December 23, 2011
Commissioners Approve Bucks County Comprehensive Plan 2011 during Bi-Monthly Business Meeting
In 1961, Bucks County became the first county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to enact a comprehensive plan. The Bucks County Comprehensive Plan was revised in 1977 and again in 1993. On Wednesday, December 21, the Bucks County Comprehensive Plan 2011 – a three-year project encompassing 381 pages – gained unanimous approval from Commissioners Charles H. Martin, chairman, Robert G. Loughery and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW.
“I think this is the best comprehensive plan, not only in Pennsylvania, but also on the east coast,” Planning Commission Board Chairman Edward Kisselback, Jr. told the commissioners before the plan’s adoption at the Bucks County Visitors Center in Bensalem.
Lauding her staff and the Planning Commission board for its commitment to the project, Planning Commission Executive Director/Chief Clerk Lynn T. Bush offered three bullet points about the county’s fourth comprehensive plan.
“First, we wanted to find out what residents want,” she stated, noting that feedback for the plan included a public survey (which produced 1,746 responses), multiple public meetings and widespread community collaboration. “Second, we know that all planning is local. Third, the heart of the plan is to use our assets and our resources effectively and efficiently.” Ms. Bush also provided the commissioners with an executive summary of the document.
Commissioner Loughery stressed the importance of using the Bucks County Comprehensive Plan 2011 as “a mirror,” not allowing it to sit on a shelf without being put into practical usage.
The plan is “founded on the long history of innovative planning carried out by the Bucks County Planning Commission and the valued and principles embodied in the concepts of sustainable development and stewardship.” The Bucks County Planning Commission was formed in 1951, in response to major changes brought about by the construction of U.S. Steel’s Fairless Works and plans for the 17,000-home Levittown community.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler echoed the praise of others for the Planning Commission effort. The Bucks County Comprehensive Plan 2011 will be available online through the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org.
In addition to adopting a $461.67 million operating budget for 2012, the commissioners also approved 49 contract resolutions for 15 county departments. Among them were three contracts totaling more than $680,000 to complete emergency repairs to 23 of the 115 bridges the county owns and maintains.
According the county General Services Director Jerry Anderson, many of the bridges sustained damage during recent storms. He also provided an update on Phase 1 of the Churchville Nature Center expansion project, which should be complete by the end of January, 2012. The commissioners approved five contracts related to that project.
For Open Space, the board unanimously approved a $332,660 Municipal Open Space Program Improvement Grant for recreational facilities in Quakertown Borough and a $518,468 Municipal Open Space Program Grant for an 18-acre parcel in Tinicum Township. According to county Open Space Coordinator Kris Kern, the Quakertown project will facilitate “passive recreation improvements” adjacent to existing park, swimming and ball field areas in the heart of the borough. The Tinicum project will involve parkland, new ball fields and walking trails.
The board also approved revisions to the county Purchasing department policies and procedures as a result of the recent passage of state Act 89. That act raises the non-bid contract maximum from $10,000 to $18,500. In addition, the board agreed to a contract amendment to raise the limit for the housing of female inmates through the Kintock Group of King of Prussia, PA. County Corrections Director William Plantier explained that the county Corrections facilities have unpredictable numbers, and that alleviating overcrowding in the female unit is number on the (Corrections) strategic plan.
Commissioner Marseglia cast one dissenting vote, opposing a $29,119 contract for the Public Information office to provide county website hosting and maintenance.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, in the Community Room of the Bucks County Courthouse (1st Floor), 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA 18901. For a complete audio account of the December 21 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.