City of Chester, Pennsylvania Vision 2020: Climate Adaptation Planning Elements

This report is a synthesis of the results and recommendations from a two year project funded by the 2012 National Sea Grant Climate Adaptation competition to help coastal communities better plan for future coastal hazards and climate risks. It builds upon PA Sea Grant’s work piloting the NOAA Coastal Services Center’s “Roadmap for Adapting to Coastal Risk” in 2011 and subsequent climate change adaptation goals included in the City of Chester Vision 2020 comprehensive plan. Chester was selected as a grant recipient to model how coastal communities could integrate climate change adaptation into wider economic revitalization strategies. The Chester Hazards and Climate Adaptation Project Team prepared this report as an element of the City of Chester Vision 2020 comprehensive plan, and this addendum was formally adopted by Chester City Council in 2014.

The Chester Hazards and Climate Adaptation Project Team conducted a vulnerability assessment of the City of Chester's critical assets using existing plans and relevant spatial and demographic data, to examine the city’s vulnerabilities to extreme heat, severe storms, flooding, and sea?level rise.

The Team established the Chester Hazards and Climate Adaptation Task Force to guide the climate adaptation planning efforts. Working with the Task Force, the Project Team identified additional areas that are susceptible to flooding, have high concentrations of vulnerable populations, provide critical infrastructure, contribute to the economic vitality of the city, or might otherwise be vulnerable to existing and future climate stressors.

The project produced planning tools, such as vulnerability profiles, web-based community maps, and storm surge models, to help stakeholders assess Chester’s vulnerability to extreme weather events.

Project recommendations include a set of adaptation measures that reinforce the city’s on-going efforts to improve air and water quality, manage stormwater, maintain infrastructure, redevelop former industrial sites, and promote smart growth. Based on the vulnerabilities identified in the assessment, the Project Team prepared seven adaptation strategies addressing short?term and long?term planning needs.  These “Adaptation Elements” are to:

1. Create an Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) to steward the implementation of Chester City’s climate adaptation plan

2. Engage in a Post?Storm Redevelopment Planning Process with community stakeholders to guide recovery and redevelopment efforts and reduce vulnerability to future coastal hazards;

3. Develop a Heat Emergency Plan to minimize the number of heat?stress related illnesses and death in Chester by improving access to cooling centers, enhancing communication to at?risk populations during extreme heat events and coordinating programming efforts among neighborhoods and organizations providing social services to city residents;

4. Seek Certification in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System (CRS) and identify a central CRS coordinator to help protect the health, safety, and welfare of city residents through a comprehensive approach to floodplain management;

5. Improve Floodplain Management to protect Chester’s residents, sensitive habitats, and property from flooding in areas adjacent to the Ridley Creek, Chester Creek, and Delaware River waterways; recognize an Expanded Flood Risk Area with suggested best practices that includes development in areas with a history of flooding; and encourage building owners and developers to adopt voluntary measures to increase building resilience to periodic inundation;

6. Expand Vegetated Buffers, Restore Wetlands and Streams, and Protect Open Space by adopting creek conservation plans, developing codes for floodplain management, mapping areas for open space preservation and restoration projects and identifying restoration goals, i.e. acres of wooded lands or wetlands added; and

7. Develop a Plan to Implement Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) by creating a GSI guide for city planners and developers, incorporating GSI into land development ordinances and codes, and identifying funding sources for demonstration projects.



Publication Date: June 25, 2014


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