so sunoco isn’t sleazy and sunoco isn’t sunoco?

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We just celebrated the 4th of July which celebrates our freedoms in this country and apparently Sunoco officials don’t care for free speech and freedom of opinion? And maybe they don’t like that eminent domain word but what did they expect when they went to the Public Utility Commission to try to get around local zoning? Seriously?

There is this new article in the Inquirer about SuNOco, and apparently SuNOco isn’t SuNOco and isn’t sleazy? So is this pipeline is a mirage then? Are we imagining all the road disruptions and closures and all the public meetings are really the meeting of the quilting society or something?

I am very confused.

A rose by any other name and all that?
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Apparently SuNOco’s public image is taking a beating? Does that mean their retail business is feeling a pipeline pinch?

It is up to personal choice if Chester County and other Pennsylvania residents choose to patronize other gas stations, right? We don’t live in a communist or otherwise single state run country where we have no choice as to where we buy gas, do we? Did they ever consider in addition to image issues that a good percentage of the time their gas is also just more expensive than other gas retailers?

So now will SuNOco that isn’t really SuNOco be buzzing around changing the corporate branding on their pipeline property sites like the sign seen every day at a crossroads in Upper Uwchlan? And what of the Sunoco Logistics website with the teeny tiny Sunoco logo we all know so well?

And while they are answering questions, what is it precisely they do with endangered wildlife when they find it (or more appropriately it is pointed out to them) ? Someone told me they were told the wildlife (like bog turtles and such) is moved someplace and then brought back to the habitat in which they were discovered? Is this true and how do they know which wildlife goes where down to the individual creature?

This Philadelphia Inquirer article today gives many the vision of a corporate shell game doesn’t it? And is the talking head of the split personality oil company the same guy who used to be an amazing reporter for the paper now making him the news?

So who is SuNOco? And if they want a better corporate image maybe they shouldn’t be trying to force feed Pennsylvania residents a pipeline? Could it be a lot of this petroleum posturing is that this just isn’t residents saying no? Could it be SuNOco is a little nervous that politicians from all over on both sides of the political aisle are starting to speak out too? Could they be nervous that the residents objecting are growing daily in numbers and esteemed environmentalists are taking their side?

Sorry SuNOco, sorry SuNOco PR team, people are unified about not wanting you in Chester County no matter what you call yourselves aren’t they? Welcome to a public relations hell of your own creation and seriously what did you think was going to happen? That everyone was just going to be o.k. with your taking people’s land and adding flare stacks in densely populated areas? Did you think a county that has a large percentage of residents on wells wouldn’t be concerned about pipelines and so on? Maybe you have a friend in Governor Corbett but not everyone else is feeling so chummy?

Great article Philadelphia Inquirer!

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sunoco fights connection to pipeline firm
By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: July 06, 2014

Sunoco’s good corporate name is taking a beating these days, as community activists and bloggers post snarky statements under headlines like “Sleazy Sunoco,” linking the company to fracking and eminent domain …..in the hands of careless journalists and picket-sign painters, the companies all just become “Sunoco.”

According to brand consultants and public-image experts, Sunoco the fuel retailer faces a big challenge disassociating itself from the actions of its corporate doppelgänger…..Sunoco Pipeline, a Sunoco Logistics subsidiary, has asked the PUC to declare it a public utility to bypass local zoning restrictions. ….”Sunoco, Sunoco Logistics, Sunoco Pipeline?” said Tom Casey, a leader of the community opposition. “There’s a lot of confusion about who’s doing this. Who are these people?”

Casey had heard company officials explain that Sunoco Inc. and Sunoco Logistics are two separate companies, with different missions. Then a public-affairs officer handed him a business card that identified him as a Sunoco Logistics employee. The other side of the card identified him with Sunoco Inc.

“He has the same job with both companies at two different addresses,” Casey said. “That’s confusing.”……..If this bothers Sunoco, its spokesman, Jeff Shields, is not letting on too much.

Nor is the spokesman for Sunoco Logistics, the selfsame Jeff Shields, who said in an e-mail that the pipeline company “is proud of its roots with a company and a name that has represented good corporate citizenship and American prosperity for more than a century.”…Sunoco Logistics, which was spun off as a separate company, is still contractually obligated to support Sunoco’s retail operations. But its new ventures, such as the Mariner East project, are unrelated to its former parent company.

Both are now units of Energy Transfer Partners L.P., a Dallas company that bought Sunoco Inc. in 2012 and acquired the controlling interest in Sunoco Logistics……Sunoco Logistics could rename itself something else – say, SXL – to provide some cover for Sunoco. But image experts say crusader activists would see right through such a strategy.

“That would backfire on the company double time, because now the public’s suspicion of evil would be confirmed by the company’s efforts at deception,” said Rob Frankel, a Los Angeles branding expert…..Sunoco Inc. already has a long history of oil extraction, and so an association with a pipeline transporting hydraulically fractured Marcellus Shale gas liquids is not an image-altering event, said Oscar Yuan, a partner at New York brand consultant Millward Brown Vermeer.

20140707-110547-39947204.jpgSelect photos in this collage are courtesy of public photos of Just The Facts Please on Facebook of which this blog is not a spokesperson or representative, just a fan.

flooding in chester county

So the rain is of biblical proportions at this point. Mother Nature must be having a tizzy about something.  Who knows maybe she is trying to tell us something.  Anyway, one of my pals popped these photos over from West Vincent.  I can’t help but wonder if the illustrious Roadmaster has a good row boat?

