Affordably-priced housing for professionals, those in the trades, first-time homebuyers, seniors, and those looking to locate in Chester County is needed today and in the coming years, according to housing professionals at a recent Citizen Planners’ Breakfast.
A panel acknowledged that challenges exist in the county, but the housing can be built if builders, government representatives, and the public work together to streamline the process and hold down the planning costs of housing. The audience was told approval costs can add $10,000 to $20,000 for each housing unit.
The two-hour breakfast, attended by almost 100 people at the Desmond in Malvern, was sponsored by Chester County 2020 and the Chester County Planning Commission. Jason Duckworth, President of Arcadia Land Company, led a panel discussion.
Brian O’Leary, Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission, began the event by saying an estimated 55,000 new homes will be needed by 2035 for the county’s growing population. He said the county must balance the need for growth with the need to preserve open space.
O’Leary pointed out that an affordability issue exists in the county, as the median cost of a home here is more than $330,000, placing Chester County as one of the most expensive in the region.
Lisa Moore, manager of Kennett township, told the audience that her municipality is looking to quality affordable housing and workforce housing. Several such projects are going on in the township and neighboring Kennett Square borough, she said. The township is streamlining the process for builders, according to Moore.
Sarah Peck, Principal of Progressive New Homes LLC, told the audience that density is the way to provide housing and also allow builders to stay in business. Density results in lower land costs, reduces infrastructure cost, and also reduces risk to builders. Builders, according to Peck, should work with government officials to find ways to complete the construction and solve existing problems.
“I call this rezoning with benefits,” she said.
Peck’s company has built successful, affordable housing in Chester County and neighboring counties.