carribean blue in chesco?

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A view of the new construction on the quarry at Atwater recently. Somehow I don’t think just the fact limestone was quarried there makes that water that particular Caribbean blue in Chester County?

Also do not think this is what Enya meant either….

Sure makes you wonder….

In a similarly colored water area in England, the Daily Mail referred to that “disused quarry”  (also limestone) as “The Poison Blue Lagoon”

They call it the Blue Lagoon, and people come from far and wide to cool off in its clear waters.

Yet the flooded former quarry is so polluted that its contents are almost as toxic as bleach.

warning-1Signs close to the shoreline warn that not only is the water known to contain abandoned cars, dead animals and human waste, but it has a pH level of 11.3 – compared with 12.6 for bleach and 11.5 for ammonia.

They state how the water is toxic enough to cause ‘skin and eye irritations, stomach problems and fungal infections’.

warning-2

 

Ick ick ick….I wonder….Is it a similar situation at Atwater?  It is undoubtedly given the dirty toxic past of that area and surrounding area like Bishop Tube not just limestone sludge in that water and shouldn’t that be considered especially given the volume of development and density going in over there? After all, it’s not like there is substantial fencing separating the old quarry from new Tyvec wrapped plastic villages and what not over there are there? And wasn’t there a junk yard near by too?

Experts say quarries can be more dangerous than other bodies of water.  For all sorts of reasons.

It looks but is not quite Caribbean Blue. Just food for thought.  Who actually owns the quarry in East Whiteland you can see from Atwater, etc?

before crebilly gets developed westtown, let’s talk traffic

Imagine all of this if 350 or whatever the exact number of houses get approved and built on Crebilly in Westtown. Of course it also makes you realize that Chester County Planning is somewhat asleep at the wheel when it comes to regional planning and so called “smart growth” doesn’t it?

What is so smart about this? Seems pretty dumb to me. I realize I am but a mere mortal and a female, but that is what I think.

Anyway, Westtown apparently has a Supervisors’ Meeting September 19. People should start asking them about things like traffic….just saying…..

Near / at 926 Picture of rt 202 traffic 5:30 pm

202 again

Backup along Crebilly at new street heading toward 926 Actually blocks the entrance to the farm and Robinson’s house

a love note to the chester county planning commission

chesco-plan

Dear ChesCo Planning,

The new website sure is pretty, but what are you doing for us? Are you saving Chester County from overdevelopment? If you are, please let us know how.

I see the planning commission members were interviewed by Kathleen Brady Shea September 14:

 

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, the Chester County Board of Commissioners announced the kick-off to Landscapes’ second update, Landscapes3.

During a presentation at the commissioners’ Sunshine meeting, Matthew Hammond of the Chester County Planning Commission pointed out that eight percent of the county’s open space enjoyed permanent protection prior to Landscapes; now the number is nearly 27 percent.

Hammond noted that an influx of 150,000 residents is predicted by 2045, reinforcing the need to have a plan that continues the focus on managing that growth through open space preservation, urban center revitalization, and municipal planning assistance.

“We’re very excited to be moving forward on this,” said Brian O’Leary, executive director of the Chester County Planning Commission.

Landscapes3 will involve a two-year effort that begins with a series of stakeholder meetings this fall, to determine the issues and challenges facing Chester County over the next 10 years.

“Twenty years ago, Chester County made a choice to redirect growth, to protect open space and to revitalize our towns and urban communities,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chairman Terence Farrell. “Landscapes and Landscapes2 have served us very well in doing that, but it is time to renew our vision and ensure that Chester County remains a highly attractive place to live, work and visit.”

 

Ok that’s all nice and fluffy, but how are you preserving open space REALLY?  What land are you saving? Look at all the parts of Chester County at risk, what are you doing? You guys talk a good game, but to be honest I lost faith in you when you hired Brian O’Leary whom I remembered none too fondly from Lower Merion Township where developers say “jump!” and Lower Merion says “how high?”

