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Sully County Awarded $22,500

By Staff | Mar 18, 2009

Sullivan County has been awarded a $22,500 state grant to update its comprehensive plan, the state Department of Community and Economic Development announced Tuesday.

The updated plan will provide guidance to the county in a range of areas in the coming years, said Bradford County Commissioner Betty Reibson and county planner Michael Hufnagel.

“This will give us a planning tool for a lot of future activities,” Hufnagel told the Daily Review. “Especially now, with the Marcellus Shale development, (it is being done) at a very opportune time.”

The county’s comprehensive plan was written in the 1980s, and has not been updated since then, Hufnagel said.

The plan will make recommendations in a range of areas, such as transportation improvements, economic development strategies for the county, and ways to address the county’s housing needs, according to the written information provided by Hufnagel.

The plan will, among other things, make recommendations for educational, recreational, municipal, and sewer and water facilities, according to the information.

One of the purposes of the plan is to identify “problems areas, which we may proceed in the future to address, and those could be anything from land development to roadways,” Reibson said.

Gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale is expected to increase commercial and residential development in the area, Hufnagel said. If the county pursued countywide zoning, the comprehensive plan would provide direction on how various districts within the county would be zoned, he said. The zoning would regulate how the commercial and residential development would occur, he said.

“It’s a requirement (from the state) that counties update their comprehensive plans, and with the money we’re getting from the state, we’ll be able to do that at a very low cost to the county,” Reibson said.

And by identifying needed improvements for the county in its comprehensive plan, it will be easier for the county in the future to secure state and federal funding to implement those improvements, she said.

“If funding became available” for a certain type of project, “we would not be the only county looking for that funding, ” Reibson explained. “There is always a competitive application process. But if you can show that you’ve done some work to identify the needs for the future (and the comprehensive plan shows a need for the funding), you’re chances are much better” to secure the funding, she said.

The county is hiring a consultant, Cummings & Smith Inc. of Montgomery, Pa., to work on the plan, Hufnagel said.

Among the duties of Cummings & Smith will be to conduct interviews and, with input from the public and others, develop goals and objectives for the county, Hufnagel said.

Public’s views

There will be “a lot of public participation” in the creation of the comprehensive plan, Hufnagel said. “Public participation is a key component” in the creation of the plan, he said.

“We’re going to go around to various groups and organizations to see how they view Sullivan now and into the future,” Hufnagel said.

Other methods for securing public input for the plan will also be used, such as a public meetings and public hearings, according to the written information from Hufnagel.

Input and guidance for the plan will be provided by a Project Advisory Committee, whose members are expected to include elected officials and community leaders from stakeholder groups in the county, according to the information.

The county is required to match the state grant with a local match, which will consist of county dollars and in-kind services performed by the county government, such as the creation of GIS maps and the printing of documents, Hufnagel said.

Some of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources funding for the creation of an open space and greenways plan for Sullivan, Wyoming, Susquehanna and Tioga counties will be used for the local match, because aspects of that plan will be incorporated into the update of the comprehensive plan, Hufnagel said.

He said that work on the plan is expected to begin soon and be completed within a year.