After learning that the cost of participating in a regional multimunicipal plan would be considerably lower, Nazareth Borough Council told members of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission that the borough would reconsider their original plan not to participate in the Nazareth Area Council of Governments (COG) multimunicipal comprehensive plan, and that they would likely have an answer for the LVPC within about a week’s time.
The decision to reconsider came following a presentation at borough council’s Feb. 2 meeting where Becky Bradley, executive director of the LVPC, revealed that the total cost to the borough would be $5,911.11.
Council President Dan Chiavaroli noted that the new estimated cost per community was significantly lower than the previously estimated figure.
“This is different from the $11,000 that was discussed at an earlier date,” Chiavaroli said.
Bradley said the reduced cost is largely due to a sizeable amount of money set aside by the county.
“The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has agreed to kick in $15,000 towards your effort, and then we’d like to apply for a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Municipal Assistance Planning (MAP) Grant for $83,000,” Bradley said. “The county has agreed to a $55,800 contribution and it is in their 2017 budget, so it’s already adopted. That would leave about $55,200 between all of the communities that would be involved to share.”
Bradley said the cost of a borough to complete their own comprehensive plan would cost around $100,000.
Councilman Lance Colondo asked if there was a chance the MAP grant will not come in, with Bradley remaining confident that the borough would receive the $83,000 in grant money.
“We have a good chance of getting the money,” Bradley said. She added that the LVPC could ask for even more.
Bradley and LVPC Director of Environmental Planning Geoffrey Reese told council and community members of the details and benefits of participating in a regional comprehensive plan.
“A comprehensive plan is a process that determines the community goals and aspirations in terms of the future development of that community,” Reese said. “It defines policy goals and aspirations across a wide variety of subject areas including transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, agriculture, education, housing and even more topics than that.”
According to Bradley, the plan could promote “shared preservation of the most cherished aspects of the community.”
Bradley said another benefit of joining the regional comprehensive plan would be the encouragement of regular communication with other member municipalities.
“You have opportunities to plan for all the uses that are required within the law across the entire group of municipalities instead of having to try and accommodate every single thing in your municipality,” she said. “It not only encourages cooperation, but it encourages sharing of uses.”
Bradley said a multimunicipal plan allows member communities to share resources without adopting shared zoning ordinances.
The 10 communities in the Nazareth Area COG are Bath Borough, Bushkill Township, Chapman Borough, East Allen Township, Lower Nazareth Township, Moore Township, Nazareth Borough, Stockertown Borough, Tatamy Borough and Upper Nazareth Township.
East Allen Township, however, opted not to participate in the regional comprehensive plan.
The Nazareth COG would like to have a “firm commitment” from participating municipalities within the next month.