Throughout 2018, the Chester County Planning Commission was incredibly busy wrapping up Landscapes3, which is a wonderful product that reflects the commitment Chester County has to planning. The plan provides a template for growth and preservation planning for the next 10 years. Read on to learn more about the plan and the ways we will implement it in 2019.
The adoption of Landscapes3 on November 29, 2018 capped a very busy year working on the plan. In 2018, we:
- Worked with a steering committee to create the plan, with input from the public at four regional meetings in the spring, five outreach events, a public meeting in the early fall, and a public hearing in the late fall;
- Shared the draft plan with municipalities and other partners for their input;
- Created a web-based version of the plan; and
- Prepared a video that highlights key aspects of the plan
Landscapes Map Implementation
The Landscapes Map, with its six categories, provides guidance on land use policies, growth areas, and preservation areas. Many of the Vision Partnership Program (VPP) projects completed in 2018 addressed recommendations in the landscapes map categories:
- Atglen adopted a new comprehensive plan, prepared by the Planning Commission, that addressed urban center issues, including downtown revitalization, recreation, and trail connections;
- Easttown completed a comprehensive plan, prepared by the Planning Commission, that tackled suburban center and suburban issues, particularly village redevelopment near the train stations, and pedestrian and bicycle connections;
- East Brandywine adopted ordinance updates that strengthened historic preservation, riparian buffer protection, and multimodal requirements;
- East Vincent finished a comprehensive plan that tackled suburban and rural landscape issues, providing key guidance on bicycle, pedestrian, and trail connectivity;
- Elverson adopted ordinance updates, prepared by the Planning Commission, that modernized its land use regulations to be consistent with an urban center;
- New Garden completed a comprehensive plan encouraging more focused development and less sprawl;
- Thornbury adopted a comprehensive plan, prepared by the Planning Commission, exploring how to connect open space and recreation in a suburban landscape; and
- Honey Brook Borough and Honey Brook Township adopted parallel zoning ordinances encouraging urban center zoning in the borough and smart growth in the township.
In 2018, we also provided more design input into proposed land developments, showing municipalities and developers how planning concepts can easily be incorporated into new development.
- In 2018, we saw a large increase in the number of proposed residential units. Once again, apartments were the largest type, accounting for about half of the units followed by single-family attached.
- Non-residential square footage was lower in 2018 than 2017.
Preserve Goal Implementation
The preserve goal is focused on preservation of open space. In 2018, we tracked open space preservation, identifying 28 percent of the county as protected open space at the end of 2017. During the year, there were a number of significant open space successes, such as the Strawbridge property and an uptick in farmland preservation.
Protect Goal Implementation
The protect goal, which is focused on natural resources, was implemented through a variety of VPP comprehensive plan and ordinance projects, including the West Bradford natural resource protection ordinance work.
Appreciate Goal Implementation
To support historic preservation in 2018, we:
- Coordinated Town Tours and Village Walks, which had an industrial heritage theme and welcomed approximately 2,000 total participants;
- Provided technical assistance to historic preservation organizations;
- Included historic preservation in two Planners’ Forums; and
- Supported the creation of a digital kiosk in the Village of Marshallton.
Live Goal Implementation
The live goal focuses on creating communities that everyone can live in comfortably and addresses a variety of housing, community facility, and park issues. Housing is tracked in our annual housing report, which found that the median housing value in 2017 rose to $337,000, while 1,675 units were built in 2017, with only 30 percent of these units single-family detached.
Coatesville completed its Palmer Park revitalization study, and the first phase of construction began during the year.
Prosper Goal Implementation
The prosper goal addresses economic development and urban revitalization initiatives. In 2018, we:
- Created an interactive map of assets, recent investments, future vision, and development sites for Coatesville;
- Prepared interactive maps of non-residential development opportunities in the Route 724 Corridor and the Route 1 Corridor;
- Provided technical support to urban centers through the VPP grant program, coordination of meetings between municipalities and economic development advocates, and updates to the urban centers’ lists of infrastructure projects;
- Supported an Urban Center Forum focused on housing; and
- With the Agricultural Development Council, produced the Farm Guide, an equine info sheet, and other materials designed to strengthen agriculture.
Connect Goal Implementation
For the connect goal, which includes transportation and other infrastructure, we:
- Completed the Chester Valley Trail West project;
- Finished the Phoenixville Region Multimodal Transportation Study, which recommended a variety of sidewalk, trail, road, and public transportation improvements;
- Developed another WalkWorks route, this time in West Chester;
- Continuously updated the Pipeline Information Center with new information; and
- Through the VPP, supported East Fallowfield’s official map, Malvern’s multimodal transportation study, and East Brandywine/West Brandywine/Uwchlan’s trail study.
New Goals for 2019
The primary task of the Planning Commission in 2019 will be implementing initiatives in Landscapes3. Some of the initiatives include completing an economic value of protected open space study; preparing an annual summary of the amount and type of permanently protected open space in the county; holding an open space summit; updating an inventory of natural resource ordinances; creating a program for assisting municipalities with their natural resources; creating a National Register interactive map; continuing with the Town Tours and Village Walks; initiating an adaptive reuse design guide; generating an affordable housing zoning tool; holding a housing summit; producing an urban design guide; creating an inventory of redevelopment sites; analyzing municipal plans and ordinances for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit provisions; revising the Transportation Improvement Inventory to reflect Landscapes3 priorities and preparing a new Transportation Priority Projects list; and developing an up-to-date inventory of trails in the county.
Ongoing major Landscapes3 initiatives include updating the VPP, maintaining the Pipeline Information Center website, and continuing the Act 247 review process for subdivisions, land developments, ordinances, and plans.