Well, is it going to burble over again and Willistown like NOFIMBY (No Farm in My Back Yard) or bad septic and sewer? People say that there is an issue brewing over 8044 Goshen Rd. in Malvern. It’s a very windy and busy road. And now it seems a religious institution wants to turn this into some sort of religious institution property. I mean there?
No, I don’t quite get this whole thing. It’s not something I’ve paid attention to. I think it’s an extraordinarily unattractive house as it stands. It’s not exactly a house where I would say that it would be a crying shame to tear it down and start over, but is this an area where do you actually want other than residential and since it’s residential does that mean it needs a zoning exception? And was it really listed by a realtor in Jenkintown? Jenkintown is the other side of everywhere from here what do they know from Chester County?
This property at 8044 Goshen seems like it was a mention at a February Planning Meeting? And it is some sort of a zoning thing now or since, December, right? I’ve seen it mentioned on a few agendas, but what are they actually doing about it? Are they actually discussing it or are they afraid to discuss it?
Why does Willistown always seem to be growing zoning issues? Maybe they hire the wrong zoning officers for the township? And what about this new manager? Does she ever open her mouth about anything? Willistown is a wonderful area but it seems like it’s having growing pains or something?
Well, that’s also another plan in front of Willistown with this law firm, isn’t it? Aren’t they the Rock Hill Farm attorneys too? They’re good.
And this is yet another seeming zoning issue and land-use issue in front of Willistown? Willistown you’re beautiful, but maybe you need to up your legal game as a municipality, huh? And neighbors, it’s really great that you all been together, but banding together alone isn’t going to do it y’all better find yourselves good land-use lawyers, don’t you think? T-shirts and lawn signs and flyers are not going to solve these issues.
And now the neighbors are also passing out flyers or something? I am glad they are doing that but they will need to be a little more vocal about this I think. I think it’s just a really odd location for an institutional use and it’s not going to be a passive institutional use is it? It could be pretty busy and how will that affect the neighbors?
I think it’s a weird location for a new institutional use, and I’m curious as to why this religious organization thought they were just going to be able to buy this property in a residential area and do this? There are plenty of religious institutions and churches, and what not that co-exist in residential areas but this road is kind of busy and I just wonder how this would work?
Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at 7 PM is the next zoning hearing board meeting. And I have to be honest I think this is one of those issues where they might need more than the little Willistown board room don’t you? And that’s where it’s scheduled, that meeting.
It’s like a Catch 22 because it’s not another cram plan housing development, but it’s also contemplating a use of a property that would require a zoning change, right? So I guess my biggest question of all is because zoning doesn’t happen in a vacuum, what happens if you change the zoning here and this current project goes forward but doesn’t last and survive in this location? Then what would be next, what could be next?
I think this is something worth watching. And if other municipalities are smart, they will also pay attention to this. It’s interesting.
If the “concerned” neighbors are smart they would hire a lawyer who could handle this. I would actually suggest a lawyer other Willistown residents hired a while back, the same one I mentioned the other day. Philip Rosensweig. And no I am not getting anything for saying this, he’s a fabulous land use attorney. And he was a good commissioner for many years in Lower Merion Township even when we didn’t agree.
I think this is a really weird place for something like this because of the road, and how an institutional use will potentially affect this are is also a valid concern, isn’t it?
Kevin Riordan of The Philadelphia Inquirer has this brand new article out. About development in Swarthmore. Swarthmore one of the last places with beautiful trees and not overtaken by ugly development…until now. And the players include the guy who went from zoning and planning dude in West Goshen Township to Swarthmore Borough Manager (William Webb) and the former Borough Mayor of Swarthmore and developer/builder, Bill Cumby.
I will start with not a big fan of West Goshen and West Goshen employee refugees because West Goshen just always has issues. And then there is this once a politician always a politician former mayor of Swarthmore and how can he really want to build something so out of character and out of scale in a small main street oriented community that is also home to lovely homes with terrific gardens and street trees, Swarthmore College, and Scott Arboretum? Political/personal gain? I mean you don’t want to think that, but this plan? It’s like all the bad plans for Ardmore, PA mated with Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough and The Elm in Narberth, and had an alien love child.
This proposed plan? One word: HIDEOUS.
