Hallmarks of a successful community
By SALLEY CORRIGAN, director of the Pike County Office of Community Planning
Planning is a valuable tool that can inspire a community to become a better place to work and live. Luther Propst
Hallmarks of Successful Communities are guidelines for producing on-the-ground results through the design and management of a local planning process. These hallmarks explain that:
• Successful communities develop a broadly shared vision of the future based on an accurate understanding of the local economy and assets. They build this vision by engaging diverse community interests and working with partners to foster informed dialogue and addressing issues.
• Successful communities understand how local natural and cultural assets influence and are affected by population growth and development. They learn about their natural and cultural assets and respond to impacts development can have on those resources by designing land use policies that will maintain local assets while accommodating population growth and economic change.
• Successful communities understand their own economy within the context of the region and nation. They respond to economic change by assembling local demographic and economic data and designing economic development strategies based on a realistic community assessment possibilities.
• Successful communities effectively manage growth and change by using a wide variety of both regulatory and non-regulatory strategies and tools to protect and enhance local assets. They promote land use patterns that sustain a viable central business district and traditional neighborhoods and preserve open space, anticipating the infrastructure needs generated by population growth and land use change.
• Successful communities value leadership and cultivate local leaders who can help realize their vision.
Although these hallmarks of success are stated simply, local officials should realize that a successful planning process, which provides an action-oriented plan, can be a challenging endeavor. Committed county and local leadership combined with active and engaged local residents are a critical component of any planning process.
Pike County is at a key juncture in its planning efforts. The Pike County Commissioners, the planning commission and local citizens have been working for the past two years to develop a comprehensive plan to guide the county through the next 10 years of growth and beyond. Every effort was made to involve local citizens, to identify the key issues and challenges facing the county and to address these issues with strategies that will protect and highlight our community assets, provide for realistic economic development and effective management of the growth and change. That plan, Growing Naturally, will be released soon for public review and comment.
The success of this plan, however, will rely heavily on the implementation of its key policies and actions. The county has already embarked upon several of the next steps to accomplish this.
The development of a County Open Space, Greenways and Recreation Plan in 2006 will set criteria for a network of greenways and open space areas that will assist our communities in blending their important natural, historic and rural assets with their economic development objectives. The passage of the Pike County Scenic Rural Character Preservation Bond referendum on November 8 by a more than 68 percent affirmative vote has laid the groundwork for funding of both increased municipal planning and acquisition of key greenway and open space parcels identified through the county and municipal open space planning process. The development of a region-wide Upper Delaware Land Use computer-generated growth model developed through a regional partnership will provide a clear visual projection of where and how growth will occur in the area over the next 25 to 30 years. This forecasting model will provide a dynamic planning tool for local officials and planning commissions.
Pike County is moving forward to meet the needs of our communities for the future. How local residents and elected officials achieve the future depends on the planning and land use decisions we all make now. Planning achieved by following the hallmarks of successful communities can mean a successful future.