west whiteland planning commission and weston

Well last evening’s West Whiteland Planning Commission regarding the Weston Tract was a revelation for sure. And sometimes being at one of these meetings you feel like a squirrel up in the tree watching. In this case, watching so as a resident you can get your comments in. Which is not as easy as you think if you are an affected resident of a neighboring township.

First were the planning commission members who were essentially saying that they should just be able to decide things not the supervisors, and the supervisors were essentially idiots for not approving the zoning changes for HIGH density housing on the Weston property just up W. King Road which would detrimentally many. That was astounding to me and out of line. The Planning Commission also acts as an advisory body, not end-game decision maker.

What surprised me even more is that they were not checked on this running commentary by the supervisor who was present, Raj Kumbhardare because although merely a conversation, they should have been at least corrected as to their role that they signed up for. But in fairness to Raj Kumbhardare, it could have been a pick your battles thing, but to me the comments also smacked of arrogance and ego and that’s not why you supposedly sign up for these committees.

Then there was Weston’s lawyer who was saying essentially high density is what the market wants blah blah blah and that of course just makes you wonder because he is representing Weston the seller not the developer buyer?

I wasn’t rude but this is what I said:

My statement and sentiments are simple. I know nothing is being decided tonight and this is a discussion, but I am also not naïve as to how things work.

The Weston Tract being developed is inevitable. I wish it was otherwise, but I am being realistic.

This development won’t just affect West Whiteland residents, it will affect East Whiteland residents, and given the connectivity of roads off of West King, will also affect East Goshen residents and perhaps even West Goshen residents.

Municipalities do not exist as independent island nations. We are interconnected.

This development will need a traffic signal at West King and Weston Way no matter what.

Also just so you get an idea of just a regular few days of traffic, I asked East Whiteland if they could do an informal study next time they had the you’re- speed up on West King near my road. The time frame was between October 25th and October 30th and for that time frame specifically and most simplistically they counted 31,000 cars in total over 6 days which is about 5000 cars per day, fairly evenly split at 2500 in east direction.

That is not insignificant traffic and it can be and has been heavier. We know, we live here.

Please say NO to high density housing. This is not the location for it.

And you also all probably know that in West Whiteland there is a developer who was doing something like perc testing maybe behind houses on Old Phoenixville Pike and correct me if I am wrong but isn’t it the guy who is the reason thee is the mess on Ship at 30 adjacent to the new couplet which is also a mess? All that one does is high density, correct? And you don’t want data centers or hydrogen hubs.

If this gets developed, it would be great if it was a school because that would mean a use that wouldn’t harm the area as much. But if it is residential how about single family, 1 acre and ½ acre lots? As in both. They do sell although developers prefer cram plans because they care about only their bottom lines, not the communities they disrupt.

You are a municipality who is getting the short end of the development stick and like everywhere else it’s all too dense and looks the same. Apartments and townhouses contribute to a more transient society as they are more likely to either be all rentals or have a lot of rentals.

You have the chance to guide a developer to do something better. And if this area gets zoned Residential with 1 acre and ½ acre single family, that would be beneficial to across King where Johnson Matthey has that chuck of land for sale, and possibly it could better protect your residents on Old Phoenixville Pike because in my humble opinion if that went high density, you would be potentially looking at another Meadowbrook Manor situation.

Thank you.

The planning commission member who could indeed inspire the public to be rude because he is so unctuous is Mark Gordon. Mark Gordon WAS also the paid zoning / codes guy in East Goshen and well I think he was asleep there half of the time there but he sure likes to be king of his anthill on the West Whiteland Planning Commission. Ironically he lives close to Weston, so one would think he would care more about how this affects people. I remember him from when East Goshen was trying to take part of the Hicks Farm via eminent domain for private gain for the trail to nowhere. And another planning guy who gives me pause? Raymond McKeeman who for years worked for West Goshen as a facilities manager/zoning officer. He also lives close to Weston so what’s his horse in the race that he’s pretty non-supportive of the residents near Weston?

I mean, I guess you could say one connection for both of these planning commission members is the law firm representing Weston also used to do the solicitor work for West Goshen and East Goshen and I think they’re back at West Goshen, so is it all just too cozy on this bus? Should these two planning commission members actually recuse themselves when this law firm has things before the planning commission? I’m neither inferring or stating any impropriety, but it’s often the appearance of things which are worse than the actuality isn’t that correct? And yes as an American under the Constitution I am allowed to ask these questions aren’t I? I’m allowed to question government and have opinions, correct?

Now I know this is the planning commission set in place by the dearly departed township manager, who is now in Montgomery County, correct? So are a lot of the current members of the West Whiteland planning commission shall we say strategic to whatever was going on before?

When it comes to politics and local government , I don’t necessarily believe in coincidence.