Montco official is new Chesco planner

POSTED: 09/16/15, 3:46 PM EDT|UPDATED: ON 09/16/2015

A Montgomery County official will be the new head of the Chester County Planning Commission, and will be counted on to oversee the future update of the county’s award-winning land and community planning document, Landscapes2, in the coming four years.

The county commissioners announced the appointment of Brian O’Leary as executive director at their meeting Tuesday. O’Leary currently serves as section chief on the Montgomery County Planning Commission, where he has worked for nearly 30 years.

O’Leary replaces former county Planning Commission Executive Director Ronald Bailey, who retired in June. Bailey had served as head of the commission since 2006. O’Leary will formally begin his work in the county on Oct. 5.

 

Lower Merion Township will ultimately be ruined by all the development still coming at it, and Montgomery County is a giant development mess.

As the county planning commission you are supposed to seek balance, where is that balance exactly?  How are the rights of existing residents being preserved? How is the agricultural and equine history, tradition, and culture being honored? When arable farmland and open space is gone, it’s gone.

How is allowing East Whiteland develop to the point of being like King of Prussia meets Bensalem positive? Or watching acre after acre of farmland in places like West Vincent and Upper Uwchlan a positive?

How many  developments do we need ? How come residents do not truly get a say in this? I mean you say you want our input, so we give it to you, and up pops another development or strip mall. It is a bit frustrating.

What are you doing to save Crebilly Farm???? Bryn Coed??? Any open space and farmland anywhere throughout the county? Do you care about ANY of the historic structures threatened throughout the county at all?

Is below the future of Crebilly? Liseter II (Liseter WAS Foxcatcher Farm the DuPont Estate in Newtown Township, Delaware County) :

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Or maybe it should look like this:

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How is any of the current development “smart” growth?  Your Brian O’Leary is even on the board of the Smart Growth Alliance, and allow me to quote them on him:

Through his work in local planning, Brian has seen the importance of smart growth. With smart growth, new development is focused towards existing communities, helping these places revitalize, improve their infrastructure, and create vibrant and healthy neighborhoods. Without smart growth, farmland is lost, people’s transportation choices are limited, and the economy suffers.

oleary-1So are we supposed to all hop into our smart cars now and jump on board the New Urbanism Fairy Tale Express? Brian O’Leary is a resident of Penn Wynne or Wynnewood in Lower Merion Township so seriously, what does he know from open space? And that is whose hands our future is in? Have any of you dealt with the congestion that is the Main Line recently? Or seen community after community torn asunder by development and the constant whirl of political shell games? Well I did, and I want better for the gorgeous county I now call home.

Pending sale of Crebilly Farm sparks outcry

There are several counties in America, each with more than 10,000 homes, that have vacancy rates above 55%. The rate is above 60% in several.

Most people who follow unemployment and the housing crisis would expect high vacancy rates in hard-hit states including Nevada, Florida, and Arizona. They were among the fastest growing areas from 2000 to 2010. Disaster struck once economic growth ended……..Data from states and large metropolitan areas do not tell the story of how much the real estate disaster has turned certain areas in the country into ghost towns.

……These are the American Ghost Towns Of The 21st Century. Each has a population of more than 10,000 along with vacancy rates of more than 55%, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

when articles appear that tell but half a story

6876843369_4fcfdf5e31_oSeptember 4th an article appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer about East Whiteland.   Written by a reporter who actually interviewed me about growing roses in 1997, Alan J. Heavens.  I respect him a great deal and would love to know the impetus for this article.

The cynic in me thinks maybe it was placed as PR for the Great Valley Corporate Center or someone similar.

Now this article is well written, and the Inquirer sent one of their best photographers to capture some key shots of East Whiteland, including a very old farmhouse in a bucolic setting, ironically.