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sleazy sunoco

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So the photo above comes from a website called Protecting our Waters. It was taken after a Philadelphia protest in December, 2013. The protest was against Sunoco and the Mariner East pipeline, so I thought it was apropos.

Of course it makes me think if the pro-military and pro- peace folks can protest all the time unmolested in front of what I assume is the old courthouse in downtown West Chester, I don’t see why these folks rising up in East and West Goshen can’t do the same thing some day soon and invite the media.

Good old fashioned peaceful protests can accomplish a lot of attention grabbing.

My recent post on Sunoco and their little project has gotten me a lot of e-mail and even comments from folks fighting this in Dauphin County.

I have learned from Chester County residents who already have the older version of the pipeline a couple of interesting things: I thought (mistakenly and incorrectly) that if Sunoco used someone’s property that they paid rent annually to the property owner. I am told they don’t. I also wondered what happened when real estate changed hands. Apparently Sunoco doesn’t pay homeowners who inherit them in their backyards anything.

So basically, letting Sunoco in is like allowing cockroaches?

I wasn’t going to do anymore posting on this until I realized where some of the pipelines are actually supposedly going: right through the back yards of people in Marydell Farms in East Goshen who have properties that run to Boot Road. Those people don’t have backyards that are THAT deep.

Which brings me to something I didn’t want to point out: shame on East Goshen Township. All the environmental and safety issues aside, how can East Goshen officials just sit on their rear ends while residents have their property rights violated and property values potentially affected?

I go back to the thing about living out here and NOT being able to have natural gas lines for residential use leaving us with other energy choices like propane, pellet stoves, coal, oil, electric heat, but we can’t have natural gas to heat or cook with YET Sunoco can crisscross our county with pipelines that only THEY profit from? Residents HERE assume the risks to health, safety, and welfare. Residents here worry about environmental effects like will what Sunoco is doing affect those on wells and could it ever affect even public water supply? How does what they are doing affect our natural waterways like streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes? How does what they do affect our wildlife?

And why is it Sunoco or other big oil companies doesn’t even seem to pay taxes on natural gas production in Pennsylvania? (Think of all the roads and schools that could get fixed as well as other things in Pennsylvania if stupid Harrisburg actually made these companies pay their way, right?)

Sunoco Pipeline plan draws political resistance Philadelphia Inquirer By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer April 5, 2014

An elaborate plan by Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. to transport Marcellus Shale natural gas liquids by pipeline across Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook is running into resistance.

The company’s subsidiary, Sunoco Pipeline L.P., last month filed an application with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to sidestep local zoning restrictions to build pump and valve control stations in 31 municipalities crossed by the pipeline.

Sunoco Pipeline argues that it is a “public utility corporation,” and that the PUC can exempt the construction of the above-ground structure from local zoning if it determines the buildings are “reasonably necessary for the convenience or welfare of the public.”….Two suburban Philadelphia state senators on Wednesday wrote to the PUC, contending that the exemptions would conflict with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in December upholding local zoning rights over oil and gas activity….Sunoco has asked the PUC for an expedited decision. Formal protests and petitions to intervene are due by April 21…..The Mariner project involves converting an existing eight-inch pipeline that carried fuel from Philadelphia refineries to Western Pennsylvania. The project requires about 45 miles of new pipeline in Western Pennsylvania. Sunoco’s efforts to acquire rights of way by eminent domain have run into resistance.

And the thing is this: this issue is way bigger than East Goshen, West Goshen, or just Chester County. This pipeline is coming from where? Ohio through to Marcus Hook? And what about the huge issue of those flare towers? Like the one they want to build in a residential neighborhood in West Goshen on Mary Jane Lane???

And then there are all those eminent domain whispers. Ugly, truly ugly.

I never thought I would say I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen, but given all the people who might be affected by this there (including friends) and in West Goshen, I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen.

The reality is those of us NOT in those municipalities are watching this, because this affects all of us potentially. And what do residents around here get as a benefit or upside? I am beginning to think not much.

I guess at the end of the day I am thinking Sunoco is just be sleazy at the expense of Chester County residents and residents all across Pennsylvania.

People should be able to say no.

West Goshen crowd boos Sunoco plan By Kendal Gapinski Daily Local Posted 4/04/2014

WEST GOSHEN – Sunoco Logistics Partners L.L.C. was granted a continuance Thursday night of its zoning hearing regarding a pump station it wants to put in at the corner of Boot Road and Route 202, much to the objection of hundreds of residents.

According to zoning board solicitor Mark Thompson, Sunoco originally appeared before the zoning hearing board three weeks ago and asked for the hearing to be continued to Thursday night. Between the last zoning hearing and Thursday, Sunoco submitted a request for continuance of the hearing. Thompson said he believed the reason for the request was to allow Sunoco time to find out answers to questions raised during the last hearing.

The project in the township, part of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline, includes the development of a pump enclosure, piping, valves and a vapor combustion system to be 34-feet high, according to the zoners….The pipelines would be repurposed to deliver natural gas liquids from Marcellus Shale areas in western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware….Resident Chris Pielli spoke out after the decision was made, saying the board should have rejected Sunoco’s request for a continuance, forcing Sunoco to start the zoning special exception process all over again.

