Officials at the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission [NCPRPDC] have for the past several months been working to develop a new web-based planning and asset management tool.
"We've been working on an outreach and communications tool for the community development departments," said Amy Kessler, the department head for Community Development and Regional Planning at North Central. "Based on a lot of the engagement that we've had with municipal officials, we were finding that there is a lot of need for sharing information and looking at regional assets and maintaining regional assets, primarily at the local and municipal levels."
The website will provide planning tools to county planners who look at different assets and seek to understand the impacts of those assets, and the "decisions that [county planners] all collectively make" within North Central's region.
"For example, it's not just putting a bridge into this municipality and fixing that problem; the bigger picture is what else is around that area?" Kessler said. "You're putting in this development or you want to put a park in-- any type of new industrial park-- this tool will help find the impacts of doing that.
"It explores the type of access needed and if it's possible and what type of regulations have to be looked at if you're applying for permits. We took all that information and started to put this site together."
According to Kessler, community planners in the region had many of the same ideas.
"They wanted to type in an address to see if the location was in a floodplain; that's something that is used in the loan program all the time and instead of having to go through your filings and drawers of this flood map trying to figure out where the address is, we were able to develop this tool that will allow you to look online and type the address in," Kessler said. "It will be able to tell you right away if it's in a floodplain and then the property owner can go and discuss that with the banks and whoever else for insurance purposes and such.
"It's not gospel; the disclaimer says that it's just for planning and representation purposes only, but it gives folks a tool to allow them to start looking at these types of things."
Pick up a copy of the Friday, Jan. 27, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.