Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

It’s Here: Harrisburg’s draft comprehensive plan released

State Street in Harrisburg

The long-awaited draft of Harrisburg’s comprehensive plan was released publicly today, setting out major priorities, concepts and ideas for everything from utilities to economic development.

The city Planning Commission posted the draft plan online, with eight sections tackling many aspects of city life and development.

The plan is thick with ideas on how to improve and revitalize the city, including adding more green space, preserving historic buildings and revitalizing blighted and depopulated areas.

The “Land Use” chapter alone, for instance, contains dozens of separate ideas, including:

  • Extending the dense downtown to former industrial areas along Paxton Creek.
  • Building a system of public squares at points where commercial and residential areas intersect.
  • Creating Meander Park, a large new park on Allison Hill along a former railroad spur.
  • Adding vibrancy to Market Square, increasing “Class A” office space downtown and vastly improving the city’s northern and southern gateways.

The $200,000 draft document is the culmination of about 2½ years of work and frustration, as the city and its consultant, Bret Peters of the Harrisburg-based Office for Planning and Architecture, feuded at various points over scope, resources and payment.

Originally, the city expected a draft in about 10 months, but disputes pushed the project far beyond the original deadline and led the city to try to finish up the draft plan itself. Peters eventually did submit a finished draft to the Planning Commission, and, earlier this month, commission members voted unanimously to use his document as the final working draft.

The commission is now accepting public comments on the draft and will hold a public hearing on Jan. 10. Following the meeting, the commission will make final changes to the document before voting whether or not to accept it. If it passes, the plan will go on to City Council, which will hold its own review and public hearings, before casting a deciding vote.

Ordinarily, cities adopt comprehensive plans for periods of about 10 to 15 years. Harrisburg’s, however, dates back to 1974, making it practically useless today.

Click here to read the draft comprehensive plan and add your comments.

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