“Let them reapply,” Pielli said.

The board granted Sunoco’s request for continuance, and the hearing will be continued on May 1 at 7 p.m. at the township building. The board said that Sunoco will be there to provide additional testimony and witnesses for the record, as well as give others who have been made party to the hearing a chance to present their case for the record.

Residents fighting this you need to write every elected official (and I would include all the gubernatorial candidates as there is a primary coming up) you can think of and also contact multiple media outlets. Give this issue the high profile it deserves. Check out the Castle Coalition.

Chester County deserves better than this, doesn’t it?

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god don’t like ugly?

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Someone must be protesting something being built at Immaculata.

I hope it doesn’t have to do with the Camilla Hall project as that is the place where there is the Convent Home and Healthcare Center of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Translation, this is like a nursing home and medical center. They take care of their own and that is an amazingly good thing.

I think these sisters do a lot for the community at large and I was left feeling very uncomfortable that someone was seemingly protesting them or someone working for them along King Road.

I do not object to unions, I don’t want anyone to think that, but I just don’t think people should be unkind to the sisters.

So please, whoever this is, if you have a beef with a non-union company doing work for the nuns, take your protest to them wherever their business is actually located, and leave the sisters be.

The sisters are good to our community. And trust me, it is also rare that an academic institution is also good to the community. I used to live near a couple which weren’t and trust me, if they were the ones being protested I would not have said a word.

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will it be eminent domain and pipelines, sunoco?

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A group in West Goshen is fighting mad and battling Sunoco Logistics and its plan for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project.

W. Goshen residents upset with gas pump station proposal By Jeremy Gerrard, Daily Local News POSTED: 03/30/14, 7:47 PM EDT |

WEST GOSHEN — Township residents are organizing against the construction of a proposed natural gas pump station, voicing outrage over possible health and safety issues from the facility.

“This doesn’t just affect West Goshen, but every community from here to Marcus Hook,” resident Tom Casey said.

Sunoco is requesting a variance from West Goshen at an April 3, 2014 zoning meeting to build a pipeline pump station with 34 foot ‘flare stack’ in a neighborhood at Boot Road and Route 202. Sunoco has similar requests in 31 municipalities across Pa as it transitions a cross-state petroleum pipeline to ethane, butane, propane liquid gas use.

Apparently one of the big fat sticking points per my sources is the flare stack proposal. I learned about the Just The Facts Please group from my friend Tim at Panewz:

Panewz.com: Gas pipeline wants fast track on expansion, pump station, flare stack approval in Pa

….Many pipelines across Pa were established with easements to carry petroleum when much of the Pa landscape was farmland. Today these pipelines pass through suburbanized communities.

Additionally, many residents are concerned about the conversion of the former petroleum pipelines to highly pressurized liquid gas and its combustibility. In some cases, residents aren’t aware that a pipeline, installed many years ago, runs through their neighborhood….One concern for residents is the pump or compressor stations that must be built along the gas pipelines to push the gas through. Some of these stations can be quite large, depending upon terrain and distance from the next station… Sunoco Pipeline is also applying for status as a Public Utility in Pennsylvania. See the application and a list of all Pa Townships involved in the Mariner East 2 pipeline expansion by clicking here.

If approved, the pump and valve control station buildings, above, that Sunoco says it would install on the sites, would be ‘exempt from any local zoning, subdivision and land development regulations’.

The company is also requesting that the applications be expedited because ‘full potential of Pennsylvania shale gas remains hampered by limited pipeline infrastructure’. The company has requested approval of this legal designation prior to the Public Utility Commission’s meeting of June 19, 2014.

The company’s application says the buildings and expedited service are needed for the ‘convenience and welfare of the public’. It also does not want one township’s denial of construction to hold up the entire pipeline.

A judge has already ruled in York County on Sunoco’s Motion for Survey Rights and efforts to condemn property in Eminent Domain. Read about it by clicking here.

Pa eminent domain blogger and Harrisburg attorney Michael Faherty has written ten reasons why, he believes, Sunoco will not succeed with the PUC in gaining Public Utility status and the power of eminent domain.

Alrighty then. The other meat of it? Sunoco apparently has a request before the PUC to be classified as a ‘Public Utility’ so the company can bypass all local zoning regulations and use eminent domain to take additional lands along the existing pipeline route? Apparently they are not a public utility when it comes to gas or something? So does that mean then they want carte blanche eminent domain powers? Sounds like it right?

The Facebook Page, Just The Facts Please, is trying to get more people to the meeting.

I think that eminent domain for private gain shrouded in a cloak of eminent domain for public purpose is what will occur if eminent domain for properties is attempted. I was told but have no proof that some are already are having to deal with whispers of eminent domain and to them I say FIGHT. I am somewhat astounded to hear how reluctant property owners are being bullied and isn’t that awful?

Look, our homes are our castles and our personal American dreams and personally I wouldn’t want big oil or the government to have a piece of my dream. (And I hope homeowners facing eminent domain know about groups like the Institute for Justice
in Washington, DC. They are a tremendous resource and much more.)

I used to be somewhat ambivalent towards this whole pipeline issue. But now, because of what I have heard happening in West Goshen and my former community of East Goshen I’m not so sure. And if big oil came knocking on my door I don’t think I could say yes. I am not going to judge anyone who has said yes, and I know some who have in the past, but I don’t think this is for me either.

