The City of Lancaster aims to engage the whole community in the production of a new Comprehensive Plan to be adopted in 2022. A comprehensive plan is a document to guide municipal policy and decision-making related to growth and community development. The City has received grants totaling $170,000 from three philanthropic organizations to support the planning process, which will be inclusive, equitable, and community-driven.
A comprehensive plan is a policy guide that reflects community consensus and informs municipal regulatory and financial decisions. Comprehensive plans must address crucial infrastructure and services such as housing, transportation, community facilities, and utilities; but the scope is not limited to these topics. The City of Lancaster’s comprehensive plan will also consider diversity, equity, and inclusion; environmental sustainability; economic development; and other topics as identified by the community.
The planning process will involve community engagement methods designed to reach all community stakeholders, particularly those who experience barriers to civic participation. Issues such as language, access to technology or transportation, and lack of trust can hinder the ability of residents to engage with government in mutually beneficial ways. The City and its partners will be taking extra precautions to keep the outreach safe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also ensuring extensive resident input is collected.
The innovative engagement process, which will be designed and supported with the help of grant funding, may include:
“This plan will give our neighbors – residents and businesses alike – a say in priorities. We are committed to making sure that every voice is heard and will be taking steps to reach out directly. Community outreach will emphasize language access, utilize the City’s new online engagement platform, Engage Lancaster, and meet residents where they are in all neighborhoods,” says Mayor Danene Sorace.
The City’s Community Planning & Economic Development Department along with a Comprehensive Plan Team across all major City departments and the Mayor’s Office, will lead this effort. City staff will guide the project with the support of a consulting team to be identified in the spring.
The City has begun to forge partnerships with local organizations such as the High Foundation, Ferree Foundation (A Ware Family Foundation), the Lancaster City Alliance (LCA), and the Lancaster Equity Community Development Corporation (LECDC). Community leaders and organizations will be invited to participate through Technical Advisory Boards, which will form to develop policies and solutions around the community’s identified priority issues.
A community committee, the Lancaster Comprehensive Plan Committee (CPC), has formed to help guide the planning process. This group is comprised of 19 diverse community members who are involved in neighborhood organizations, local business, or community service. Under the guidance of facilitation consultant Connect the Dots, this committee is preparing for their role through trainings on community and regional planning; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and decision making and consensus building. The CPC will aid in the selection of the comprehensive plan consultant, and consult with the City on marketing, public engagement, and policy issues from the perspective of residents. Members of the CPC are also part of the Lancaster City Alliance’s Neighborhoods Executive Leadership Team.
President of Lancaster City Alliance Marshall Snively says, “We are pleased to partner with the City of Lancaster on the comprehensive plan. We welcome the new members to our Neighborhoods Executive Leadership Team, and are excited to be working together throughout the planning process.”
This planning process is made possible through funding from the City of Lancaster’s general fund and Community Development Block Grant funding, and through the generous contributions of our philanthropic partners:
The comprehensive planning process will be on-going for the next two years with an anticipated completion date at the end of 2022. The Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Fellowship job opportunity will be open for applications soon and is a temporary entry level planning position lasting 12 weeks.
The Request for Proposals for the Comprehensive Plan Consultant will be available at www.cityoflancasterpa.com/bids/. Proposals will be accepted until 11 a.m. on Wed. April 7, 2021. The consultant is expected to begin their work in spring 2021.
Beginning in summer 2021, the Lancaster community will be invited to participate in various interactive engagement activities. Input provided will be used to identify and prioritize concerns that should be addressed in the comprehensive plan.
For more information on the City of Lancaster’s Comprehensive Plan, go to CityofLancasterpa.com/comprehensive-planning.