Res­i­dents of­fer views on growth

Work on long-range com­pre­hen­sive plan con­tin­ues

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

When it comes to planning Ch­ester County’s fu­ture, there are many voices and view­points about ways to bal­ance preser­va­tion with growth.

That’s why the Ch­ester County Planning Com­mis­sion re­cently con­ducted a pub­lic meet­ing about Land­scapes3, the county’s next long-range com­pre­hen­sive plan. About 50 county res­i­dents at­tended the meet­ing, which in­cluded an hour-long open house at the be­gin­ning with sta­tions about the key is­sues in Land­scapes3: pre­serve, pro­tect, ap­pre­ci­ate, live, work, and con­nect. At these sta­tions, dif­fer­ent plan­ners were avail­able to an­swer res­i­dents’ ques­tions about the top­ics.

There were two other sta­tions that al­lowed res­i­dents to share in­put about the plan’s vi­sion state­ment and where they thought the ad­di­tional 55,000 new hous­ing units should go in Ch­ester County over the next 30 years. In ad­di­tion to new hous­ing units, a Delaware Val­ley Re­gional Planning Com­mis­sion re­port in­di­cates there

will be 146,000 new res­i­dents and 87,000 new jobs in the next three decades.

Dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion por­tion of the meet­ing, Ch­ester County Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Mark Rup­sis stressed the im­por­tance of pub­lic in­put, and noted that Land­scapes, the orig­i­nal com­pre­hen­sive plan, and Land­scapes2, the cur­rent plan, are award-win­ning pub­li­ca­tions.

“This is one of the most im­por­tant pro­cesses that county gov­ern­ment goes

through,” he said to a stand­ing-room-only crowd at the West White­land Town­ship Build­ing.

Ch­ester County Planning Com­mis­sion Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Brian O’Leary said sprawl has been lim­ited since the adop­tion of the first Land­scapes in 1996, and 27 per­cent of the county has been pre­served as pro­tected open space. He added that down­towns have been re­vi­tal­ized, and trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture has ex­panded and im­proved.

O’Leary also high­lighted re­sults of the Land­scapes3 pub­lic sur­vey that was avail­able from mid-May un­til the end of June. About 6,000

peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in the sur­vey and open space, and the en­vi­ron­ment was a very high pri­or­ity. Other high pri­or­i­ties in­cluded healthy life­styles, guid­ing growth, sense of place, and vi­brant econ­omy. Mod­er­ate pri­or­i­ties in­cluded mod­ern in­fra­struc­ture, trans­porta­tion choice, and hous­ing op­tions.

Sev­eral res­i­dents shared their views dur­ing the pub­lic com­ment por­tion of the meet­ing. They ex­pressed in­ter­est in more mixed-use com­mu­ni­ties along with more con­nec­tiv­ity of side­walks and trails in some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Other res­i­dents dis­cussed the im­por­tance of the agri­cul­ture

in­dus­try and his­toric re­sources in the county.

West Vin­cent res­i­dent Donna Bren­nan, who is vice pres­i­dent of the French & Pick­er­ing Creeks Con­ser­va­tion Trust Board of Di­rec­tors, said she’s in­ter­ested in Land­scapes3 is­sues such as the en­vi­ron­ment and preser­va­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources and open space. Her husband, James Bergey, said he be­lieves it’s im­por­tant to fo­cus on re­spon­si­ble de­vel­op­ment

and restora­tion of nat­u­ral habi­tats.

East Brandy­wine res­i­dent Sarah Cas­par said Land­scapes3 is good be­cause it in­cludes land con­ser­va­tion but county of­fi­cials also need to pay at­ten­tion to large de­vel­op­ments and pro­vide a bal­ance be­tween both is­sues. She also be­lieves there isn’t enough low-in­come hous­ing in the county.

West Vin­cent res­i­dent Har­riet Stone, who is a mem­ber of her town­ship’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, talked about the great sense of com­mu­nity she has wit­nessed in her mu­nic­i­pal­ity and through­out the county.

The meet­ing “was a great op­por­tu­nity to present the vi­sion state­ment and goals as a progress doc­u­ment to high­light what was good and also ar­eas that might be clar­i­fied,” said Jim Gar­ri­son, one of the Land­scapes3 Steer­ing Com­mit­tee mem­bers who is also a project man­ager at the Van­guard Group and vice pres­i­dent of the Ch­ester County His­toric Preser­va­tion Net­work. “The meet­ing for­mat of in­for­mal small dis­cus­sions fol­lowed by the larger pub­lic fo­rum helped to bring out mul­ti­ple points of view.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, v is itwww.c hes co planning. org.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Ch­ester County res­i­dents at­tend a Land­scapes3 pub­lic meet­ing at the West White­land Town­ship Build­ing.

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