No Swarthmore is not in Chester County. It’s in Delaware County. And Swarthmore and Media are two of my favorite Main Street small town feel towns. So yes, I am expressing my dismay. Honest, heart-felt dismay.
A local developer’s proposed condominium complex in Swarthmore would offer ready access to a SEPTA Regional Rail station as well as to shops, restaurants, and cultural amenities in the heart of the Delaware County borough.
Called 110 Park, the $30 million, five-story building would increase the town center’s population and provide Swarthmore empty-nesters an opportunity to downsize in their community. The proposal also includes 1,250 square feet of retail space and preservation of the facade and front section of the Celia Building, a Park Avenue landmark….a significant number of Swarthmore residents, including architects, preservationists, and businesspeople, say 110 Park would dwarf its low-rise surroundings, cast a literal and figurative shadow over the town center, and erode the borough’s distinctive character.
They also oppose the pending demolition of two vintage buildings and see the proposed 40-space parking garage at the complex as a potential threat to pedestrian and vehicular traffic safety….Ever since the developer, 110 Park LLC, submitted the first iteration of the proposal for review in 2021, public concerns have focused on the impact of replacing a small-town expanse of Park Avenue streetscape that includes green space with a residential building more appropriate for a city block…..The council is expected to vote on the measure on March 13.
Melanie Rodbart, one of the founders of a nonprofit called Save Our Swarthmore….is not opposed to town center development, including on Park Avenue.
“There’s a way to develop that site without razing everything on it,” said Rodbart, a structural engineer and owner of a company that specializes in historic preservation….
Incorporated in 1893 and best known as the home of Swarthmore College, the borough is an inner-ring commuter suburb of Philadelphia. It has about 6,500 residents in its 1.4 square miles and features comfortable homes on tree-lined streets named after universities.
The Cumby family has been a part of Swarthmore for generations, and Bill Cumby, a former borough mayor who owns W.S. Cumby, a Delaware County construction firm, is a partner in developing 110 Park….Prices would range from $600,000 for some one-bedrooms to $1 million and above for three-bedroom units….The controversy has alerted Swarthmore residents to what some describe as shortcomings in the borough’s development regulations. Although none of the buildings to be demolished or altered as part of the 110 Park project are on registries of historic places, the 100 block of Park Avenue is eligible to be declared a historic district but has not been proposed as such.
So Bill, Will, Willy, whatever you go by Webb are you actually LISTENING to your Swarthmore residents, the people whose taxes pay your salary? Because if you were listening you would know what the temperature is on this project.
Now Swarthmore has a big old page on their website devoted to this hideous project: CLICK HERE.
Some company called Bernardon has design plan things on their website: CLICK HERE.
Developer and former mayor guy has a website for his proposed project: CLICK HERE. He is heavy on the hype to get monster Lego land approved in my humble opinion.
Residents have banded together. Their group is SOS or Save Our Swarthmore. They seemed to have one of my favorite land use lawyers and former Lower Merion Commissioners assisting them. Phillip Rosenzweig, Esq. (Now for those of you reading, yes indeed this is indeed one of the land use lawyers I talk about as being AMAZING. He is also the guy that wrote that piece of fabulousness that ended eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore, PA when he first became a commissioner. And no, he is not a commissioner now, which is a shame for Lower Merion.) Here’s something off the SOS site he penned regarding this hot mess of a proposal for Swarthmore:
Swarthmorians fight for your town. Human scale matters. Fitting the existing landscape matters. You have an old school main street oriented town. It should be a historic district. Learn from the mistakes of other towns. Preserve what you have. I find it completely appalling that someone who once was an elected official and lives in Swarthmore thinks this is right for the character of your town. I am allowed to have that opinion. I feel for you guys. I applaud your efforts.
Lionville Station Road is just fields and 2 empty farmhouses butting up against Milky Way Farm. I’m sure they aren’t happy about this with all the water and air pollution this will cause them and their animals. Can’t imagine my back road to home having 300+ tractor trailers coming and going on it.
~ LOCAL RESIDENT
I think I should state that I have NOT heard about this before today. AND Milky Way Farm is staying put and not going anywhere from what I am told, but they might turn into a farm island as a result of this right? Also Gardner’s Landscape is NOT going anywhere, so can’t imagine what they think of this, other than abject horror like residents, right?