And something else I want to address that was brought up by Mark Gordon the planning commission guy in West Whiteland. He interjected the West Whiteland tax increase into the conversation about development. First of all the reason West Whiteland has a tax increase is because of things like all the development over the past multiple decades, as well as 30 years of prior administrations playing kick the can down the road with regard to taxes, correct? And he said something along the lines that the tax increase is 300%. It’s not, it’s actually more like 180% because no increases occurred in about 30 years. What that comes out to on average is about $150-$200 a year so it’s about $10-$12 a month. And for the record, nobody likes a tax increase, but sometimes you can’t avoid it, especially when prior administrations weren’t looking after residents the way they should have been, right? If you look at neighboring municipalities, all this increase does is bring this up to the level of neighboring municipalities.

Does Mr. Gordon of the Planning Commission in West Whiteland think development and the cost of development are free long term to municipalities and residents? If so, what’s he doing on the planning commission? Part of the reason they need to do a tax increase has to do with infrastructure, and a lot of that infrastructure is the human variety as in first responders, etc. so is Mr. Gordon saying they don’t need police and fire in West Whiteland?

Also, curious as to how Mr. Gordon thinks more than one ingress and egress out of this development onto W. King Rd. is going to work? Especially because he lives near there? The one good thing about the Weston property being developed is Weston Way the road in and out of Weston is wide. It needs a traffic light for sure, but they don’t need to open up the back of the property onto other little streets or add more ins and outs on W. King Rd.

I think the West Whiteland Planning Commission needs to remember that they are an advisory committee which means they are acting in an advisory capacity. They should be there to work in the best interest of the township and residents as a whole, not developers, right? They aren’t the decision makers and dealmakers. And last night as they were lamenting the fact that the board of supervisors didn’t agree with what they had suggested was very eye-opening to me. They don’t make the rules, but they want to make the rules? And given relationships on that board to other factors in this plan, I really think we should all be grateful that the supervisors actually are the ones who are the decision-makers.

There were many West Whiteland residents who spoke up last night. Among them are the residents over on Old Phoenixville Pike who are also trying to figure out exactly what a developer is doing back behind their neighborhood since he keeps doing perc tests or something. Some poor older gentleman spoke about getting his property torn up every time they send an excavator through, and I think that’s horrible. No plans have been filed and that’s what the John Weller from West Whiteland Township said last night, but obviously something is going on if a developer is doing testing.

John Weller also made a comment about Phoenixville Pike being narrow where those former helicopter warehouses are. The other side of West King, where those people in that small neighborhood on Old Phoenixville Pike also have a very narrow street, perhaps not even as wide as Phoenixville Pike across King. Another thing to note is neighbors are also concerned there about development happening because the land that’s being tested apparently also has 5 acres that are actually in East Goshen.

These people on Old Phoenixville Pike are worried and justifiably so. Car lights right in their windows where that never existed and traffic turning at the tangent point of their road close to driveways, more stormwater issues, etc. Right now they have a developer being inconsiderate dragging equipment in and out and tearing up their yards like the pipeline people have in other neighborhoods, so you know that doesn’t bode well for whatever is to come if that developer proceeds right?

This West Whiteland residents and residents from other communities were abundantly clear about development NOT being high density. And it is also clear that no one from any township that lives back near Weston wants apartments townhouses, or carriage homes. What fits the area and is suitable for the area if it goes residential are single-family homes literally on half acre and 1 acre lots.

If a school came in and they didn’t have to change the zoning for Weston, that would be great but you still have to worry about who would buy the Johnson Matthey land across from Weston (and one would hope they would do significant environmental testing on that parcel), or what might get shoehorned in behind those homes on Old Phoenixville Pike.

The residents from multiple municipalities should be proud of the way they turned out last night, and I hope they keep the momentum going. Because the more people go to meetings on issues like this the better the conversation. That way my hope is whatever happens on that tract of land doesn’t actually hurt the community that Weston is in.

I am sure this issue will pick up again in the new year. And hopefully at that point, the planning commission won’t be shaking their heads “no” when residents were speaking which is disappointing, dismissive, and piss poor decorum. And I hope the planning commission in West Whiteland learn that their personal taste (or lack thereof) is not necessarily what matters here. I was on zoom, and people were messaging me this who were in the audience. Residents had a right to speak, and they did speak. And for the most part, they were a lot nicer to that planning commission than certain members of planning commission deserved. With the exception of the lady named Mary Fran, or Mary Frances. She was fair and thoughtful in her comments.

Stay vigilant. After all these are our communities, not the developers. We live here. We have a right to be heard and we have the right to want to preserve where we call home.

Good job once again, residents. Planning Commission in West Whiteland? We’ve got your number on this project.

Old coverage:

spring oak used to be a glorious farm

In 2014 I started writing about a farm on White Horse Road that was being killed for development. We went past it again recently and I thought it was time for people to revisit that.

It used to be a farm. Now it has full grown McMansions. I liked the farm.

Yet another reason why the Municipalities Planning Code needs to be updated.

pay attention to west whiteland because the weston property is being discussed at planning december 5, 2023.

