Parkland Press

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Third comp plan meeting on July 30

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 by SUSAN RUMBLE Special to The Press in Local News

Nearly every seat was filled at the Parkland High School forum room on July 16 as 108 South Whitehall residents showed up for the second comprehensive plan meeting with consultant Tom Comitta and township staff.

Comitta, a town planner and landscape architect from West Chester, supplied his professional credentials and said the evening marked his 46th anniversary as a planner.

He recalled guiding South Whitehall through preparation of its 2009 comprehensive plan and noted state codes advise municipalities to review the documents every 10 years.

The meeting began as a repeat of the previous ones with township staff displaying charts of population statistics and planning trends.

Dave Manhardt, director of geographic information systems, reported South Whitehall currently has 19,541 residents and is 60 percent developed and 40 percent undeveloped.

He said a consideration for the new plan is whether to develop more or to protect more land.

Comitta distributed maps of South Whitehall and asked residents to mark what they do or do not like about the township.

He allowed quite a lot of time for this activity before proceeding to gather comments from those present.

John Chaya suggested density should be part of any formula which establishes percentages of developed and undeveloped space.

He said some developments are so dense that they will have a massive impact on roads and infrastructure, something which should be taken into account along with acreage.

Traffic concerns were mentioned repeatedly with one individual fearing the covered bridges and country roads will not hold up with increased volumes of vehicles going over them.

Resident Dave Torrey said developments north of South Whitehall bring traffic to township roads, and municipalities should coordinate on the issue.

Dave Burke asked officials to consider the infrastructure before approving large housing subdivisions and warehouses. When Comitta handed out a list of 90 goals from the 2009 plan, several people offered remarks.

One resident, Dorothy, said none of those goals were followed and none yielded any improvements to the township in the 10 years which have transpired.

Resident Lucy Horton also commented.

“I think most of us feel this is a pointless exercise,” Horton said. “Zoning says yes to everything.”

Chaya recalled he asked Comitta at the previous meeting and in several communications thereafter which of those goals were achieved.

“We want to know — yes or no — whether they were achieved, not people’s opinions for the next plan,” Chaya said.

The consultant responded.

“I’m going to ask you a favor. Can you be patient?” Comitta asked.

“We’re not prepared tonight to answer this.”

Chaya replied.

“It’s not about writing a plan,” Chaya said.

“It’s the implementation needed to get things done.”

Burke added a closing remark.

“If we’re going to develop goals, tell how they can be achieved. Otherwise it is meaningless,” Burke advised.

South Whitehall Director of Community Development George Kinney said it was great to have so many people present to express their ideas for the new comprehensive plan.

The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 30 at Parkland High School.