Planning Commission to hold public meeting on comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance

The Warriors Mark Planning Commission has given notice of a public meeting to be held on April 22 at 7 p.m. regarding two issues which have become a growing concern to the expanding Huntingdon County community.
The township hugs the border of Blair County and is considered to be a likely “bedroom community” to State College in Centre County pending the completion of the I-99 expansion project.
The purpose of the meeting is to receive public comment on a proposed comprehensive plan update and the establishment of a zoning ordinance in the township. A recent public notice published in The Daily Herald states the planning commission could immediately, after public comment, give a recommendation of approval to the board of supervisors for its consideration of both issues.
The public notice also states the township’s 1992 comprehensive plan is outdated and the proposed update describes changes which have occurred in the last dozen years and also makes recommendations for the future. The topics include population, land use, transportation, public utilities, housing and the environment.
According to information posted on the township web site, the most recent comprehensive plan was completed and adopted in 1992 had been prepared by Richard C. Sutter and Associates, the township’s former engineering firm. The current update was prepared by Thomas R. Deans Associates and according to the language in an introduction to the proposed document, “shall be considered as an addendum to the 1992 comprehensive plan.”
Some of the reasons listed for the proposed update include significant changes in both the township and the region in the last 12 years. Three issues are highlighted as being some of the “more far-reaching developments.” The three issues noted in the plan’s introduction are: recent high rates of resident construction in the township, the construction of I-99 occurring north of the township and public concern regarding the degradation of Spruce Creek.
In addition to a further description of the issues in the update, the relationship to future land use is also noted. The plan update also focuses on infrastructure such as municipal water and sewer, along environmental concerns.
The plan introduction also explains the 1990s plan was based on the anticipated availability of a municipal sewer system which never materialized. An Act 537 sewage study was never completed and instead local residents have had to rely on septic systems on their lots.
Essentially, the introduction concludes the 1992 comprehensive plan is outdated based upon projections using “current realities” being different than what existed in the early 1990s.
Regarding the proposed zoning ordinance, it along with a zoning map and companion documents have been created to divide all the land in the township into what are described as land use districts.
The ordinance is also designed to establish regulations in each district. It is broken down into a number of different articles including its purpose and objectives as well as definitions and a descriptions of districts. The districts include village, residential growth, rural residential, agriculture and resource protection and industrial.
The ordinance also explains what it describes as a environmental overlay district. This portion of the ordinance deals with conditions which “may and do occur that represent fragile environmental features in need of protection.” The ordinance goes on to indicate “if development were uncontrolled, there could be a significant hazard to the public health and safety. The ordinance lists the following as some of the environmental features which need to be protected: stream corridors, wetlands, floodplain, municipal wellheads, steep slopes and woodlands.
The proposed ordinance states, “Warriors Mark Township recognizes that the specified resources have a major role in the quality of life in the community and have to be protected and preserved for future generations.”
Other issues such as administrative matters including a zoning officer and zoning hearing board are also detailed in the proposed ordinance along with the setting of specific standards for selected activities.
The public comment meeting set for later this month will be held at the Warriors Mark Fire Hall on Fire Hall Road.
The public notice also indicated the full text of both documents are available for review on the township’s web site at: www.warriorsmarkpa.org and by appointment by contacting the township secretary at 684-2144.