25960549603_96081cb1df_oBut the article neglects to mention the non-corporate residents of the township watching their way of life disappear one development at a time.  We live in Chester County because we choose not to live in a city or on the Main Line.  Yet development by development, what makes Chester County unique, even what makes East Whiteland special, is quickly disappearing.

27685291670_2d629ed33d_oJust the other day I wrote about the new fake General Warren Village over near the behemoth of ugliness called Atwater. In my post I mentioned a comment I had received on another blog post about East Whiteland:

The “Suburban Landscape” County planning category promotes infill and appropriate density. County buzzwords for “put all the crap in this part of the County so we can keep some parts of the County green.”  East Whiteland is already written off as far as controlling development….the more here, the better in the County’s eyes. The prior issue of County Plan had existing homes obliterated by corporate park….so their intent has been clear for a long time. All very sad.

 

Now this article.  This article had to have been placed by someone because people in regional newspapers don’t just arrive at the topic of East Whiteland just because.  East Whiteland is a place most people just drive through without even thinking about the non-corporate residents in the township. East Whiteland barely has it’s own identity and doesn’t have a town center so most people know nothing of East Whiteland. They have heard of Malvern, they have heard of Frazer, they have heard of Great Valley High School. But mention “East Whiteland” to most and you get a blank stare.

So this article paints this great picture of all those corporations everyone has  to thank for our way of life in Chester County, apparently. Something along the lines of on the 8th day God created Corporate America perhaps? Ok that’s great, these places are employing folks from all over. Some of whom live in East Whiteland, but a great deal more live elsewhere.

cornfieldEast Whiteland is not just a place people drive through or go to work.  It’s home to real people year ’round.  East Whiteland is also home to Immaculata University and Villa Maria which also deserves credit for employing so many folks. And truthfully, they are better neighbors than corporate America and they respect the local history, heritage, and keep open space.

22015047366_4dd7b6d264_zThe article quotes a Narberth realtor, John Duffy of Duffy Realty. Why quote a veritable Auslander? They also have a St. David’s office.  But they aren’t Chester County realtors, they are based in Narberth and may have branched out to St. David’s, but if you look at their listings, the ones for Chester County with the exception of some rental unit at Raintree in Malvern Borough are all listings that mention SUB-DIVISION, So they are moving west like the developers but are they really the voice of Chester County Realtors now?.

Snippets from their listings on their website include:

  • 1 listing on Flowing Springs Rd in Chester Springs – it’s lovely but oh yes, possibility of sub-division.
  • 2 Juicy sized properties on Willann Road in Phoenixville – 15 and 17 acre parcels and yes, sub-division is possible.
  • 1 10+ acre property on Hickory Grove Road in Owen J Roberts School District “Possibility of four prime building lots on 10.2 gently sloping and wooded acres. Take advantage of sweeping southeasterly views across the Kimberton Golf Club”

The article mentioned East Whiteland Historic assets Gunkle Spring Mill and Lapp Log House. It doesn’t mention some of my favorite places like Duffy’s Cut (site of the massacre of Irish rail workers in the early 19th century), Linden Hall which is still rotting while the townhouses rise,  Loch Aerie, and the ruins of Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill road which is nearly as old at 184 years as the AME Church itself which just turned 200. The article wouldn’t know how to find local landmarks like the Women’s Lib Barn. It certainly doesn’t mention the trailer parks and the itinerant worker housing seen on and off Route 30 near the Wawa and so on.

17047192442_1b07ce4e3d_oThe article touts the businesses as being responsible for a real estate boom, but neglects to add up all the living units currently in progress and being planned in East Whiteland and any potential/probable impact.  When all is said and done, East Whiteland will be compeletely overwhelmed by not hundreds, but thousands of  additional living units. The article states East Whiteland is 11 square miles, so think about it – a couple thousand new living units is a VERY big deal.  And no one wants to talk about how that will affect schools, municipal services, traffic, infrastructure, open space.  It’s not all happening in a vacuum and who is to say this zeal to build one cram plan after the other won’t affect residents detrimentally down the road? And who is to say economically East Whiteland can actually sustain so much development long term?

