being a good neighbor in berwyn

Berwyn is a quirky, cool place I have always liked.  Much like Malvern, it has cute stores and eateries well worth exploring.

The purpose of this post is simply a props to Sweet Jazmines Bakery in Berwyn for paying it forward and being a good neighbor.

Apparently a fellow local merchant, Mr. Yang of Yang’s Market who was recently robbed and beat up pretty badly.   Crime seems to increase as the economy flounders, and I know what happened to Mr. Yang is the nightmare come to life of every small business owner everywhere.

Sweet Jazmines is located at 15 Bridge Avenue in Berwyn.

Here is the story, which can be found in the Daily Local and Main Line Media News:

Berwyn bakery holds sale to benefit robbery victim

Published: Friday, January 27, 2012

Sweet Jazmines Bakery is holding a sale of batter and donating 100% of the proceeds to Mr. Yang of Yang’s Farmers Market in Berwyn as he recovers from a robbery and brutal attack last week….The owner of the Sweet Jazmines, Kim Cuthbert, decided to do the fundraising for Mr. Yang. She has been a patron of his store ever since she opened her bakery 13 years ago.
Sweet Jazmines started selling brownie batter earlier in the week, and will probably continue the fund-raising with some other types of batter next week.
The bakers started with 90-pounds of batter on Friday and by early afternoon had sold over 2/3 of it.

Anyway, I just think what they are doing is awesome.

End note: The photograph is not a Sweet Jazmines product, incidentally.  I have never photographed their baked goods.  In the efforts of full disclosure, the cupcakes are from Carlino’s (Ardmore and West Chester) – I felt I needed a cool baked good photo, and prefer to use my own work.  Carlino’s incidentally, will be joining DiBruno Brothers and many more at a non-profit friendraiser for First Friday Main Line I am working on later this week – Foodapalooza.

a good thing in chester county

I discovered courtesy of a friend, something in Chester County I find very cool – a non-profit called the Chester County Fund For Women and Girls.

It is never too early to empower the next generation of women.  I also believe in true philanthropy, and teaching anyone how to pay it forward.

Being strong is not something women and girls all know from jump.   Neither is learning to give back just because it is the right thing to do.
Sounds pretty cool to me.

fight potential billboard blight in chester county

A blog post on the Phoenixville Patch over the past few days (they used a photo from Save Ardmore Coalition) reminds me that yes, the billboard issues that have been plaguing the Main Line, Delaware, and Montgomery County is trying to encroach on Chester County too.

And trust me, since I have been at many, many Main Line/Haverford Township billboard hearings, I can tell you it may get nasty.

The guy is Thaddeus Bartkowski.  He’s young and affectionately known to billboard activists as Mr. B.I.G. (BIG is the acronym for one of his corporate entities so it’s a play on words, not truly a reference to Sex In The City.)

Anyway, this guy thinks it is his First Amendment right to litter communities with billboards.

I have noticed Chester County has it’s fair share of billboards and do you want more?  I know people in Phoenixville are very upset at this prospect in the town.  But then again what does a Classic Town designation and a billboard have in common? The answer is not much.

Here is the recent Phoenixville Patch Blog Post:

Local Voices

Blog: Billboard Bully Strikes Again  Posted on January 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm

East Pikeland joins at least 18 other local communities targeted by Thaddeus J. Bartkowski, CEO of Chester County Outdoor, and his legal counsel, the law firm of Kaplin Stewart, in their game of corporate bullying. 


Those communities have said, emphatically, that they don’t want digital billboards. As a result, they’ve been subjected to appeals, litigation and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent in legal fees. 


Bartkowski and Kaplin’s first appeal tactic is to object to the exclusionary nature of local sign ordinances….Communities, not the billboard industry, should have the right to determine appropriate limits for billboard size, and according to a chart of standard billboard sizes, Phoenixville’s and East Pikeland’s ordinances approved sizes for free-standing signs would accommodate at least half of the industry-approved sizes of billboards.


Even in the case of an exclusionary ordinance, though, as Mr. Bartkowski and his legal counsel are aware, communities have the right to ban digital billboards outright if they can show that they are a detriment to local aesthetics or citizen safety.


A recent study by Philadelphia urban planner Jonathan Snyder demonstrates that billboards have a detrimental impact on local property value: In Philadelphia, properties purchased within 500 feet of billboards have a decrease in sale price of $30,826. For each additional billboard in a census tract, there is an average $947 drop in home value, throughout the entire census tract.


On the safety issue: The website of a prominent billboard company boasts that its signs are “virtually impossible to avoid.”  Another company’s website promises that “outdoor boards are unavoidable, unstoppable.”


Marketing blogger Andrea Atkins, in a blog post promoting Mr. Bartkowski’s Outdoor Advertising wrote: “Qhat is the No. 1 best feature of outdoor advertising?  That customers are basically prisoners; outdoor advertising is difficult to get away from … Is Victoria Secret bringing us new bras? I was staring into space during the commercial, but its hard to miss a gorgeous, half-naked model on a 50-foot digital billboard during rush hour!”

