Op/ed: A village for a richer community

As a lifelong Chadds Ford resident now raising my family with my husband here, I agree wholeheartedly that it is time to grow the village. I have been following all the commentary regarding the village, and I wish for the entire picture to be in view – past, present, and future. Not only am I a lifetime resident, but I'm also involved on the development side as well. I believe this offers a perspective that may not have been included in this online forum previously.

Having lived in Chadds Ford for 42 years, my memories as a young girl are those of community and vitality. That has changed over the years as many have noted. Currently, the Anderson family has been tremendous in their efforts over the last two years at the Barn Shoppes and the popular Chadds Cafe. I believe the future of our special village and its revitalization is about enhancing what currently exists here as well as helping sustain it -— to complement what exists — giving energy toward progress and longevity.

I have been involved with preservation and renovation of many of the buildings here in the village throughout the last 15 years – including the original Chadds Ford Inn building, the Baldwin building, and the Arment house on the corner. I know first-hand how difficult an undertaking it is to restore and maintain these historic structures. I am proud to be part of their legacy today.

I have also followed the extensive study and planning regarding the village over the last 15 years. A monumental shift toward village change occurred in 2015 when the Walkable Chadds Ford Village Plan was adopted by our supervisors who also committed to providing the necessary funding for the design, engineering, and construction of the Walkable Chadds Ford project.

The master study document from which the Walkable Chadds Ford efforts arose is the May 2015 Chadds Ford Village Master Plan prepared by the Brandywine Conservancy for Chadds Ford Township. This Master Plan specifically notes the "very real threat to the Village of Chadds Ford is that it will lose its vitality if nothing is done..." and "while the rest of the region capitalizes on the cachet of 'Chadds Ford' and the 'Brandywine Valley,' the village that began it all could slowly wither and die if the situation is not improved." This study also specified that the village went from the "Battlefield to the school" in terms of definition for the scope.

Chadds Ford Live also published several articles in 2015 regarding the essence of planning at the time and the village efforts. The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art’s senior planner (and one of the lead organizers for Walkable Chadds Ford), stated the efforts are "not about trails," rather "building a stronger business climate.” It was stressed that Walkable Chadds Ford was "about the economic health of Chadds Ford Village" and added that the planning "is part memory of the past and part hope for the future."

The Chadds Ford Village Master Plan and the subsequent Walkable Chadds Ford initiative culminated in the creation of the newly adopted Village District Ordinance last July. Which brings us to today’s situation — an ordinance without a map to define its boundaries. The supervisors and the Planning Commission should be applauded for their collective support of the V-Village Ordinance. However, there simply is no room within the currently contemplated V-1 map to implement many of the ideas detailed by the new ordinance, nor create a true walkable village concept as discussed over the years.

I am not weighing in to change opinions; rather, I hope to enhance understanding through the background and overview of connectivity conversations and study to date. The fact remains, a plan is being submitted by-right under the current zoning for six new homes on the property directly adjacent to the Barn Shoppes. Once these houses are built, the opportunity for future village expansion will be lost, and important aspects of Walkable Chadds Ford, including pedestrian walkways, community parking, and a true village center will be at risk.

As a Chadds Ford Live column recently mentioned: “unless there is growth, there is stagnation.” Don’t we deserve the chance to see what a revitalized expanded village could be? Unfortunately, time is of the essence. Where do we go from here and when if we are to have that chance? I fear we risk losing great opportunities for our beloved Chadds Ford, which would be beneficial far into the future.

If you support a village concept, we are kindred spirits. If not, we should be respectful of each other’s opinions. There is room for both on this subject. In all events, it seems clear from this discussion thread, we share a mutual love for Chadds Ford. I also think face-to-face conversations are more effective than shorthand comments online.  If we haven’t met before, I’d be happy to meet you and chat anytime. Feel free to reach out.

Jackie Hochman
Chadds Ford Township
Jackie Hochman is a representative of the company, Peaceful Valley LLC

 

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One Response to “Op/ed: A village for a richer community”

  1. Holly Fickes says:

    Hi! Im Holly and I own a wellness center in the heart of Chadds Ford. Jackie and her dad, Joe, have been so wonderful to me since opening this wellness center in their gorgeous historic building on the corner of rt 100 and Old Baltimore Pike in 2016. They both have received my treatments and felt that my services could be helpful to their friends and family in their community and graciously referred them to me. I look forward to this new venture of the chadds Ford walks. As a small business, we need sustainability and this project will help all of the small businesses here. It’s a small and quaint group and will remain so as long as we have some slight changes. I know that as more people come to visit or even move to this amazing and great historical community, that my services of stress relief and meditation will be needed as our daily lives tend to be a bit stressful!!
    Thank you!!!
    Holly and Steph

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