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Big Elk Creek Residents Lead Stand Against Reckless Development of Chester County's Open Space.

Updated: Mar 20

Few voters think much about land use when they cast their local and state-wide ballots, but it’s a much more important topic than most people realize. It’s an especially delicate issue in suburban areas like Chester County, where urban sprawl from Philadelphia and Wilmington threatens our otherwise rural landscapes.

Chester County is one of the fastest-growing on the East Coast. Anyone who has lived here for even just a decade has seen a dramatic increase in population, traffic congestion, and development, and who could blame someone for wanting to move here? Our schools are among the best, our taxes are modest compared to neighboring counties, and we have plenty of green space for recreation. We want to remain an attractive place to live, and we want to be smart about how we grow, where we build, and what types of infrastructure we accept. 

Last fall, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) explored putting a giant campground complex in the middle of the 1712-acre Big Elk Creek State Park, along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border near Landenberg, Lincoln University, and Oxford. This southernmost part of Chester County is easily among the quietest, most tranquil, and most-preserved regions of our county. Placing an enormous campground complex and visitor center in the middle of this undisturbed land would have invited tens of thousands of people annually to the backyards of those who call this area home. It would increase noise levels, trash, and wear-and-tear on our local roads, disturbing the local flora and fauna. The community was upset to hear that DCNR made these plans without properly soliciting local input. After all, the land was donated to the Commonwealth by the Strawbridge family to protect it from this kind of development. Locals rallied against the proposal at an at-capacity town hall meeting on January 10th and DCNR tabled the idea, at least for now. 


Once open space is lost, it is hard to reclaim. Chester County is a great place to live, do business, and engage in recreational activities. However, if we do not take care of our open space, our quality of life will be forever lost. Big government often loses sight of the local impacts of its decisions, and the recent DCNR proposal is a prime example of misguided big-government policies with very little public input. We, the people of Chester County, stood up to bureaucrats in Harrisburg and told them we would not let them fundamentally change the character of our county.


Eric M. Roe

Chester County Commissioner

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