Northwestern Press

Saturday, June 15, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY TERRY AHNERJason Ruff, vice president of Slatington Borough Council and Northern Lehigh Multi-Municipal Plan Steering Committee member, speaks as part of a project to build a new Northern Lehigh Multi-Municipal Plan during a news conference May 29 at Olde Homestead Golf Club, New Tripoli. PRESS PHOTO BY TERRY AHNERJason Ruff, vice president of Slatington Borough Council and Northern Lehigh Multi-Municipal Plan Steering Committee member, speaks as part of a project to build a new Northern Lehigh Multi-Municipal Plan during a news conference May 29 at Olde Homestead Golf Club, New Tripoli.

Northern Lehigh Comprehensive Plan to be updated

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 by Terry Ahner tahner@tnonline.com in Local News

Intermunicipal cooperation formed more than a decade ago

Work more efficiently, save money and better manage the growth in their communities, all while they save for the future.

That’s essentially the plan for six Northern Lehigh County communities who came together for an afternoon news conference May 29 at Olde Homestead Golf Club, New Tripoli.

The purpose was to kick off an 18-month effort to draft a new Northern Lehigh MultiMunicipal Comprehensive Plan to update the 2004 Northern Region of Lehigh County Comprehensive Plan.

Becky Bradley, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, said it was an update to a current plan for the borough of Slatington, and Washington, Lynn, Heidelberg, Lowhill and Weisenberg townships.

Jason Ruff, vice president of Slatington Borough Council and Northern Lehigh MultiMunicipal Plan Steering Committee member, thanked everyone for their support.

“Land use and development is a contentious topic in our rural communities but a multimunicipal plan, such as this, protects us from land use that doesn’t make sense, and allows us to create communities we’re not only proud of, but are also sustainable,” Ruff said.

“Community members are looking to us as community leaders to create a plan that works, and with their input, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, and now our new funding partner, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, we’re looking forward to achieving our goals.”

State Rep. Gary Day, R-187th District, stressed the importance of each community being able to plan not only its future, but how the land is used.

“I look around this room and see a lot of dedicated individuals who are working hard to plan for the future,” Day said.

The multimunicipal plans are a way for communities to work together on issues that cross municipal lines while maintaining local autonomy and control.

Funding for the project is provided through a $49,000 grant through the Municipal Assistance Program, as well as the six municipalities and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. The total budget for the project is $126,000.

Bradley said the update of the 2004 Northern Region of Lehigh County Comprehensive Plan will continue the intermunicipal cooperation that’s been growing for more than a decade.

“That’s going to help set the future vision, goals and objectives for all of these communities who have been working together for a very long time,” she said. “We’re really excited to get this underway, and I just wanted to thank all of the communities for having faith in the Regional Planning Commission to be able to assist them with this effort.”

Crafting a new plan will involve monthly steering committee meetings, a detailed housing, economic, demographics and land use analysis, and community survey.

The plan is scheduled to be completed in fall 2020.

Bradley said a series of public workshops will be held to discuss and receive public input for the updates to the comprehensive plan.

“These will help set the foundation for where the plan actually goes,” she said.

The workshops are scheduled as follows:

• 6:30 p.m. June 12, Heidelberg Township Building, 6272 Route 309, Suite A, New Tripoli.

• 8 a.m. June 13, Washington Township Building, 7951 Center St., Emerald.

• 6:30 p.m. June 17, Weisenberg Township Building, 2175 Seipstown Road, Fogelsville.