Well Weston is back. It will be discussed Tuesday, December 5th at 7PM:

Look, we all got together last time and did a great thing and the supervisors said no to re-zoning. We need to make sure as residents of East Whiteland and West Whiteland we are protected here. And that means SHOWING UP FOR EVERY MEETING ABOUT WESTON! No excuses. Don’t just leave it for other people. You can attend in person or on Zoom.

We do NOT want high density housing here. No apartments, townhouses, carriage homes, clustered density.

We do NOT want a hydrogen hub or data center here.

A school moving in might work. Or residential zoning BUT ideally 1 acre lots. They sell. Less houses = less burden on all of us, infrastructure, schools.

Whatever happens, the Weston property has one way in and out. We need a traffic signal. That should be non-negotiable.

Developers CAN think outside of the box, but mostly they don’t want to put the effort into plans that actually fit in a community. And anything that happens at Weston affects residents in TWO municipalities IMMEDIATELY.

Be a part of an actual solution. Be a part of this meeting. I have very mixed feelings about this planning commission as currently comprised in West Whiteland. I also am uneasy with John Weller who is the West Whiteland Director of Planning and Zoning Officer. He is quite competent, BUT he is too pro-development and not necessarily residents first. He won’t like my opinion, and I am sorry, but I look at what has been approved in West Whiteland over the past few years, and I have to ask, am I wrong?

Also to be considered with regard to this plan? The Ship Road couplet and development disaster area. The other side of Ship Road leading back to West Goshen and all of their development that affects traffic over here and at the Ship Road and West King Road intersection – Greystone for one.

And also something no one is talking about. What? Don’t know but there seems to be a development plan or concept brewing behind the neighborhood on Old Phoenixville Pike. I have been told neighbors have been getting letters? That the developer is the guy who started the nightmare now building way too fast on Ship Road? I hear they have been doing something back there already? Perc testing maybe? The red circle on screenshot below shows you where. This would be on the border of East Goshen, so how many East Goshen residents would be affected as well? Old Phoenixville Pike leads to West King Road.

Development doesn’t exist in a vacuum. This all affects where we call home. And lest you all forget that Johnson Matthey has a chunk of their land across West King Road for sale. So when I say residents have to pay attention, it’s the truth. And another thing we can’t forget? It has been a year plus of residents around the dangerous intersection of Ship Road and West King Road asking for simple stop sign improvements. It’s December 1st and they are still waiting. Between PennDOT and West Whiteland you would think they could follow up? Get it done? Not yet. And it is a simple ask.

The New York Times had an article recently that basically underscores how important public participation is. You should be able to click below and read without a paywall.


Residents participating where they live matters. And often very important things get shoved through during slow times like the dead of summer, or the holidays/end of the year.

Look we can’t sleep here. If lawmakers won’t update the Municipalities Planning Code, then we have to go to meetings and make ourselves known and how we feel. We live here. We matter.

Thanks for stopping by.

aren’t communities tired of lego land construction yet?

They call it architecture, but is it really? All new development seem to look the same. Whether it’s townhouse, apartment, “condo”, “carriage homes” it’s all about maximizing developer profits and it has absolutely zero to do with the area in which something is being built or what exists there already like the people or the future. This is all about how much money can a developer get now and move onto the next project.

A lot of people are actually quite presumptive in their ignorance. I have attended many meetings over the years about development period. Whether it be zoning, planning, or regular board meetings.

And I have to laugh when someone says developers don’t decide on the “look” of their buildings. Ummm developers indeed DO decide on the architecture of their project. And again, today there is a distinct lack of style. It’s all about how fast you can throw them up and most of them look like they were built out of Lego sets. It’s like real architecture is dead.

I posted a photo of said Lego architecture this week that was from West Philadelphia. The reason I posted it was to prove that the same style new build is going everywhere. Nothing is adapting much to the surroundings. It’s one style and it’s a Lego building that gets plunked in. Truthfully, so many of these buildings look the same but I’m surprised they aren’t being delivered 100% prefab.

If you ever drive along I 95 to take a bridge like the Betsy Ross to New Jersey you’ll even see these buildings going up there right along I 95 and they look the same as the ones along 202 or Route 30 out here…West Philadelphia, wherever-it’s all the same.

Lego buildings are everywhere. In urban areas and suburban areas. No longer are projects being built to complement the area in which they are going. No longer our projects built to remotely look like they fit, let alone have human scale and good setbacks.

I take pictures of architecture everywhere, but this new style, cram first- actual architectural design later is ugly and it doesn’t have to be.

I actually do know people who have put up new buildings that were taking chances in formally rundown urban neighborhoods that actually have an architectural component to them. Not everything has to be unattractive and pretty much everything is unattractive these days with very few exceptions.

And I am tired like many other people of Lego architecture getting shoved into our communities.