Do we as Chester County residents get benefits of allowing drilling as we live in a state whose governor doesn’t have a tax (or much of a tax?) on the big oil companies having to do with what they drill? Ironically most of us don’t even have access to natural gas for heating because there aren’t a heck of a lot of those kinds of gas lines, yet they have been running an insane amount of pipelines. We are also on wells out here, so what happens to our drinking supply if they screw up?

I know you can’t take on everything but this is something at the very minimum worth going to a meeting to learn. After all a good portion of municipal meetings in Chester County are not televised.

I guess where I am on this is I hate government bullying. I hate eminent domain. I hate businesses attempting what Sunoco is attempting. I think I might even buy gasoline for my car elsewhere now. Wawa has better prices anyway. And most of all I hate that residents can’t just say “no thank you” if they don’t want a pipeline in their yard.

So if you have concerns, please don’t wait, go to this meeting this week. April 3, 7 pm, West Goshen Township Building. 1025 Paoli Pike, West Chester.

Judge Rules that Sunoco Pipeline Does Not Have Eminent Domain Power by Michael Faherty on February 28, 2014 in Pipeline Construction

The Top Ten Reasons Sunoco Pipeline Does Not Have the Power of Eminent Domain by Michael Faherty on January 22, 2014 in Pipeline Construction

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enough chester county spca, enough

ccspca pizap

Maybe I am post -surgical cranky, but I want to hear from State Senator Andy Dinniman and others on this.

I just had a WTF moment when a friend of mine texted me to let me know that the Chester County SPCA fired her (again) today. And oh yeah, they used the West Goshen Police Department to do it.

I am about to almost use a bad word: BULLSH*T

Once you get past the whole how-do-you-fire-volunteers of it all, I am stuck with how is it the Chester County SPCA continues to use a local police force like their own private security detail?????? (And yes my friend gave me one of the badge numbers but I am not disclosing this here as it is not the officer’s fault.)

Who is paying for this??? Are taxpayers/residents of West Goshen and Chester County on the hook for this misuse of municipal resources ???

I am completely and utterly disgusted. I hope the media eats the Chester County SPCA for breakfast. I hear some of the media is already working on stories.

I mean how can you get “people and animals together” when you keep using the local police as bouncers to fire volunteers?

And I thought it was bad when they used the police the last time…but two police cars to confront a woman????? REALLY????

….and then the cavalry came

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Today we saw PECO trucks and workers. They came to get my remaining neighbors’ power back on, and I was especially happy for my neighbors who had a tree go through their roof and punch part of it in.

We went up to the PECO crew to say “thank you” and as we turned away we heard one worker say to another worker “they are the only people who have said thank you to us since this began.”

Wow. I was surprised. Why? Because no matter how PECO handled outages, it was not the fault of these guys. They are the cavalry. When you see them you know the end of the ordeal is near. And we had a really nice crew of guys on the street and they looked as exhausted as we still feel.

I am so glad it is Sunday. I am not thrilled it is snowing yet again and it is a nasty, biting, icy and cold snow. But at least the destruction that is laying against my house and woods looks better with a little white frosting.

Next comes the circus of adjusters, insurance, clean up and repairs for us and so many others. I can’t wait for the couple thousand pounds of tree to be off my house.

I hope too many people don’t get sucked in by public adjusters because all they do is take a tasty percentage of whatever your insurance company gives you and in my opinion they can badly slow up the process.

I know people still without power. I think they must feel worse than I did before my power came on. This storm frayed the nerves and good nature of many. I definitely understand. I am not going to say I know how they are feeling, but I understand.

This storm I think PECO tried harder than some other times but part of the issue is we have an aging infrastructure that no one seems to want to deal with. I also think their automated reporting system needs tweaking.

Another issue I see are the municipalities that really tell residents absolutely nothing. I never saw or heard anything from my municipality. Maybe they have an email list or text list that not everyone knows about? In their favor however is the fact their public works guys really take care of the plowing. Those East Whiteland public works guys work their tails off and are super nice.

A lot of municipalities maintained communications with residents or had email lists and text alerts. It is easy to feel isolated in a storm event like this so I commend those who stayed in touch with residents.

Friends forwarded emails to my phone from their townships and boroughs, supervisors, and commissioners. They were good enough to tell residents updates on power outages and things like road conditions including what roads were open and closed.

But onward and upward, right? We need to learn a little something from craziness like this, right?

I learned it was really hard to just sort of be at the mercy of Mother Nature and then to accept that we had absolutely minimal control over things while all the while looking at the mess the storm made. I know it could have been much, much worse. I hope there is no next time, but if there is at least I know how it all goes now, right?

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MORE media is covering barn-gate in upper uwchlan! save picking in rural chester county!

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I have been horribly sick all week so I completely missed the fact that The Daily Local has also picked up on The Smithfield Barn!

I am thrilled. The article is fair and unfortunately (once again) Upper Uwchlan doesn’t really sound so nice, do they?

Upper Uwchlan, farmer at odds over barn sales Daily Local By Kendal Gapinski, Daily Local News POSTED: 01/09/14, 5:49 PM EST |

UPPER UWCHLAN – The Smithfield Barn, a spot where residents can pick through antiques, toys, furniture and collectibles at barn sales, has been asked by the township to stop the sales.

