Landscapes3 meeting will unveil plans for Chester County's future
● By J. Chambless
By John Chambless
Residents of Southern Chester County
are invited to an April 10 meeting that will help steer the work of
Landscapes3, Chester County's long-range comprehensive plan. A
meeting will be held April 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the New Garden Township
Building, 299 Star Rd., Landenberg.
Residents and area officials can review the plan’s draft map, goals and objectives. The southern region public meeting will begin with an open house display and activities, with a formal presentation at 6 p.m.
Landscapes3 is a project of the Chester County Planning Commission, a nine-member advisory board whose mission is to “provide future growth and preservation plans to citizens, so that they can enjoy a Chester County that is historic, green, mobile and prosperous.”
Initially, the work of the Planning Commission involved inventorying and mapping the county's features and resources. Over time, the Planning Commission has evolved into a planning organization that uses knowledge and training, along with the latest technology, to plan for the future of Chester County. The Planning Commission's activities are enabled, and in some matters mandated, by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
The Planning Commission and its staff work in partnership with federal, state, and regional agencies and municipal governments, focusing on 12 elements that are contained in Landscapes2, the county's comprehensive plan. These elements include land use, natural resources, open space and greenways, agriculture, historic resources, transportation, housing, utilities and infrastructure, community services, economic development and energy conservation.
The primary goal of the Planning Commission is to implement the department's strategic business plan.
To achieve the goals, the Planning Commission is partnering with municipalities and other stakeholders. The department is organized into: Community Planning Services, Infrastructure and Plan Review Services, Planning Information Services, Transportation Planning and Programming Services, and Agricultural Development Services. Specific projects for 2018 include:
Landscapes3, the county's Comprehensive Policy Plan update, will be completed through the use of a steering committee and public input process;
Brandywine Battlefield Strategic Landscapes project will further define this Revolutionary War cultural resource of national significance;
Agricultural Zoning Guidance for Municipalities will provide resources for balancing farm operations with municipal regulation;
Chester Valley Trail West project will investigate the feasibility of extending the trail west from Downingtown to Atglen;
Urban centers will be provided technical planning assistance, including holding a forum; and
Housing options will be explored, including a report on the use of accessory apartments.
There is an online forum at www.chescoplanning.org that allows public comment. Among the comments is one from March 14 that asks, “Having attended the public meeting on March 6 and having reviewed your work product, I believe there is much to gain with a higher priority and greater emphasis on sustainable agriculture in the plan and on the map.
“The reasons are almost infinite. Nothing is more fundamental to quality of life and preservation of character of place than sustainable agriculture. Health is at the core of quality of life and is best supported by local nutrient rich dietary options. Farm land, productive open space, is less prone to future development. Farm land is the epitome of preservation. It is open space that is both beneficially employed and economically viable, while providing food security in a symbiotic community with town centers.
“The big picture, Chester County, a health conscious food mecca! It may be Napa for wine, but when it comes to unparalleled farm to table, it is Chester County, hands down. This vision, as a primary goal, is spirited enough to be the branding that cohesively unifies the comprehensive plan.”
In a response, the Planning Commission writes, “We agree that Chester County is very fortunate with respect to our soils and existing farms and related businesses. Agriculture will be addressed throughout our plan, as it has implications across a variety of areas – land use, economic development, cultural heritage, and more.”
A comment from Feb. 26 reads, “In the 'Live' section: While I appreciate the county’s goal to ensure diverse housing, I’d like to know how we plan to go about achieving that goal in a real estate market driven by significant profit opportunities. Same with the goal for improved mass transit: How does the county anticipate achieving this, when PennDOT and SEPTA have the final say? And, finally, in the 'Prosper' section, exactly how does the county plan to support workforce development? Like the others, it’s a great goal, but doesn’t mean much without a concrete plan for making it happen.”
The Planning Commission response reads: “You correctly identify that the county does not fully control all aspects of these areas, but by working with partners and supporting our municipalities we can have a positive impact. Setting our vision through the comprehensive plan is a first step in ensuring that our partners and municipalities understand our priorities, and in advancing new programs or refocusing existing programs to achieve that vision.
“We are currently working to develop recommendations, which will address the details of how to implement the vision. Those recommendations will be available for public and municipal review and comment later this year. The Chester County Workforce Development Board is the local entity responsible for the strategic planning and promotion of an effective workforce development system in the county, and you can find more information on their programs at www.chesco.org/159/Workforce-Development-Board.”
For more information, visit www.chescoplanning.org.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.