COUNTY—The Wayne County Planning Commission Annual Report notes efforts were underway in 2018 to update the joint comprehensive plan for the East Central Wayne County municipalities of Damascus, Oregon and Manchester townships.

The plan is being developed under the consultation of Carson Helfrich of Community Planning and Management, LLC.

Helping this process along, the Planning Commission provided the townships with updated raw data regarding land use and land coverage figures.

Collected from aerial photography taken in 2017, the data shows how land use has changed since 2008, when the three townships first joined together to make a comprehensive plan.

“Through a comparison of data and visual mapping from different periods, the municipalities are then able to identify both changes and potential future trends, which is essential for the sounds management of future land use,” states the report.

According to the data sheet found in the Planning Report, forests are the most prominent land use feature in each of the townships, covering well over half the acreage for each municipality.

The other leading land usages/land coverages in Damascus, Manchester and Oregon townships include cropland, pasture/brush, residential, and water.

Other land usages monitored included commercial, farmsteads, industrial, government/institutional, mining/extraction, recreational, religious, transportation, and utilities.

In presenting the report to the Wayne County Commissioners at their February 28 meeting, Planning Director Craig Rickard stated, “What I've noticed is we're increasing in forest, active cropland is declining, residential acreage is going up.”

Referring to pasture/brush land use, Rickard added “If it's not being touched, it's either being reforested or it's staying as pasture/brush for beef cattle, but you can tell it's not being actively cropped.”

In addition to East Central Wayne County's comprehensive plan updates, the Lake Region municipalities of Hawley Borough and Palmyra and Paupack Townships also began updating their comprehensive plan under the guidance of Tom Shepstone.

The Planning Commission and Wayne County GIS have been attending the steering committee meetings for the project, expected to be adopted later this year.

Having updated information on the East Central and Lake Region focus areas, the Planning Commission will continue to monitor the land use for the rest of the county.

This is expected to be completed later this year.

“The data acquired will provided an opportunity to compare the current land use/land cover information against the previous study years, dating all the way back to the inception of the analysis in 1959,” states the report. “This overall comparison will help identify land use trends in the County and where future ones may lead in support of Wayne County's own Comprehensive Plan update effort that will commence in the near future.”