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Van Wyck has plan for future

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Lancaster County Councilman Brian Carnes (District 7) wrote a very interesting column in the Aug. 24 edition of The Lancaster News entitled “Lancaster needs a vision for its future.”

Mr. Carnes goes on to assert that now is the time for talented and visionary citizens, business leaders, government officials and educators to get together to go through a strategic visioning process to establish a plan that would help guide the county’s growth and development for the next 15 or 20 years. I agree. Past experience with the B3 issue indicates that County Council will not listen to material developed in this way, so let’s make sure that County Council will listen to the result, then do it.

As I am sure Carnes is aware, state law requires counties to develop such a plan, called the comprehensive plan, and to update it at least every 10 years.

The rework of Lancaster County’s Comprehensive Plan is going on right now, with the draft of the complete plan scheduled for presentation at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 in the Lancaster County Administration Building, 101 N. Main St., Lancaster.

This plan is being written not by  a group of citizens, as mentioned above, but by a professional land-use planner at the Catawba Region Council of Governments, aided by $100,000 in Lancaster County taxpayer money with very limited citizen involvement.

This is not a criticism of the planners writing the comprehensive plan. Their job is to produce a workable comprehensive plan on time and under budget. They write what they think we should have, hold a few public meetings to let citizens comment, respond to whatever comments are received and move on. Few citizens show up for the public meetings, and there is little opportunity for dialogue, especially when the project is in the formative stages.

We in Van Wyck have a very clear view of the kind of community we would like to have in the future. We have been building this community and caring for this land for a very long time, and believe we have done a credible job. We understand very well that we are in the growth area of a large and growing city.

We disagree with the County Council view that the only appropriate response to this situation is to do whatever residential developers think they can make money doing at every instant in time, without any regard to the long-range consequences. We believe the future belongs to those who know what they want, plan for it and then execute those plans.

So far, County Council, led by our District 1 Councilman Larry Mc-Cullough, has made it clear that it cares not at all what we think, and will use its authority to destroy whatever of Van Wyck that developers want to destroy, without regard for the consequences.

Nonetheless, we have developed a plan much in the way that Carnes describes, with a group of people contributing ideas to come up with a workable plan. Van Wyck is a community of large homes on large lots. A lot of the land has been in the hands of the same families since before the Revolutionary War, is still farmed and is protected from development by land trusts.

We believe the transportation corridor to be provided by the Dave Lyle Extension is critical to the future of both the Van Wyck community and the county as a whole. Our plan calls for residential development of large homes on large lots using septic systems, which we have the infrastructure to support, coupled with commercial and transportation development of the Dave Lyle Extension.

We have submitted this plan to the professional planner writing the comprehensive plan and will see if these ideas make it into the presentation on Sept. 11, and are able to run the gauntlet of Planning Department, Planning Commission and County Council.