Meet our GIS Planner, Colin Murtoff!

Have you ever wondered how maps are created? Here at the Chester County Planning Commission, our Design and Technology Division’s GIS Planner, Colin Murtoff, works behind-the-scenes to create maps and other resources that are used throughout the county on a daily basis!

As the Planning Commission’s GIS Planner, Colin handles projects that deal mostly with mapping and spatial analysis – a tool commonly used to report statistics and metrics for plans, reports, and studies. On a typical day, Colin can be found working on projects that range from static maps for municipal comprehensive plans and studies, to interactive maps that add additional levels of user-interaction.

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Updates from Thornbury Township

Judy Lizza, Manager of Chester County’s Thornbury Township, recently attended the Chester County Planning Commission’s Board Meeting to provide an update on some current happenings in the Thornbury area.

Lizza discussed the Township’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan update, in which the Chester County Planning Commission served as the main planning consultant, as well as the township’s full zoning ordinance update in 2020 – further helping to implement the vision of their new plan.

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Staff Volunteer Day at Rushton Woods Preserve

Taking advantage of the county’s new policy allowing limited volunteer work, staff members from the Chester County Planning Commission recently spent their afternoon helping to remove invasive species at the Rushton Woods Preserve in Willistown Township!

The Rushton Woods Preserve is managed and owned by Willistown Conservation Trust, whose programs and services include: Land Protection; Bird Conservation; Habitat Restoration; Community Farm; Watershed Protection; and Education and Community Outreach.

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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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