After successfully completing the Planning District process with Westmoreland County, Central Westmoreland municipalities are pressing ahead to explore alternatives for multi-municipal cooperation.
The committee will simultaneously investigate and deploy intergovernmental activities via agreement and do the necessary research and planning to establish a Council of Governments. The committee expects to complete its work establishing a Council of Governments by September 1, 2024.
The first project to be accomplished via agreement is to establish a multi-municipal Uniform Construction Code Board of Appeals. Currently 7 municipalities have expressed interest and have been provided a model agreement.
A Uniform Construction Code Board of Appeals is required by Pennsylvania law for municipalities that have adopted the Uniform Construction Code. Municipalities are permitted to partner to fulfill their responsibility to provide Board of Appeals. This provides assistance to municipalities in empaneling a qualified board to provide consistent, efficient and expert hearings and reviews.
Each participating municipality will convene the Board of Appeals when a case presents itself. All fees will be collected and distributed by the participating municipality. Once a COG is formed, those administrative duties may be turned over to the COG if the members would prefer that. Additionally, after the Board of Appeals is established, more municipalities may participate in the Board of Appeals program by adopting the required agreement.
The decisions we make concerning transportation are largely dependent upon and influenced by our land use decisions. This is why we worked from the Future Land Use Map and the established land use priorities to help guide the identification of transportation projects throughout the district. During the mobility planning process, we’re looking to better connect our communities by utilizing best practices, integrating technologies, increasing walkability and bikeability, improving passenger rail, enhancing trails, and more.
At our last meeting in South Greensburg, communities examined how they can align their mobility priorities to their land use priorities to develop a tangible list of projects, at the ready for various funding opportunities. Project categories included roads, bridges, active, and safety & operations.
Throughout the planning district process with the CPD, you can hopefully see how certain themes or priorities have played out at each stage. As land use and mobility are inextricably linked, both the Future Land Use Map and Transportation Projects Map will help ensure any future transportation policy, investments, projects, and improvements are compatible with the CPD’s land use priorities.
Next, we’ll continue to explore how we can address these common priorities through intergovernmental cooperation. Join us for our next meeting on August 25, 2022 @ 6:00 PM at the City of Latrobe, 901 Jefferson Street, Latrobe, PA 15650. Please RSVP here.
Over the course of the last several months, your input has aided in the creation of the following Future Land Use Map for the central Westmoreland region. Together, your respective municipalities have identified areas for Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation.
At the last Central Planning District meeting on May 26th, we conducted a survey of land use priorities among municipalities. Together, we looked at strategies from Reimagining Our Westmoreland (see below) as they pertain to key issues that have been identified throughout the planning process such as blight, beautification, parks and recreation, downtowns, etc.
Central Planning District Land Use Strategies
In our last meeting we asked the team to think of the three objectives: Preserve, Enhance, and Transform. Preservation has the least amount of change, with the emphasis being put on keeping existing last uses including open space and natural resources. Enhancement has a bit more change associated with it, being used for areas such as stable neighborhoods or urban centers that might just need a facelift or small improvements. The third objective, transform, is associated with a significant amount of change. This land use objective works well for redevelopment sites like brownfields, disinvested urban cores, and more.
Previously, attendees marked areas of the district that they wanted to see either preserved, enhanced, or transformed. Our next step is investigating strategies to help achieve those goals.
The County’s Comprehensive Plan, Reimagining Our Westmoreland, has many land use strategies sprinkled throughout. We encourage you to take look through them to see which ones are a priority, and which ones you think can be applied throughout the Central Planning District. For example, Strategy 5.1 is to Eliminate Blight. Would that be a strategy your community could use? Could you see it being used in the entire district?
Land Use Strategies:
1.6 Provide Development-Ready Sites
2.4 Grow Local
2.5 Develop Recreational Destinations
3.1 Invest in Downtowns
3.2 Provide Housing Options
3.4 Utilize Planning Best Practices
3.5 Direct Density
4.1 Enhance Trail Systems
4.2 Make Parks Welcoming & Accessible
4.3 Preserve Open Space & Protect Natural Assets
4.4 Improve & Sustain Water Resources
5.1 Eliminate Blight
5.2 Invest in Beautification
5.3 Go Green
At the next meeting, we will discuss and prioritize these strategies. Identifying priorities will then help to develop the final plan for the Central District, incorporating the future land use map created by the team, with the top strategies for how to implement those goals. Please RSVP for our next meeting 6:00 PM on May 26, 2022 in Arona Borough at St Marks Lutheran Church, 2094 Main Street, Arona, PA 15617.