Oy vey. And it mentions two historic assets that I am sorry are darn lucky to be left standing in a township that doesn’t really do much with historic preservation even though the historical commission is headed now by a very knowledgeable and caring gentleman (and they posted minutes for August 2016!! ), legislatively the commission has no teeth because there is nothing in East Whiteland to give them teeth (much like Tredyffrin Township as well, yes?)

17045432081_e515193eb2_oThe realtor Duffy says he doesn’t recognize the names of the developers in East Whiteland.  

“Newly constructed homes are available, of course, but most of the builders are younger and their companies and developments smaller than the big names, Duffy says.

“In fact, when I’m asked by agents if I know anything about these builders, I have to call them,” he says.”

Funny, I find quite a lot of them familiar names as I first heard about them on the Main Line. The ones that actually develop, and others who get things approved but then sell their approved sites to other developers and even one or two who got approvals but thus far have done nothing and the names don’t ring a bell? And here I thought savvy realtors were always out and about?

You know O’Neill, Kahn, Pulte, Ryan Homes, Benson, Liberty Property? And if you don’t recognize their names there are others like Toll, JP Orleans, Bentley and more within spitting distance of East Whiteland because why? Oh yeah you can’t swing the proverbial dead cat in Chester County these days without hitting a developer, can you?

I realize you can’t fight city hall on everything, but this sundae with a cherry on top bubble view of East Whiteland doesn’t reflect the people who have lived here in some cases for decades who are terrified by the sheer volume of development and other things like gas pipelines which are coming at so many Chester County residents at a fast and furious pace.

16841236827_7e282e76de_oSo are there a lot of positives to this article? Yes but it still doesn’t mean East Whiteland needs to drown in development so it turns into Bensalem or King of Prussia, etc.  Open space is a real thing, and Chester County is losing it daily along with historic resources and equine and agricultural heritage.

The development which is occurring shows little architectural design aesthetic, aren’t exactly being built to withstand the test of time, and there is just too much of it.  Every square inch available is getting gobbled up. It’s insane, quite literally.

The Inquirer article neglects to mention all of this or the feelings of the existing residents and those in neighboring communities affected by all this development.

26774787724_76108f4124_oSo while the folks at places like the Great Valley Corporate Center are running around patting themselves on the back and realtors who aren’t truly representative of Chester County spout facts anyone with a computer can research on the Internet, there are the quiet voices of everyday people living in Chester County communities like in East Whiteland and elsewhere who are grateful for the commerce but don’t want to lose a way of life, open space, history, and so on.

What is this game we play? Bully for business and real estate developers and damn the existing residents, open space, agricultural heritage, and history?  Doesn’t seem like a very fun or fair game to me. Is moderation in growth really so goddamn difficult?

Here is the article:

Companies congregate here, drawing buyers

Updated: SEPTEMBER 4, 2016 — 3:00 AM EDT

by Alan J. Heavens, Real Estate Writer @alheavens

It’s high time we headed over to East Whiteland for a visit.

After all, without this 11-square-mile Chester County community, a good many folks in this region would be unemployed.

There are so many corporate headquarters in East Whiteland that every weekday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the township’s population of 10,650 increases by more than 23,000.

Those companies include Cerner Corp. (formally Siemens Health Services), Vishay, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Ellucian Higher Education, Janssen Biotech (formerly Centocor), and Acme Markets.

Think Great Valley Corporate Center, five million square feet of office and research-and-development space on 700 acres – Liberty Property Trust’s largest domestic suburban project….

“It is a well-run township that cooperates with those around it, is convenient to everything, has a top school district and low taxes,” he says.

“Who can ask for more?”

 

The “more”  folks could ask for include slowing down the pace of development, open space and true historic preservation.  There are more than businesses living in East Whiteland Township.