Another BIG HUGE QUESTION is ARE THEY SURE AMAZON IS COMING? Read today’s article about Amazon slowing it’s roll in the Washington Post. Article is gifted so follow
The residents are up in arms. I would be. And when I zoomed in on the plan thing above? I saw my friend’s house! I mean can you even imagine waking up for years to loveliness and now be threatened with the ass end of a warehouse as your view???
One was whomever had wanted to build apartments at The Exton Square Mall no longer wants to. That is not to say that couldn’t ever be proposed again, but for now it’s a dead plan.
But the other tidbit really made me listen: apparently the people who bought the Benjamin Pennypacker House contacted Justin Smiley and asked if West Whiteland wanted it back? Mind you I am paraphrasing, we will have to wait for the meeting recording for the exact verbiage.
Now I know the current owners who bought it from Church Farm School don’t live there. So I do not know what they had intended for the home. Was it too much of a money pit? Well, to be fair the years West Whiteland owned it (2006-2022) it was pretty much let go, and then given back to Church Farm School, who then sold it for $400,000 in April 2022…..
Everyone knew it was in beyond rough shape and I think it needed pretty much everything. The current owners have indeed been working on it. The house looks tremendously better.
BUT we have to file this under curious and curiouser.
Below is the post I wrote ironically a year ago this time, give or take a few days.
Never a dull moment in Chester County, that’s for sure. Here’s hoping this poor house continues to survive.
It was weird in a way going back now as a veritable stranger to a place I spent so much time in for so many years. So much has changed and I don’t necessarily feel it has changed for the better.
Ardmore needs more….love. And positive municipal attention.
In my prior post, I wrote about the condition of the sidewalks and streets in Ardmore, and the roads in general throughout Lower Merion Township. The roads are in deplorable condition. It’s like they are growing orange highway cones as a cash crop in places, and in other places, holes and what not are just waiting to trip people up. And when I asked a couple of people about it, they all say the same thing that they report these things to the township but nothing happens. It makes you wonder what former West Chester Borough Manager and current Lower Merion Township Manager Ernie McNeely does besides fall asleep at meetings, where they are talking about the police, right?
And when it comes to managers, I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of the manager who proceeded Ernie McNeely, but somehow Lower Merion seems worse than when I moved? I remember when my friends from West Chester heard that McNeely was going to Lower Merion and they just laughed and laughed and laughed and said “good luck to them!”
I guess now I know why, because Lower Merion looks like crap in their business districts. There might be tons of new places to eat, but nobody leaves their lights on much anymore except for stores that have been there long enough to know it makes a difference, the streets are dirty and broken up. There’s a lot of trash. Especially in Ardmore.
Ardmore used to be different and you could feel an energy. And most importantly, people knew one another. You would hear people saying hello to each other going past each other on the street. last night for the first time on a Saturday night, I didn’t hear that. And I also noticed that in spite of all the dining choices it’s like people go early to eat, and they just leave. By like 9 o’clock-ish when we left the restaurant, it was a ghost town.
We met at my friend Sherry’s store, Past*Present*Future. As well as being one of my most favorite and cherished friends, her store is always one of my favorite places to visit. And more people should discover the wonderful treasures inside. (hint to my lovely Savvy lady- have you ever interviewed her and visited?)
Past*Present*Future was one of the few non-food establishments with good lighting. The other was the Junior League Thrift Shop, which had some wonderful window displays as well. There was a salon that had some lights on with one guy sitting there inside. But these places being lit made an enormous difference, especially since the township has broken sidewalks and stuff in front of some of these places and bricks all up out of where the street trees are….and as much as anything else, keeping the stores lit, reduces the chance of somebody tripping and possibly falling.
The other thing about these two stores with lights is when we first got to Ardmore, these were the stores where people were actually looking in the windows of. And that’s the thing, people used to look in the windows more. You don’t have the people that stroll. Now it was cold last night, but it wasn’t unpleasant walking.
