The plan is finished, but not everyone is ready to embrace it.
The Brokenstraw Creek Watershed Conservation Plan has been finished for months, but at least one municipality in the plan area is wary of supporting it.
Youngsville Borough Council resolution number 7 of 2012 has continued to surface for a vote periodically at council meetings. If passed, the resolution would mark the borough's official support of the Brokenstraw plan and the placement of the watershed on the Pennsylvania Rivers Conservation Registry.
Photo by Jacob Perryman
The Brokenstraw Creek Watershed Conservation Plan has been released, but not all municipalities in the watershed area are eager to pass resolutions supporting it, despite reassurances the plan is non-regulatory.
Placement on the registry improves the chance of organizations seeking funding for conservation projects in the area to be approved, particularly for projects the plan identifies.
Meanwhile, Youngsville Council has consistently declined to vote on the matter, citing concerns the support resolution could burden the borough and property owners with unwanted regulatory measures.
"If it puts more red tape in the way of our say-so it isn't worth it," member Steven Morris said of the plan during the June 11 meeting of Youngsville Borough Council.
Youngsville Councilmember John Barhydt noted at the meeting he had received negative feedback from other municipalities that had adopted a watershed support resolution.
According to County Planning Director Dan Glotz, who was a member of the plan's steering committee, and Kylie Maland, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy watershed manager for the Upper Allegheny and Lake Erie, concerns over regulation are unfounded.
In a June 14 e-mail, Maland said of the plan, "This a non-regulatory document; it has no legal binding."
Glotz agreed saying, "There's a distinct difference between a plan and an ordinance."
According to Glotz and Maland, the plan should be looked at as an informational resource, a list of suggestions of possible actions and a guide on how to implement them. They agreed any legal requirements are at the discretion of the supporting municipalities.
"A watershed conservation plan is a compilation of the information available on the watershed area's resources," Maland pointed out in her e-mail. "The plan is a guidance tool that highlights recommendations to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors of the watershed through the conservation and stewardship of local waterways, natural resources, cultural heritage and sense of place. The management recommendations identified in the plan are suggested actions to accomplish various conservation goals."
"It's kind of a road map," Glotz said. "The plan does not say 'Thou shalt enact this ordinance'. It's just an analysis of existing conditions in the area and some recommendations of what can be done if a group wants to accomplish a goal within the plan. It's also a list of some of the tools available to them."
Youngsville isn't the only municipality asked to support the plan. The plan identifies 21 municipalities stretching through four counties in Pennsylvania and New York as home to parts of the watershed. Each of the 15 Pennsylvania municipalities identified in the plan was asked to pass a resolution supporting the document and the watershed's inclusion in the rivers conservation registry.
"The plan doesn't have any teeth on its own," Glotz said. "The plan is a guide. Regulations come from ordinances the municipalities choose to pass."