Suburban Berks West Region
Joint Comprehensive Plan Update
Spring Township has recently joined with fellow communities in the “Suburban Berks West Region” to begin the process of updating the current Joint Comprehensive Plan. This group, which includes the boroughs of Sinking Spring, West Reading and Wyomissing, had formed a Regional Committee in 2000 to prepare the original Suburban Berks West Comprehensive Plan. The committee’s members included elected and appointed officials and other citizens from each of the municipalities.
The plan prepared by the committee was adopted by each of the municipalities in 2003 and, since then, has served to guide the location, character, and extent of proposed or anticipated land use.
Comprehensive planning is a process that determines community goals and ambitions in terms of community development. It includes an analysis of current land use and potential future growth, and the facilities needed to serve existing and future residents. The formal document that results from this process is the Comprehensive Plan, which establishes public policy for development within the Suburban Berks West Region; covering topics such as transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, and housing.
This Plan by itself is not a regulation, but is intended to provide direction for changes to each municipality’s development regulations and policies. It also provides guidance for land use decisions made by the municipal Planning Commissions, the Board of Supervisors or the Borough Councils.
An important component of the comprehensive plan is identifying the new infrastructure and growth demands needed to support the future physical and economic development of the community. Strategic planning and investments made now in infrastructure, housing and recreational amenities will create communities where families will want to live, where companies will want to do business, where jobs will be available, and where people will come to work and play.To address the issues listed above, the Suburban Berks West Comprehensive Plan includes the following major sections:
- Overall Vision and Goals
- Natural Features and Agricultural Conservation
- Land Use and Housing
- Community Facilities and Services
- Economic Development
- Energy Conservation
- Historic Preservation
- Action Plan
Approximately 15 years have passed since the adoption of the 2003 Plan. Since then many things have changed in the region. For instance, the 2003 plan included the borough of West Lawn, which has since merged into the Township; and new demographic, economic and housing information has been made available. The member communities believe it is now time to undertake an update of the plan to help steer community development into the future.
Representatives of the four municipalities, as well as the Wilson and Wyomissing Area School Districts, have begun holding public workshop meetings on a monthly basis. Also involved are representatives of the Berks County Planning Commission, who are assisting the committee in the plan update.
One area that the committee intends to concentrate upon is the Penn Avenue corridor, which passes through all four of the participating municipalities. Spring Township is keenly interested in revitalizing and strengthening this important commercial area to create a more vibrant, pedestrian-friendly corridor.
Citizens should have a say regarding the future of their community; for that reason, public input will be sought during the plan update. The committee has included a community survey as part of the comprehensive planning process and will incorporate the results into the body of the plan. For those citizens who may not have access to a computer, accommodations will be made for the survey to be completed at the local libraries. Residents will also be able to complete a paper copy of the survey at the Township offices. The committee looks forward to hearing the thoughts and concerns of our residents.