In our communities and across the Central Planning District, we’ve got unique places and areas that present opportunities for preservation, enhancement, and transformation. By thinking about the locations and places worth connecting to and within, the places that matter to us – where we live, work, worship, learn, and play, we can position our communities to be places of interest and investment.
How we use our land determines our communities’ character and sets the stage for development. Successful places balance land use priorities as well as the financial, environmental, and social impacts of growth and development.
Where do you see your community in the future? What do you want it to be?
Guided by a set of principles and the objectives of preservation, enhancement, and transformation, ensure your community is represented by attending the upcoming meeting where we develop a future land use map for the 15 communities of the district.
The purpose of land use planning in the planning district process is to take steps that will attract, develop, and retain a diverse and stable workforce that will sustain a healthy economy. Take part in this critical step in the process.
RSVP for our next meeting at Unity Township at 6:00 PM on Thursday, April 28.
What places matter to you in your community? Come map and discuss them on April 28.
Thanks to continued participation from the municipal officials of the Central Planning District, with just three meetings complete, we are beginning to understand what drives the Central Westmoreland team. Although each community has its own unique and separate characteristics, many also overlap and inform the Central Planning District as a whole.
At the February 23rd meeting, we asked municipal officials to participate in a team WIKI (“What I Know Is”) exercise where participants paired up to ask each other a series of questions, practicing curiosity to get a better understanding of what makes fellow team members tick. From this exercise, it is clear that Central Westmoreland team members share several of the same values, motivations, and expectations of others.
Results from the team WIKI were shared at the March 24th meeting. Together, we learned that the most important things to the Central Westmoreland team are community, safety, and quality of life. We also learned that the Central Westmoreland team gets energy from community participation and tackling projects that make a difference. Compiling team statements helped to summarize what was learned from the exercise. These statements generally fall into four buckets: honesty, sincerity, participation, and respect.
The Central Westmoreland team is one that:
Don’t forget to join us at the next meeting on Thursday, April 28th, 2022, at 6:00 PM at the Unity Township municipal building, located at 154 Beatty County Road, Latrobe, PA 15650. Municipal officials can RSVP here.
Apathy or aspiration. Defeatism or determination. Settle for and maintain the status quo or spurred to affect change.
One of the exciting things about Reimagining Our Westmoreland is the notion of reimagining. To think about something we know in a different way. This can be done concerning both where we live, and how we lead.
At the last meeting, we briefly discussed “communities of choice” or “choice communities” outside of the county and region. With respect to today’s technology and remote working options – why would someone live here? However, the Central District (and greater county), is home to various places – all with something to offer. Whether it’s Amenities, Beauty, Character, or the rest of a quality & place-based alphabet, it’s there. Has it been nurtured and developed and is well-displayed? Or is there untapped potential? And it’s important to note that not every community has to have or be everything, but rather they can support and complement each other. Otherwise, we’d all be the same.
As local leaders, how do we get to that place – both, the quality community and place we want to be, and also the impactful leader we’re called to be? It can be challenging to think of governance in a new and imaginative way. One way to do so is to think about a definition of good governance that is made up of two parts: a technical part, and an adaptive part.
The technical part is embodied by the practices and procedures to get the work of local government done, ranging from administration to infrastructure to planning. Numerous aspects of local government are practical and important. And practical doesn’t mean easy.
The adaptive part may be less familiar, but it is equally important! It’s where we have a transformed view and solve problems. It is where local government’s work is relevant and valuable to residents in an ever-changing world. It is where we reimagine.
But in a sense, we are the same. As you may have noticed during our meetings and discussions thus far, the issues, challenges, and tasks we’re facing as local leaders are quite similar. And that’s the value of this Planning District process. As we continue, a host of technical and adaptive topics may come up. Two important things to remember are: 1) Reimagining is about how we look at things and adapt to our circumstances; and 2) As we look at both the technical and adaptive sides of local government, is what is important meaningful for the communities involved?
As we go through the Planning District process we’ll explore how we can lead and plan differently – what do you want your community to be, and how do we get there.
At the March 24, 2022 meeting we will review what constitutes and drives the Central Planning District as a team and the results and findings from the municipal surveys. This will help with both the technical and the adaptive aspects of future agendas.
Reminder, survey responses are due March 18. Complete the survey here.
