Background Materials — Glossary


Agriculture, Communities and Rural Environment, PA Act 38 of 2005, is a state law to ensure ordinances adopted by municipalities to regulate normal agricultural operations are not in violation of state law. A local ordinance cannot exceed, duplicate, or conflict with state law. An owner or operator of a normal agricultural operation may request that the Office of the Attorney General review a local ordinance that the owner or operator believes to be unauthorized under ACRE.

Active Transportation Options

Active transportation includes walking, biking, and transportation by other human-powered vehicles, such as wheelchairs and scooters; options or facilities for active transportation include trails, bike lanes, and sidewalks.

Adaptive Reuse

The process of repurposing existing buildings for viable new uses and modern day functions, rather than demolishing them. Reuse allows for a building's continued use and helps it remain a viable community asset.

Affordably Priced Housing

Housing which does not create a cost burden in which more than 30 percent of the household income is used for gross housing costs, including utilities.

Affordable Housing

Housing that is directed at households earning at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

A federal Act that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in regard to employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government programs and services.

Autonomous Vehicles

Also known as driverless cars, autonomous vehicles are highly technological vehicles which are able to operate without human navigation.

Base Year

A base year is the starting point for an index that measures change, usually economic, over a series of years. A base year can reflect conditions during a single year, or conditions over a span of years that are then averaged together. The base year for Landscapes3 is generally 2015.

Best Management Practice

A technique to most appropriately manage natural resources on a site, based on unique site conditions, planning, and engineering requirements. A BMP involves site development design that incorporates the most suitable technique, or combination of techniques, to best manage the nresource.

Brandywine Battlefield

The Battle of Brandywine was a single-day land battle that had the greatest number of troops actively engaged in combat of any battle in the American Revolution. Designated as a National Historical Landmark in 1961, the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program recognized a revised planning boundary for the Battlefield that spans approximately 35,000 acres in 15 municipalities in Chester and Delaware counties as a result of research conducted in recent years.


Abandoned or underutilized industrial and commercial sites that have, or may potentially have, some environmental contamination. Brownfields are most often located in developed areas with existing utilities and transportation facilities. Because of environmental problems and costs associated with clean up, brownfields are often passed over for development while large investments are made to convert greenfields into industrial and commercial uses.

Certified Local Governments (CLGs)

A program jointly administered by the National Park Service and State Historic Preservation Offices in which a local community applies for and may be granted the designation, which enables the community to apply (through the state) for funds slated for historic preservation activities.

Chesco Bus

Next to SEPTA, the largest public transportation service in Chester County. With two routes, it delivers scheduled, fixed-route transportation connecting residents and employees to popular areas such as Coatesville, Parkesburg, West Chester and Kennett Square.

Circuit Trail Network

A network of regional, multi-use trails in the nine-county, bi-state, Greater Philadelphia area, which includes Chester County. The hundreds of miles of trails are available for people who enjoy biking, running and walking. The Circuit Trails Coalition consists of nonprofit organizations, foundations and agencies.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

An arrangement between a farm and local residents designed to support a farm operation so that the farm becomes the "community's farm". Growers and consumers provide mutual support and share the risks and benefits of food production.

Community Revitalization Program

Urban center municipalities in Chester County may apply through this funding program to support infrastructure improvements, streetscape improvements, economic development opportunities, and other projects that support the revitalization of neighborhoods and communities. The Urban Center municipalities are required to develop revitalization plans that identify proposed activities to promote revitalization and promote future growth.

Complete Streets

A transportation approach where the design enables safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities.

Conservation Corridor

A linear area of largely undeveloped lands that serve to link clusters of undeveloped lands, and which are or could be preserved permanently through open space means or protected through regulatory means. Conservation corridors commonly occur along waterways or ridgelines, although they can also extend through woodlands and wetland complexes.

