The Edgewood area has been designated by Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann for the first phase of a community planning councils program that she promises will increase citizens' involvement in government and the future of their communities.
In time, 12 other communities in the county also will be represented by a group of citizens appointed by the executive to act as advisers to the Department of Planning and Zoning.
Each community planning council will consist of seven to 14 people representing neighborhoods, businesses, employers, schools and churches.
Council members will be trained in the planning and zoning process and will work closely with an individual planner/liaison in the Department of Planning and Zoning, Mrs. Rehrmann said.
The county executive said Edgewood provided an appropriate starting point for the program because a Route 24 Task Force already had been established by community and business leaders there to work with the State Highway Administration on plans to improve Route 24 between Interstate 95 and U.S. 40.
The task force's study, which began last fall, resulted in the identification of seven centers of activity along U.S. 40 and Route 24 that were critical to the community's well-being and that were in need of enhancement.
It was a logical step to use the community consensus developed in that project to create a community planning council that will work with government planners on a continuing basis, Mrs. Rehrmann said.
Each citizen advisory group will help develop a master plan for its community that will serve as a comprehensive guide for the physical development of that area and will reflect its social, historical and environmental characteristics.
A community planning division, headed by environmental planner Andy Meyer, has been established in the planning department, and a program director, Kirsten Coffen, has been appointed to oversee the community councils.
The other 12 designated communities in the county are Aberdeen, Bel Air, Havre de Grace, Fallston, Joppa/Joppatowne, Abingdon/Emmorton, Jarrettsville, Forest Hill, Churchville, Dublin/Darlington, Whiteford/Cardiff and Norrisville.
Mrs. Rehrmann said that two of those communities will be added to the program in the fall. The remaining councils will be phased in over several years and their roles may be altered by the outcome of the first phase.