Chester County’s latest Comprehensive Plan balances preservation and growth
The Chester County Commissioners recognized the efforts of leadership, board members and staff of the Chester County Planning Commission at a recent Sunshine public meeting, noting national and regional accolades for Landscapes3, Chester County’s newly adopted long-range comprehensive plan. Landscapes3 has received a national award from the American Planning Association (APA) County Planning Division and an Achievement Award in Planning from the National Association of Counties (NACo).
Additionally, the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVFTMA) presented Chester County with the Public Leadership Award at its May annual meeting, based on the newly adopted Landscapes3 Plan and the County’s support of smart transportation options.
The APA presented Chester County with an Award of Excellence in the Comprehensive Plan – Large Jurisdiction category for Landscapes3 at the APA National Conference in San Francisco, California in mid-April.
Chester County will receive recognition for the NACo Achievement Award at the NACo Conference being held in Las Vegas, Nevada in July.
“It’s an honor to receive awards for our new comprehensive plan,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline. “The Landscapes program has a history of winning awards at the national and regional levels and Landscapes3 continues that legacy.
“Planning is a key part of everything we undertake for our residents, and these awards are a validation of the value of sound planning,” Commissioner Kichline added.
Landscapes3 seeks to balance preservation and growth across the county’s landscapes in six goal areas: Preserve, Protect, Appreciate, Live, Prosper, and Connect. The plan recommits to core principles that will position the county and its municipalities for success, including resource preservation, revitalized urban and suburban centers, housing diversity, transportation choices, collaboration, and resiliency.
The plan establishes a preservation and growth vision for the county and its municipalities; guides county government decision-making; guides municipal planning and implementation; and provides a framework for collaboration across municipal boundaries. Development of the plan was guided by the Chester County Planning Commission’s nine-member volunteer advisory board, staff, and by a steering committee of 27 members who volunteered their time and expertise.
“While the County’s name is on this award, the development of Landscapes3 was truly a collaborative effort that involved input from many residents, businesses, municipalities, and planning partners,” noted Commissioner Kathi Cozzone. “A top priority of the update process was to engage with as many people as possible to create a plan that truly had countywide support. New methods for engaging the public were used which resulted in receiving input from literally thousands of residents and other stakeholders. The County is truly grateful for everyone who provided feedback throughout this process.”
The Chester County Planning Commission began the update of its 2009 comprehensive plan, Landscapes2, in late 2016 with the goal of having a new comprehensive plan completed and adopted within the 10-year timeframe required by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
“Landscapes3 represents a renewal of the County’s longtime commitment to balancing growth and preservation while addressing current planning issues that were of minimal concern a decade ago,” stated Commissioner Terence Farrell. “The plan update built on the solid foundation of the previous two Landscapes plans, while bringing something new and innovative to the planning process.”
The Chester County Planning Commission board and staff began implementing the plan after the Chester County Commissioners adopted it in late November 2018.
“We’re already hard at work implementing the plan with our partners,” said Chester County Planning Commission Board Chairman Kevin Kerr. “Some of the projects that are already underway include the Return on Environment: The Economic Value of Protected Open Space study and a National Register Historic Resources Map. The plan’s recommendations and implementation guidance are specific and provide a clear roadmap for implementation over the next 10 years.”