Conservation Easement

A voluntary and legally binding agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government that limits certain uses on a property to achieve conservation objectives while keeping the property in the landowner's ownership and control. The holder of the conservation easement has the right to block inappropriate uses while the owner may continue to use the land within the constraints set in the easement. Conservation easements do not create a right for the public to access a property, unless specifically established, and bind present and future landowners.

Conservation Easement, Agricultural

An interest in land, less than fee simple, which represents the right to prevent the development or improvement of a parcel for a purpose other than agricultural production. The easement may be granted by the owner of the land to a third party or to the Commonwealth, to a county governing body, or to a unit of local government. The easement is granted in perpetuity, as the equivalent of covenants running with the land.

Corridor Safety Improvements Area

Portions of highway corridors that have been studied and include recommendations for safety improvements. Funding for improvements is provided for in the region's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Critical Congestion Area

Areas that experience significant peak hour traffic congestion that extends beyond the primary roadway corridor from which it originates.

Dark Skies

Places where the darkness of the night sky is relatively free of interference from artificial light intrusion and light pollution, advocated for to reduce energy waste, impacts on ecosystems, and disruptions to visibility.

Emergency Operations Plan

A county plan that complies with and implements the requirements of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Services Code to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the county. The County EOP serves as a bridge between municipal Emergency Operations Plans and the Pennsylvania State Emergency Operations Plan.

Exceptional Value Drainage Area

Also referred to as Exceptional Value (EV) Waters, these are surface waters that are designated by the PA DEP due to meeting the criteria for a High Quality Waters and one or more additional criteria, and are afforded special protections across their watershed. (See also High Quality Drainage Area)

Experiential Retail

Stores that offer a distinctive experience to shoppers, reflecting a shift in retail due to spending habits changing from buying things to buying experiences. Examples would be sporting goods stores featuring golf-stroke simulators, cookware stores teaching cooking classes, or grocers serving beer and wine at in-store bars.


The area adjoining a stream, river or watercourse that has been or may experience flooding in a storm event.

Great Recession

Within the U.S., the economic downturn that extended from December 2007 to June 2009, the longest downturn since World War II. More broadly, the term represents the decline in economic activity during the late 2000s, and applies to the U.S. recession and the ensuing global recession.

Greenhouse Gases

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, impacting the average temperature at the Earth' surface. Primary greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. Significant increases in the level of greenhouse gases contribute to climate change and global warming.


Economically obsolescent, outdated, or underutilized retail commercial lands such as older retail malls or strip centers that no longer attract adequate investment or tenants. Greyfields typically are not environmentally contaminated, but may contain older types of infrastructure that may need to be replaced or significantly updated. (See also Brownfields)

Growth Area, Designated Growth Area

A region described in a comprehensive plan that includes and surrounds a city, borough or village, and within which residential and mixed use development is permitted or planned for at densities of one unit to the acre or more, and within which commercial, industrial and institutional uses are permitted or planned for, within which public infrastructure services are provided or planned. In Landscapes3, this area is comprised of the Urban Center, Suburban Center, Suburban and Rural Center landscapes.

Hazard Mitigation Plan

A plan focused on projects and programs that can be undertaken to decrease the impact of future disasters.

High Quality Drainage Area

Also referred to as High Quality (HQ) Waters, these are surface waters that are designated by the PA DEP due to meeting a select list of criteria, and are afforded special protections across their watershed. (See also Exceptional Value Drainage Area)

Historic District, Local

A collection of historically significant resources (sites, buildings, structures, or objects) contained within a designated district that is designated at the local level through ordinance, or at the state level through PA Act 167, the Historic District Act of 1961. Depending upon the origin of designation, different levels of regulation, protection, and consideration for an historic resource are applicable.

Historic District, National Register

A collection of historically significant resources (sites, buildings, structures, or objects) within an area that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a designated district, providing a level of regulation, protection, and consideration for the district and the resources within it. For more information: National Park Service

Historic Resource Atlas

A municipal generated mapping inventory of historic resources (districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects) that are 50 years and older and that follows National Register of Historic Places criteria as a guideline.

