For the past few months, the Chester County commissioners have been hosting what they call "on-the-road" meetings in various communities around the county. March's was in East Vincent Township, in the northernmost reaches of the county; discussion at that meeting touched on everything from preserving farmland to dealing with the construction of natural gas pipelines in the area.
Commissioners say it's a way to connect with residents in a county with so many different faces -- from Main Line towns like Malvern to rural areas like Cochranville. It's also a way to let residents know exactly what the county government actually does -- with one city, 15 boroughs and a slew of smaller communities in Chester County, it's easy to overdose on local government.
This month's meeting was in Nottingham, home to many, many mushroom farms and the national treasure known as the Herr's potato chip factory. (The meeting itself was actually at the Herr's factory, which meant lots of free chips for attendees -- reason enough to go in my book.) Here's a rundown of what was discussed:
- The Chester County Economic Development Council is hoping to revitalize the area along Route 1 in the southern portion of the county. The aim is to preserve rural land in the area while capitalizing on a potential 3 to 4 million square feet of commercial and industrial property, development adviser Bob Grabus said. The development council is launching a marketing campaign and a bus tour for prospective developers in the near future, he said.
- Oxford Borough is building an affordable housing development comprised mostly of three- and four-bedroom homes to help house farmworkers in southern Chester County, for whom finding affordable housing is sometimes tricky. It will be the third such development in the township.
- Representatives from Westgrove and Oxford talked about the county's community revitalization program, which grants funds to the county's "urban centers" -- Coatesville and the 15 boroughs -- for projects like streetscape improvement and infrastructure repairs, all designed to help attract more residents and businesses to the area. Westgrove alone has recieved seven grants from the program since 2003; Oxford credits a $1.2 million streetscape improvement program for helping keep their small town alive.
The next on-the-road meeting hasn't been scheduled yet, but the next regular commissioners' meeting will be held May 9 at 10 a.m. at 313 W. Market Street in West Chester. You can view meeting minutes and agendas here.