McMURRAY – Peaceful, rolling farmlands do exist in Peters Township, but a sea of green may not always be a way of life in the township of about 22,000 residents. Each year, about 100 new houses are started and eventually, may cause a glut of construction and a constant influx of new residents.
Every 10 years, following the national census, the state mandates that each municipality complete a new comprehensive plan to address changes in demographics, such as zoning ordinances.
Peters Township in the midst of a 14-month-long process, the crux of which is set for three days of seminars Jan. 29-31. The first session will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 29 in council chambers in the municipal building. The topic will be a growth symposium, featuring speakers and township staff members discussing trends in community planning and design.
Grant Shiring is the township’s land use planner.
“Residents see all the land around them, but all that land can change,” Shiring said. “Usually, people don’t have a say until the plans are approved and the land is ready to be developed. This is their opportunity to be proactive. Before the development happens, they will have a say.”
The second day will be a 12-hour event that is broken into four sessions.
The third day is another two-hour evening seminar from 7 to 9 p.m. that will focus on reporting the results, Shiring said.
Every seminar is free. No registration is needed and participants may come and go when they please. Township staff will be available on each of the days and during each of the events.
The second day, during the four sessions, the event will be held in the multipurpose room at the Peters Township Public Library. Parking is free at each session and at each venue. The second day, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., will be basic public planning sessions that will last for two hours beginning at 9 a.m. with an hour break between each session, except for the final session, which is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Participants will take part in small group discussions and a larger planning exercise to help to define location, type, intensity and character of a new development.
Light refreshments will be served and township businesses will offer gift certificates, with winners needing to be present at the Jan. 31 event to claim the prize.
The first 25 people at the Jan. 29 event will receive a coupon for a free GetGo car wash.
The first and third nights will be taped for later showings on the township cable station and the township website.
The sessions are open to the public and are not restricted just to township residents.
“We have invitations going to surrounding municipalities to the managers and planners,” Shiring. “We can’t just limit this to the border of Peters Township, but it’s how we impact surrounding municipalities and how they impact use.”
To put the three-day seminar into perspective, Shiring called the happenings “the most important event of the (comprehensive plan) project.”