Chambersburg Boro Council Holds Global Public Hearing

Chambersburg Borough Council will hold a public hearing Monday on a proposed comprehensive plan that sparked disagreement earlier this year over whether to include language related to diversity, equity and inclusion. .

The hearing will take place during the regular council meeting at 7 p.m. in the council chambers. It will be broadcast live on Zoom.

Council will consider approving the master plan, a document that will guide borough policies and plans for at least the next decade, at the regular meeting.

Titled “Chambersburg Vision 2035,” the overall plan includes goals related to community, housing, attracting new businesses and visitors (referred to as a “sense of place”), improving rounding and solving transport problems.

The current plan was adopted in 2008. In early 2021, borough officials, focus groups, community representatives, and people who live and work in Chambersburg began working with a consulting firm to provide comments on a new plan. The borough used public events, interviews and outreach initiatives to gather ideas from a wide range of community stakeholders.

What created a rift in Chambersburg’s overall plan?

A draft of the overall plan was released in April, and the planning and zoning commission in June voted to recommend that the borough council approve it.

However, disagreement arose over one of the plan’s ‘core values’, namely diversity, equity, inclusion, communication and partnership.

Board Chairman Allen Coffman and Vice Chairman Bill Everly requested that an item be added to the agenda for the July 11 meeting to discuss the use of diversity, equity and inclusion in the plan. The Council ultimately voted 7-2-1, with a Democrat joining the council’s Republican majority (one of whom was absent), to replace “fairness” with “equality”.

According to George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health“Equality means that each individual or group of people receives the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to achieve an equal outcome.

After:‘Equity’ becomes ‘equality’ in proposed Chambersburg 2035 vision

Councilwoman Alice Elia explained at the July 11 meeting that “equality” is about giving everyone a pair of shoes and “equity” is about giving everyone shoes that fit.

The vote to replace equity with equality followed a discussion among board members and comments from members of the public, where people were in favor and opposed to the inclusion of “diversity, ‘equity and inclusion’ in Chambersburg Vision 2035.

Some accused board members of struggling with diversity and referred to Short-Term Non-Discrimination Order Passed Fall 2021 and Repealed after an election changed the composition of the council in January 2022.

Others said a planning and land use document is not the appropriate place to address issues such as racism and discrimination.

Often simply known as DEI, the concept of diversity, equity and inclusion has become a political lightning rod in the United States. As private and public employers have increasingly added it to their policies, particularly during the fallout from the racial justice protests in the summer of 2020 and amid the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, liberals and conservatives clashed over its goal.

For example, the right-wing party Washington Times reported that “conservative activists criticize the ‘woke’ tendency to point out the virtue of corporate America that implements diversity, equity and inclusion policies in the workplace.” During this time, a opinion piece in the New York University student newspaper State DEI policies are designed to address systemic injustice, but do not always go far enough.

The organization A Great Place To Work says DEI is on the way “respect the unique needs, perspectives and potential of all their team members.”

What are the objectives of Chambersburg Vision 2035?

Reinvestment

Purpose statement:

Through public-private partnerships, the Borough of Chambersburg will support reinvestment in underutilized properties and public streetscapes to support the vibrancy of the borough.

Lens Recommendations:

  • Increase economic opportunities: retain existing businesses and develop new ones in Chambersburg
  • Reinvestment Locations: Identify and Prioritize Chambersburg Reinvestment Locations
  • Using investment in public space to stimulate private investment
  • Encourage redevelopment along the Grant Street corridor
  • Continue to pursue the acquisition and redevelopment of Southgate Shopping Center as a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood

After:Southgate sold: a unique opportunity to transform a gateway to Chambersburg

Lodging

Purpose statement:

The Borough will work with landowners to encourage and encourage reinvestment in its residential housing stock, adopt land use policies to allow new housing to accommodate population growth, and support homeownership opportunities. the property.

Lens Recommendations:

  • Promote technical and financial assistance programs for first-time buyers
  • Improve borough code enforcement to maintain the health, safety, sanitation, and quality of all neighborhoods
  • Preserve existing housing by offering a rehabilitation program
  • Encourage new housing through zoning code updates

sense of place

Purpose statement:

The borough will position itself as a destination for residents and visitors.

Lens Recommendations:

  • Enhance pedestrian spaces and squares in the city center
  • Prioritize pedestrian and cycle links to and around the city center
  • Promote connections with the side and rear facades on pedestrian spaces
  • Improve and expand shoreline connections along Conococheague Creek and the Falling Spring Branch
  • Consider zoning code changes to prohibit incompatible uses in the downtown area

Borough services

Purpose statement:

The borough will continue its investments in order to offer quality municipal services.

Lens Recommendations:

  • Improve the borough’s communication relays
  • Increase staff capacity under the Ministry of Community Planning
  • Establish a new internal referral routing process and related training for Borough employees to ensure residents’ questions are addressed
  • Achieve Platinum Level Pennsylvania Sustainable Community Certification

Transportation

Purpose statement:

The Borough will coordinate with local stakeholders and prioritize investments to expand transportation options for Chambersburg residents and ensure infrastructure is safe and efficient.

Lens Recommendations:

  • Work with the new Susquehanna Regional Transportation Authority (SRTA) to explore the feasibility of instituting fixed-route service to connect area workers to job destinations
  • Support the evaluation of US 11 and US 30 for possible inclusion in the US Bicycle Route System (USBRS)
  • Address the borough’s parking conditions
  • Approaching the aging park of the borough’s bridges
  • Coordinate with Franklin County DFO and PennDOT in implementing I-81 Improvement Strategy recommendations
  • Protecting the Viability of Franklin County Regional Airport
  • Update planning tools to preserve future mobility and community character
  • Consider transportation improvements for autonomous vehicle, drone, and unmanned aerial vehicle deliveries

How to participate in the public hearing

The public hearing and council meeting will be held in council chambers, in the Borough Hall Utilities Addition, 100 S. Second St., Chambersburg.

Anyone attending the meeting in person may participate in the public comment periods.

Those watching on Zoom must submit comments in advance; by a policy change last yearvirtual participants do not have the opportunity to speak during the public comment period.

Written comments will be accepted before the meeting and read by borough staff during the hearing. Written comments will be accepted until 3 p.m. Monday. Email your comment to Deputy Borough Director Phil Wolgemuth at pwolgemuth@chambersburgpa.gov.Access the meeting on Zoom on https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83682727012.

You can find the proposed global plan on chambersburgpa.gov; click on the Chambersburg Vision 2035 logo on the right side of the homepage.

Amber South can be reached at asouth@publicopinionnews.com.

Contributor: Shawn Hardy