Clarion County comp plan moves into final stage

Clarion County commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday on the county’s new comprehensive plan.

The plan has been described as a “roadmap” for the county’s future. The last plan was completed in 2004 and should be updated every 10 years.

The county had received a $30,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The total cost of the plan was $62,700, and the county’s portion was paid with in-kind services.

The engineering firm of Herbert, Rowland and Grubic of Cranberry Township, Butler County, compiled the plan.

Laura Ludwig, a community planner with the firm, presented the plan during Tuesday’s hearing.

Ludwig outlined eight action statements that are part of the plan.

She said the goal is that over the next 10 years the county will attract and retain visitors of all ages, empower communities with economic and social tools, create better connections to the Allegheny and Clarion rivers to promote natural and recreational resources, cultivate development along major transportation, market and advertise recreational opportunities and amenities, integrate and enhance broadband and establish Clarion County as a highly desirable place to live, work, play and grow.

The plan stresses economic development, and Ludwig outlined four goals. They are to attract and retain young people, promote the county’s existing assets, encourage development along the Interstate 80 corridor and develop and promote the county’s brand.

Another part of the plan is developing recreational opportunities, and there are several elements of that goal.

They are repairing and maintaining the county’s road system, starting a homeowner facade improvement program, use tools like a Keystone Opportunity Zone, Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement and other incentives, create a task force to explore the feasibility of creating a new indoor sports complex or athletic fields, expand broadband, develop an infrastructure bank at the county level, partner with the Clarion County Career Center on programs to train young people, improve bikability and walkability in the county’s downtown districts and support municipal park improvements.

Another part of the plan calls for maintaining, improving and extending the trail system and adding Microcell “mini cell towers” for connectivity at Cook Forest.

The public review will continue until Feb. 4 and the county commissioners will tentatively adopt the plan at their Feb. 8 meeting.