Town Hall in Winter

The CHCA encourages a sense of community and works to improve the quality of life in Chestnut Hill.

Visit us at Town Hall
8434 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118, 215-248-8810

From the Executive Director

Dear Neighbors and Friends of Chestnut Hill,

Please remember that tomorrow, November 5th is voting day here in Philadelphia. Local government can have more effect on your day-to-day life than almost any other elected offices – so be sure to vote! If you are not sure where your voting location is go to, put in your address and up will come your polling place.

Thanks to all who came out to the October 19th Black & White Gala. It was great party! A special thank you to all our generous sponsors who helped to make it such a special night – we truly could not do it without their support!

The inaugural column in the Chestnut Hill Local, Community Matters, debuted in the October 31st issue. If you missed it in the Local, please keep reading to find a reprint of what will be a monthly column covering information about issues ranging from Chestnut Hill’s Development Review Process, to zoning changes in the area, to what “by-right” really means.

Please note at the November 19th, 7:00 p.m. Development Review Committee Meeting there will be a discussion with the Goldenberg Group regarding the 100-102 E. Mermaid Lane property. (This 4.4 acre site is the former Blossom/United Cerebral Palsy site.) The Group is interested in having a preliminary discussion with the community before proceeding with plans for the property. Location is listed in the CHCA Community Meeting section below.

Heard everywhere this week is “I can’t believe it’s already November!” Indeed, it is, and November and December are busy months in Chestnut Hill including several FREE community events such as the Circle of Trees Holiday Gathering on November 23rd and the Holiday Parade on December 14th. Be sure you mark your calendars –  December 7th is the annual Holiday House tour, a long-standing holiday tradition here in Chestnut Hill and this year it will be an extra special event with a special Exhibit of Princess Grace of Monaco’s Memorabilia at the beautiful Rotunda in St. Joseph’s Hall at the Chestnut Hill College, this year’s registration site. You can read more about all these events in this month’s newsletter.

Lots going on but be sure to take a moment to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and all the Chestnut Hill has to offer in the coming weeks!



Anne McNiff

Anne McNiff

Executive Director

Thank you to our E-News Digital Sponsor

Chestnut Hill Hospital

First of a series from the Chestnut Hill Community Association Physical Division
Reprinted from the October 31, 2019 issue of the Chestnut Hill Local

Why do we keep seeing new buildings going up in Chestnut Hill? Who is letting this happen? Hasn’t there been enough change already? Can’t Chestnut Hill stay just like it is?

These questions and more are on the minds of many here in Chestnut Hill. One of the great qualities of this community is the strong culture of care about its physical attributes. It is part of what makes living and working here feel special. So recently as new development projects have come to the community, when people expressed concern, confusion, and frustration, it led us to realize that it could help if there was greater understanding about how the development process works.

If you want to see people’s eyes glaze over, just mention the word “zoning.” It feels dry, boring, bureaucratic and, well, what else can we talk about? Yet not understanding it can impact quality of life, be it business or personal. People may make assumptions about the status quo of their neighborhood and then be surprised to learn how much can change, entirely within the law.

To provide groundwork of understanding how development works in Chestnut Hill, this article is the first of a series by the Physical Division of the Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA). Our aim is to increase awareness, because it is easy to forget that our “greene countrie towne” is regulated by the country’s sixth largest city, Philadelphia. Chestnut Hill does not have its own laws; it does not have its own governing body or decision-makers. It is governed by the same zoning regulations that apply to Society Hill, Fishtown, and the rest of the City.

Fortunately, we have in Chestnut Hill a large group of people who have the professional expertise to evaluate development proposals. Together they volunteer for committees and task forces to establish guidelines, address aspects impacting development and environment, and seek outcomes with an eye to what will be appropriate to existing standards of the community. This is an ongoing process.

The development review process itself is the first topic we would like to provide information about because we know that, in many cases, when a property owner suddenly learns that a change is coming to their block, they feel blind-sided. We hope that making more information available about the process of development will help with awareness of potential outcomes and aid people in making decisions.

This series will cover several subjects, including a general primer on zoning, when development is “by-right” and when a variance or special exception is involved. We’ll talk about the Chestnut Hill Development Review Process, Registered Community Organizations, and our role as it pertains to Philadelphia Zoning Code and the Zoning Board of Adjustment. We’ll delve into some specific issues like trees, when to use 311, streets issues, and misperceptions about “grandfathered” structures like fences and decks. We’ll discuss overlays and historic designations and how those mechanisms do and don’t provide controls. And we’ll describe opportunities and considerations for the coming years.

