Fayette County is a unique and diverse area of southwestern Pennsylvania that makes up approximately 794 square miles of land and is home to an estimated 147,000 people. In natural resources alone the County contains two highly influential ridges; the Laurel Highlands and Chestnut Ridge; bountiful agricultural land and mature forests; and some of the highest quality bituminous coal in the State of Pennsylvania. The County has 42 municipal entities, which are represented by two cities, Connellsville and Uniontown, 24 townships, 17 boroughs, and numerous villages and unincorporated settlements.
The County is comprised of two distinct geographic regions, which are separated by Chestnut Ridge. The western portion of the County is a rolling plateau, which contains the majority of the developed land. The eastern half is more rugged in terrain, sparsely populated, and contains many of the County's scenic parks, State Game Lands, natural areas, and agricultural lands.
History & Development
In its ever-changing state, Fayette County has influenced national history as a battle ground for military skirmishes, contributed generously to industrial development through coal mining and the coking of coal to be used in steel production, and served as a home to migrants and immigrants alike since the 1700s. The economic decline that occurred following WW II has led the County to diversify and find alternative opportunities for economic development and employment.
Fayette County, as a region, is within an hour commute of two major metropolitan centers; the City of Pittsburgh and Morgantown, West Virginia, which gives it a superb location advantage for access to:
- Educational institutions
- Employment opportunities
- First rate sports entertainment
- Health care
- Metropolitan cultural activities
The County attracts millions of people a year who come to enjoy its:
- Low tax structure compared to neighboring counties
- Natural resources
- Rich history
- Rural quality of living
- World-class outdoor recreation
Today, the County is realizing new opportunities for change and growth. A primary factor is the Mon-Fayette Expressway, a planned toll road that when completed would connect I-68 in West Virginia, I-70, and I-376 in Pennsylvania. This highly anticipated north-south expressway will create new access to many of the County's resources and maximize its location between Pittsburgh and Morgantown. Not only will it affect future land use patterns, but it is expected to influence economic development in the region.
Balancing New Development
Fayette County is at a critical point in its development history. It is facing a delicate balance, where remnants of the past need to be constructively linked to opportunities of the future. The County is preparing to manage the impact of growth from the Mon-Fayette Expressway, while maintaining the high quality of living that exists currently. There are a number of other issues that are facing Fayette County:
- County image
- Economic development
- Intergovernmental cooperation
- Public utilities
- Rural preservation
- Stormwater management
The goal of developing a comprehensive plan for Fayette County was generated through the Fayette Forward Strategic Plan which was completed in 1995, with a revised version produced for distribution in June of 1998. During the Fayette-Forward process, many issues in the County were explored in detail, one of which identified land use as a primary concern in terms of the County's future and its planning efforts. Consequently, an effort was begun to combine some of the main issues facing the County in a way that would include a land use analysis and produce a document that could guide the Office of Community and Economic Development.