According to Phil Smith, owner of the Smithfield Barn at 425 Little Conestoga Road, the township made the request at the end of November because it said he was running a business on a property zoned residential.

Smith said the barn sales are held occasionally, once or twice a month in the spring and fall, and should not be considered a business.

“There’s no heating or air conditioning, it’s a barn,” said Smith.

However, the township disputes the claim that sales are held only “occasionally.”

Township Manager Cary Vargo said it had become apparent the sales were happening more frequently.

In October, Vargo said, the township’s zoning officer spoke with Smith and advised him “it was a retail establishment.”

“It was clearly a successful business,” said Vargo, who added the township believed sales were held nearly every weekend.

The meeting was followed up with an official letter in November telling Smith to stop the sales or be fined $500 a day, Smith said.

Smith said the barn sales, which he said are similar to garage sales, have been going on for nearly five years without objection from the township.

I have only posted an excerpt. Read the whole article and comments.

All of the people leaving comments on this have been IN support of the barn except for a poster named “Elizabeth McGill”. Her comment profile on the Daily Local shows a photo of an older lady who looks like a cookie baking, scarf knitting grandma. Her profile description says she became a widow in July after being married fifty years. Her comments, however, are negative and also untrue. She says (and I quote):


I was there last summer looking for unique antique treasures. All I found was junk obviously obtained through “dumpster diving.” His garage sale/store is open to the public every day in fair weather….What if your next door neighbor turned his house into a strip club, gas station, or retail store? This man is operating a store in a residential area. If anything goes, and everyone is allowed to do this, fine. But don’t blame the township for ‘sticking their nose’ into THEIR business which is enforcing the rules

Since when are their rules for yard sales, garage sales, and barn sales? And wow has this lady every been to the super fabulous and super popular Clover Market? You go there and you will see sometimes priced at hundreds of dollars things like the ones you might find at the barn for literally pennies.

How can you compare a barn sale or garage sale to a strip club? Unless of course designer stripper poles are developer add on options in these “communities” gobbling up farm land in Chester County LOL? And how can this woman outright fib and say the barn is open “every day in Fair weather”? The Smith family lives on that property and just because a barn door is open, it doesn’t make it a barn sale day does it?

It’s like the rumor that was heard when this barn-gate issue first surfaced that a complaint was supposedly made from Green Valley Road. At first I could not figure out what road this was. Then I looked at the map. It is the little spit of road that is in front of the barn, but isn’t Little Conestoga Road. It sort of dead ends a bit past the edge of the Smithfield Farm property. It looks like it runs to the Frame property. But the thing is this, those are the most immediate neighbors of the barn, aren’t they? And these are the people who are supportive of the Smith family so who would start such a rumor?

But back to this whole negative comment thing.

When I asked Kristin at the barn if she knew who this woman might be, do you know what she said? Not what you might think for someone who is in a sense under siege from the township she calls home. What she said to me was (and I quote):

We live in a world filled with hatred and poverty and crime, but someone attacks the barn for in essence recycling. That makes me feel bad because I feel sad for her.

You see, that is a prime example of the kind of people the Smiths are. They are good people who even now when someone is literally casting stones at them would turn the other cheek and feel badly and feel concern for this person leaving comments like this.

Good people like the Smiths deserve better than they are getting. The residents of Upper Uwchlan deserve better.

Barn sales and yard sales are part of Chester County life and a lot of fun. Picking is as American as Apple pie and fireworks on the 4th of July! They should be allowed to continue. And this is a very nice family that I feel is being victimized by local government most unfairly.

Please help Save The Barn! Barn Picking hurts no one. And again I say there are a lot of very poor people in parts of Chester County who need places like the Smithfield Barn so they can just get stuff for their homes – you know the basics like a kitchen table and chairs that aren’t over priced?

Save picking in rural Pennsylvania. It is as American as Apple Pie. Contact Upper Uwchlan or your favorite TV station or heck even American Pickers or the Institute for Justice and tell them the Smithfield Barn and their OCCASIONAL barn sales should live on just the way they are until the Smith family doesn’t want to do it any more.

The Smithfield Barn is not a retail store and if you suddenly need a zoning variance for yard sales, garage sales, and barn sales wow so Big Brother and how is that even American?

Upper Uwchlan

Guy A. Donatelli Chairperson 78 Stonehedge Drive Glenmoore, PA 19343

GDonatelli@upperuwchlan-pa.gov

Catherine A. Tomlinson Vice-Chairperson 788 North Reeds Road Downingtown, PA 19335

CTomlinson@upperuwchlan-pa.gov

Kevin C. Kerr Supervisor 16 Heron Hill Drive Downingtown, PA 19335

KKerr@upperuwchlan-pa.gov

140 Pottstown Pike Chester Springs, PA 19425 Phone: (610) 458-9400 Fax: (610) 458-0307
Cary Vargo Township Manager (610) 646-7008
cvargo@upperuwchlan-pa.gov

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media picks up on smithfield barn

barn 1Yep. The media is onto the Smithfield Barn story. Upper Uwchlan may wish to stop playing possum on this one, huh?

They wait how many years before suddenly deciding to make a move on the Smithfield Barn on Little Conestoga Road?  Their employees and employees of local school districts all shop there (I have seen them with my own eyes – always amusing when you see a school bus stop so the driver can go picking).  So yes, apparently I am not the only one who finds this move on their part suspect yes? Especially given, shall we say, the “development” of it all next door and across the street from Smithfield Farm?

