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Work on comprehensive plan continues

(12/29)  From new development, to increased population size, to a possible collector road, the town Planning and Zoning Committee debated on Dec. 12 a variety of issues that will be laid out in the new comprehensive plan.

The meeting began on the topic of growth, with population size predicted to increase by 2,600 people over the next 30 years. Planning consultant Christopher Jakubiak said the town should expect to have a 2.3 percent annual increase in dwelling units, "which is not aggressive by any means." He noted, "The town of Emmitsburg can expect about 1,100 new households from now until the year 2030."

The big question was how the town would accommodate the influx of residents. With little land left in the town that could be developed, it was decided that future development would have to occur through annexation.

Jakubiak pointed out three parcels of land, the Bollinger property, Silver Fancy Farm, and the Fraley property, within the growth boundary that could be annexed for development. By developing 3.5 units per acre on these parcels, the town could accommodate roughly 800 of the 1,100 homes expected.

The next big topic of the night was possible inclusion in the plan of a bypass, or collector road, which would help divert traffic flowing from Pennsylvania to U.S. 15. The road would also ease new traffic from the potential developments. "I think it's an important road if development happens," said Jakubiak.

Other topics discussed were the importance of preserving a greenbelt around town and the creation of a trail system connecting outlying developments to Main Street as well as to each other.

Jakubiak also brought up, after speaking with a representative from Mount St. Mary's University, that they would like to see cooperation in developing a trail system that would give students walking access to the town.

With a projected increase of around 750 more students in the next 20 years, there would be an increased need for student housing. There was also talk of a possible mixed-use zone developed for student housing as well as commercial facilities. "This may not happen in 20 years, but it may, and the plan would allow for that," said Jakubiak.

Jakubiak and Associates will take information gathered from the meeting and draw up a draft of the final chapter of the plan, expected to be completed in January. The committee invites the public to attend the next meeting and make comments on the draft. A specific date for the meeting will be posted on the town's Web site.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government