Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Moving Ahead: Despite criticism, HBG Planning Commission sticks with comprehensive plan draft.

Pages from the proposed comprehensive plan.

The Harrisburg Planning Commission tonight made plans to advance the city’s comprehensive plan towards completion, a process that could last into the summer.

The commission’s meeting tonight was its first since it held a public hearing on the comprehensive plan in January. City officials and business developers excoriated the plan at that meeting, saying it limited the discretion of private property owners. Mayor Eric Papenfuse called the document “unsalvageable” and urged the commission to reject it in favor of a plan proposed by the city.

This evening, commissioners hardly mentioned the planning document submitted by the city, except to ask if and when it had been published online.

“We’re moving ahead with our product,” said commissioner Vern McKissick, referring to the document that the commission developed with local architect Bret Peters and his assistants at the Harrisburg-based Office for Planning and Architecture.

The commission will host monthly workshop meetings for the next three months to incorporate public feedback and professional advice into the draft document, which is published online at They hope to reengage some of the consultants that Peters hired while drafting the document in 2015 and 2016.

To do that, however, they’ll need to secure additional funding. They already have $10,000 allotted by City Council in the 2018 city budget, but McKissick said they will likely need more to consult with subcontractors and see the plan to completion. Commissioners will evaluate grants and other funding opportunities at a workshop later this month.

Commissioners are also waiting on legal representation to determine the standing between the city and Peters, who sparred about payments and deadlines while the plan was being drafted. Peters maintains that he suspended the contract, but city Solicitor Neil Grover has insisted that it was terminated after he failed to uphold his terms. McKissick said that a city-appointed attorney appeared before the commission once last year, but he hopes to find other representation in the coming months.

McKissick wasn’t sure how long it would take to edit the document and submit it to council for final approval. Commissioners will rely on comments from the January public hearing to edit the document, as well as feedback submitted via the BeHbg website. They reported tonight that correspondence from residents about the plan was scant.

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