About Manheim Township
Manheim Township was established as one of Lancaster County’s first Townships in 1729. In the early days, Pennsylvania Townships served only as convenient tax assessment units with no elected officials. However, this changed in 1834 with the first generation of laws establishing municipal governments and their electoral and leadership structure and duties.
Manheim Township was established initially as a Second Class Township and remained so from 1834 to 1952. In 1952, the community voted to elevate Manheim Township to a Township of the First Class as classified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Township is and remains the only First Class Township in Lancaster County.
Today, the Township is a full service community that operates under the "council/manager" form of government and provides its citizens with public safety, recreation and administrative services and a variety of community programs and public facilities.
General Location and Geography
The Township is located in central Lancaster County and occupies approximately 22.6 square miles and is roughly 7.5 miles wide and 3.2 miles long. The Township is situated immediately north of the City of Lancaster, which serves as the County seat of government. The Township's east and west boundaries are generally determined by natural features, the Conestoga River and Little Conestoga Creek respectfully, whereas the northern and southern boundaries are man-made lines. Annexation of land by the City of Lancaster beginning in 1931 and ending in 1952 has resulted in a very irregular southern boundary that includes "islands" of Township land area completely surrounded by Lancaster City.
In addition to the City of Lancaster, Manheim Township is contiguous to Warwick Township to the north, West Earl Township to the northeast, Upper Leacock Township and East Lampeter Township to the east, Lancaster Township to the southeast and southwest, East Hempfield Township and East Petersburg Borough to the west, and Penn Township to the northwest.
Convenient linkages to major transportation routes through the Lancaster metropolitan area are available to Township residents and businesses. Two Federal (US Route 222 and 30), and seven State roads (PA Routes 283, 4011, 72, 501, 272, 23 and 230) connect the Township to the region. The proximity of the City of Lancaster to many larger eastern cities, provides Manheim Township residents with convenient access to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Wilmington, and reasonable access to New York, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.
Airline and commuter rail service is also available to residents of Manheim Township. The Township hosts the Lancaster Aiport, with daily communter air service. The Lancaster Amtrak Station provides daily east and west rail service on the Keystone Corridor.
Manheim Township has had a long history of population growth. The earliest US census figures reveal a total population of 780 residents in Manheim Township in the year 1790 (the first US Census). The Township has grown continuously in each following census. Prior to 1980, Manheim Township's growth had outpaced the majority of municipalities in Lancaster County. As a result, with the exception of the City of Lancaster, Manheim Township currently is the second largest municipality in population in Lancaster County behind only the City of Lancaster with a population of of 38,113 in (2010), which was an increase of 13.1% since the Census 2000 population of 33,697.
The historic population growth trends of the Township provide some insight to the anticipated growth of the future. Although the Township population continues to increase, the period from 1990 to 2000 experienced an increase in population change over the decade of 16.68% from 28,880.
For over 200 years since its establishment, Manheim Township would have been described as a small and tranquil farming community. The Township’s topography and proximity to suitable farm land and transportation helped to stimulate a stable rural economy at the edge of the City of Lancaster. However, the Township historically has been host to schools and various businesses that defined the community.
The character of the community has changed gradually over the last five or six decades from its original rural farming community to a more rapidly growing suburban “bedroom” community. The Township still hosts rural lands in its northeast quadrant. However, being bisected by New Holland Pike (PA 23), US 222, Oregon Pike (PA 272), Lititz Pike (PA 501) and Manheim Pike (PA 72) and US 30, the Township has remained an attractive place to live and conduct business that is most accessible to may community centers in the region.
Economic Development and Growth
Convenient access to the City of Lancaster and surrounding communities has added to the desirableness of living in Manheim Township, which has also contributed to the growth and development trends for residential and non-residential patterns of development. The Township’s commercial growth area has been concentrated in the southern one-third of the Township near the major road and rail systems and an ample local road network. First generation of suburban development is situated near the City of Lancaster. Newer developments and retirement communities are located in the northern two thirds of the Township.
Also contributing to the Township’s historic growth and development is the long time availability of public sewer and water services. Public water provided by the City of Lancaster has expanded into the Township and stimulated new development and business opportunities. Public sewer currently provided by the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority has a role in stimulating development and re-development of commercial and residential areas of the Township. In step with the demand and need for public safety, policing, recreation and similar support, the Township continues to plan and provide for public services to effectively and efficiently support the changing community.
Intermingled with small streams and wooded corridors, the Township continues to look for ways to manage its rapidly developing areas, while preserving some of the rural character that makes the community unique. As new developments appear and the demand for housing opportunities and business development continue, innovative approaches to development design are encouraged and required through aggressive environmental protection provisions in the zoning ordinance, natural features conservation and similar strategies to protect the community’s flood plains, and sensitive environmental areas.
Township Government and Services
For more than a century, Manheim Township has provided public services to the community and citizens. Traditionally, employees were only hired for roadwork, dragging in spring, stoning and ditch work in summer and fall, and shoveling and plowing in winter. Until the 1930s, the elected Commissioners or volunteer committees handled Township administrative functions. As Manheim Township’s population has grown and the amount and complexity of county, state, and federal regulatory and procedural requirements have expanded, the Township has employed professional staff for the purpose of managing its daily affairs. This has allowed the elected Commissioners to more effectively transact the growing volume of Township business required by law and spend time establishing important long-range policies that are then carried out by Township staff and appointed volunteers.
Today, Manheim Township’s governmental organization of elected Commissioners, volunteer boards and staff work together to provide for the safety, health, and general welfare of all Township residents. Manheim Township staff plays a vital role as the operational link between the Township elected officials, appointed volunteers, and citizens by providing communication, direct assistance, and coordination of providing public services.