the bell “tolls” for thee, chester county

With apologies to John Donne, the poem reference just popped into my head.

I find it somewhat ironic that I just posted within the past few days a post cautioning about allowing Chester County to be swallowed by rampant development . And well here we are, with a story in The Daily Local about one of the kings of plastic houses, Toll Brothers.

The long and short of it is, now I know what that itty bitty zoning notice was about on Little Connestoga Road that I saw within the past few months.

How saddened am I by this news?  A lot, actually.  Among other things, although I don’t know Chester County really well yet, I think this is proposed rather close to the Byers Station Historic District. This is all being proposed in Upper Uwchlan, a municipality I know nothing about.

I am pretty sure when the hot air balloons landed on 9/11, they landed within a Toll Development – maybe even Byers Station.  It was a very Welcome to Stepford feeling with rows and rows of houses exactly the same.  From the air, they looked like Lego buildings.  The field we landed on had something to do with the development’s septic.  I don’t know much about this stuff, but that was what I was told when I asked why everything had a wafting odor of rotten eggs – you know that icky sulphur smell?

Anyway, I am very troubled by all this development.  Not just because once open space and agricultural-use land is gone, it’s gone, but also because Chester County is so very beautiful.

I don’t like plastic houses.  I don’t think developers should be allowed to continue to contort Chester County into a series of homogeneous plastic communities with no spirit, no soul, zero individuality.

Here’s the article I found today.  Below it is a very interesting one from the Inquirer in 1987 which talks about the Frame property now in play….when it was a cattle farm and they were worried about then proposed plastic house developments causing the farm to flood.

Again, this is all happening in Upper Uwchlan Township.  I guess Upper Uwchlan sees its future as being composed of 100% recycled plastic material?  Will they be substituting grass for Astroturf too?

When is enough development enough in Chester County? Where do communities draw the line?  What do you think about development in Chester County, especially in this economy?

What happens here is bog turtles are discovered? (And by all means, if you have seen bog turtles around here, by all means speak up!)

And based upon the article I found in the archives of the Philadelphia Inquirer, when did this Frame family go from their position back then of concern about development, to becoming part of the problem?

Toll Bros. wants to build 67 new homes

Sara Mosqueda-Fernandez

09/21/2012 – 11:55 AM EDT  Updated 09/21/2012 – 7:28 AM EDT

UPPER UWCHLAN – The Toll Brothers company is currently seeking a conditional use approval from township supervisors in their attempt to construct 67 new single-family homes on the Frame Property.

The conditional use would include use of the Flexible Open Space Design Option, and placing improvements within steep slopes to construct the dwellings.  The proposed site for the construction is located along Little Conestoga Road.

The hearings, which have occupied three supervisor meetings and remain ongoing, have addressed wastewater treatment, traffic planning and design, recreational space.

With the proposed houses within service area of the Route 100 wastewater treatment plant, Toll has proposed use of the plant and disposal in their existing field sites at the Reserve at Eagle, Byers Station, and Ewing subdivisions….

John Snook, a professional land planner at the Brandywine Conservancy, was hired to consult for the township regarding Toll’s proposed plans.

Snook said that there are a few significant concerns that he hopes will be addressed through conditions that the township might impose on the developers, such as replanting vegetation in some areas to strengthen riparian buffers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously requested a study to determine whether bog turtles inhabit the area, which has yet to be accomplished.  Snook said that wetlands in the northern and eastern tracts of the property were characteristic of habitats that typically harbor bog turtles, which are protected under the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act.  Should bog turtles be found, the commonwealth would institute greater constraints on the development project.

Plan For 183 Townhouse Units Is Presented To Commissioners

March 15, 1987|By Wendy Walker, Special to The Inquirer

Developer Phil Davies of Kimberton has presented a plan for Eagle Falls, a proposed 183-townhouse subdivision, to the Upper Uwchlan Planning Commission.

The 31-acre tract borders Little Conestoga Road and Route 100 and is zoned for townhouse development. At Thursday night’s meeting, Davies said the townhouses would be built in clusters of four, five and six units and would be divided into three “villages,” each with its own residents association.

The developer said that the main entrance to the tract would be on Little Conestoga Road opposite Buckingham Drive. A road would run through the site to a shopping center planned for property owned by Frances Funderwhite on Park Road, Davies said…..

In other business, farmer Robert Frame Sr. and his son, Robert Frame Jr., told planners that a 49-house development proposed by Bernard Hankin Builders of Exton would flood Frame’s 103-acre cattle farm on Little Conestoga Road.

“I know every inch of that land. I’ve farmed it for years and years, and it’s a bad situation,” the elder Frame said.

“Pop’s right,” said his son, who is a lawyer and a member of the Planning Commission.

The Frames said that they also were concerned that future residents could use chemicals on their lawns, which could pollute the farm’s water and poison the cattle.

“What’s going to happen when we have animals that are all four legs in the air?” the younger Frame asked the planners. “Who’s going to take the responsibility?”

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2 thoughts on “the bell “tolls” for thee, chester county

  1. I follow your site from afar, but grew up in Chester County and am well aware of Toll Brothers style and approach to development. Read: clear sites of all vegetation and build houses. While it may be small consolation for some, I am pleased to see the Brandywine Conservancy, a group that I have considerable respect for, involved in this case. Outside of their environmental planning expertise they are a force in the region when it comes to land protection. See their work on the former King Ranch lands in Unionville for proof. I would encourage your readers to learn more about them and other land trusts if they are interested in open space protection.

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