All elected and appointed officials are vital contributors to the discussion. Please RSVP for our next meeting here.
We were thrilled at the turnout for the Central Planning District kickoff meeting, which was held on January 27th, 2022! Thanks to strong participation and representation from Arona, Greensburg, Latrobe, Hempfield, New Stanton, South Greensburg, Southwest Greensburg, Unity, Youngstown, and Youngwood, we were able to begin exploring the Planning District concept as it is laid out in Reimagining Our Westmoreland.
At the event, Planning and Development Director, Jason Rigone, welcomed municipal representatives and thanked them for their willingness and commitment to participate in the shared process. Westmoreland County Commissioners, Sean Kertes, Doug Chew, and Gina Cerilli Thrasher, showed their support for the process by attending the event. County commissioners commended local officials for their leadership in working together and emphasized the importance of local official participation in this process to better address common challenges across communities and to implement the comprehensive plan at the local level.
Deputy Director, Daniel Carpenter, presented a detailed look at the county's population and workforce challenges, common opportunities, and provided and overview of Reimagining Our Westmoreland’s over-arching goal, core objectives, and strategies.
Local government consultant, Susan Hockenberry, guided attendees through an ice breaker exercise to begin to understand how communities work together. Through this exercise, we learned that the communities of the Central Planning District are already working together by sharing services such as recreation, code enforcement, police, and emergency medical services.
If you missed the first meeting, that’s alright, you can view a previously recorded version of the presentation here. We encourage you to join us at the next meeting on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022, at 6:00 PM at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, 221 N Main St, Greensburg, PA 15601. Municipal officials can RSVP here.
The economy of an area provides residents with jobs and supports a tax base, but what truly defines our local economies? While the quality and quantity of jobs support our quality of life, it’s the quantity and quality of the labor force that defines our local economies. For the county, employment change has been relatively modest over the last decade or more. Despite a population loss of almost 20,000 people countywide, there was an increase of 1.4% or 1,786 jobs from 2002 to 2015.
When looking at employment change within specific Planning Districts, depending on the size of the employment base, differences can be both great and small. Greater swings of employment change tend to be seen in areas with a smaller employment base. For the Central Planning District, employment has been declining over the last decade. From 2002 to 2015, employment in the district has declined by almost 3% or 1,556 jobs.
Taking a closer look at employment industries within the Central Planning District, health care and social assistance is the largest industry, making up roughly 20% of all jobs with retail trade and manufacturing rounding out the top three industries. Industry strengths are typified by the concentration of a particular industry in an area when compared to a larger area. The Central Planning District, when compared nationally, has a higher concentration of jobs in educational services, utilities, and transportation and warehousing. When compared to the county, management of companies and enterprises is a regional strength worth noting for the district.
Although countywide average wages have increased by 8% from 2000 to 2017, Central Planning District average wages have stayed mostly flat, with an increase of about .6% since 2000. The dip in wages from 2000 to 2017 suggests the Great Recession impacted wages to a greater extent for the Central District than for the county as a whole.
While wage, employment, and labor force trends within the Central Planning District have been relatively flat or declining when compared to the county over the last decade, through the Planning District process, together we can develop strategies specific to the Central Planning District to further its economic and employment goals.
Don’t forget to join us at the kickoff meeting for the Central Planning District on Thursday, January 27th, 2022 at 6:30 PM at the Westmoreland County Courthouse, 2 N Main St., Greensburg, PA 15601. Municipal officials are invited to attend, please RSVP here.
Housing is one of the most basic components of any community. It plays a significant role in a community’s physical and social environment from providing shelter to building neighborhood connections.
During the creation of Reimagining Our Westmoreland, when asked for top housing priorities, residents across the county clearly expressed townhomes, apartments, and condominiums as a top priority. When asked about their perceptions of housing needs in the county, the overwhelming response was that we needed to add a mixture of housing options. Additionally, the location of these options are important as residents voiced strong support for better transportation choices, whether that was by car, train, bus, bike, or foot.
Despite residents’ reported housing priorities, the data shows that since 2000, there has been a higher percent increase in single-family housing units compared to townhomes, apartments, and condominiums, 78%, and 22% respectively.
Through the Planning District process and plan implementation, the Central Planning District will analyze historical trends and assess community growth projections to identify potential strategies to address short-term and long-term housing needs while reflecting the needs, wants, and priorities of residents.
The first meeting is on January 27th, 2022 at 6:30 PM. Municipal officials are invited to RSVP here.