Crossings photo

This file photo gives an aerial view of the proposed site of The Crossings at Conestoga Creek on Harrisburg Pike, across from Long's Park.

THE ISSUE

Manheim Township officials are busy looking at two large developments — commissioners last Monday approved a preliminary subdivision plan for Belmont, a mixed-use development across from the Red Rose Commons Shopping Center along Fruitville Pike and township planners heard concerns from the public and delayed action on a larger hotel-retail-housing project along Harrisburg Pike across from Long’s Park. Meanwhile the Lancaster County Planning Commission is working on a plan for accommodating growth over the next 25 years.

Two items in Friday’s edition of LNP might have seemed ironic. On the front page was a story about the proposed Belmont project in Manheim Township moving forward. And on Page A3 was a story about an upcoming forum on sprawl sponsored by the Hourglass Foundation.

Lancaster County is expected to add 122,370 more people — about twice the population of Lancaster city — by 2040, according to the Pennsylvania State Data Center.

The county is growing fast enough now to attract retailers — with Whole Foods planning to locate at the Shoppes at Belmont and a popular retail anchor that H. Stephen Evans, of High Associates Ltd., said will thrill the public expected in the Crossings at Conestoga Creek, the $100 million project proposed for across from Long’s Park.  The Crossings is expected to include stores, restaurants, apartments and a hotel.

While nearby residents have expressed concern about the Belmont and Crossings projects jamming traffic and adding to sprawl, Manheim Township is within the county’s urban growth area.

“This is where we want growth to happen,” according to James Cowhey, executive director of the Lancaster County Planning Commission.

Both projects are near major roads (including Route 30 in both cases), sewer systems and other infrastructure. Building in such places prevents growth from occurring in rural areas that can support agriculture and preserve farmland over the long term.

The other positive about both projects, according to Cowhey, is that both include a mix of housing — 74 townhouses and 13 single-family homes at Belmont and 258 apartments and a hotel with up to 135 rooms at the Crossings.

The county planning commission has not completed its review of the Crossings project, Cowhey said, but Manheim Township has rigorous traffic impact requirements, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will be involved as well — meaning road improvements should be significant.

High Real Estate Group is expected to spend between $8 million and $9 million on road improvements near the Crossings project, including a widening of Harrisburg Pike, improved ramps for Route 30 and upgrades to Farmingdale Road, Good Drive and Oreville Road in East Hempfield Township.

The Lancaster County Planning Commission will launch a year of civic engagement as to how Lancaster County should grow into 2040 with a presentation on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

County planners want the new county comprehensive plan they unveil in early 2017 to belong to Lancaster County residents. Toward that end, they will seek your input through meetings across the county and via social media.

LNP plans to be part of the effort by reporting on the issues involved and bringing you information about the process and how to be part of it.

If the Belmont and Crossings developments are not your idea of progress, you should let the planning commission know that in the months ahead.

This is our county. We all should be part of deciding how it grows.