How will Rock Lititz impact regional growth? Work on comprehensive plan continues

By on September 26, 2012

By: BRITTANY SMITH Special to the Record Express, Staff Writer

Last month’s presentation of the Sustainable Communities Assessments (SCA) by Brandywine Conservancy sparked a lively conversation among committee members. From discussing the effects of global warming and climate change to community health and safety, the committee brainstormed on ideas and solutions for our ever-changing environment.

Finding unique ways to provide public education on sustainable practices was a major concept that was discussed. A gradual shift toward healthier practices for our environment could include business or home incentives to get us on the right track. Perhaps a solution is finding a way to increase economic development initiatives and improve sustainability, such as creating a "green" job sector. The SCA made several recommendations for municipalities to review sections of their ordinances and policies. While it may be hard to predict the future, having a good plan for the region will be key in adjusting to new trends or a varying economy. Many of those recommendations are being considered and will be incorporated into a new comprehensive plan for the region, set to be adopted by early 2013.

The topic of September’s meeting focused on economic development. There are two facets to economic development: to retain businesses and to encourage new businesses to locate in this area.

What would this community look like if one our major employers decided to relocate? How will the new Rock Lititz campus affect other parts of our community? The committee is tasked with asking these important questions to consider how our community will embrace fluctuation with the economy and evolving trends.

Lititz is characterized by its mixed use development and thriving downtown business district, at a time where many other downtowns remain empty. Venture Lititz plays a large part the economic vitality of the downtown. In fact, the non-profit was formed as a program out of the last update to the comprehensive plan in 2006. If you have ever walked around the shops during 2nd Friday, bought your produce on a Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market or watched the Rock Lititz bike race, it was in part because of Venture Lititz, which serves as the behind-the-scenes support of the downtown and its retailers. As a result of their efforts, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Lititz a "Distinctive Destination" in 2009. Venture Lititz continues to grow, focusing on the downtown businesses and events that support the area. By the start of next year, Venture Lititz will be evolving beyond a downtown focus.

Aside from downtown Lititz, Warwick and Elizabeth townships also have much to offer. This region currently has four main industry clusters: entertainment, agriculture, health and general industry, much of which is unique to this area. Take for example the expansion of the Rock Lititz campus, a facility that will be the first of its kind in the world. It will make a significant impact, potentially adding up to 500 jobs. Those employees will need housing, recreation and services. Among those, amenities like hotel lodging and more dining options will be needed. How will our region be affected by this and what can we do to make it more welcoming to others, whether they are visitors or new residents?

In the coming years, these industries will continue to grow and expand. Planners for this region are looking ahead now to keep the community’s best interest at hand so that the region continues to grow in a healthy, vibrant manner.

In order to understand the current trends, the next steering committee meeting will be analyzing consumer spending data as well as other relevant census data. It will shed some light on where residents and visitors spend their dollars and how we can best keep the money circulating locally.

A comprehensive planning meeting was held at the Heart of Lancaster from 7 to 9 a.m. on Sept. 27.

The presentations and discussion topics will be listed on the IMPACT 2017 Facebook page, and links to the documents are provided on the Borough and Township websites. Everyone in the Warwick School District community is welcome to share their ideas and participate in the planning process.

Brittany Smith is a Local Government Intern for Warwick Township. Her e-mail address is bsmith@warwicktownship.org. More PLANNING, page A6