There are many interesting parts that we can use going forward and many scary parts that we need to put a stop too and many parts that are good ideas but suggested for the wrong part of town or wrong timing.
I will start with the scary parts.
|Divert Traffic from Brandt Pike to Troy Pike||Advocating for Council to consider
on street parking for Brandt Pike
1. Traffic Calming Brandt Pike: They talked about pushing current traffic off of Brandt Pike and moved to Troy Pike, Rt4 and I-675. There was even mention of making it so people would park on the road.
2. The discussion about which types of businesses they would like to attract to Brandt Pike would negatively affect other City businesses. For instance, there was discussion of creating an area of specialty clothing stores that would draw people within a 15-minute drive. The almost identical district that consists of Kohls, Marshalls, Elder Bergman, Rue 21, Once Upon a Child, Plato’s closet etc.
3. The only identified means to finance the project is to create TIF districts. There are two concerns with planning to use TIF financing. First you get TIF dollars based on the increase in value of the TIF properties. This report does not estimate the difference in the tax assessed value of the properties that currently have shopping centers on them compared to the assessed values these properties will have if this plan goes into effect. Second, I spoke to the lead briefer after the meeting and he seemed to be unaware that this entire area is already in a CRA and the plan does not mention this important fact. CRA’s are also based upon the increase in the value of the properties but unlike TIF’s this is a way to give businesses a tax break.
4. There are no identified “private partners” in this plan and really no leads on private money to help make this happen.
Some of the positive aspects include:
|The Pedestrian Toolkit||Senior Housing|
1. The pedestrian tool kit. The plan documents a number of best practices for cleaning up intersections that if implemented could result in fewer accidents and make it easier for pedestrian to cross roads. This suggestions in this tool kit can be used anywhere in the city.
2. The plan talks about creating a Capital Improvement Plan. This is a common practice that I have been advocating for since before I was elected. We need this in the city and I hope the call out in this report will prompt the City Manager to produce one and provide it to council and the public.
3. The plan promotes bike paths. Everyone knows I support creating a plan to get bike paths into the city.
4. There is a call to revise Planning and Zoning Codes. They specifically call out the need to address the Sign Code. Who understands why Panera was not allowed to build a sign people could see from the I-70? I don’t. There are other ways to change the codes that could improve efficiencies on how businesses interact with the city. I look forward to that discussion.
5. The numbers show the city could profit by more multi-family housing especially those catering to seniors.
6. Most interesting is the insight the report gives us into the City’s commercial property needs and overages. It may be that Brandt Pike between Chambersburg and Fishburg should not be primarily commercial property at all.
On the 22nd of June council will get together to discuss the Final Report. I expect the best way to hold the discussion is to start by going paragraph by paragraph the implementation plan found in Chapter 10. Referring to those suggestions and referring to the information provided in the rest of that report we can provide our prospective on feasibility of those suggestions either at the location suggested in the report or another location in the city.
One obvious suggestion you can see is that creating the roadway this report envisions for Brandt Pike make much better sense if done on Bellefontaine. The report incorrectly places the suggestions for phase one at the Huber Center when it would be much more successful in the Nebraska, Kitridge, Bellefontaine triangle. The idea that we will make Brandt Pike more attractive to office buildings, dentist offices, law offices and retailers by reducing the number of potential customers that travel the road is just silly. Besides the more houses we build in developments like Carriage Trails and Lexington Place the more the City will need to increase the traffic flow capacity of Brandt Pike not push that traffic to Troy Pike.
Finally, one of the most important discussions will be a frank conversation on the need for more commercial development in the Chambersburg/Fishburg road area. It may be counter intuitive, but low rents make it possible for families to be able to afford starting a dog sitting business or gaming shop. I am glad the current status of some of these commercial buildings gives these families opportunities to be successful they would not have in high rent districts.
I look forward to the discussion on Thursday June 22, 2017. Come out to City Hall and hear what your council is thinking.