malvern borough wakes up to historic preservation

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Malvern Borough has woken up to the real concept of historic preservation.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is will it do any good?

I am a huge believer in historic preservation, do not misunderstand me. It’s just that I have seen too many fights to try to save too many historic properties which have failed. And they have failed not because there wasn’t interest in historic preservation, they failed because zoning on local and county levels were inadequate and hamstrung because as I have said for years, at the state level, the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is woefully out of date, isn’t it?

Pennsylvania is a private property rights state. It is also a state with some powerful building, developer, construction lobbyists up in Harrisburg. A few short years ago for brief shining moment there was a proposed law on the books that would allow municipalities to an act a short-term moratorium on development. It was HB904 during 2007 and 2008. It has long since disappeared like it was never even a concept which existed .

A famous recent example of what could not be saved of historic import was La Ronda. It was demolished in 2009.

La Ronda was in Lower Merion Township where I used to live. Innumerable people locally,regionally, and nationally worked with politicians in Lower Merion to try to save the historic Spanish Gothic mansion. I photographed the last few months of the mansion from outside it’s gates and the October 1, 2009 demolition day.

My point is this: Lower Merion is a very powerful municipality. They have a very organized historical architectural review board or “HARB” and historical society and STILL more is lost than is saved. I’ve observed similar situations in Radnor Township. Not trying to be Debbie Downer on this because I applaud Malvern Borough for finally trying to put mechanisms in place, but in the end will it do anything if local municipalities don’t lobby there state elected officials to update what needs updating in Harrisburg as well?

I also in the past worked to put a former neighborhood into a historic district. I’m still waiting and trying to figure out what it actually does to help in the end because since I moved away from this neighborhood there’s just been more development and I haven’t seen or heard of any active preservation.

Again, I am not against historic preservation, I am very much in favor of it. But historic preservation needs to have MORE things on a state level to back it up. And it has always been my belief that in addition to fabulous things like Preservation PA, there needs to be an update to the municipalities planning code because that is the state bible that drives local zoning ordinances, correct?

A more holistic approach is needed so local municipalities from the tiniest of boroughs to the largest of cities have more tools in there tool box to help them preserve their communities historically and in general.

I’m glad Malvern is taking these steps, but I also wonder if they will actually have enforceability with what they want to do? Or if one good Municipal Court challenge by someone will knock it out? What is Malvern Borough doing NOW about the properties which you would think were historic but seem to be falling apart?

Malvern Borough Solicitor Wendy McLean was quoted as saying “This is a much less obtrusive ordinance than most” and supposedly those who didn’t follow the ordinance if enacted would be subject to fines equal to a property’s market value? I just don’t see how they would be able enforce something like that. Maybe they could but is there case law on this before they go forward and spend taxpayer money to enact an ordinance like this? I get it, Malvern Borough is a small municipality finally trying to preserve its character. But if they don’t enact ordinances that they can’t defend in court they could possibly bankrupt themselves in legal fees couldn’t they?

What I don’t see in the media coverage is if Malvern Borough’s solicitor also went over similar ordinances in other communities? I agree Malvern has to begin somewhere, it’s just from reading through the ordinance I just can’t see a developer not being able to knock holes in it as it stands right now. And what will this ordinance do for all the structures in the borough which are currently “demolition by neglect”? How will they handle people who wish to be grandfathered from the ordinance?

Here is the language of what is being proposed – it can be found on Malvern Borough’s website, just CLICK HERE.

And if you are into historic preservation you should also check out “Pennsylvania at Risk”

Here is the news on this:

Malvern wants to protect historic properties Michaelle Bond, Inquirer Staff Writer Last updated: Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 1:08 AM


Malvern, which celebrated its 125th anniversary last year, wants to add an extra step to its building-permit process to preserve historical properties.

The borough is considering a process to review all proposals to significantly alter or demolish historic properties or resources. Officials would work with property owners to try to preserve that which makes the structures historical.

According to a proposed ordinance that would create a Historical Overlay District, the protection of about 250 primarily residential structures is a matter of “public necessity.”

“We have a handful of them that were around during the Revolutionary War,” said Zeyn Uzman, chair of the borough’s Historical Commission. “Unfortunately, one of them will probably be torn down in the next six months.”

Uzman explained the potential ordinance to about 70 residents at a meeting Tuesday night at a church.

A developer plans to build residential units at the site of a house on Old Lincoln Highway that dates to the 1780s. The Historical Commission estimates that the house is the second- or third-oldest structure in Malvern.

The ordinance, which must be approved by the borough council, cannot protect properties from being demolished, but it would allow the borough to preserve the history of those places, Uzman said.

