Encouraging Sketch Plans

Posted December 16, 2021


Too often, local municipal planning commissions receive fully-engineered plans that the developer doesn't want to change because so much money has been put into the engineering. Often, there is a better design that meets local planning goals and either lowers costs for a developer or makes the development more marketable! To avoid this problem, municipalities should use sketch plans as much as possible.

Sketch plans not only give a municipality the ability to guide design characteristics and layout features, but also help avert potential development proposal issues during the project's official review. Another benefit of a sketch plan includes increased cooperation through communication with project developers, builders, and key municipal representatives.

Generally, sketch plans should not be made mandatory because a sketch plan submitted under a mandatory requirement must be processed as a preliminary plan, which means it acquires preliminary plan approval status and the 90-day time limitation for a decision on the plan must be met.

Examples of municipalities that encourage sketch plans in Chester County include Tredyffrin Township, West Bradford Township, and Uwchlan Township, which include a section about sketch plans in their Subdivision and Land Development Ordinances.

Information on a sketch plan should include existing site conditions, existing context (such as nearby dwellings), environmentally protected areas and sensitive areas to be preserved, zoning requirements, basic development concepts, and conceptual stormwater management.

The Chester County Planning Commission encourages the use of sketch plans and will review sketch plans upon request, at no charge. Learn more about sketch plans.

The Planning Commission's eTools cover a wide array of planning topics from natural resources to economic development. The tools are easy to read, providing a quick overview of each topic, a brief explanation of how it works, and considerations for addressing the topic or regulating use. An alphabetical listing of eTools is available in our Municipal Corner.