Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Commissioners Adopt "Greenscapes" Plan

by Cliff B. Lewis

"Greenscapes" was formally adopted today as a new element in the Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan. The Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the initiative after a public presentation by Michael Domin, Principal Planner for the Lancaster County Planning Commission.

Prior to the final vote, County Commissioner Craig Lehman asserted that Greenscapes has everything to do with Lancaster's economic development, in as much as young American families will be more likely lay down their roots in an area with preserved and accessible natural "amenities." And ultimately, Lehman noted, this initiative serves to ensure that "the Lancaster County we love will remain 100, 200, 300 years from now."

As defined in the official document, Greenscapes will exist to define "a vision, goals and objectives, strategies, and tools to preserve, conserve, restore, and enhance natural resources through the establishment of a countywide, integrated green infrastructure system." It should be noted from the outset that this plan does not initially institute any 'hard' legislation to plant trees, protect developable land, or 'green' our existing infrastructure. Rather, "Greenscapes" serves to set a clear vision for local growth.

The term "green infrastructure," in itself, projects a focused vision for our local community.

Distinct from the 'gray' infrastructure of transportation, plumbing, and energy lines, green infrastructure consists of the rivers, fields, and forests that serve to "protect, enhance, and restore the natural functions and services of an ecosystem." The Greenscapes initiative emphasizes the economic and social 'services' provided our surrounding eco-system and places these services on par with those provided by our roads, pipes, and telephone lines.

The plan will pursue its four goals of Preservation, Conservation, Restoration, and Recreation through several "action initiatives," including

• A Lancaster County Green Infrastructure (GI) website,
• Local GI-related events,
• Municipal GI plans,
• A GI overlay zoning district,
• County GI funding program,
• Completion of the Countywide Regional Park and Greenway Trail System,
• A local GI summit,
• A local GI coalition,
• And the formation of Environmental Advisory Councils.

Several local community members took the floor to commend the planning and approval of Greenscapes. Ralph Goodno, President of the Lancaster County Conservancy, praised this natural preservation initiative for living up to the County's past accomplishments in preserving its agricultural land.

A document detailing the complete vision of "Greenscapes" is available at .