Impaired Streams

Surface waters that have been determined by PA DEP to not be achieving water quality standards for one or more of the four protected uses of surface waters: aquatic life, potable water, recreation, and fish consumption. An impaired designation triggers additional consideration for a stream and its watershed.

Important Bird Areas

Critical sites designated by a technical committee overseen by Audubon that include migratory staging areas, winter roost sites, and prime breeding areas for songbirds, wading birds, and other species. Designation serves to bring attention to the most essential and vulnerable areas, and promote habitat conservation. For more information: Audubon

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)

Technologies that advance transportation safety and mobility and enhance productivity by integrating advanced communications technologies into transportation infrastructure and vehicles. ITS encompasses a broad range of wireless and traditional communications-based information and electronic technologies.

Keystone Corridor

The AMTRAK passenger rail line connecting Harrisburg to Philadelphia. The corridor is 104 miles long.

Landscapes3 Steering Committee

A group of volunteers selected by the Board of County Commissioners to assist in the development of Landscapes3, including identification of the visions, goals, objectives, and implementation actions. Steering Committee members represented a diversity of perspectives, and met on a regular basis to guide the process.


Involving several modes of transportation, including vehicular, pedestrian, bicyclist, public transit, and ride hailing services.

Multi-use Trail

Facilities commonly used by bicyclists, pedestrians, and other non-motorized modes of travel such as equestrians, cross country skiers, rollerbladers, baby strollers, and those utilizing wheelchairs. Multi-use trails are primarily found within state parks, municipal parks or as regional trails such as Chester County's Chester Valley and Struble Trails.

Municipalities Planning Code (Act 247)

The State enabling legislation that governs planning in Pennsylvania, including how local planning commissions operate, development and content of comprehensive plans, and the ordinances that implement comprehensive plans.

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)

A system owned or operated by a public agency, such as a city, town, county, flood control district, state, or federal agency that does not connect to the sanitary sewer system and does not lead to a wastewater treatment plant.

Natural Heritage Program

State-wide program that serves to gather and provide information on the location and status of important ecological resources to help inform decisions.

National Historic Landmark

Nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.

National Register of Historic Places

The official list of the nation's historic places that are worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources. These can include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects, which are significant in American (national, state, regional, and/or local) history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.

On-lot Sewage Disposal Systems

A sewage system self-contained on a property, consisting of piping, tanks or other facilities for collecting, treating or disposing of sewage into a soil absorption area or spray field or by retention in a retaining tank.

Open Space

Land of any size that is not covered by buildings or pavement, and may include fields, working lands, or other vegetated areas of previously developed properties or farms. (See Protected Open Space below)

Open Space, Protected

Land or water areas that have little or no development; are used for working lands, recreation or preserving cultural or natural resources, including prime agricultural soils; and are protected from development either permanently or on a long-term basis. (See Open Space above)

Pipeline Information Center (PIC)

A Chester County website dedicated to information on pipeline issues including pipeline safety, the pipeline review process, and the latest information on pipeline project activity within Chester County and the surrounding region.

Pop-up Uses

Uses that are operated for a temporary period of time and reflect seasonal market demands, such as a farmers' market or a pop-up beer garden.

Preservation Partnership Program (PPP)

A county program that provides funding to nonprofit conservation organizations and land trusts for land preservation projects and trail construction projects. The preserved sites include publicly accessible nature preserves, natural areas, and farms.

Prime Agricultural Soils

Soils designated by the USNRCS as such because they are well-drained, fertile soils that are suitable for a wide range of crops and require less fertilizer, irrigation and conservation measures than most soils; typically correspond to Class 1 and 2 soil classifications.

Protected Open Space Tracking System (POST)

A county web-based database and mapping program of parcels of land that have been permanently protected from development and which is updated on an annual basis. (See Open Space, Protected)

Riparian Corridors

The corridor of land immediately adjacent to a stream or water body that serves as a transition between aquatic and terrestrial environments, and which directly affects and/or is affected by the adjacent water body.

