Warmer Weather Welcomes Back Outdoor Dining

Dining “al fresco,” or outdoors, is something that many people look forward to during the warmer months, and sometimes even year round. When it comes to open air dining, Chester County has many great options to choose from – whether it’s in one of our bustling urban centers or a quiet back patio.

Now that people are beginning to feel comfortable heading out to their favorite dining establishments, outdoor dining and food trucks become great options for those who are looking for a more casual outdoor atmosphere with their friends, children, or even their pets!

While outdoor dining typically expands a restaurant’s space by utilizing sidewalks, patios, and parking areas, other types of outdoor dining establishments – such as breweries, wineries, and food  trucks have become increasingly popular as well. In many cases, outdoor dining is a feature of a community event or festival and can help to boost the local economy by attracting more visitors.

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Water Resources Surveys

The Chester County Water Resources Authority (CCWRA) is updating the county’s water resources plan and stormwater management plan to ensure that they continue to address Chester County’s evolving water resources needs. A key component of this process is collecting public input. Please complete these two short surveys to help the county better understand your preferences and access to water-based recreational activities, as well as your concerns about water resources:

Checking In with Landscapes3 – First Quarter Success Story Highlights

You might have heard the term “Landscapes3” before, and you might even know that it’s Chester County’s comprehensive plan – but did you know that Landscapes3 is what helps guide the future for all of Chester County?

Implementing Landscapes3 requires coordinated efforts among the county’s municipalities, government, landowners, stakeholders, and residents. This includes everything from planning and design, to programs and services, as well as the ability to adapt in an ever-changing world. While we recently highlighted the county’s 2020 Success Stories in regards to the six goals found in Landscapes3, efforts have continued throughout the first quarter of 2021 as well!

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Meet our Office & Communications Manager, Beth Cunliffe

If you’ve ever wondered how a staff of 37 manages to “effortlessly” transition to a virtual work environment amidst a global pandemic, chances are they’ve got a pretty great team working behind the scenes. Here at the Chester County Planning Commission, our Office and Communications Manager, Beth Cunliffe, knows how to keep things running smoothly!

Beth began her career with Chester County back in 2006, when she was first hired as the Office Administrator at the Chester County Water Resources Authority. The following year, an opportunity to advance her skills became available, and Beth became the Office Manager at the Chester County Planning Commission. In 2017, she was promoted to the Planning Commission’s Office and Communications Manager, adding the communications staff to her team.

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The Importance of Chester County’s “Main Streets”

A vital downtown not only serves as an icon of a healthy community, but also as a foundation for economic health, local quality of life, and community pride. In Chester County, there are 15 boroughs plus the City of Coatesville which each serve as a civic, economic, and population center with its own unique set of characteristics and “sense of place.”

In the Planning world, these town centers are often referred to as “Main Streets” – a program which stems from the 1980s and includes downtowns that have established central business districts. For sustained economic success, Main Street areas need strong support from their communities in order to cultivate partnerships, encourage local involvement, and provide resources and overall guidance.

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2020 Non-Residential Construction Report

In addition to residential housing data, the Chester County Planning Commission tracks the county’s completed non-residential construction on an annual basis.

Last year, Chester County saw an addition of 961,413 non-residential building square feet through 39 various projects. This included a mix of retail, restaurant, office, institutional, and industrial buildings – with institutional and commercial uses accounting for the majority of the new square footage.

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Chester County Journeying Toward Freedom with 2021 Town Tours

Join Chester County this summer in “Journeying Toward Freedom” during the 2021 Town Tours and Village Walks program!

This year’s program will kick off on Thursday, June 17, with a virtual ceremony and Juneteenth Commemoration starting at 5:00 pm, followed by optional in-person walking tours at 6:45 pm at the Chester County History Center.

Much like last year, the virtual programs will occur “Live at 5” on Thursday evenings throughout June, July, and August – however this year will bring back the program’s original walking tour component (on a limited basis).

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Planning Commission Working on Two-year Mobility Study for Downingtown Area

Downingtown Borough and its surrounding municipalities have experienced significant growth in recent years, which is likely to continue in the years to come. The Chester County Planning Commission and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), working with eight municipalities, are wrapping up a two-year mobility study which serves to identify likely impacts of planned growth, projected growth and several transportation improvements – such as the relocation of the Downingtown Train Station. The findings will be presented during two online public meetings on 5/18 and 5/20. Meeting participants will review the study’s results and recommendations at several representative locations throughout the Downingtown area. More information about the study and registration for the public meetings can be found here: dvrpc.org/Mobility/Downingtown/

Schyulkill River Trail Expansion

The Chester County Commissioners, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), the Schuylkill River Greenways and the Circuit Trails Coalition, recently announced the groundbreaking on Chester County’s latest extension to the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT).

“Congratulations to Chester County’s Commissioners and staff for making this complicated and critically important trail project happen,” noted Patrick Starr, Executive Vice President, PA Environmental Council and Circuit Trails Coalition, Vice Chair. “The Schuylkill River Trail is one of the most important in Pennsylvania and is a priority of the Circuit Trails network here in the Philadelphia area. Completing gaps, like this one, improves what we refer to as ‘connectivity’ of the system and dramatically increases usage by giving through access to so many new users as well as current trail users.”

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Chester County Funding News

The Chester County Planning Commission helps to provide grant information and resources to Chester County’s municipalities, organizations, businesses, and residents. The following includes recent announcements from funding programs which support the “Connect” goal in Landscpaes3.

They include the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Multimodal Transportation Fund, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Multimodal Transportation Fund, and the DCED Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program.

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