The Chestnut Hill Conservancy holds important easements on private property like the one pictured here. These easements ensure important parts of Chestnut Hill remain open space and helping preserve the integrity of the Wissahickon Watershed. (Photo courtesy of Chestnut Hill Conservancy)

by Pete Mazzaccaro

Recent efforts by the Chestnut Hill Conservancy (formerly Historical Society) and the Chestnut Hill Community Association to study conservation of historic property and open space in the neighborhood received a big boost in the form of a grant from the William Penn Foundation.

The foundation awarded the conservancy $82,500 for an effort the conservancy is calling its “Residential Conservation, Preservation and Development Study.”

The study will incorporate community input as well as past work by both the conservancy, CHCA, the Friends of the Wissahickon and other groups. It will collect maps, studies and other data with the goal of coming up with tools to help prepare the community for the Philadelphia Planning Commission’s upcoming Northwest Philadelphia District Plan.

The conservancy said it plans to complete the study between January and May. It will be directed by a steering committee composed of members of the conservancy, the CHCA and professionals from Natural Lands Trust, Philadelphia University and the University of Pennsylvania.

“The treasured integrity of Chestnut Hill’s natural and cultural resources has also resulted in increasing teardown, subdivision, and redevelopment pressure on residentially zoned parcels,” said the conservancy’s executive director, Lori Salganicoff. “We must work together to protect Chestnut Hill’s significant natural and cultural resources, and encourage harmony and enduring quality in new development where appropriate.”

“The Chestnut Hill Community Association has been a faithful steward of Chestnut Hill since 1950 with early forerunners of our Development Review and Land Use Planning and Zoning Committees,” said Joyce Lenhardt, a CHCA board member and longtime member of its various zoning and planning committees. “Our collaboration with the Chestnut Hill Conservancy on a comprehensive study uses our shared talents for protecting what is special about Chestnut Hill and creating a road map for its future preservation and development.”

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Pete Mazzaccaro can be contacted at 215-248-8802 or

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