I don’t understand why more people in positions in government and zoning and planning also are not sick of Lego architecture? Where have all the planners and architects gone that used to care about things fitting into the environment?

We have become one big huge homogenous glob of regurgitated ugliness because everything everywhere looks the same and it’s basically the same construction. It goes up fast, won’t last, and then we’re stuck with them in our communities.

What happened to making sure scale was appropriate and not just giving a zoning variance like cheap jellybeans out of a candy machine every time a developer wants to go up a few feet? What happened to developers that actually gave a shit about design? I actually wonder why they all want to look like each other which is like some kid’s Lego project?

We’ve gone from single-family developers, who add so much crap and articulation to a building it looks dizzy to people that basically open the box of Legos and just build them up.

What single-family construction exists is so cheek to jowl that you can reach out of your window and tap on your neighbors window and ask to borrow a cup of sugar. Everything is all about the density. And people are already regretting it in their communities. I mean what happened to people wanting to do things like garden? Why does everyone want to live in a place that looks the same to such a point that you get people lost in your development because nothing stands out?

Yet it all marches forward. And one reason is there are no design standards, limited taste, and the Municipalities Planning Code which hasn’t been comprehensively updated since 1969.

The Municipalities Planning Code guides all the zoning in this state. And over development is everywhere. Ironically, some of the worst over development is close to Harrisburg. Places like Mechanicsburg which used to be lovely, rolling farms and hills have been cramming them in for years. Lancaster County too. And of course, Montgomery County and Delaware County.

It’s depressing.

And all of this development is costing our communities. It’s driving up prices and it’s creating a more transient society. If we just take Chester County as an example, most of us moved here because it used to be so beautiful. Open space, farms, fabulous Pennsylvania farmhouse architecture, and more. Now much like neighboring Delaware County or Montgomery County. We have pockets of those things that still exist, but for the most part, everything is just being run over by crappy development and too much density.

And if people wonder why their taxes are going up look no further than the actual cost of development. West Whiteland is a prime example. They have avoided raising taxes for about 30 years and now they don’t have a choice. Infrastructure isn’t just roads and sewer systems, stormwater management, etc, there’s a human component like first responders. Or township employees who need to be hired and paid to keep pace with the needs of communities. And all of this development has a negative impact on school districts as well.

A friend of mine, who is a historian among other things actually put it well recently, when she said:

Architects are now vastly disturbed. Not since Toll Brothers creation of the McMansion. (Really, NYT traced it to the builder) has the state of American housing reached a new low. Worse, these new “boxes” are really just wood fire boxes – composite wood too since we are plowing thru our forests . Here’s what what one site says;

“Across the U.S., podium buildings have typically been 4-over-1 or 5-over-1, meaning they have four or five stories of wood over a single-level podium.”

The amusing thing is the article she quotes seems like they are lauding this style of cram plan. And to me, whether mid rise or high-rise, they’re all ugly.

These developments are obliterating our countryside. And to this day, the only people who seem to profit from this proliferation of ugliness are the developers. They plunk down the developments, and they move onto the next. The eternal hamster wheel of the Emperor’s new clothes.

In conclusion, you don’t have to like my opinion. But I am not going to stop saying I think these plans are ugly when they are. Our communities deserve better.

food for thought

I wrote this column for Main Line Media News in 2009 under editor Tom Murray, who would also become the editor of The Daily Local News until his untimely death. He was an amazing guy, and he encouraged community voices participating in local news.

But this is an issue we are continuing to deal with all over, and it is especially felt in Chester County with all the wanton and unnecessary development.

The photo in this post I took September 4 and it is the literally rotting historic farmhouse on the Clews and Strawbridge property in Malvern/Frazer East Whiteland Township. It is clearly demolition by neglect, and there’s nothing seemingly that can be done to ensure that the property is at least preserved pending redevelopment of that property. A developer recently had wanted to come in and build an apartment tower there and thankfully was turned down because it required a zoning change. I will note that in West Whiteland cerebral historic properties, like this have been preserved in the midst of commercial development. But a property owner has to want to do that.

Whether it is for historic preservation, land, preservation, community, preservation, or just sanity of the residents preservation. This is why we need to push elected officials in Harrisburg to enact an act of the state constitution and update the Municipalities Planning Code. truly, I do not know why this is not a state wide initiative.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

The small neighborhood: A place worth preserving

The small neighborhood is like no other. As a resident – young, old, or in between – it gives you a truly authentic sense of community. This sense of community is something you can’t bottle, beg, steal, or sell. It exists as an integral element in the fabric of smaller neighborhoods.

As a young child in the 1960s, my parents made our first family home in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. In Society Hill, I not only discovered my love for historic preservation, but my love for small neighborhoods and communities with particular individuality.

Small neighborhoods are just so very real. When you grow up in a small neighborhood, you develop a life-long affection for neighborhoods of a similar pattern that provide their residents with that singular sense of place: you know your neighbors, and they know you. Even children can appreciate this uniqueness, and as a child, I most certainly did.

