Cumberland Times-News

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September 6, 2013

City completes comprehensive plan; Says population stabilizing but robbery/theft on the rise

CUMBERLAND — The city of Cumberland has announced the completion of a draft comprehensive 2013 city-wide plan that analyzes Cumberland’s historical track record and establishes guidelines for future growth and development.

“The plan looks at how the city has changed and where it needs to head,” said David Umling, city planner.

The title of the report is 2013 Comprehensive Plan: Forging our Heritage into Prosperity.

The 180-page plan was recently completed using prior planning reports, economic and census data, and information compiled in a report known as the Neighborhood Element.

The neighborhood volume, which was adopted by the mayor and City Council in February 2012, examined the changing needs of the city by assessing each of its neighborhoods.

“To have a guide for how to coordinate all the different aspects (of the city) you need to look at the features of each neighborhood as well as the whole city,” said Umling.

The draft city-wide plan is being reviewed by around 15 various state agencies including the Maryland Department of Planning, as well as the community development organizations and surrounding municipalities.

“Around 100 people have had input in this plan,” said Umling.

The plan is based on a 20 year timetable but is periodically updated to reflect changes such as the severe economic recession of 2008-2010.

“It’s a good plan. The plan provides a lot of description. It’s useful when we deal with HUD and apply for block grants,” said Jay Oliver, community development manger for the the city.

Oliver said he uses data such as income breakouts and age of homes in specific neighborhoods to target projects.

“It’s one of the most comprehensive plans I’ve seen,” said Oliver.

Some of the topics included in the plan are area history, resources, land use, housing, water supply and usage, transportation and parking, recreation and public safety.

The document also includes a plan of action for future prosperity.

The data included reflects the dramatic population change in the city. In 1940, the city population was 39,483 in comparison to 20,859 residents counted in the 2010 census.

However, the report sounded a positive note on the population trend.

“More recent population trends suggest that the area may have reached a point of stability and slow recovery in population growth in the last decade of the 21st century,” the plan said.

The largest decline in population occurred from 1950 to 1980, when population was falling at a rate of about 4,000 per decade.

The plan said today, the median age of an area resident is 41.4 with the number of people per household being 2.2.

While murder/manslaughter and other violent crime has been on the decrease, the plan shows that Allegany County and Cumberland have seen an increase in recent years in burglary, robbery and other theft.

Using a table based on incidents per 100,000, the data shows the changes between 2004 and 2010.

For the county, burglary went from 656.0 to 819.6; robbery from 36.3 to 66.0; and larceny/theft rose from 1,992.6 to 2,641.6.

In the city, burglary rose from 1,141.8 to 1,809.4; robbery from 104.7 to 195.6; and larceny/theft from 3,844.1 to 5,129.8.

The comprehensive plan has been an effort to keep the area in compliance with state legislative article 66b which establishes planning requirements on local governments.

Umling said that once the plan has been reviewed, the city will begin the process of final approval by the planning commission and then hope it is adopted by the mayor and City Council in 2014.

The neighborhood plan and the draft 2013 city-wide plan can be viewed on the city’s website: www.ci.cumberland.md.us.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

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