I wrote a post on December 27th about this and it has now surpassed in readership even the posts about Justice for Argus & Fiona.  After I wrote the story a lot of interest cropped up. From media and people all across the country. And I was inundated with comments and messages, including ones that were interpreted by many to be distinctly unpleasant.  Makes you wonder if that is how they roll over there in that township of Upper Uwchlan? Sheesh, even those who are not fans of media and bloggers in West Vincent weren’t so bad.

And yes the media is interested. And yes the first media story broke today.  It is by Tim Lake of PaNewz.com .

PANewz.com: Pa Picker’s country barn sale shut down by township as McMansions move in

Phil Smith is a self-described ‘Picker’ whose popular Smithfield Farm ‘Barn Sale’ has been shut down by his local Pa government

-1870s-era barn is filled with 30 years of ‘picking’ around old homes, estate sales and farms of Pa

-Antiques, toys, glassware, collectibles, junk all sold in vintage Pa stone barn that drew buyers from eastern Pa, many other states

-Regular barn sales created ‘old timey’ social life in rapidly developing, former farm community now jokingly referred to as ‘McMansionville’

-Upper Uwchlan Township says Smithfield Farm was violating zoning regulations by operating as a business in a residential district, five years after barn sales began

-Timing of notice suspect because new ‘McMansion’ housing development  was just approved for across the road from Smithfield Farm

Smithfield Farm has a classic Pa stone barn first constructed around 1841 and later expanded  in the 1870s.  Smith says many people stopped at his barn sales just to get a glimpse inside the old barn. On sale days, items would fill the front lawn and the doors were flung open to reveal all the antiques, toys, furniture, collectibles, glassware and junk inside.  The barn is alongside Little Conestoga Road and the Pa Turnpike in Chester County, Pa.

….Smith says he was a ‘picker’ long before the TV show ‘American Pickers’ made the practice wildly popular.  Narrow pathways wind through the large barn, crammed with all kinds of useful antiques and household items and not so useful collectibles too…..Smithfield Barn is so crammed with collectibles that shoppers had to walk through narrow paths throughout the barn to find merchandise.  After five years of barn sales, the owners received a letter from Upper Uwchlan Township ordering them to stop the barn sales or face a $500 per day fine.  The township  cited the barn sales as a zoning violation for operating a business in a residential district.  Smithfield Farm contains about 14 acres in an area enclosed by a ‘Farm to Market’ type road and the Pa Turnpike.  Timing of the violation letter is suspect because the township had just approved a large new development of what local’s jokingly call ‘McMansions’, across the road.  The development of about 60 large homes will bring much needed road improvements, a large sewage treatment facility and a new park….Smithfield Farm is more than just a country barn sale. The original farmhouse was converted to a Victorian-style house that once held a boarding school.  The farm was originally in the Abrams-Fetters family, one of the oldest family names in the area formerly known as Uwchland.  It’s a vintage landmark among new homes in the former farm community…..Upper Uwchlan Township contains the picturesque village of Eagle that was once home to the iconic Simpson’s Store, a relic of the past with a pot belly coal stove and farm merchandise.  It was demolished several years ago to make way for a large shopping center, bank, and retail shops.  … Around the village, more than 10,000 housing units have either been built or are scheduled to be built in Upper Uwchlan.  With the rapidly changing nature of this once rural farm community, the days of old fashioned barn sales may be gone for good….Without a formal complaint, Smith and Nowak are concerned that the new housing development, which will likely resemble this Toll Brothers community a half mile way, may have spurred the decision to halt the barn sales.

Hmmm file under do not ask for whom the bell “Tolls”, it “Tolls” for thee?

I was waiting for Upper Uwchlan officials to really comment, but all I see are sound bytes from the township inspector Al Gaspari.  Guess he is the fall guy and is that penance of a sort? Wasn’t he in the middle of that scandal with the Township Manager being fired, and the missing rent money from the township owned farmhouse debacle not so long ago?

Anyway, Tim Lake is a seasoned journalist and former news anchor of a local affiliate of a major news network, so I would say maybe my suspicions weren’t so unrealistic if he took on the story?

And well there are other media folks nosing around who think something funky is a foot so is everyone wrong? Does Upper Uwchlan have a cut and dry case or cut and dry reasons for doing this?  Or is it just more about municipal greed and future development ratables and such?  And how can Al Gaspari stretch  the truth quite a bit by exaggerating how often the barn is actually open for barn sales? Upper Uwchlan and he would have you THINK they are open like every day and every weekend, but that is not true. I mean it is six shades of creepy and makes you wonder does Upper Uwchlan keep a log of the people who visit the Smiths and their immediate neighbors too? So 1950s cold war era McCarthyism of them, right?

But how would we know exactly what the motivation is? Upper Uwchlan hasn’t exactly been forthcoming have they? But not being forthcoming isn’t exactly new behavior for Upper Uwchlan officials is it?

Yes….Upper Uwchlan is no stranger to strange goings on:

Daily Local: Upper Uwchlan fires its manager

By DANIELLE LYNCH, Staff Writer      Posted:     03/06/12, 10:34 PM EST

UPPER UWCHLAN — Township supervisors announced the firing of Township Manager John Roughan Jr. at a standing-room-only meeting Monday night.