As an adult, I have found that I seek neighborhoods like those I experienced as a child. This is why I chose my current neighborhood in Haverford. It had all the elements I loved: walkability, community, and interesting and quirky old houses. No, the houses aren’t the majestically elegant 18th century townhouses of Society Hill, but they are special nonetheless.

When I first heard of impending development in my neighborhood, I felt so very bleak. I knew that a change was coming that would irrevocably alter the face, fabric, and landscape of my neighborhood. And it has already changed our neighborhood even though nothing has been demolished yet. Just the very thought of the hum of multiple air conditioning units on a flat roof when all we are used to hearing is birds, the laughter of small children, and the oddly comforting, yet familiar noises of the train is depressing.

Development in moderation is something I can stomach. What I see happening everywhere today, I cannot. I see the past of this region being sacrificed daily at the altar of new construction. And every developer is the same: they see their projects as their Pygmalians; testaments to their individual legacies. I suppose that is only natural, as they pour their hearts and souls into their projects, just as we pour our hearts and souls into our neighborhoods. It is just a shame that they can’t see their projects as we see them: alien invasions.

We are facing such a development on North Buck Lane. The development is unfortunately a by-right development, so it will be built. I have been to multiple meetings on this development, and I have come full circle to my original starting point: this project is simply wrong for such a small neighborhood. It’s too big.

This project is like an adult woman trying to squeeze into a little girl’s dress. The ultimate shame of this situation is that up and down the Main Line, there are many projects like this playing out. And I have to ask, are these projects about enhancing neighborhoods or are they just about profit?

Local governments from townships all along the Main Line and beyond say they feel for the complex plights of the smaller, older neighborhoods. And all of us in the small neighborhoods along the R-5 and Lancaster Avenue corridor are under siege. But how can all these local governments say they feel badly for small neighborhoods when they don’t take enough steps to preserve them? When you live in a small neighborhood, you know density is a given. However, isn’t there a big difference between reasonable density and being sandwiched in like sardines in a tin can?

The small neighborhoods of the Main Line and beyond need and deserve protection. The architecture that makes each neighborhood in each community unique disappears daily and is replaced by what can only be described as super-sized and homogeneous.

Isn’t it also curious that no matter what local township is involved, it seems like zoning variances for new development and demolition permits for our older and historic homes can appear to be approved in a seemingly short duration of time? Oddly enough, it feels like the process average citizens must take to achieve historic preservation and changes to zoning codes that can protect neighborhoods takes much longer and is more complicated. Where is the balance? We need balance.

I mourn the sense of community that is lost brick by brick as older homes are demolished for McMansions and developments. I believe that we are overdeveloped all along the Main Line.

I truly long for the simpler times of my childhood when older homes were cool and historic preservation was the name of the game. I long for the times when small neighborhoods like mine were just allowed to be, and mourn the sense of place called home that is being lost a bit more with every day that passes, and every old and historic home that is razed.

they said “no” in west whiteland!

West Whiteland Township Supervisors voted UNANIMOUSLY last night to DENY the zoning amendment request of the developer for the Weston Tract on West King Road.

Yes, they said NO.

There were quite a few on social media being just negative with all the why bother saying anything about the issue at a meeting? The keyboard tiger opiners club and guess what? They are wrong.

Sometimes the public can get something they seek when it comes to development. But it only happens when people go to the meetings even if you don’t speak in a meeting, packing a board room and letting a governmental body know that this concerns you or flat out upsets you, matters. And today if you can’t get to a meeting for some reason you can participate on Zoom.

The other problem, of course is a lot of times the Municipalities Planning Code which guides all the zoning throughout the state. It hasn’t been updated comprehensively since 1969 so a lot of times when elected officials actually want to say no they can’t legally and won’t take a risk. This however was an instance, where they legally could say NO, and they did. They listened to the residents in multiple townships. Weston is located at almost the edge of West Whiteland, but anything done here in this area affects residents in East Whiteland, the edges of East Goshen, the edges of West Goshen along with the West Whiteland residents.

No, it doesn’t happen often and even I was surprised. But pleasantly surprised.

However…,people packed that board room last night in West Whiteland Township and there were also a lot of people on zoom.

This is a reminder to everyone that the voice of the people does matter. Just like your vote. But you have to step up and be heard.

This issue is not over, and I do believe this property will be developed. But what West Whiteland heard loud and clear last night is people don’t want high density developments everywhere every five minutes and here in this location a high density development would be a disaster.

Good job residents!

Thank you supervisors.

Thank you even to outgoing Supervisor Theresa Hogan Santalucia, and I will note that I agree 100% about a need for affordable housing. It would be great if people could actually afford to age in their communities, as well as successive generations coming back to raise their families where they were raised. However, you’re not going to get affordable housing here on a site like the Weston Tract because single-family detached homes and LOW DENSITY is what would be best for this location and area, and what Theresa was talking about in her comments last night were essentially twin homes. Twins are not low density.

