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Every human endeavor entails some type of planning. This planning may be as complex
as concerns about technology futures and foreign exchange rates to something as simple
as buying enough pasta for next week’s customers. Without the planning function, life is
chaos. From large corporations to the smallest retail vendor, some type of forethought is
required. And, public entities are no exception to that rule. The idea of setting future
goals is as old as civilized man.

For Warren County, this update to the current
Comprehensive Plan could not have occurred at a more
appropriate time. From a technical standpoint, the update
is due—Pennsylvania’s Municipalities Planning Code
(MPC) requires such an action every ten years [see
302(d)]. The last plan was completed in 1992. But, the
impetus was more than statutory. This update was based upon some very real concerns.
Concerns initially articulated by the Warren County Intergovernmental Co-Op as well as
the County Planning Commission, but echoed by citizens at nearly every one of eight
public forums. This concern can be very simply stated:

Indeed, this is a truly genuine concern. At first glance, Warren County’s population
seems to be stabilizing after a disastrous decade in the 1980s. After a loss of -5.1 percent
between 1980 and 1990, the drop from 1990 to 2000 was only half that rate – 2.6 percent.

Yet, as is often the case with demographics, the “devil is in the details.” True, the overall
population rate of loss was halved, but certain age cohorts suffered dramatic losses. If the
young children of 1980 (aged 0 to 9 years) are traced to the year 2000, we find that 57 out
of each 100 are gone. Of the nearly 4,000 persons lost in those age brackets, less than 200
could be attributed to natural attrition; the balance was the result of out-migration.

Therefore, this Plan is primarily predicated upon that concern. What changes—what new
directions are needed, to reverse these trends—to make Warren County an attractive
place to live? A place where our children want to stay and to which new residents are
attracted?

What Is A Comprehensive Plan?

Article III of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning
Code sets forth the requirements for, and the impact of, a
comprehensive plan. The plan does not have “the force of
law” such as a zoning ordinance or a subdivision
regulation, but it is a much more important document
currently, than it was even five years ago. Certain changes
to the Planning Code occurred in the year 2000, which
give comprehensive plans a greater influence over land use
controls as well as some State programming decisions.
Even with this, the plan remains essentially a policy
guide—yet a guide, which must be taken seriously.