Roughan reacted Tuesday by saying he enjoyed his time working for Upper Uwchlan.

“I’m proud of what I accomplished there,” said Roughan, who began working for the township in October 1988. “I met some great people.”

The board’s decision to terminate Roughan falls on the heels of a controversial rental agreement on the Upland Farms property….Controversy over the Upland Farms agreement sparked in early February after township supervisors approved an occupancy agreement that requires Al Gaspari, the township’s code enforcement officer, to pay $400 a month to the township and “perform necessary upkeep and repairs on the property and coordinate capital repairs.”

Then in mid-February, former township Supervisor Don Carlson said there was already a rental agreement in place for the house in the 300 block of Route 100. The previous agreement was signed by Gaspari and Roughan in May 2004.

The farm site is still owned by Pulte Homes and is awaiting formal transfer to the township for use of taxpayer-owned open space….. the 56-acre site has a home, a barn and outbuildings.

Daily Local: Upper Uwchlan officials appoint new manager

By ERIC S. SMITH, Staff Writer   Posted:  03/07/12, 12:13

UPPER UWCHLAN — After going more than seven months without a township manager, township supervisors unanimously appointed a new manager Monday night.

The board selected Cary Vargo to fill a spot vacated in March after the board fired John Roughan Jr. His annual salary rate will be $95,000 for a 90-day probationary period, after which his pay rate would jump to $100,000 a year.

Vargo comes to Upper Uwchlan after serving as township manager in Thornbury for more than two years. Prior to that, Vargo served as a Coatesville police corporal. He had served on the force for eight years.

“I was interested in serving a quality community that was a little closer to home,” said Vargo, who resides in Amity Township, Berks County…..In February, the board passed an occupancy agreement allowing Al Gaspari, the township’s code enforcement officer, to stay there as long as he paid $400 a month and performed “necessary upkeep and repairs on the property and coordinate capital repairs.”

After this agreement passed, Don Carlson, who served as a township supervisor from 1994 until 2005, announced that an agreement had already been in place since 2004 for Gaspari to use the residence at a cost of $500 per month. The 2004 agreement was signed by both Gapsari and Roughan.

The 2004 agreement stipulates: “There will be a 10 percent penalty assessed for rent payment received the 10th day of the month.

“This agreement recognizes that the house will cost an average of $300 per month in utilities. The township will review utilities on a semiannual basis. You (Gaspari) may be liable for any utilities above a six-month period ($1,800).”

The board later brought in Bob Bezgin, a certified public accountant, to perform an audit on rent transactions from May 2004 until December 2008. Bezgin found that only $8,000 of the $28,000 owed was paid by Gaspari. But Gaspari and Roughan had amended the agreement to account for the work done on the property by Gaspari.

Therefore, the board required Gaspari pay back $11,085.84 that it deems he owes in back rent.

Daily Local Editorial: Township should clear the air over firing of manager

The Upper Uwchlan Board of Supervisors fired the longtime township manager on Monday. But the action by the three-member member board, instead of bringing to a close the troublesome situation surrounding the house at Upland Farms and its occupancy by a township employee, has had the opposite effect of raising more questions.

John Roughan worked at the township since 1988 and steered it through a period of intense development. Like any government administrator, especially in a “small town” setting such as Upper Uwchlan, Roughan has his supporters and critics. But we think it only fair to the residents of the township and those who do business there that the supervisors lay out a case in public against him if they are to have any hope of putting the crisis behind them.

Transparency is among the functions of government that we value as highly as accountability and responsibility. When pubic officials lay their cards on the table as openly as possible and give the public the ability to make up its own mind, then we have representative democracy in action. When they do not, it works against that goal…..Controversy over the Upland Farms agreement sparked in early February after township supervisors approved an occupancy agreement that requires Al Gaspari, the township’s code enforcement officer, to pay $400 a month to the township and “perform necessary upkeep and repairs on the property and coordinate capital repairs.”

Then in mid-February, former township Supervisor Don Carlson said there was already a rental agreement in place for the house in the 300 block of Route 100. The previous agreement was signed by Gaspari and Roughan in May 2004, but payments appear to have stopped coming into township coffers along the way, and Gaspari seems to have been living on the property rent-free for some months.

So I am of the opinion (once again) that things are not necessarily as they seem in Upper Uwchlan and can’t you agree something is fishy?

Here’s hoping a lot more bog turtles and whatnot are found, right? After all, if this is the future of formerly bucolic parts of Chester County, well I am so sorry but do we all live out here so we can look at plastic houses all crammed together?

Remember my photos taken from the hot air balloon America 1 on Septermber 11, 2012? I took photos of development from the air? The photos I snapped were quite close to the Smithfield Barn of pre-existing development as we took off from a field in Upper Uwchlan.  And I remember smelling that rotten septic smell when we landed in a septic field of another development.  Is that what we are to be reduced to soon?  That the only open space we have left in Chester County are septic fields of plastic mushroom house developments?

development1

In my opinion (which I am entitled to) Upper Uwchlan destroyed the village of Eagle. But they got a nice township building, right?  Don’t let them destroy the Smithfield Barn too.  This is about development, isn’t it?

Barn sales and yard sales are part of Chester County life and a lot of fun. They should be allowed to continue. And this is a very nice family that I feel is being victimized by local government most unfairly. Please help Save The Barn! Barn Picking hurts no one.  And there are a lot of very poor people in that part of Chester County who need places like the Smithfield Barn so they can just get stuff for their homes – you know the basics like a kitchen table and chairs that aren’t over priced?

