Who has the most to gain from development in Malvern Borough? Who will get the most out of TOD or Transit Oriented Development? Some have suggested that I narrow my question scope to what will Woody Van Sciver, Malvern Borough Council President gain from all this proposed development in Malvern Borough? (And I was reminded that Woody is a developer too at some place called Monument Management Corp.) I think after some thought, the answer to this question in as far as who will GAIN from cram plan developments is not the residents or neighbors of Malvern Borough, but Borough officials and developers, and can’t you agree?
When I wrote about Malvern’s growing pains last week it unleashed a flurry of comments. I was accused of writing a post with racist undertones and all sorts of stuff. I had people say I was being hysterical, which most easily translated is women shouldn’t have strong opinions on anything and should leave all the big decisions to the men folk. Well I am not exactly a women’s libber but I feel passionately about local governments who give away communities and their ingrained character and history and charm for the nearest buck. I find it to be like a political lap dance.
I will keep writing about Malvern Borough’s foolishness. Because it is foolishness. I believe small town politicians are corruptible and forget who and why they serve. In this case they see the Emperor’s New Clothes and can’t see the forest for the trees on what the intrinsic value and charm is of Malvern remaining a small town. These elected and appointed officials driving the development bus to nowhere don’t even *get* that developers all over the country try to recreate small towns like Malvern Borough.
Henry Briggs has written another column on this. I am looking forward to his column next week, too. That one is about why Malvern residents are NOT being heard about their own future.
Look, please don’t waste your breath leaving me comments that I should basically have no opinion here. With all due respect, I have a brain and I am not afraid to use it. I am not against growth. What I am against are these giant one size fits all plans that are the proverbial square peg in the round hole. This is a small town, emphasis on small. And Malvern is often quite precarious financially, and the current economy in which we find ourselves in all across this country should cause local governments to exercise caution, not throw caution to the wind.
If Malvern Borough wants to grow, do it responsibly. Allowing developers to shove in developments on small parcels and in a small area so everyone is crammed in like lemmings is IRRESPONSIBLE. Planning needs to be a partnership between community and government, not government and developers.
Enjoy Henry’s column.
Malvern, Pa., once a storybook small town like many around the country, is being beefed up like cows in a holding pen by three different special interests: developers, business people, and governments.
It started at a breakfast in 2008 hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce where Barry Seymore of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission was holding forth.
Woody Van Sciver, Borough Council president, really liked what he was hearing. The subject: TOD – Transit Oriented Development – adding density to areas within half a mile of transit hubs….Around the same time, Eli Kahn, a developer in West Chester, started courting The Malvern Business Association….Kahn’s plan for the biggest development Malvern had ever seen was like free beer at a frat party….Van Sciver, a developer himself, had headed the Malvern Planning Commission before joining the council and had been heavily involved in drafting Malvern’s Comprehensive Plan, a multi-year effort to define where and how future building and development was to occur…..Because of this background, and the fact that he was Council President, the council decided Van Sciver should lead the negotiations with Kahn.
One developer negotiating with another.
…Malvern is now home to a four story, 45-foot-high behemoth of 190 apartments and a number of stores and restaurants. It stretches nearly a fifth of a mile along the eastern approach to Malvern. When you walk by it, you feel like you’re in Philadelphia…..One recommendation from a recent market study financed by the borough and TOD interests calls for a 12-story, 600 “dwelling unit” high-rise near the SEPTA station….The council has approved plans of another developer for five big houses on a one-acre lot. Still other developers are working on “infill projects,” cramming large, money-making houses and townhouses into whatever bits of land they can find.
Malvern, once a Norman Rockwell small town, has lost it’s magic, irrevocably, at the hands of its own business community, its own government, and developers.