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United Way of Lancaster County


City Council poised to adopt ‘Our Future Lancaster,’ first city comprehensive plan since 1993

(Source: City of Lancaster | OUL)

City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday evening to approve “Our Future Lancaster,” Lancaster’s new comprehensive plan, providing the first complete overhaul of the city’s overarching vision and development strategy in three decades.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at City Hall, 120 N. Duke St. It includes a public hearing on the plan, an element of the adoption process required by state law. A vote on a resolution adopting the plan is the third and final item on council’s legislative agenda.

(One hour earlier, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, City Council’s finance committee is holding a special meeting to review the city’s 2022 audit report.)

Development of the comprehensive plan has been under way for two years. Among other things, city officials have emphasized the extensive efforts made to incorporate public input, which yielded over 14,000 responses online, in person and by phone.

The full plan is available on the website, along with various supporting documentation. In an introduction, Mayor Danene Sorace describes it as “a vision for a stronger, more equitable Lancaster.”

This chart from “Our Future Lancaster” shows how a comprehensive plan relates to other municipal plans and programs. Click to enlarge. (Source: City of Lancaster)

It calls for adjusting city regulations to increase the variety and affordability of housing stock and to foster small business development in commercial corridors and increase environmental resiliency.

It calls for a fresh approach to the Conestoga River that respects its ecological integrity while taking advantage of its recreational potential.

The city’s Planning Commission formally recommended the plan in August. Its vote included a provision for commission members and city staff to conduct one more look at the “urban center” boundary in the plan’s future land use map.

That review took place, and the boundary’s southern edge was adjusted slightly “to include some redevelopment opportunities,” Chief Planner Douglas Smith said. The commission subsequently reviewed and approved the amended map. There have been no other substantive changes.

The initial (left) and revised (right) southern boundary, in red, of the “urban center” in the comprehensive plan’s future land use map. Click to enlarge. (Source: City of Lancaster)

The city’s existing comprehensive plan dates to 1993. Paula Jackson, the now-retired chief planner who supervised its development, has spoken strongly in favor of its successor.

At City Council’s Oct. 2 committee meeting, several community advocates quizzed Chris Delfs, director of Community Planning & Economic Development, about the plan’s potential to advance the welfare of marginalized communities and redress the inequality stemming from past plans and policies.

“Even if we have a great desire and a great intent today, it doesn’t repair past harms,” Dr. Cherise Hamblin, founder of Patients R Waiting, said.

Delfs said his team was acutely aware of those issues, and sincerely tried to put equity at the forefront of the public input process and the plan that resulted.

“I do hope we succeeded,” he said.