love of the land

DSC_0004Last night I went back to the Main Line for a fundraiser for a friend. As much as I love the area I spent a lot of my growing up years in, I discovered last night I truly no longer miss it.

I miss some of my friends, but you see like it or not to Main Line and city people, I might as well be living in Iowa – Chester County is that foreign to them and seemingly so far away.

But in Chester County I am happy.  And one of the things that makes me happy out here is the sheer beauty of a great deal of the surroundings. (And meeting so many nice people doesn’t hurt either!)

The fuzzy and grainy photo I still like was taken last evening.  It is one of our iconic settings out here I think- The Radnor Hunt Club.  The club is always a thing of beauty to me, sitting on her hill surrounded by those fields.

But last night I was reminded again of how the beauty can change and grow ugly when we reached a certain part of Goshen Road (Delaware County portion). As soon as you hit the boundaries of Foxcatcher Farms, the old DuPont Estate it changes.   On Foxcatcher Farms, the old DuPont Estate. Toll Brothers has all but stripped the land bare.

I have never quite seen the raw effect of development as clearly as I did last night in the twilight.  The land that was once so beautiful and dotted with majestic trees and quite a few old farmhouses is essentially stripped.  It looks like what it is: a victim of apocalypse by a developer.  It is so incredibly jarring and sad.

We all know Toll Brothers gobbles up land in Chester County with their insatiable appetite.  You want a first hand view is worth a 1000 words?  Drive down Goshen Road to see what was the DuPont Estate.

DSC_0008I think it is important, and in that vein will mention something no other media has thought to cover other than Malvern Patch.  It concerns Toll Brothers and their desire to expand Applebrook Meadows into its second phase.

I am sorry, but Applebrook Meadows is ugly.  Unless of course you want to live in a development of samey-same homogeneity.  It is truly like Barbie’s dream house gave birth. Over and over and over again.  Just like Byers Station is ugly (and their sewer fields stink there – but it is all Stepford and la la, or is it?)

Anyway, Malvern Patch is reporting that  Toll apparently did not meet some condition of land development:

Back in October, Willistown granted a land development request to Toll Brothers for the second phase of its Applebrook Meadows development, contingent on eight conditions.

The one condition tacked on at the last minute—a third-party perc test—proved to be a sticking point for the developer.

At its Feb. 11 meeting, Toll Brothers representatives were back before the Board of Supervisors with an upgraded, costlier water management plan, again seeking land development approval for Phase II, which would add 53 new houses on the way to a total of 138.

Instead, they got a pop quiz and were told their request would be tabled pending review by the township solicitor.

Alyson Zarro, who represented Toll Brothers at the meeting, said the new plan would upsize basins to accomodate future needs of neighboring Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital.

Board Chairman Robert Lange called the incorporation of the hospital a “good move for PR,” but said he was suspicious of why Toll Brothers abandoned its original proposal less than 48 hours after the independent perc test was required.

“Why do you have to change plans if it’s going to work? I don’t know why that happened, I have my suspicions.  I think you thought you could do it a cheaper way, a more economical way. And if it did fail down the road, we would have a problem on a PNDI site. Toll Brothers would have sold their units and moved on,” Lange said, before laying out a possible chain of events.

“Water may or may not perc. If it didn’t perc, it overflows, it goes onto a PNDI site, it goes onto the barrons. The homeowners association is going to be very upset. They’re going to come back to the supervisors, saying we did not do a very good job. And, it’s a mess.”


I am a realist, you can’t stop development unless you get really, really lucky, but it needs to slow down. It has to slow down.

So in my round about way, I am spinning another cautionary tale of how the beauty of the land will in the end be fleeting if we all don’t collectively wake up and have better stewardship.