thoughts on the future of development and chester county

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Random thought I had today…

There are so many people upset by pending development on properties including but not limited to Earles Lake (Newtown Twp Delaware County)  Crebilly (Westtown Township, Chester County), Woodlawn (Concord Twp Delaware County), and Don Guanella (Marple Twp. Delaware County). I applaud those amazing residents fighting the good fight in their respective communities!

But ask anyone in land protection about just how hard it is to turn things around once land is under agreement of sale with a developer. There is very little the township or land trust or individuals, or groups, or anyone can do at that point.

But…. if residents could take some of that good energy and fight to protect vulnerable parcels that are NOT yet under agreement of sale, then they might just make some progress and have a chance to save community open space, arable farmland, and viewsheds.

And as you ponder, please think outside the box when investigating property that’s vulnerable.

For example I am told, and many people are shocked to learn, that places like Tyler Arboretum (650 acres) and Newlin Grist Mill are not actually completely protected land and all or pieces of those properties could be sold if their boards decided they wanted to. (Or if they were desperate for money.)

This is often the challenge for public gardens and arboreta…An example would be a conservation easement  that was put on on the Schuylkill Center a few years ago, and if memory serves it took forever to negotiate but that board was concerned with their own history of selling off chunks of the property over the years when times were lean.

What got me to thinking about this is the upcoming Crebilly Planning Commission Meeting where Toll is presenting. Westtown Township Planning Commission that has been scheduled this first  public meeting with Toll Brothers is reportedly Wednesday, November 16th at 6:30 PM and will be held at Stetson Middle School. (It is not on the Westtown website yet so I do not know if it is set in stone or not.)

I received the following from concerned Chester County resident Mindy Rhodes the following:

It is imperative that the community attend this meeting. It is imperative that you speak at this meeting. Your testimonies need to be on record. It doesn’t matter what township you are from- please show up!

In this meeting, Toll will present their plans and there will be much time for public comments. I have not seen the plans, but my understanding is this:

Toll has submitted 3 different plans:


1) Code Compliant Plan (approx. 320 units)
2) Single Waiver Plan (approx. 320 units) *Toll is requesting a waiver for the standard 60′ requirement in between buildings to 30′ instead
3) Maximum Bonus Density (approx. 400 units) *Toll will need to make their case to the Township to justify this by means of ‘improvements’


Other details:
*Development will be closer to the center of Crebilly leaving ‘open space’ around the exterior
*1 access will be on 202 south of Westminster Church
*2 access roads on West Pleasant Grove Road to align with Dunvegan and Hidden Pond Way
*1 access on 926 near Bridalwood
*No plans to access South New Street

 

This is how far we are.  And Westtown will be limited on what they can do.  Why? Because at the end of the day, municipalities are indeed limited by the Commonwealth’s bible that defines planning and zoning – The MPC or Municipalities Planning Code of Pennsylvania.

I have been saying it for years: quite simply put the MPC needs an overhaul. We need to re-define suburbs and exurbs. We need to better define and set up protections for historic preservation and land preservation, and so much more. We need to stop the death march of development across Chester County and Pennsylvania.

People have been contacting state and federally elected officials about plans like what we are about to see formerly unfold for Crebilly. Those officials like to say “we are so sorry, we can’t get involved in local issues.”

The hell they can’t.  Maybe they can’t change zoning, but they sure as hell can use their political stature to bring opposing sides to the table to perhaps explore other ideas.  That is part of why we elect them.  And when it comes to State Representatives and State Senators, if they can’t adopt our issues as theirs, time to vote for someone else AND they are the ones who can get the Municipalities Planning Code overhauled and updated…it’s in their job description!

We have a major election day coming up one week from today.  Reach out to candidates and ask them what they have done for us lately.  Like with issues over DEVELOPMENT (or pipelines through Chester County). They all can’t be about campaign donations.

We also need to get out message out CLEARLY to the Chester County Planning Commission.  To me it would also help if the person who headed it up actually LIVED in Chester County. A pro-development leader from Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County is not appropriate because HE DOESN’T LIVE HERE. Landscapes3 needs to actually reflect US not what someone else thinks is us.

Also to be considered is better knowing our history.  I learned something new about Crebilly the other day:

historical

Look, we have to do better.  We have to figure it out together. After all, Chester County deserves better.

Thanks for stopping by.

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