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Hampton seeking proposals on new strategies for planning

October 6, 2018

Hampton Township is investigating the benefits of an implementable comprehensive plan strategy for the next year, an alternative to the traditional process.

The township’s current comprehensive plan, a document which seeks “to address and inform the general nature of planning, development and policy decisions over the next 10 years,” was last updated in 2014, according to the Hampton website.

Current council has indicated it would like the comprehensive plan updated, said Martin Orban, land use administrator for Hampton Township.

It’s included it in the 2018-19 list of township goals.

A presentation on implementable comprehensive plans was provided at the township council’s Sept. 26 meeting by Jim Pashek, of Pashek Associates in Pittsburgh. He provided information from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which provides training and support on implementable plans.

Pashek said while he is a business owner, he considers himself a promoter of these types of plans versus the traditional comprehensive planning process.

Pashek said traditional “old school” plans were data heavy, and not always based on public input. After a plan was reviewed and submitted, it was a “hope” some of the plan’s goal would come to fruition. The plan was the goal, not the goals themselves, he said.

“They weren’t really making much of a difference,” said Pashek of the traditional processes. “Goals should be a positive change in the community based on community support.”

After the presentation, Hampton council approved to send out a request for proposals for implementable plans.

“One of the reasons we chose to go the route of an implementable comprehensive plan as opposed to a traditional plan is the implementable plan provides a better opportunity for public involvement in the development of the plan,” said Mike Peters, president of township council.

All council members agreed to move ahead on the RFPs.

“The implementable plan also sets forth a defined set of goals with a timetable for implementation and cost to those goals. This gives us the opportunity to budget for the costs,” Peters said.

There are five keys of an implementable plan, according to PA DCED “Creating an implementable comprehensive plan.” These include focus the plan on real, relevant community issues; organize the plan the way local officials and citizens think; and devise practical and workable recommendations.

It also suggests to recruit partners and create capacity to implement plan; and get local ownership of the plan and commitment to implement.

There should also be less jargon and data only that’s necessary to the goals, according to the PA DCED plan.

Pashek encourages a 12- to 18-month completion. And while the costs of both a traditional and alternative comprehensive plan may be similar, Pashek said the new version would have “so much more value in it.”

He said a lot of public input is important. It should involve a variety of participants, including a steering committee, and/or local officials and especially residents.

“The public part is pretty important,” he said.

McCandless Township recently put together an implementable comprehensive plan last year. In order to engage the public, the township held public meetings, surveys, pop-up events, social media, and even an ice cream social, Pashek said.

“I think if you get the community supportive of the plan that’s a really good thing,” Pashek said.

The goal would have the RFPs back to Hampton council by the end of the year, and if approved, followed by a choice of a consultant in early 2019, said Orban.

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