Comprehensive plan projects under discussion

LEWISTOWN – Discussion centered around implementation of aspects of the new 10 year Mifflin County Comprehensive Plan during the Thursday afternoon Mifflin County Planning Commission meeting.

Michelle Brummer, a consultant for Gannett Fleming, presented six different implementation projects that the board could start the planning process for. These six categories include drafting model zoning ordinances for rural municipalities, updating subdivision and land development ordinances, a feasibility studies of trail concepts, identification and assessment of target economic development sites, updating housing and conditions data and map and analyzing demand for elderly housing.

“These particular projects were identified for the potential for a higher or immediate need,” Brummer said. “There could also be different projects that you, as a board or as a county, may need also.”

The board took particular interest in discussing the feasibility study of trail concepts and the demand for elderly housing. Many on the board believed the study of the trail concepts, which would explore the development of several different trails throughout the county, needs to have the exploration process start now, to help with funding in April. One of the trail projects of interest is the abandoned Kishacoquillas Valley Railroad, which has generated interest in the past and could help with tourism in the area because of historical components.

In regards to the elderly housing, the board noticed that there is a great need for this type of housing using data from previous censuses it was determined there has been a growing elderly population in the area. The board has plans to work with the Mifflin-Juniata Area on Aging to discover where the greatest need for this kind of housing is. This could also lead to some other business development to help make access to certain amenities easier for this demographic.

Other aspects of the discussion were around some in-house practices that could happen within the model ordinances, including pushing for a model wind ordinance. The board noticed that three municipalities, including Union, Menno, and Granville townships have all passed their own, with Oliver Township working on one.

Bill Gomes, director of planning and development, said this is not a comprehensive list of projects and it is a list that will be edited frequently.

“We want to get the input from a lot of people on this and slowly implement something new each year,” Gomes said. “How much gets accomplished in a given year will depend on both budget from the county commissioners and possible grants. We have a long way to go but we are starting to move in the right directions.”

The Mifflin County Planning Commission meets at 3:30 p.m. the fourth Thursday of every month at the Mifflin County Court House in Meeting Room A.