Rural Resource Area

An area described in a comprehensive plan within which rural resource uses including, but not limited to, agriculture, timbering, mining, quarrying and other extractive industries, forest and game lands and recreation and tourism are encouraged and enhanced, and within which development that is compatible with or supportive of such uses in permitted, and within which public infrastructure services are not provided except in villages. In Landscapes3, the Rural Resource Area is comprised of the Rural and Agricultural landscapes.

Sewage Facilities Program (Act 537)

A state act that requires all municipalities to develop and implement a sewage facilities plan to help address existing sewage disposal needs and help prevent future problems.

Smart Growth

An approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement.

Soil Health

The continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.

Solid Waste Program (Act 101)

Pennsylvania act that mandates how municipalities manage waste, including recycling. The goals of the Act are to reduce Pennsylvania's municipal waste generation, recycle at least 25 percent of waste, procure and use recycled and recyclable materials in state governmental agencies, and educate the public about the benefits of recycling and waste reduction.

Stormwater Management Program (Act 167)

A state act that mandates counties to adopt a stormwater management plan for each watershed. The municipalities are then required to adopt and enforce the provisions and stormwater control standards of the PA DEP approved pla.

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)

The maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and safely meet water quality standards.

Traditional Village Form

A historic settlement pattern comprised of a compact mix of land uses and structures, predominantly residential in character.

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)

A zoning tool that separates the development rights from a parcel (i.e., the "sending parcel") and applies those rights to another parcel (i.e., the "receiving parcel") that can be developed at a higher density, thus preserving the sending parcel for agricultural or other non-development use. TDR is a market-based approach that compensates the sending parcel and offers advantages to the receiving parcel through additional density.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD)

A mixed use, walkable neighborhood generally located within a quarter mile of a transit stop or station and designed to encourage the use of public transit. These developments use a compact, village-like land use pattern that mixes residential and local-scale retail and commercial land uses at densities that are typically higher than found in conventional suburban development.

Transportation Improvement Inventory (TII)

A comprehensive record of known transportation needs and projects within Chester County that is updated biennially and contains projects that have been recommended to the Planning Commission by municipalities and other stakeholders.

Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

The regionally agreed-upon list of priority transportation projects, as required by federal law. The TIP shows estimated costs and schedule by project phase and is financially constrained based on the amount of federal, state, and local funds that will be available for transportation projects in the region. The TIP includes roadway, bridge, public transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and freight related transportation projects.

Underground Railroad

The effort of enslaved African American to gain their freedom by escape into free states and Canada. In some places the Underground Railroad was deliberate and organized and resulted in a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved African Americans with the aid of abolitionists and allies.

Universal Design

Process and associated features that remove barriers to access and seek to create buildings and public spaces that are inherently accessible to all people, including the elderly and people with disabilities.

Vision Partnership Program (VPP)

A county grant program administered by the Planning Commission to promote cooperation between the County and local governments in the implementation of Landscapes, the County's comprehensive policy plan. Grants awarded to municipalities under the Vision Partnership Program are provided to assist them in achieving consistency with the principles of Landscapes through their local planning programs.

VISTA 2025

The county's economic development strategy that addresses quality of place, talent attraction, business expansion, innovation, and infrastructure support.


A measure of how friendly a place or area is to walking. Walkability is an important concept in sustainable urban design.

WalkWorks ChesCo

An initiative that aims to increase physical activity and reduce obesity rates in Chester County by promoting places and opportunities to walk, supporting walking groups, planning and promoting walking events, and coordinating walking challenges.


Chester County's integrated water resources plan, produced by the Chester County Water Resources Authority, which also serves as the countywide Act 167 Stormwater Plan.

Workforce Housing

Housing that is affordable to households earning between 80 and 120 percent of area median income (AMI). Some jurisdictions may define workforce housing based on other, locally determined criteria.

Working Lands

Farms and forests that support a healthy and vibrant agricultural system. Working lands supply valuable resources, support land-based livelihoods, and provide a link to shared agricultural heritage.