Upper Uwchlan

Guy A. Donatelli Chairperson 78 Stonehedge Drive Glenmoore, PA 19343

GDonatelli@upperuwchlan-pa.gov

Catherine A. Tomlinson Vice-Chairperson 788 North Reeds Road Downingtown, PA 19335

CTomlinson@upperuwchlan-pa.gov

Kevin C. Kerr Supervisor 16 Heron Hill Drive Downingtown, PA 19335

KKerr@upperuwchlan-pa.gov

140 Pottstown Pike Chester Springs, PA 19425 Phone: (610) 458-9400 Fax: (610) 458-0307

Cary Vargo Township Manager (610) 646-7008

cvargo@upperuwchlan-pa.gov

justice for argus & fiona: court date confusion

UPDATE  3.27.13 11:33 a.m:   *UPDATE* Tom Hickey from DogPAC just called.  He says that his sources have told him the hearing is STILL on for Pilotti (Argus & Fiona) 3 pm at 1130 Ridge Rd in Pottstown, PA.  He asks that if you are able to come show support, to please do so in a peacable manner.  No one expects this hearing to last more than five minutes – it will undoubtedly get waived to county court.  But apparently, he does have to appear. This is all we know and what we have been told.

UPDATE 3.27.13 10:08 a.m.:   Greetings – this morning greets everyone who want justice for Argus & Fiona with confusion.  Some sources say Pilotti has waived his hearing so there is nothing today, other sources say everything is moving dates again.  So the long and short of it is, we just don’t know.  We will update when we do.  Sorry to put folks in a holding pattern.  We appreciate your support.

argus-and-fiona

UPDATE 7:40 P.M. (and note this is a moving target so who knows if it will move again or not):

Tom Hickey from DogPAC was kind enough to connect and tell us the hearing date had indeed changed….to TOMORROW. YES ANOTHER CHANGE TOMORROW (Wednesday, March 27th) at 3 p.m . If you can be there to show your support, THANK YOU. You know , they can keep changing it and we will still come, 1130 Ridge Road Pottstown, PA 19465  Justice, Love and Change ~ Argus and Fiona ♥ spread the word!  And VERY important – out of respect to the dogs and the Bock family, if you go tomorrow, PLEASE just bear witness quietly and show support.  No drama or the dogs will lose out. It is my belief this district justice doesn’t want this in his court, but I could be wrong.

EARLIER:

I feel a bit like a puppy chasing it’s tail this morning.  It seems that Justice for Argus & Fiona is not going to be so simple after all. We are hearing that the court date for Commonwealth v. Pilotti has been moved….again….we are hearing 3/28/2013 at 8:30 a.m. (We are waiting for media and other sources to confirm this 100% but that is what a law enforcement source has said.)

If you refer to the official court docket you will see that the date of the hearing in the court room of Magisterial District Judge James V. Deangelo has been moving about like a game of Chinese Checkers.  The original hearing was 3/28/13 at 9 am.  Then it was 4/4/2013 at 9 a.m. and then it was 4/4/2013 at 1 p.m. However on another docket most people never click on called the Public Court Summary is says “Next Action Date: 03/28/2013″

So we now have ANOTHER change that the court will neither confirm or deny: that the trial is BACK to 3/28/2013 or this THURSDAY as in the day before Good Friday and Easter Weekend.

I have to ask why this court date and the times are  moving at such an extraordinary rate.  Is this a ploy on the part of the defense, a/k/a Gabe Pilotti’s lawyer?  Or is it because the District Justice Court in Pottstown  keeps moving the date to avoid a media spotlight and crowds of Justice for Argus & Fiona supporters? Do the officials elected or otherwise in West Vincent have anything to do with this?

I want to remain calm, cool and collected and avoid conspiracy theories, but I have to tell you when you have VERY reliable sources telling you the D.A.’s office in Chester County is telling THEM the date is the 28th of March again or this Thursday as in two days from now, yet when I call out to the court and speak to a lovely woman named Rebecca who asks me how I heard this because (and I quote) “It is not the 28th…nothing formally has been changed…but you can check the docket later.” well it is darn frustrating.

So it seems to me something more is afoot.  I can’t help but think someone is trying to sneak something past everyone AND the poor Bock family who have a right to their day in court for their beloved pets.

Here is the address and phone number of D’Angelo’s court:

Magisterial District Judge:James V. DeAngelo
District Court 15-3-01
1130 Ridge Road
Pottstown, PA 19465-8612

Phone:
610-469-1910
Fax:610-469-1913

Townships of Spring City,
North Coventry, South Coventry, East Coventry, Warwick, East Nantmeal, East Vincent, and West Vincent

The Chester County District Attorney’s office telephone number is (610) 344-6801.  Feel free to call D.A. Tom Hogan’s office and ask what the CORRECT date is and why the date to a simple hearing in a Magisterial District Court is jumping around quite so much.

Regional and local media, you have been so incredibly generous in your coverage of this issue.  We hope you can see all this Tom Foolery over the magically moving court date will encourage you to resume coverage.   After all, will justice be so thorough without the eyes of the region upon her?

Supporters of dog issues please watch the court dockets too.  Apparently it is going to take more than a village to get justice after all.