The race for open space used to be just a tag line about saving it in Chester County. Now it describes every developer who gets their paws on a few acres.

moon over immaculataHappy Labor Day from the land of development, err Chester County. I really hope my feelings about this development are in the end proven wrong, but the reality is I have this sinking suspicion that when I am a very old lady I will be able to say I told you so and I won’t be happy doing it.

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hardly fine dining in a fake general warren village

general warren

Sometimes imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes it is just imitation or borrowing a name to play on the history they don’t care about anyway.  Such is the case of  developer to the masses Eli Kahn and his “The Village at General Warren”  in the “Charlestown Retail Center”  on “General Warren Blvd” in Malvern off 29 in or near that behemoth of ugliness known as Atwater. You know Atwater, where there is a giant quarry and insufficient fencing? And lots and lots of development?

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It makes me recall a recent blog comment which in part said:

The “Suburban Landscape” County planning category promotes infill and appropriate density. County buzzwords for “put all the crap in this part of the County so we can keep some parts of the County green.”  East Whiteland is already written off as far as controlling development….the more here, the better in the County’s eyes. The prior issue of County Plan had existing homes obliterated by corporate park….so their intent has been clear for a long time. All very sad.

27382257605_364752319a_b

So that says to me no one really cares, and we have to wonder if everything is a fait accompli? How sad, indeed.

So what got me thinking about this today?  An article in Patch which doesn’t exactly represent actual journalism at this point. They regurgitate the hard work of actual reporters and they post press releases in their entirety as articles. Journalism, Patch style. Here is is with typos (you’re welcome):

pj 1pj 2

Three screenshots as they appeared in Malvern Patch August 31, 2016

Three screenshots as they appeared in Malvern Patch August 31, 2016

Ah yes another chain pub style restaurant…because there are not enough of them locally, correct? Is this the finest of fine dining they think we should have in Chester County? And much like name brand car dealerships, they all look the same. They all have the same menu. Pick a Whelihan’s, they are all the same and there is one in Downingtown, there is one coming to Oaks, there is one in West Chester, Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, Reading, Blue Bell, and Leighton and that is just PA. There is also Cherry Hill, Haddon Twp, Maple Shade, Medford Lakes, and Washington Township.

After all, nothing says date night or family dinner out like a modern day Houlihan’s, right?  You can never have too much of the same thing everywhere, right?

I am sorry not sorry but why do we have to be both a development wasteland and a dining wasteland too?

And then there is the whole “Village at General Warren” of it all. Apparently the whole thing is brought to you by a company called Bernardon.  Look at their website and you will find little individuality.  It’s all formula “architecture”  (they also “designed” that thing Easttown residents are fighting called Devon Yard.)

Perhaps Mr. Kahn is getting older and forgets there already is a General Warren Village.  Part of it is located within the view shed of CubeSmart which he built and caused neighbors great distress over, right?

Now granted, General Warren Village as a development. Post WWII.

general-warren-1

But it was a planned development with decent sized lots which did not eat every tree in sight. The kind of development they don’t do today because today it is all about developers getting in and out with as much money as possible, which means what you get are cheaply constructed cram plans of same-y saminess.

The General Warren Inne, for which the real Village is named after is a country inn constructed in 1745. This 250 plus-year-old inn, once owned by the grandson of William Penn, is surrounded by woods on a few acres, and is an 18th century survivor (just think if anyone really gave a crap about Linden Hall, Linden Hall could be just as charming!)

I love the General Warren Inne.  I have seconded wedding photographers there and it is just lovely.  And it is still a bed and breakfast, and provides a wonderful alternative to chain hotels. So you have a developer borrowing the name after a fashion, but I bet they don’t really know the history.  Here is the history compiled by the General Warren Inne on itself:

Since 1745, the historic General Warren has been center stage for American history and a premier carriage stop for hungry travelers.