The CHCA came into existence because of concern about a specific large development in 1947. Its Physical Division has existed since the 1950s and is comprised of three standing committees: Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee, the Streetscape Committee and the Development Review Committee. These committees, in a collaborative process with other stakeholder organizations, have maintained an ongoing practice of reviewing development and providing input to the City to help achieve positive outcomes.

Over all these decades, the volunteers on these committees, along with other key organizations including the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, Chestnut Hill Business District, and Friends of the Wissahickon, have played an enormous role in providing guidance on growth and change in Chestnut Hill. Their work has helped to maintain many wonderful attributes. Features of the community that may now be taken for granted may be due to the foresight and efforts of these people. This same group of people has been working within the constraints of the City regulations, which are often not as generous as may be found outside the City, to find ways to guide future development. Recognizing that it is not possible or even desirable to stop it, this group is working to develop overlays and other tools that will encourage or require development in the community to be contextual – sensitive to the existing fabric, scale, materials of what is here.

Upcoming articles in this series will be published approximately once per month. We believe you will find them helpful and informative. We want dialogue and encourage you to write to us. We encourage you to visit the CHCA website and to attend our meetings, which are listed in every issue of the Chestnut Hill Local. All of our meetings are public and exist for you. We would like to meet you and hear from you!

Joyce Lenhardt
Vice President, CHCA Physical Division


Upcoming Community Holidays Events

presented by the Chestnut Hill Community Association

Circle of Trees

Circle of Trees

Saturday, November 23, 2019 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Free Event
Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Avenue

Family and friends come together to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season in Chestnut Hill. Enjoy live music by the Norwood Fontbonne Note-ables, hot chocolate, cookies, and the opening of Woodmere’s holiday exhibition, Merry and Bright II: The Christmas Collection of Jeanette Turnbul. There will also be a special Mummers Art Exhibit, and children receive a gift bag. The Highway Patrol will lead an antique fire truck with Santa up the winding drive way, and together we count down to the holiday lighting of the Museum and decorated trees. Families enjoy free admission to the Woodmere Art Musuem plus a chance to climb on the hay maze. We will be collecting new, unwrapped toys to donate to a charity for underprivileged children. Sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Business AssociationChestnut Hill Community Association and Woodmere Art Museum.


Get Inspired at the 26th Annual Chestnut Hill Holiday House Tour, December 7th?

with Special Exhibit of Princess Grace of Monaco’s Memorabilia

The Holiday season is a time to relive cherished traditions, and for Chestnut Hill, there is no better tradition than spending a day enjoying the Holiday House Tour. This year’s tour takes place on Saturday, December 7th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will feature five Chestnut Hill homes decorated for the holidays plus a special exhibit of Princess Grace of Monaco’s Memorabilia. Includes free admission for attendees to the Woodmere Art Museum, and discount to 20+ Chestnut Hill restaurants and shops. The tour is self-guided and attendees have the option of driving to the homes, or riding one of our special event trolleys.

Learn More.

Buy your tickets: $45 for CHCA Members, $50 for non-members

Chestnut Hill Community Holiday Parade

Download our Event Flier

Learn more about Marching with us in the parade this year!

More than 400 marchers representing local schools, sports groups, scout troops and sporting clubs are participating this year. They will march down the Avenue carrying banners, throwing candy and waving to spectators along the route. The parade ends at Market at the Fareway with musical performances around its outdoor fireplace, join in the caroling and hymns. There will be treats, and Santa will pose for photos with the children.


View all of the Holidays on the Hill events
Chestnut Hill Business Association


Strengthen Your Social Connections, Volunteer at the CHCA

At the Chestnut Hill Community Association our volunteers collaborate throughout the year to bring our neighborhood vital, engaging and fun community events. We also have committees that help to promote membership in the CHCA, plant trees in our community, and plan year-round programming. During the holiday season we are looking for volunteers to join us at our Holiday House Tour, Community Holiday Parade, and Circle of Trees.

If you’re interested in meeting your neighbors and being a part of the fun in Chestnut Hill, give us a call at 215-248-8810 or email our office at