Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

HBG Planning Commission sets two public meetings as comprehensive plan effort nears final phase

An aerial view of Harrisburg

After years of delay, Harrisburg’s draft comprehensive plan appears to be nearing completion, with the city scheduling two virtual public presentations next week.

Using the Zoom conferencing platform, the city Planning Commission plans to split up the 246-page document, now called “HBG2020,” into two parts.

On Sept. 14, the commission will present the following chapters: the introduction, land use and community facilities, energy and utilities, mobility and access, and economic development.

On Sept. 16, the commission will present chapters on parks, open and civic space, historic and cultural resources, housing, and integration and implementation.

A public comment period will follow the presentations.

In its draft, the planning commission characterizes the comprehensive plan as a document that sets general planning guidelines.

“The City of Harrisburg 2020 Comprehensive Plan (HBG2020) sets forth the framework necessary for orderly growth and development reflecting the community’s values today, while anticipating the needs, wants, and desires of future generations,” according to the document. “Without guided growth and development, overcrowding, congestion, safety, community identity, and an overall deterioration of the current quality of life may result.”

Harrisburg’s current comprehensive plan dates back to 1974. The effort to draft a new plan began in 2014. After numerous community meetings in 2016, the effort hit a roadblock due to disagreements between the city and the architect it had hired to draft the plan. In 2018, the commission took the project in-house to complete it.

According to the current timeline, the commission expects to vote on the draft plan at the end of September. That will open up a 45-day public review and comment period. The document then moves to Harrisburg City Council for final changes and, ultimately, a vote, which the city hopes to hold by year-end.

The draft plan contains many ideas, concepts and goals for Harrisburg over the next 10 to 20 years.

For instance, it suggests the development of “Market Mews” near the Broad Street Market, which would promote development of a “pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use core” of residential and commercial uses. Other ideas include refreshment kiosks in Riverfront Park, a “City Square” mixed-use development along Market Street east of the train station, a downtown gateway and a new “Meander Park” on Allison Hill.

The draft, though, emphasizes that these are proposals, not mandates, and should serve mostly as guidance for future planning and zoning efforts.

“HBG2020 is a guidance document,” according to the plan’s introduction. “At its nucleus are Harrisburg’s collective vision and values, which provide a foundation for future direction.”

The “HBG2020” virtual presentation and public meeting will be held Sept. 14 and Sept. 16, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It will be conducted via the Zoom virtual platform, which can be accessed via , password: 0920. 

Click here to read Harrisburg’s draft comprehensive plan.

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