In 2004, six municipalities recognized that the pattern of growth experienced in the Phoenixville region was straining its natural, historic and community resources. In response, the Townships of Charlestown, Schuylkill, East Pikeland, East Vincent, West Vincent, and the Borough of Phoenixville formed the Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee (PRPC) and began its journey toward the creation of a regional Comprehensive Plan under the guidance of a professional planner and a solicitor. Supervisor Hugh Willig and Planning Commissioner Rick Reis have both served on the PRPC representing Charlestown since its inception. A map outlining the boundaries of the Phoenixville Regional group is shown here*:
* Note: East Vincent Township withdrew from the PRPC in 2010.
Before a regional Plan could be developed, the group needed to study the amount and types of development permitted under the existing ordinances in the member municipalities, and then develop tools that could reduce that amount of development to a level that more realistically reflects the needs of the land and the capacity of the infrastructure. This was done by generating a trend build-out analysis to estimate what number of housing units and commercial square footage could be built in vacant parcels under current ordinances. Next, the group examined tools available to reduce this development capacity as permitted under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). This led to the development of the Regional Comprehensive Plan.
The draft Phoenixville Regional Comprehensive Plan was completed in June 2007. The goal of the Regional Plan is to preserve natural and agricultural resources while focusing development in the region’s traditional downtown, villages and commercial centers, including Phoenixville’s downtown and the Rt. 724 corridor.
The Charlestown Township Planning Commission recommended adoption of the Regional Plan at their August 14, 2007 meeting, and the Board of Supervisors held public discussions and adopted the Plan at their September 4, 2007 meeting.
Following adoption of the Regional Plan by each member municipality, the group is now implementing the plan. The local municipal zoning and development ordinances are the PRPC’s most important tools to limit and direct growth. To bring these ordinances in line with the goals of the region, revisions will be made as needed to each municipality’s zoning and development ordinances during the Implementation Phase. Charlestown’s ordinances were very close to compliance as were the majority of the others.
Now that the Regional Plan has been adopted by all the members, zoning ordinance changes from any municipality will undergo plan review by the regional group. A regional committee consisting of one member of each governing body and one member from each Planning Commission will be created to perform reviews. Which applications are to be reviewed is spelled out in the Regional Plan. In addition, each municipality has the option of referring any subdivision or land development plans it chooses to the group for review. The regional has an advisory status similar to that of the Chester County Planning Commission, and the review period runs concurrently with the CCPC’s review.
The PRPC meets monthly on the last Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Schuylkill Township Building, 111 Valley Park Road, Phoenixville, PA.