“If we’re going to lose a structure, we at least want to go in there and take pictures and document as much as we can,” he said. Currently, borough officials are not permitted to enter someone’s residence to document it.

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devon horse show at risk.

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Why does this stuff happen at Christmas?

Group of Devon Horse Show and Country Fair board members calls sudden meeting to oust president, chairman Published: Friday, December 19, 2014

By Linda Stein
lstein@mainlinemedianews.com
@lsteinreporter on Twitter
Officials say future of horse show at stake

Devon >> Despite an apparently successful Devon Horse Show this past May, a group of nine members of the Devon Country Fair Committee called a surprise board meeting Monday to oust Sarah Coxe Lange, the president and CEO of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, and board Chairman Henry Lafayette Collins III.

When Coxe Lange took the reins of the horse show earlier this year, she announced some changes including streamlining the board, beginning a separate endowment fund and establishing new bylaws for the board and attracting new, younger volunteers. Coxe Lange also noted that the horse show made a profit of $200,000 in 2014 after years of breaking even. The Country Fair earned $400,000 for 2014. Also, the foundation garnered an 11 percent increase in donations.

“I want people to know Devon has never been so successful, so modern and energized and yet this is happening,” said Coxe Lange…..She believes the group opposing her is among those who would allow the grounds of the horse show, founded in 1896, to be developed and the show itself moved to the hinterlands.

“We’ve lost the battle for Devon,” said Coxe Lange in an interview after she received the email calling for her removal. “Nine of 11 Country Fair board members sent a memo calling for a special meeting Monday, [Dec. 22] at 5 p.m. to remove Hank Collins as chairman and me as president in the best interest in Devon. I’m clearly the poster child for protecting Devon. I’m in the way. We’ve lost.”

Also, Collins, “has worked tirelessly on all the bylaws and been the bylaws chairman,” she said. “They want us out. I am here to protect Devon in perpetuity and it’s clear that is threatening to them. Outside interests want to do a deal. They want to buy us. I stand in their way so they want to get rid of me.”

Coxe Lange added, “Several board members have told me [the opponents] went to great lengths to assassinate my character… The horse show, in a couple a years, will not be in Devon.”

Coxe Lange, who owns Willisbrook, a horse farm in Malvern, and is the third generation of her family involved in the Devon Horse Show….Collins, whose grandfather and namesake was a founder of Devon, said the first time he remembers being involved in the horse show was just after World War II when he was about 8 years old.

“I dragged a little wagon around with lemon sticks and fudge,” Collins said. Along with his grandfather, his grandmother was “a long time exhibitor.” His father was also a Devon Horse Show board member and a master of foxes at the Radnor Hunt.

“After he died in 1961, I was elected as a director,” said Collins

(take the time to read the entire article – long but worth it.)

Wonder where the former chair of Devon who was ousted over the development issues is in all of this, hmmmmm? Remember that article from this past October? And all the scuttlebutt about the proposed Urban Outfitters Eli Kahn Devon Yard development plans?

Anonymous letter spurs questions over Devon Horse Show, proposed Devon Yard, Urban Outfitters Published: Friday, October 03, 2014 By Linda Stein

….The current horse show president Sarah Coxe Lange has been in her present post for less than a year, after a controversy arose regarding McDevitt, the former chairman, who stepped down in February.

McDevitt, whose grandfather was one of the horse show founders, is the principal of The McDevitt Co., a commercial real estate developer that, along with Eli Kahn, has proposed Devon Yard, a mixed use shopping center, at the former Waterloo Gardens site. McDevitt’s company develops sites worldwide for Urban Outfitters and other clients. McDevitt stepped down from the horse show in February after controversy over plans to lease the horse show parking lot for overflow parking for new shopping center, Devon Yard, to be anchored by an Urban Outfitters branch. McDevitt said that he had announced his retirement previous to that brouhaha and wanted to spend more time with his family and to concentrate on business. McDevitt’s wife, Wendy, is president of Terrain, one of the Urban Outfitters brands and Wendy McDevitt also withdrew from the horse show.

An anonymous email received by Main Line Media News claimed that some of the Country Fair board members were given gifts and promised jobs by McDevitt and Urban Outfitters for their support.

In a phone interview, Hayne, of Unionville, called all the allegations in the email “crazy” and “not true.” He denied his company has designs on the horse show grounds.

The board members who signed the letter in the news that broke yesterday barely a week before Christmas should be ashamed of themselves. They are Gail McCarthy, Karin Maynard, Mimi Killian (she’s the one with the vanity plate and bad parking jobs, right?), Carolyn Capaldi, Beth Wright, Eileen Devine, Dolly Somers, Sandy Shinners and Ann Seidel – ANYONE who knows them should apply social pressure and whatever other pressure is needed to save this horse show from ruin. (And lest we forget this show was founded to fundraise for a hospital, not to just be a horse show.)

