Smart Growth for Chestnut Hill is Goal for Nine CHCA Board Candidates

Posted 7/15/21

Chestnut Hill is at risk of losing its critically unique nature, as evidenced by the recent development proposals for 10 Bethlehem Pike, the original Friends Meeting House, and 30 W. Highland.  

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Smart Growth for Chestnut Hill is Goal for Nine CHCA Board Candidates

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Chestnut Hill is at risk of losing its critically unique nature, as evidenced by the recent development proposals for 10 Bethlehem Pike, the original Friends Meeting House, and 30 W. Highland.   These residential projects—too big, too dense and out of character for Chestnut Hill—threaten our nationally recognized historic community, including our “Main Street,” Germantown Avenue. Our business corridor too, is in need of support.  We want to preserve that which makes our community special—green space, walkability and serviceable public transportation—and promote environmental sustainability and livable density for present and future generations, so that Chestnut Hill can attract a diverse social and economic community.  

We are a slate of nine candidates for the CHCA Board of Directors with deep ties to Chestnut Hill and expertise across many professions, including commercial real estate, conservation-minded development, historic preservation, architecture and archaeology, technology and marketing, government and financial services, and engineering and fundraising. We are: Tony Banks, Tim Breslin, George Deming IV, Jeff Duncan, Keith Kunz, Gregory Lattanzi, Camille Peluso, Ross Pilling, and Beth (Elizabeth A.) Wright.

We seek the support of all CHCA members for election to the Board.  If elected, we will fight for smart growth for Chestnut Hill by rethinking development and commercial space in Chestnut Hill. This means developing a set of best practices and a set of specific standards for new development by applying appropriate resources to support strategic planning. We will invite community members to join the process and create a robust dialogue. This will alleviate the need for impromptu ad hoc protests for each new project that is not in keeping with our historic architectural fabric.

We commit to reimagine and re-energize our unique business corridor. We will support and promote independent shops and shopkeepers, working with the CHBA to identify the types of businesses our community is craving by engaging neighbors in a community-wide “Ideas and Commitments” campaign to help identify solutions for our empty storefronts and to seek a neighborhood pledge to shopping locally.

Sustainability and a livable density that co-exists with our vision of Chestnut Hill as a garden district can only be achieved by preserving our green open spaces through increased awareness and expansion of CHCA’s Green Initiatives programs to include programs aimed at reducing stormwater runoff, litter and invasive plants. We will promote a spirit of stewardship across Chestnut Hill by encouraging pride of ownership of our community open spaces.

These times require an ambitious platform. We believe that we are uniquely qualified to facilitate the very close collaboration between the CHCA, Chestnut Hill Conservancy and the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) that is needed to protect Chestnut Hill’s historic buildings, unique streetscapes and environmentally sensitive spaces from overdevelopment.  We intend to develop educational and marketing campaigns and to raise funds to encourage and facilitate Conservation Easements across Chestnut Hill.  Developing a deeper understanding of ways to incentivize conservation and historic preservation for property owners and developers will be essential.

So how will we accomplish our goals? First and foremost, there is an urgent need for transparency and timely communication within and from all CHCA committees and very close cooperation with the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, the FOW, and the CHBA. Community engagement in planning and problem solving requires increasing CHCA membership and electing CHCA board members with diverse backgrounds to committees, especially those that review and approve zoning and new development. With a pro-active board, willing to collaborate across committees and with our local registered community organizations, we can influence the smart growth of our cherished “Main Street,” support our off-Germantown Ave. businesses as well, and address residential development concerns, all while helping to enhance and preserve the qualities we love in Chestnut Hill.

In addition to increasing membership, we want to recruit and mentor new volunteers, especially young people, to take on worker, leader and advocacy roles in our community. This goes hand in hand with a glaring issue of concern to our candidates. We strongly feel that we need to up our game when it comes to communicating news, opportunities and concerns impacting Chestnut Hill quickly and efficiently. Let’s improve the CHCA’s use of technology for community engagement, communications and outreach.

Voting for the CHCA Board is open from now until July 22nd.  Anyone who has a current CHCA membership as of June 30th can vote.  We urge you to vote and ask for your support. 

Tony Banks, Tim Breslin, George Deming IV, Jeff Duncan, Keith Kunz, Gregory Lattanzi, Camille Peluso, Ross Pilling, and Beth (Elizabeth A.) Wright,
Chestnut Hill Neighbors

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