This issue of fighting billboards has been going on in Bryn Mawr  and Haverford Township for a few years now. I mean can you imagine giant, I-95 sized billboards in Bryn Mawr?  Or in Phoenixville? Why in town centers? Why not leave them on highways or better yet, not have them at all?  Why do communities need billboards and why can’t they say no?

One of the proposed Bryn Mawr Locations is across the street from a church.  Can you imagine a GIANT condom ad or say a Victoria’s Secret ad across from a church? Because I don’t believe you can dictate billboard content – whatever ad space that is sold on a billboard is ad space, correct?

At many of the hearings we were scoffed at when we said “what if one fell?” Apparently, that query is not so odd after all given recent events out of New York:

In spite of personally being singled out by the billboard guy’s attorney – apparently my First Amendment rights are  very optional – he can claim it’s his right to put them in communities, but I am not supposed to be able to say I hate the idea of billboards in communities I care about and why – I still say if you don’t want billboards in your communities you should have a say in the matter.  As a matter of fact, four states have banned billboards for years: Vermont, Hawaii, Alaska, and Maine.  In England and the UK billboards are controlled via planning and the fines for not following the rules are stiff.  And in Toronto, Canada since around 2010 they have been taxed and part of the tax collected goes towards public art and stuff like that.

Yet here, for this guy Mr. B.I.G., all communities are just supposed to roll over?  What I still don’t get is why one person seems to be on a mission to billboard SPAM  Southeastern PA? 

Haverford Township Fire Truck Extends Ladder to Show Residents How High Billboards Would Be (May 2009)

So yeah, a lot of us are real familiar with Mr. B.I.G.  and his Billboardquest.


Groups that are fighting billboards in this area are SCRUB and No Billboards – both groups are full of awesome people.

These blue tarps were stretched out at a Haverford Twp. Billboard Hearing So All Could See How Big The Billboards Would Be (May 2009)

On Christmas Day, the Phoenixville billboard issue made the Inquirer and was even picked up by the AP:

Posted: Sun, Dec. 25, 2011, 3:01 AM

Borough preps for billboard battle

Phoenixville will likely wind up in court in its fight to keep three 40-foot-wide electronic signs out of town.

By Anthony Campisi Inquirer Staff Writer

Since 2008, Thaddeus J. Bartkowski III’s billboard wars have flared in more than a dozen communities in Delaware and Montgomery counties.

Now he is moving on Phoenixville, with the first shot fired toward the Chester County borough’s historic downtown.

If Bartkowski prevails, three electronic, V-shaped billboards, 12 feet high and 40 feet wide, will go up along Nutt Road, a major thoroughfare. They will rise 43 feet above a borough that has struggled to reinvent itself, filling the void of industrial decline with quaint shops, good restaurants, and gussied-up rowhouses.

Not surprisingly, residents are in high dudgeon. The billboards, they say, would be a visual blight and a dangerous distraction for drivers.

The town is gearing up for what promises to be a long and costly fight likely to land in Chester County Court.

For the billboard purveyor with a novel strategy for placing outdoor ads, courtrooms are familiar battlegrounds.

And more on Chester Co billboard issues:

The zoning hearing board has until Feb. 27 to rule on the substantive validity challenge brought by Chester County Outdoor, LLC.


Editor’s Note: This is the first of two articles on Wednesday’s hearing. This one will deal with the legal aspects of the case, while the follow-up goes into the statements made by the public following the testimony.

After people came forward to offer emotional appeals to stop the process that may allow 40-foot wide, 43-foot tall electronic billboards along the Nutt Road corridor, the zoning hearing for Chester County Outdoor came to a close Wednesday evening.


Speakers Voice Emotional Appeals Against Potential Billboards in Phoenixville

A public comment period was held following a zoning hearing Wednesday evening.

Carol Kuniholm paced within the area of a few square blocks on the floor, her voice cracking at times as she spoke.

Though not from Phoenixville, Kuniholm has tracked the work of billboard advertising firm Chester County Outdoor and she’s part of Occupy Phoenixville. She called the opposition to three 43-foot tall electronic billboards proposed for the Nutt Road corridor a perfect example of what the Occupy movement is about, calling the bids to put billboards around southeastern Pennsylvania “corporate harassment.”


“You ought to be embarrassed,” Kuniholm told Patrick Wolfington, the lone employee of Chester County Outdoor on hand at Wednesday’s hearing.


Phoenixville Area Municipalities Brace for Billboard Challenges

Schuylkill Township will invalidate its ordinance and a validity challenge will come before East Pikeland Township on Feb. 8.

As Phoenixville Borough faces its own billboard challenge, East Pikeland Township will face one soon and Schuylkill Township is trying to protect itself from similar action.

Chester County Outdoor posed a substantive validity challenge in front of the Phoenixville Zoning Hearing Board.