These people are JUST AS BAD as the people who were for eminent domain for private gain at Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show.

These people want to change Devon irrevocably and for the worse. Do you want what is Devon Horse Show replaced by development? I have a hard time respecting people who can’t respect tradition.

The Nouveau Main Line could very well completely ruin Devon.

Sarah Coxe Lange turned a significant profit for the horse show this year, and although they had broken even in years past, they had not done that. Ms. Lange rose above all the drama and she deserves kudos and thanks. She also owns a horse farm in Malvern, Willisbrook. And Henry Lafayette Collins III has an impeccable lineage and wow just wow.

I haven’t a clue as to how this gets undone but I felt compelled to post because what is happening is just so wrong.

Again the magic signers of this letter as per the published media reports are Gail McCarthy, Karin Maynard, Mimi Killian, Carolyn Capaldi, Beth Wright, Eileen Devine, Dolly Somers, Sandy Shinners and Ann Seidel. Shame on the Scrooges of Devon.

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being christian at christmas

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How some people define the spirit of the Christmas season in West Vincent baffles me.

Please see below as another one of those nasty and pathetic missives is making the rounds. I was told this was found on a Ludwig’s Village community bulletin board.

West Vincent is such a beautiful place, but it’s like it has a rotten core, doesn’t it? This is unfortunately still a place with a handful of pious hypocrites who claim to “love thy neighbor” yet do things like this and isn’t that terrible? These people give the really nice people who live in this Chester County community a bad name and I think that is truly awful don’t you?

Being a Christian isn’t faux piety, it’s actually living what you preach. A lot of these people preach a good game, but are some of them really good neighbors? My opinion is the answer is a resounding no. Normal, emotionally healthy people do not do things like this to other people.

One day those of you who do things like this to your neighbors will find yourselves in a time of trouble. Will people lift a hand to help you? Or will they say “we’ve had enough of those bullies” and turn their backs?

People who do things like this during the most holy season of the year are held in the highest contempt by me.

Also it may appear contradictory, but I do actually pity these people for their meanness. They are missing out on so much in life by hating.

This man who is being victimized has run good and honest businesses for years. He and his wife are the kind of people that would give you the shirt off their back no matter what you had done to them. They are truly good people. I am proud to call them friends. We have used him professionally in addition.

If I were in this gentleman’s shoes, I would take all these missives to law enforcement. And a TV station or two.

I don’t know why it is that some people are not content unless they make other people unhappy. They should be ashamed of themselves. The sad thing is, I know they are not. However I believe karma is a very, very real thing. Everything that goes around eventually comes back around.

To the rest of you I say it is Christmas, so if you see one of these missives floating around West Vincent pull it down and give it to the police and tell them where exactly you found it and what day and what time.

It is time for this to stop.

If you know the people who are doing these things, it’s time to stand up and tell them to stop. Or call them out publicly. (Cowards like this hate having a light shined on them even if they secretly crave the attention.)

Christmas is but a few days away. Let’s get back to the real reason for the season, shall we?

Thanks for stopping by today.

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laughing out loud

I had to giggle at this. The utter absurdity of it and misplaced sense of entitlement meets an up-country flair for the dramatic.

The ultimate irony is this is part of the same tired mantra of a small group of people in essentially a small town who regularly declare war on anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with them. They practice the Northern equivalent of the Southern “bless your heart” tactic. I find them extremely amusing. I also find them sad as their limited lives are entirely too consumed by their petty vendettas.

And remember….this blog is NOT endorsed by This is West Vincent on Facebook….it doesn’t have to be.

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politics + non-profit nature conservancy = ?

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Saw this on a friend’s Facebook page with this comment:

“Like if you think Political Signs should NOT be installed in a beautiful view shed. PS this property is owned by the Brandywine Conservancy and I bet the Politicians did not ask permission.”

Thoughts? And anyone else tired of all the robo-calls and political mailers and the ads on television?

political giggle on a rainy day

Please follow this link and check out Remy/Reason’s political parody video ( a take off of a Taylor Swift song). Also note this is actually what a parody is ….

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IJReview: The Only Cure for Obama’s Really Low Approval Rating is Perfectly Captured by a Taylor Swift Parody

The folks over at Reason just put their own spin on one of the summer’s biggest singles. And it comes on the heels of the latest Gallup poll—one in which President Obama’s 41.5% job approval rating the past quarter ranks among the lowest of his tenure.