We do desperately need affordable housing in our communities. And it’s not the section 8 horror show that people imagine, it’s much simpler than that as I previously stated even in this post. Affordable housing is giving people the ability to start out in the community where they were raised or downsize and end their days in a community they have called home for decades. that’s a very human need and desire and something we should want for our communities. But it’s never a priority for new Tyvec cities.

And while we also need affordable housing, we also need lower density housing. We live in a county that was known for its vistas and open spaces and farmland. And too much of it has been replaced by high density developments of townhouses and “carriage homes” which are just townhouses by another name and apartment buildings. We need a less is more approach for our communities.

If you look at the mid century single family homes through the 70s and 80s that were developed in just Chester County alone, you will see something that you don’t see in new developments: space, trees, individuality. This is why those homes are still a pretty hot real estate market, and desirable.

Last night was an unexpected victory for the people who live here. We need more of those and we need developers that actually hear what we’re saying and give a damn. Quality of life matters.

I hope some more of you can see today after this decision which (again) was unexpected, that public participation, where you live matters.

Have a great day.

well it’s monday, might as well blow up the internet over proposed zoning changes in west whiteland that will ultimately benefit a developer for the weston tract on w. king rd. right?

Things that just send my hackles up: not telling East Whiteland when West Whiteland has a public hearing October 25th to change the zoning around the Weston Tract on West King Road from zoned O/L Office/Laboratory to R-1 Residential.

So right now the thing that also makes me think is if the conditional use for this was for say a halfway house or a drug rehab or anything that couldn’t otherwise be shoehorned into a R-1 zoning district there might have been a little more advanced notice other than a friend in West Whiteland who is just a regular resident says to me at noon today “You might want to look at the agenda for West Whiteland this week.”

So yes….look at that right on the agenda.

Whoops there it is. An itty bitty zoning change…..Oh it looks all harmless zoning change, but as we have all learned zoning doesn’t exist in a vacuum does it?

East Whiteland residents and West Whiteland residents are affected here. Read this excerpt from agenda:

Motion To approve Ordinance No. 476 to amend the R-1 Residential district regulations in the West Whiteland Township Zoning Ordinance and to amend the Zoning Map to re-zone a portion of land in the Office/Laboratory zoning district to R-1 Residential.
At the Planning Commission meeting of June 20, 2023, Mr. Tom Kessler of the Willow Hill Development Group (“Applicant”) presented the latest in a series of sketch plans for the redevelopment of the Weston Solutions campus, a tract of about 54 acres along the south side of King Rd. at the southeastern corner of the Township. The plan (attached) proposed about 100
new dwelling units and featured the preservation of several significant historic buildings along with permanent open space. The plan was presented in support of a future application to amend the Township Zoning Ordinance (“Zoning”) since the development shown would not be allowed by the current regulations.
Based upon the favorable reaction of the Planning Commission, the Applicant formally submitted a proposal to amend the Zoning Ordinance, pursuant to the provisions of §325-125.B of the Zoning. The proposal has two parts: an amendment to the text of the R-1 Residential district regulations and an amendment to the Zoning Map to change the designation of the Weston
campus from O/L Office/Laboratory to R-1 Residential. The Commission and Staff had previously advised the Applicant that they would support a map amendment to re-zone the property to R-1, which would match the surrounding land; any amendment to allow the project more
specifically would therefore need to be an option within the R-1 district. The Applicant’s approach is therefore consistent with the direction of the Planning Commission and Staff and may be summarized as follows:

The proposed text amendment will add a “large tract residential cluster option” to the R-1 district regulations. Only tracts of fifty acres or more would be eligible for this option. Other than the Applicant’s site, it appears that the Whitford Country Club property may be the only other readily available tract of this size in the R-1 district, although it would of course be possible for someone to acquire a number of adjacent properties to assemble a
fifty-acre tract.

  • The Applicant’s proposed amendment to the Zoning Map included only their property.
    Amending the Zoning Map in this way would leave a handful of properties with a total area of about four acres in the O/L zoning district. Given that most of those lots are in residential use (which is not allowed in the O/L district), the Planning Commission and Staff agreed that any re-zoning for residential use should include those properties not owned by Weston.
    The County’s review (attached) supports this as well. Staff therefore proceeded to contact those property owners as required by both the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (“MPC”) and our own Zoning to advise them of the possible change.
    The Planning Commission discussed the amendment informally with the Applicant on August 1,2023 and officially (as part of the required review and adoption process) at their regular public meeting on September 19, 2023. Commission member Andy Wright expressed concern about
    the density of the proposed project, similar to the County’s comments, but the other Commission members were satisfied that with the amendment as proposed. The discussion concluded with the Commission passing a motion recommending that the Board approve the amendment; only Mr. Wright was in opposition to the motion.

