -- recommended that the plan be highly focused, wrapping multiple issues into a theme, such as creating a healthy and vibrant community.
The steering committee has met twice, once on a tour of the city showing its residential, commercial and industrial sections, highlighting its history and touching on some of the issues that have proven divisive, such as expanding sanitary sewer service and zoning.
At the second meeting, committee members spelled out what they needed in order to do their jobs, including access to key documents, and recommended involving the eCenter@Lindepointe, a business incubator, and Hickory High School students in the planning process to give a younger perspective and help with a social media campaign.
The committee also has recommended the hashtag #Hermitage2030 to brand the plan.
A web site has been built at www.hermitage2030.com to allow the public to follow along with the process and give input.
However, the web site will not be the only means for citizens and business and organizational leaders to have a voice in developing the plan.
The city will convene focus groups, interview key community leaders, hold public meetings and attend public events.
It should take about a year for the plan update, and then another six months to prepare the zoning amendment and guide it through the ordinance process, said Amy Wiles, lead senior planner for Mackin.
“I’m pretty excited to be a part of this, looking forward to the future and ways to develop the city of Hermitage,” said steering committee member William Dungee, director of business and finance at Penn State Shenango in Sharon.
Joe Pinchot, 1/19/2018
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