home Urban Planning Is Monroe County, Pennsylvania making headway in addressing the challenges facing the county?

Is Monroe County, Pennsylvania making headway in addressing the challenges facing the county?

Monroe County is situated in eastern Pennsylvania, with Philadelphia at a distance of 90 miles to its south; New York City within 75 miles to its East and Harrisburg, 116 miles apart to its west. The County’s convenient location and association with New York- New Jersey Metropolitan Region is a vital component in the economic development history.

Monroe County’s population forecasts anticipates an increase from 130,000 in 2000 to 177,000- 220,000 by 2020 which is 50% increase from the current population. The County is not only experiencing tensions of population growth but also loss of open land, fiscal, environmental and traffic problems. The population growth and unplanned development patterns have tremendously affected the open space. Though the county is blessed with parks, forest and natural resources it does not meet all the needs of the local residents. Majority of rural areas are already zoned for low-density residential development with one-two acres per unit. This scattered low density development eventually led the county to sprawl.

Location of Monroe County

Source: Prepared by Monroe County Planning Commission

The county faces fiscal challenges because of the development trends. The residential pattern is the one of the main reasons for fiscal disparity. If this condition persists, there will be rise in local taxes in order to fill the fiscal gap. The increased traffic is another major pressing issue. The traffic count conducted by the county in mid 1990s indicates that, the traffic grew by 90% from the mid 1980s, where as the population was only 40%. Flooding is also a frequent natural disaster happening in Commonwealth Pennsylvania. As indicated in the State Water Plan, Monroe County is located in the Upper and Central Delaware basin. The Monroe 2020 plan implies that, streams that drain the western portion of the older plateau region have sheer gradients and rise to flood stages rapidly.

The early 2020 plan was implemented in 1999 and with successful partnership of various townships and boroughs multiple projects were completed. The Planning Department is in the process of updating the 2020 plan, which requires an effective plan to attract and retain economic development. In August 2011, the County Commissioners requested for proposals from consulting services for an Economic Development Implementation Plan. The proposal for the Economic Development Plan is supposed to take into account the county’s existing opportunities, drawbacks and expected to devise a plan to spur the economic development.  Will the county’s growth be managed; will the environmental, historic and natural resources be preserved and fused into development to make the county economically viable?

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