By Mary Spicer
If all goes as planned, by the time April 17 comes to a close, the City of Meadville will be operating under an updated comprehensive plan.
During a presentation to Meadville City Council at its monthly meeting Wednesday night, Gary Johnson, the city’s zoning administrator, presented an outline of the final draft of the plan, which is currently on public display at the city building and available at cityofmeadville.org.
A public hearing on the plan has been scheduled for April 17 at 5:30 p.m. Council’s regularly-scheduled meeting will follow at 6 p.m., at which time council is expected to vote on approving the plan.
A comprehensive plan, Johnson explained, is a general policy document — not an ordinance or a code. It includes “considerations for land use, natural resources, historic and cultural resources, energy conservation, utilitiies and community facilities, parks and recreation, water supply, transportation and housing.”
With local governments across the country being faced with limited budgets, he continued, “a comprehensive plan helps to focus investments, reducing long-term costs and increasing efficiency.
The comprehensive plan that was updated was created in 1993. According to Johnson, it was the first city plan to “address the city’s declining population and the nationwide trend of locating commercial development outside of urban cores.”
Johnson noted that the current update is technically an amendment to the 2007 update of the city’s business district action plan, which was done as part of the creation of the Central Crawford Multi-Municipal Comprehensive Plan.
Overall, he continued, the city has accomplished or partly accomplished more than 58 percent of the 1993 plan’s priority recommendations.
Those accomplishments include: Building a new central fire station; introducing a property maintenance inspection program; building the Market Alley project; and developing a street tree inventory and management plan.
According to Johnson, the plan specifies challenges that must be faced by the city. These challenges include: Park maintenance, aesthetics and appearance of key corridors and sites; code violations and property maintenance issues; a high percentage of tax-exempt property; and vacant commercial buildings.
Priorities and recommended action items have been organized into eight community development objectives.
Council member Mangilo-Bittner announced that a comment she made during council’s March 6 study session was not accurately reported. As the result of a conversation about a succession plan for city employees proposed by City Manager Joe Chriest that includes an employee who devotes part — but by no means all — of her workday to managing the city’s information technology system, Mangilo-Bittner said “I have a 6-year-old nephew who could probably do the IT job.”
Mangilo-Bittner explained Wednesday that she was speaking from the perspective of a member of a generation that doesn’t know anything about computers — and her point was that because 6 year olds are now being trained to use computers from the time they start school, they are much more savvy about computers than previous generations. Therefore, she explained, when they enter the workforce, “we won’t need IT people in the future.”
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.