Impact of regional plan update? Downtown Lititz as a gathering place, walkable communities, historical preservation, experimental business opportunities
GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
At Tuesday night’s Lititz Borough Council meeting, members voted unanimously to endorse and approve the area’s most recent version of the joint strategic plan, known as IMPACT 2017.
Prior to Tuesday night’s vote, the council meeting was adjourned so that a special, required public hearing could be held so that the general public could comment and ask questions on the proposed plan. Nobody from the public attended or commented on it.
IMPACT 2017 is the latest update to the Lititz/Warwick Joint Strategic Comprehensive Plan, the first of which was adopted in 2000. One significant change to this plan is the inclusion of Elizabeth Township in the development and planning, joining Lititz Borough and Warwick Township.
"The plan is unique in the sense that it draws three very different municipalities together with common goals," explained Lititz Borough Manager Sue Ann Barry.
The plan is focused on five different categories:
Housing and Development
Built and Natural Infrastructure
Community Services and Quality of Life
Education and Outreach
Barry provided a sampling of goals with strategies to be undertaken in the next five to 10 years.
Under the first category, Housing and Development, the plan calls for the region to encourage reinvestment/redevelopment by removing barriers, with a strong emphasis placed on properties in the established urban growth areas. It also calls on the municipalities to provide affordable opportunities for local residents while promoting walkable communities.
Regarding Built and Natural Infrastructure, the plan calls for municipalities to promote and strengthen the Lititz Borough Historical District, as well as other historical properties of the region. It also plans to establish formal mechanisms and assistance at the local level to strive to effectively protect historical and archeological resources.
Under Economic Development, plans call for municipalities to continue to promote and strengthen business opportunities in downtown Lititz as the central hub and "gathering place" for the region, while preserving the community character. This includes identifying and promoting economic development opportunities related to an aging population. It also calls for efforts to promote "experiential" business opportunities while respecting those opportunities that currently exist in the region.
Council President Karen Weibel commented on the process following the vote.
"My sincere thanks to all the people who served on committees and sub-committees at endless meetings," she said. "My thanks to staff for all their hard work as well."
In other council news, the special committee which had been working to revise and adopt a rental inspection ordinance reported back on progress made since the public hearing held at last month’s council meeting.
The committee met along with both landlords and tenants from the community to discuss concerns and make various changes and adjustments to parts of the proposed law.
One area in particular that has been improved upon was the wording in regard to tenant misconduct. Specifically, the original ordinance had wording which read: "Not allow the residential rental unit to be occupied by more than four (4) persons unrelated to all the others by blood, marriage, adoption or legal foster relationship."
Under the proposed changes, that wording would be changed to: "Not allow the residential rental unit to be occupied in a way that conflicts with the Borough Zoning Ordinance."
"We took a look at various possible scenarios and wanted to make sure we were not inadvertently excluding anyone," Todd Fulginiti, committee chairman, said.
In addition, the committee will recommend a second 30-day notice for landlords to correct issues and bring non-compliant properties up to standard. This change ensures landlords have ample time to receive and respond to any non-compliance notices.
"In reviewing the proposed ordinance, listening to the concerns of the community and reviewing this with the solicitor, what we are proposing will be even more in keeping with similar ordinances adopted in other municipalities," Fulginiti said.
Weibel commented on the changes.
"I understand the second 30-day notice, but if you cannot get these issues together in 60 days, then perhaps (property owners) should reconsider their being a landlord," she said.
The proposed changes also eliminated references concerning the code enforcement officer investigating disruptive conduct reports. Fellow committee member Doug Bomberger felt that upon further review it made more sense for these matters to be police investigative matters and not fall under the responsibility of the code enforcement officer.
Borough solicitors reviewed the proposed changes and said the borough would need to re-advertise the proposed ordinance for public review, culminating in yet another public hearing on just those issues being changed. Council approved the re-advertisement. The next public hearing on the matter will be held at the June 25 council meeting. Voting on the matter could take place as early as that same meeting.
More BOROUGH COUNCIL, page A18