While this past year proved to be a challenge of many levels, the Planning Commission quickly pivoted in mid-March to working remotely and holding virtual meetings with stakeholders by utilizing webinars, public hearings, and many municipal outreach initiatives to continue the implementation of the six goal areas of Landscapes3. The Chester County Planning Commission presented a summary of their yearly activities to the Chester County Board of Commissioners with the release of their 2020 Annual Report.
Open space preservation continued to be a high priority in Chester County in 2020, with several hundred additional acres of land protected, including five farms and a 91-acre addition to Crow’s Nest preserve. Additionally, Planning Commission staff analyzed municipal open space tools and created an interactive map where these local efforts can be viewed online.
The Commissioners’ newly created Environmental & Energy Advisory Board, administered by the Planning Commission, began meeting in the spring of 2020, which quickly began to oversee the development of the county’s draft Climate Action Plan. The Planning Commission also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, through the release of a booklet, “50 Ways Your Community Can Protect Our Planet.”
When it comes to the way we appreciate, Brandywine Battlefield preservation efforts continued throughout 2020 with the release of the latest battlefield study, The Army Marched at Dawn – Southern Battlefield Strategic Landscapes Plan. The county’s Town Tours and Village Walks program also shifted to a virtual program, with six events held and over one thousand households logins overall.
The county’s Housing Choices Committee sponsored the annual A+ homes Forum in the fall, featuring webinars on housing for an aging population and on housing costs. Additionally, the Chester County Complete Count Committee, working with the Planning Commission, led an outreach effort resulting in a 78 percent response rate for the 2020 Census, the second highest county response in Pennsylvania.
In response to the economic impacts of the pandemic, the Planning Commission participated in the county’s Restore Chester County Task Force, developing the Restore Chester County website and partnering with the Chester County Economic Development Council to produce the Chester County Economy Report. Additionally, the Planning Commission’s annual Urban Centers Forum included presentations on business support and main street design.
The Planning Commission also completed an Active Transportation Inventory and Analysis, resulting in a customized report for all 73 municipalities with specific guidance on enhancing walking, biking, and use of public transportation in their communities. An interactive Circuit Trail map was created showing the status of multi-modal trails specific to Chester County as well.
To view more projects and initiatives completed in 2020, view the annual report at https://chescoplanning.org/Resources/PubsAnnualReports.cfm.