So before we get into the meat of this let’s dish basics: who was notified of this proposed zoning change as in who lives within the magical 500 feet and who lives just outside the magical 500 feet and well, including down the road in the adjoining municipality East Whiteland? West Whiteland imposes it, but the applicant has an affirmative duty to notify, correct? Whomever owns adjacent properties doesn’t just mean homeowners, does it? For example, the little league field. Or better yet, that large academic institution called Immaculata University? Do they know? Because I know as of when I found out around noon, East Whiteland residents did not know, not sure about the township itself but I think not or it would have been on the website?

There is the letter of the law when it comes to notifications, but also important is the spirit of the law, correct? There are those in West Whiteland whom probably do not know, but there are also East Whiteland residents, aren’t there?

And to say this “cannot be tied to any specific development….” ok kids, then I am the Tooth Fairy, yes? Isn’t it kind of obvious this developer NEEDS this to develop this:

Oh and let us NOT forget the Johnson Matthey parcel directly across the road? I seem to recall the address is 1397 King Road West Chester PA. “Light Industrial” and 15.7 acres, correct? So do we REALLY think THAT land will be sold to OTHER than a RESIDENTIAL developer, and well it’s Johnson Matthey so umm what chemicals live in the land now? Fair question since well weren’t they a previous owner-operator at Bishop Tube? The PA DEP says so.

So this was “informally” discussed in August? And then in September only Andy Wright whomever he is had the gumption to say it might be too dense of a project? And everyone else rides the sheeple bus?

Maybe I am old, jaded and distrustful since I have watched what certain zoning overlays and changes have done to certain areas of Lower Merion and other Main Line communities, but developers don’t offer up helpful anything regarding zoning unless there is a derived benefit, correct?

I have written about this Weston site before.

Don’t treat this as just a little change and ignore this. Zoning changes and zoning overlay districts will never ever exist in a vacuum. I know I am repeating myself but this is important. And of course I am really repeating myself when I say this is yet ANOTHER REASON WHY THE MUNICIPLAITIES PLANNING CODE NEEDS AN OVERHAUL!

How many developments do we need?

Now other IMPORTANT THINGS regarding this development which starts with a little bitty zoning change: car volume. That development needs a traffic signal. Otherwise no one, including Immaculata will be able to get in and out from driveways and side roads up and down W. King Road. And don’t let them say oh PennDOT is difficult etc. It can be a condition of plan approval for one thing. And also that is what State Senators and State Representatives are for.

Another important thing here to be considered are PIPELINES. If memory serves I think three run through that property. I live in a blast zone for pipelines in East Goshen and West Whiteland personally. And one of my concerns is because I don’t actually live in the municipalities with the pipelines, I can’t be certain in the event of an emergency I would be notified and the plans for running uphill holding your breath or whatever don’t cut it for residents affected and well this development would create a whole new class of affected West Whiteland residents wouldn’t it?

Other truisms:

  • It will add yet more kids to the overburdened West Chester Area School District.
  • It will stress infrastructure in more than West Whiteland Township which also includes first responder infrastructure
  • It will have potential environmental impacts. Lots of things live int he Weston woods and would anything be considered protected? Either flora, fowl, or fauna?

But first things first, the zoning change. I mean realistically I think Weston is getting developed. I don’t think we can stop that, but I think it would behoove West Whiteland and East Whiteland to discuss the density. After all development doesn’t live in a bubble. It’s time for West Whiteland to add it all up again, especially considering the shit show happening on Ship and Lancaster Ave, right? You have Laborers, you have the other stuff between Church Farm School and Ship, right? I don’t know about any of my readers but all of this development gives me a headache. And related aside? Same developer for Weston has something cooking in Willistown too? And here is LINK for prior plans submitted for Weston property in 2022. And next two screen shots were those plans:

The meeting is Wednesday October 25th in West Whiteland. It is accessible via zoom:


Wednesday, October 25, 2023
6:30 p.m.

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 848 4944 7386 Passcode: 871814 One tap mobile +16465588656
Meeting Packets can be found on Township website
Reminder to meeting participants: Please speak clearly into the microphone

Sign me development and zoning cranky.

yes another post on the joseph price house in exton which has been historically rotting for decades.

⚠️Correction: I wanted to get this video out there, and it has been a federally listed historic resource since the
early 1980s not the 1960s⚠️

The Joseph Price House. 401 Clover Mill in Exton, West Whiteland Township, Chester County. The corner of Clover Mill Road and S. Whitford Road. Historically rotting since we can safely say 1988 when the current owners acquired the property.

I actually know people who tried in recent years to purchase the historic house to save it but present owners can never seem to sell, can they? Do they think they will get millions of dollars more than property is worth? And if I am honest, part of what I fear with this property is not only the house, completely falling apart to the point where it can’t be saved, but the possibility of this property ending up in some weird tax sale, and someone unscrupulous getting the property and then just tearing down a legit and registered historic house.

