Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg City Council approves new comprehensive plan, ending years-long drafting process

An outdated Harrisburg planning document has finally been updated and replaced following a seven-year-long process.

On Tuesday, Harrisburg City Council approved a new comprehensive plan, capping years of effort to bring the plan into the 21st century.

The resolution passed 6-1, with council member Danielle Bowers voting against it.

“I appreciate all the work of everyone on this council, and I’m glad we are at least able to get something on the books so that we can start moving forward,” council member Westburn Majors said.

The previous comprehensive plan was created in 1974, serving more than double its intended lifespan of 20 years.

In 2014, Harrisburg began to discuss creating a new plan, but was faced with years of delay. A dispute between the city and a former consultant hired to draft the plan prolonged the process, as did extensions to the public comment period.

The 246-page document is meant to help guide growth and development in the city. It includes topics such as land use, housing, mobility, parks, energy and cultural resources.

Over the years, the city held numerous public hearings and meetings on the comprehensive plan, generating comments from community members.

Bowers explained her vote against the plan, saying that it was not accessible enough and lacked sufficient up-to-date public commentary.

“I don’t understand how a document is supposed to accurately reflect a city today when a majority of the public engagement is already dated and occurred five or six years ago,” she said. “I do not believe this document works for the city of Harrisburg.”

Other council members agreed that the plan could use improvements, but stated that it is a “living document” and could be updated on a regular basis in the years to come.

“This isn’t the best, but it is way better than a 40-plus-year-old document,” Majors said.

View Harrisburg’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan, here.

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