The challenge states that the borough’s sign ordinance does not allow for freestanding offsite billboards. Several residents and business representatives spoke at a recent hearing, and a decision from the zoning board is expected by Feb. 27.


Anyway, if you live in Chester County and where you live doesn’t have zoning to address billboards, or has zoning with holes like the holes in swiss cheese on the books, you had better sit up and pay some mind to this issue.

Trust me, these people are like ants at the proverbial picnic.   Or mold. Take your pick.


eyes rolling in chester county

I love it when things get cute , don’t you?  Why else would Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds now be having an environmental dance of some sort with the state over skeet shooting?

State investigates contamination complaint at Ludwig’s Corner

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012


WEST VINCENT — The state Department of Environmental Protection is investigating complaints concerning the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds.

The investigations are the result of a neighbor of the grounds filing separate complaints with the state about possible lead contamination and with the Chester County Conservation District regarding stormwater runoff.

“The DEP is looking into whether the debris from the (skeet) shooting constitutes a waste and whether or not the debris presents an environmental concern,” said Deborah Fries, community relations supervisor for the DEP’s southeastern regional office.

According to Fries, the state is investigating both the plastic and clay pigeons and the increased runoff from the newly constructed horse ring….According to John Jacobs, president of the association’s board…..the state is mistaken in thinking that there might be contamination from the skeet shooting’s pigeons, and he said the sport was unpopular with the site’s neighbors.

“They don’t like it from a noise standpoint,” he said.

Does West Vincent have anything quiet to do with this because they want to kill the things that happen at Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds to try to use that as a back door angle to get paws on land after that eminent domain for private gain gig failed at the end of 2011? (And oh, yes, I can indeed ask that question – funny thing about inalienable rights.)

Or is this complaint just the end result of some new McMansion dweller in Chester County who doesn’t want to hear skeet shooting or smell horse manure?  If that is the case, why did you move out to Chester County with your giant luxury SUVs?

It seems to me that some of the very ways of life that made Chester County so appealing are constantly being threatened.  What is next?  Outlaw farming, country fairs, antique shows, and horseback riding?  Lordy are these the same people who have issue with deer culling even though Chester County is starting to look like parts of Long Island it is so overrun with deer?

Now circling back to farming and the DEP, it seems to me I recall seeing something on the Chickenman’s site about some groady violations having to do with stockpiling manure and Birchrun Hills Farm?  Just curious but was this covered with as much fanfare in The Daily Local? If it was, could someone post a link to the corresponding article?

I am sorry but wow, Chester County sure has some happy horse manure going on.

I personally have been in close proximity to skeet shooting.  It’s not THAT noisy and most places hardly go ALL day.  Geez.  I think the sounds of cars whirring by on a highway are more annoying and find the sounds of video games far more offensive.  And of course that is the irony, isn’t it?  People see no problem with all the fake weapons noises on video games, some of which are quite violent, yet they yammer on about skeet shooting.  This cracks me up as much as seeing people in riding togs who don’t actually ride, it’s just an outfit.

Eyes rolling.

Now – back to Birchrun Hills Farm Cheese for a minute and a question.  My question is this: Birchrun Hills Farms appear at all these Farm to City Markets and other places sitting side by side with organic food, are they certified organic?  Or are their products just raw?  I did purchase their products in the past because I wanted to support the Bryn Mawr Farmers Market, but after the whole Ludwig’s Corner Eminent Domain thing, I will look to other farms.   No matter how folksy that supervisor sounds in those PBS videos loaded on their website.  I won’t boycott the markets they appear at, because that is unfair, but I do choose to buy other Chester County cheese, dairy, meat, and poultry now.

I passed through Ludwig’s Corner and Birchrunville a few days ago and noticed looming in the back off roads some pretty icky development.  It reminded me of certain places I pass on the Main Line where horses and cattle used to graze, and now there are planted McMansions and more.

I don’t get it.

And every year more and more land gets gobbled up.  Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back, and neither is the life and customs surrounding it.  It’s the country, not Disney Land, people.  If you want Disney Land, then by all means go to Disney Land.  But please, let some of the integrity of Chester County remain…or seriously, it will become something you won’t appreciate in 20 years.


In order to be fair and to try to be a good citizen journalist, I feel I should post this comment I received from someone who shoots regularly (I don’t know that they have ever gone skeet shooting at Ludwig’s Corner, however) – but fair is fair, and this is not anti-Ludwig’s Corner:

Not to put too fine a point on this but there is no way the DEP would be investigating this over the clay pigeons. The real issue with any skeet shooting range is the tremendous amount of lead shot that accumulates over a period of time on the ground surface. Any shooting range should be aware that this is an issue and there are companies that come in and vacuum the shot off the ground surface. I’m not sure but I believe there’s a specific schedule for the cleanings and the gun club in question has to provide number of shooters times number of days shot for just this reason. If that shooting range hasn’t been cleaning they are screwed…