New Conservation Subdivision Design Guide
Posted August 19, 2022
As one of the fastest growing counties in the state, balancing growth and conservation is important in Chester County. Fortunately, conservation subdivisions can serve as a powerful tool to strike this balance.
Conservation subdivisions are housing developments that preserve at least 50 percent of the tract as open space while allowing the construction of the same number of units (or more) that are allowed within the base zoning district. They can preserve a significant portion of open space, and direct development away from natural, scenic, historic, and agricultural areas.
The Chester County Planning Commission (CCPC) released a new Conservation Subdivision Design Guide to help municipalities develop effective ordinances that enable conservation subdivisions resulting in vibrant places that harmonize with the surrounding community. The guide includes background information about existing conservation subdivisions, example design elements, sample ordinance language, and tips on getting started with adopting or amending a conservation subdivision ordinance.
Conservation subdivisions can provide many benefits to their residents and the public, but they can also provide a number of benefits to the municipality and developers. Some advantages of conservation subdivisions may include: significant open space preservation; fewer environmental impacts; recreational opportunities; flexible designs; reduced development costs due to less infrastructure needed like roads and stormwater management facilities; reduced energy consumption; lower maintenance costs; and a greater sense of community.
While the guide provides sample language for ordinance provisions, municipalities are strongly encouraged to consult with a planning consultant and/or solicitor when developing or modifying their ordinances. CCPC's professional planners are always happy to discuss potential solutions with municipalities and offer advice on planning matters.