John Whitmore is the new Gettysburg Planning Director

John Whitmore, AICP, is the new Gettysburg Borough Planning Director.

Whitmore holds a BA in Public and Urban Affairs and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech. He is a member of the American Planning Association and is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

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Whitmore was born and raised in Walkersville, MD and has worked as a planner in cities and towns in Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia. He worked for over ten years as the City Planner for the City of Parkersburg, WV.

“Every place is unique,” said Whitmore. “People in Adams County are very optimistic about the future.”

“There’s a clear desire for preservation in Gettysburg, but the most critical issue right now is housing.  The trick is how we provide an adequate housing stock for the individuals who live and work here.”

“Adams County is a region that is having a lot of increase in population post-Covid.” Gettysburg is a small-town environment, but It’s very dense. In terms of density it can be compared to Frederick MD and Leesburg VA.”

“Where do we want our employees to live?” he asked. Do we want them commuting to Gettysburg every day, or do want them living here, creating a holistic community?”

“I believe the current borough council wants to have a thriving community that looks out for all members of the community, not just providing business opportunities.”

Whitmore noted the difficulty of controlling traffic volume. “Unfortunately, we’re living in an environment where people still need cars to drive around. The administration of the municipality requires dollars and cents, and the borough gets much of its income from parking. How do we get more public transportation; How do we best utilize the limited space that is available?” he asked.

Whitmore said the borough planning office had many balls to juggle, including traffic, historic preservation, the “nuts and bolts” of infrastructure including gas, electric, water, sewer, and stormwater, as well as waste management.

“The things we’re doing should be thought out and planned,” he said, adding that coordination became especially difficult when it was paired with development and right of way issues, for instance in the ongoing Baltimore St. improvement project.

“The work involves coordination; meeting with state representatives, residents, business owners, and partners. We don’t want to end up with broken promises, where the public’s expectations are not being fulfilled,” he said.

Whitmore said critical issues currently being addressed in the borough planning department are zoning, sidewalks, and signage.

Whitmore is a member of several borough committees, each of which is regulated by the PA Municipal Planning Code (MPC).

Planning commission: provides recommendations to borough council about comprehensive planning issues and zoning codes and provides input to the Zoning Hearing Board. Reviews and approves intensive site development zones.

Zoning Hearing Board: A quasi-judicial body that acts in place of magistrate court for zoning issues. Grants or denies pleas for development that is not permitted in the zone or that requires special exception. 

Code Enforcement Appeals Board: Acts as the Borough’s judicial appeals process for all code violations.

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Charles (Chuck) Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Owner, Publisher, and Editor in Chief. I would like to hear from you. Please contact me at cstangor@gettysburgconnection.org.

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Gene Ozsinanlar
Gene Ozsinanlar
1 month ago

Great article about Gettysburg planning and issues. Thanks.

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