During The French & Indian War The story of the General Warren can be followed through its name changes. The Inne was first named in 1745 as The Admiral Vernon Inne, in honor of the naval commander Admiral Edward Vernon. He led the 1739 attack and capture of Portobello, Panama. In 1758, the name was changed to the Admiral Warren after the famed Admiral Peter Warren, a hero in defense of the American colony that year at Louisburg, (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) during the French and Indian War.

American Revolution During the revolution, the inn was owned by John Penn of Philadelphia, loyalist and grandson of William Penn. Its key location on the main highway between Philadelphia and Lancaster had helped the Admiral Warren become a popular stage stop and a Tory stronghold. It was here that the Loyalists met, drew maps and plotted against the revolutionaries. Howe and Cornwallis use these maps to negotiate the great valley, the route to capture Philadelphia.

Paoli Massacre The infamous Paoli Massacre, was planned and launched from The Admiral Warren Inne. Local folklore has it that on the night of September 20, 1777, the British, led by Lord Grey, captured the local blacksmith and tortured him on the third floor of the inn. Upon receiving the information that General “Mad Anthony” Wayne was camped one mile South of the Inne, the British attacked with bayonettes after midnight.

The Lancaster Turnpike Era In 1786, John Penn sold the property to Casper Fahnestock, a German Seventh Day Adventist from Ephrata. During Fahnestock’s long ownership, the Inne once again thrived, attracting many Lancaster County Germans and other travelers along The Lancaster Turnpike because of its reputation for clean lodging and excellent food.

The Early 19th Century In 1825 an effort was made to make amends with the new nation, the Admiral Warren was renamed the General Warren, to honor the American hero of Bunker Hill. During the 1820’s, the height of turnpike travel was reached, and the General Warren became a relay stop for mail stages and a post office. Then in April of 1831, the Philadelphia and Columbia Railway opened for travel, and in May of 1834, the last regular stage went through. The new, faster and cheaper means of travel via the rails doomed the inn as traffic by-passed the property.

The Inn’s Dormant Period In the 1830’s the great grandson of the first Fahnestock turned the Inne into a Temperance Hotel, cutting down his apple orchard to prevent cider from being made. The lack of spirits doomed the hotel, and it closed within a few years. From that point into the early 20th Century, The General Warren changed hands often, occasionally becoming a private residence. In the 1920’s, the inn reopened as a restaurant, with limited success over the next 60 years.

The Modern Era As area population and business grew in the mid 1980’s, the current owners made great strides to return the inn to its 18th Century elegance. The upper floors were renovated into 8 suites, the addition of a private dining room and all-weather heated patio for cocktail parties, outdoor dining and weddings. In 2005, the latest improvements included the new Admiral Vernon Dining Room and the return of The Warren Tavern, a spacious bar for dining and spirits, relocated to the original spot of the old tavern from the 19th Century.

Today at the General Warren Today’s guest at General Warren will find the perfect blend of old world charm, excellence in continental cuisine, fine wines and delightful overnight accommodations.

So the history of the General Warren and the eighteenth century architecture is captured how exactly by this “The Village at General Warren” in the Charlestown Retail Center?

The answer of course, is it is not.  It is just another example of a developer using aspects of our communities to sell their projects.  And another chain restaurant brings mostly minimum wage jobs with it, and well how many people do you know who can support a home and a family on a minimum wage job?

I don’t know who development like this is for, but certainly not truly our communities. Maybe if these developers actually tried to do something better with their commercial spaces or tried to being actual fine dining and not just chain pub food I wouldn’t be so cynical. But I am.

Apparently chain pub food is becoming as plentiful as WaWas. Say here’s an idea: why not merge the two and add a chain drug store with a drive thru. All smushed together – save time!!! No one has ever done that before.

Eyes rolling in Lego Land. It’s a big box world out there.

The General Warren Inne for which the real General Warren Village was named

The General Warren Inne for which the real General Warren Village was named