I have made a black-and-white photo of this house in its current state the banner for this website and the Chester County Ramblings social media channels. The reason I did that in June is because I think it’s beautiful and needs to be saved, and I keep hoping if people keep seeing the house, it will provoke conversations, and folks will ask questions, send me old photos and history. Recently, someone did. Their dad was born in the house in 1926.

South side of Joseph Price House 1926.

I took exterior shots with a zoom lens from across the road earlier this year in June. I did not trespass. The house as previously mentioned is in grave peril.

I had questioned before if the house was secure. At one point it did have a caretaker but after what I saw through the lens of my camera I do not see how it is possible for anyone to live in that house safely or legally. But I suppose anything is possible?

However a couple of years ago I was sent a couple interior photos of recent vintage. I do NOT know how they were obtained. I also don’t know who sent them to me and I have searched to find the old message and it is long gone. I have never posted these images but I think it is time. Maybe it will of help to motivate West Whiteland to get the owners to properly secure the structure or even help someone, anyone to get a conservation/preservation buyer? I figure the current owners have to be getting up there in age? I also found a random and old court docket with the owners on it, have no idea what it was about does anyone?

Anyway this house is glorious and if Loch Aerie in neighboring East Whiteland could be saved and repurposed with a new life, why not this place too?

#thisplacematters #history #historichouses

I mean are there ANY reporters TV or print media with the gumption to cover this? It’s not a human bleeding and dying, it’s just a house. A historically noted house. We can’t save everything but we should save some things, right?

Save the Joseph Price House in Exton. But please don’t trespass there, it is still someone else’s property.

skullduggery afoot in garrett hill (again)

I think I need to open this post with a good AC/DC song. Because maybe it’s the one that applies here? There is a lot of chatter in Radnor Township and Garrett Hill about folks who have lived in rental units on Conestoga Road across from Rosemont Beverage and being told that leases are not going to be renewed?

So the property / properties changed hands it looks like in March 2023.

A post appeared on Nextdoor and now there’s chatter on Facebook.

I would think it was just idle social media chatter except I’ve heard about it in the real world too and I don’t even live in Radnor Township. Anyway, is it true these people are losing their leases, and the leases won’t be renewed and supposedly it’s going to go to student housing? and then people are also talking about notices being banged on doors of rental properties on Rockingham as well within the past few weeks?

Do you all believe in coincidence?

Is there a connection to the Conestoga Road properties and the Rockingham Road properties that people are talking about?

Are there other properties that seem to be ejecting tenants in Garrett Hill?

And what about the big huge rumor not about Garrett Hill but about Radnor Township in general concerning the use of Cabrini campus and property once Villanova takes it over 100%? People keep saying that they think Villanova is going to put a new stadium complex on Cabrini’s campus? I mean, if that actually happened what would happen to the magnificent old buildings of historic import on that campus as well as all of the trees?

I will note I am not asking about anything that people aren’t already talking about and you are allowed to ask questions about rumors. When it comes to Garrett Hill what is the 7th Ward Commissioner saying and does he care?

Is Garrett Hill slowly being made to disappear?

Is Radnor Township supposed to be the Catholic Happy Valley? If so, does that mean that the nonprofit university is going to pay any more taxes?

So these properties on Garrett Hill appear to have been bought by an LLC?

If you backtrack the address and suite for the limited liability corporation on Google it goes to a viable website doesn’t it?

I feel really badly for the people in Garrett Hill because it’s like they have to keep their eyes open every single second. Looking all around every five minutes. It’s like you can’t relax where you live because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

I always have a soft spot for what I like to call front porch neighborhoods. And Garrett Hill used to be that and a lot of it still is. I have written about Garrett Hill before.

Garrett Hill deserves to be what the residents want it to be and it always seems like somebody’s trying to change it doesn’t it? Also, if it is one of the few areas in Radnor Township that has anything resembling affordable housing these days, what does that say about a township that’s not taking care of all residents equally?

I also thought there was a student housing ordinance? Is it followed?

I have nothing but questions on this, so hopefully somebody will be able to provide answers.

How many times is Garrett Hill going to have to be saved before people leave it alone?


It’s not over yet, but this is TERRIFIC NEWS!

Way to go community. You all have come together in spite of divisive local and regional politics for a greater good: preserving Chester County from hideous mega warehouses. I am referring to the Save Lionville Station Farm folks and the community at large, not the issue co-opting phony baloney fake professor school board candidate or the issue co-opting perennial baby kissing photo posing smarmy history teaching isn’t my wife hot county commissioner candidate and please do NOT vote for those two! I am talking about the real every day folks who have devoted blood, sweat, and tears to this issue.

So this issue IS NOT over, but FINALLY headed in the right direction. KEEP UP THE PRESSURE. Keep an eye on solicitors who want to “unwind” and make sure it’s not “unwinding” forever.

Git R Done people! This is the GREAT news! And existing school board directors? Your re-election campaigns depends on this, sorry to say. This needs to be unwound BEFORE election day.

#winning #octobersurprise