Montgomery, Chester county planning commissions meet to discuss issues

The Montgomery County Planning Commission shared ideas and planning issues with Chester County’s planning commission at a meeting earlier this month, marking the first time in years the two authorities have met with each other to bounce around ideas.

“The focus of our meeting was to talk about, specifically, transportation projects that relate to both of our counties and our suburban business parks,” said Jody Holton, the executive director of the Montgomery County Planning Commission. “At this point the staff felt like it was a good time to meet since we did have Act 89 transportation funding passed. We both have an interest in how we have more flexible zoning and other ordinances in our business parks to make them more competitive in the region.”

Holton said she learned that several people from Chester County work in one of the approximately 50,000 jobs in Upper Merion Township and roughly the same in Tredyffrin Township.

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“Those are neighboring townships so we have a number of jobs that are shared in the same corridor,” she said.

Ronald Bailey, the executive director of the Chester County planning commission, said on Tuesday that he showed census bureau data that showed several people who live in Chester County work in King of Prussia and several people live in Montgomery County, specifically in Upper Merion, work in Chester County.

The two county’s also share parts of trails, specifically the Chester Valley Trail and the Schuylkill River Trail.

“We have portions of those trials that are in both counties. The Chester Valley Trail that Chester County has been working on for the past couple of years, and we as well have been working on our piece that takes the trail from King of Prussia into Norristown,” Holton said. “We talked about those projects and what they mean for the area in terms of mobility, choices and recreation for both of our counties.”

Holton also said the Schulkyill river trail crosses into Chester County around Phoenixville and comes back into Montgomery County south of Pottstown.

“The crossing that goes from Chester County to Pottstown will be built on one of the 422 bridges. It’s a piece of a new bridge. That’s definitely a place where we’ve coordinated in the past with Chester County and PennDOT as well to make sure that our transportation improvements are beneficial to both counties.”

Bailey said it was an important meeting and one that needs to occur more often.

“We want to impress the inter connectedness of the two counties,” Bailey said in an interview on Tuesday.

When the two planning commissions meet, they do not take any formal action or take votes, but it is rather an opportunity to exchange ideas.

“What we did bring back to our commissioners is that we have these shared interests, shared transportation, shared economic development aspirations and initiatives such as our turnpike reinvestment study. We have shared priorities,” Holton said.

Both Holton and Bailey said meetings between the two county planning commissions will take place on an as needed basis. Holton, however, also said there was some discussion of making it an annual meeting.