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3 towns buttoning up comprehensive plan

Upper Makefield, Wrightstown and Newtown townships spent five years on it


Admittedly, municipal comprehensive plans don’t have the page-turning appeal of a good thriller novel.

Still, John Grisham probably isn’t going to help manage development and land preservation in your township; it’s those comprehensive plans, created by municipal authorities, that provide a guiding role and recommendations on how land should be utilized to best meet the needs and wants of communities.

As such, they’re important documents — and the townships of Wrightstown, Newtown and Upper Makefield are nearing the end of an approximately five-year process for developing the joint comprehensive plan for their municipalities, which handle such matters collectively.

The Wrightstown Board of Supervisors approved the new comprehensive plan May 6.

Newtown Township and Upper Makefield are expected to vote this month on the document.

Wrightstown Supervisor Chester Pogonowski said comprehensive plans must be reviewed every 10 years and the towns’ last update was in 2009. The new one has been under review since 2019.

The plan contains, he said, nine guiding principles: promote smart growth; promote sustainable development and protect natural resources; provide for mobility and connections; preserve open space and protect agriculture; preserve villages; protect historic resources; sustain and support the local commercial and jobs base; offer parks and recreation; and build and maintain livable communities.

Pogonowski said one notable takeaway is that there’s adequate land zoned for residential use in the three municipalities to accommodate anticipated population growth. A little more than 150 housing units are needed to meet the projected increase; nearly 1,000 units could be built on land currently within residential zoning.

The plan also looked at nonresidential uses.

“There is some discussion regarding adaptive reuse and infill development of commercial and office space in Newtown,” Pogonowski said. “This has initiated discussions by Newtown to provide some additional residential/commercial mixed usages in the LI Light Industrial district, which are the subject of current ordinance reviews later this year.” 

In the wake of COVID-19 and because of other factors, a new addition to the plan focused on hazard mitigation.

“Recommendations were added to stress the importance of municipal cooperation throughout the countywide hazard mitigation planning process,” said Pogonowski. “There were also lessons learned following pandemic response related to disruptions of business and government operations and the need for coordination with the county, state and federal agencies.

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