The Chester County Planning Commission would like to congratulate John Theilacker, AICP Certified Planner and Associate Director of the Brandywine Conservancy, for receiving the “Award for a Leader – Professional Planner” by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association. With a 37-year career of planning work in both the public and private sectors, John has spent 22 of those years working at the Brandywine Conservancy. “It’s been my pleasure working with John on planning efforts in Chester County for many years,” noted the Planning Commission’s Assistant Director, Carol J. Stauffer, who submitted the nomination in recognition of John’s achievements. “John is greatly deserving of this recognition for his dedication to protecting the environment, natural resources and open space through excellent planning in Chester County and all of Pennsylvania.”
Stories of our past help us to bridge the connection between what once was, and what now is.
As one of the founding counties in the nation, Chester County benefits from an abundance of historic structures and features – many of which have been preserved to help us understand and appreciate our region’s past.
“Places are storehouses of memory, collective and individual. The stories these places tell are enriched by layering, by not being frozen in time,” noted James B. Garrison, President of the Chester County Historic Preservation Network. “Appreciation is an inclusive process without artificial boundaries. Since conventional definitions of historic preservation isolate it from the larger meanings found in the cultural landscape, Landscapes3 [the county’s comprehensive plan] uses the word ‘appreciate’ to link stories with places, allowing for change, and for new stories to complement the old.”
In late October, the Chester County Planning Commission held a second and final public meeting for the Southern Chester County Circuit Trail Feasibility Study. There were more than 50 people who attended the virtual meeting – providing great feedback for the project team to move onto the study’s final phase.
The need for a multi-use trail in southern Chester County was initially identified during the update of Landscapes3 as a way to connect the area’s boroughs and growth areas to one another and to the Circuit - the greater Philadelphia area’s network of existing and planned trails. This would not only support the well-documented need for safe bicycle and pedestrian transportation options but also supports the Landscapes3 recommendation to “create a county-wide interconnected trail network.”
Last month, our featured eTools highlighted methods that communities can take to preserve their important historic structures and features. This month, our eTools highlight methods that communities can implement to replicate historic development patterns. Both of these techniques help to create a sense of place within our communities, and provide a visual link to our nation’s past.
One way to replicate historic development patterns within a community is through a “Traditional Neighborhood Development” (or TND), which applies basic design elements to new development projects by requiring compact, pedestrian friendly designs with a mix of land uses.
The Chester County Planning Commission has a number of behind-the-scenes roles that are vital to the organization’s day-to-day activities and successes. Our Administrations and Communications team serves as one of these roles, and this month we’re highlighting one of our Administrative Support team members, Nancy Shields!
As part of the Administration and Communications team, Nancy is the primary administrative support for the Planning Commission’s Community Planning division Director, which includes contract processing for the Municipal Vision Partnership Program (VPP) as well as technical services invoicing. She also supports the Environment and Infrastructure and Design and Technology divisions, works alongside the Senior Demographer to collect and report the county’s Protected Open Space Tracking System (POST) each year, and serves as the assistant to the Senior Review Planner for Municipal Agricultural Security Area 7 year reviews.
Comprehensive plan updates in East Brandywine Township, Highland Township, and Willistown Township, along with a Master Corridor Plan for West Lincoln Highway in Valley Township have been awarded funding of approximately $135,000 through the Vision Partnership Program this fall. East Brandywine Township will also update their Official Map as part of their project, maintaining consistency between their policies and an implementation ordinance.
The Borough of Parkesburg adopted a new comprehensive plan at their Borough Council meeting on October 19, 2020 through unanimous vote by Council. The new plan identifies five key priorities: community amenities and resources; circulation, connectivity and safety; economic development and revitalization; borough services and infrastructure; and land use and community character.
To facilitate the plan update, Parkesburg formed a task force consisting of members of Council and the Borough Planning Commission, as well as local business owners and residents. The task force spent significant time reviewing materials, developing actions, and ensuring that community members were engaged in the process.
While this year’s Fall Planners Forum didn’t start off with a room full of planners chatting over pastries and hot coffee, it was still a great morning filled with lively discussion and conversation among attendees. Over 80 planners and others attended the virtual forum, which was held via Zoom from 8am-10am on Tuesday, October 28th.
As always, the first half hour of the forum was reserved for networking and catching up on current planning initiatives throughout the county. This time (due to the virtual format), attendees were split up into smaller breakout rooms, giving them the opportunity to meet and chat with some new faces.
One of the main concerns identified by Chester County residents during the update of Landscapes3, the county’s comprehensive plan, was the need for more bicycle and pedestrian facilities within their communities.
With funding provided through a grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Transportation and Community Development Initiative program, Planning Commission staff introduced the Active Transportation Municipal Ordinance Inventory and Outreach project– or ‘Active Transportation Inventory’ for short – at the ‘Trains, Trails & Traffic’ event held in December 2019.
An overview and summary of the completed Active Transportation Inventory was recently provided at the ‘Bicycles, Pedestrians, and Transit’ meeting on September 30, 2020.
This past September 30, the Chester County Planning Commission hosted a public transportation meeting, titled “Bicycles, Pedestrians & Transit,” which was a follow up to the “Trails, Trains, and Traffic” meeting held last December.
During this year’s meeting, the Planning Commission presented the results of the county’s Active Transportation Inventory, as well as transportation updates and other important projects happening around the county. All three County Commissioners’ attended the meeting, as well as 72 others, which took place via Zoom on a Wednesday evening.