SEPTA also has moved a train platform to behind Past*Present*Future and Merion Art and Repro since I lived there. I guess it’s part of the station makeover? You can see a little SEPTA sign in my photos. So what I wonder is why haven’t they (SEPTA) paid to light that alley and parking lot people have to cross to get to platform better when it’s dark? And the configuration they created in the back for the platform affects the limited parking that a lot of Ardmore merchants desperately need on that side of Lancaster. It’s kind of surprising that SEPTA can’t do a better job around there, right? And after all Leslie Richards head of SEPTA is very familiar with Ardmore because she spent enough time campaigning during events when she wanted to be county commissioner, didn’t she?
And the trash. Can I talk about the trash on the sidewalks again? Or the trash cans that needed to be emptied that are Township trash cans? Does no one get that people notice these things? And I think one of the things about the trash is people in general have gotten worse since COVID. It started with all the disposable masks and even disposable gloves just chucked on the ground. I think people in general are just littering more and it doesn’t help when trashcans aren’t emptied enough in business districts and shopping centers. Gateway Shopping Center has trash issues too in Tredyffrin. (but I digress.)
Which brings me to the Ardmore Initiative. It’s a marvel they were renewed. They are supposed to be all about the business district and even their own front stoop looks like crap. If their job is to make Ardmore look good and help the business district why isn’t there attention paid to the little things that help businesses? I was thinking of Borough, and even West Chester Borough when I was in Ardmore last night. All of these main street oriented municipalities are struggling through the same economic uncertainties, yet Malvern and West Chester just seem so much more alive and Malvern doesn’t even have the number of stores or restaurants that Ardmore does!
Quite literally the Ardmore which the Ardmore Initiative features on their website doesn’t look like what I saw last night and it makes me sad.
It was like the lights under the bridge tunnel entering Ardmore? The tunnel was dark last night, so what happened to those expensive lights?
So if there’s this business district authority, and it costs people to belong to it whether they want to or not because it’s kind of like a tax /assessment thing, what are they doing for the businesses and people in Ardmore? The last Executive Director who took over when the one which preceded her who got sick, literally worked her ass off and no matter what you thought of the Ardmore Initiative, it showed. Not the same now at all.
I just looked up the Ardmore Initiative website today and they have MORE people working and what do they do? Ardmore has enough in the dining arena that it should have more vibrancy at night and it does not. And there also aren’t as many stores where you can look in the windows, which is pretty basic for a main street business district to make people want to stay and poke around.
But then again, people always said Ardmore’s biggest problem was that Lower Merion Township was headquartered in it. Also what ails Ardmore will not be solved by more infill development. You can’t artificially manufacture energy. Elbow grease and a certain mindset goes into that. Ardmore still deserves better.
Now where we went and where we ate, which was terrific, and why I think Ardmore deserves better once again. We started out at Matatawny Still Works Ardmore tasting room. We buy their whiskeys sometimes now, but I had never been to one of their tasting rooms. It is a really cool space and a fun vibe and they had great music on so a couple of people did a whiskey tasting and I had this amazing spiked apple cider, which was just the thing to warm you up on a chilly night. And the fun thing about this place is you can bring takeout dinners into there and eat while you do a whiskey tasting.
From there, since we already had a parking spot, we headed to Cricket Avenue for dinner. We passed Buena Vista which we go to in Lincoln Court Shopping Center which was packed in Ardmore and Maido the Japanese grocery store which is so cool.
Crossing Lancaster Ave there at Anderson Avenue in Ardmore has not improved since people still don’t pay attention to pedestrians crossing correctly at the lights. Oh, and people still blow that light headed east on Lancaster which begs the question of the police station is right there, so you would think traffic would be better, right? Especially if Lower Merion wants to persist in their pedestrian walkability fantasy?
So on Cricket Avenue I still miss MilkBoy Coffee on the corner. Sorry but pucciManuli doesn’t do it for me and I had a friend tell me recently that they wanted to go in there for a gift and had to be buzzed in, the door wasn’t just open during business hours. I tried to patronize them a bunch of years ago, even before they were at that location and I just found them overpriced. And I love handmade and better quality things, but their prices? Meh.
I will admit that I still think that 1 Ardmore Place is super ugly. For those of you who grew up around Ardmore, these apartments are on the parking lot that used to exist for the old movie theater, which also does not exist anymore . I still hate the design aesthetic of this building, and it totally doesn’t fit in with the area.
We had dinner at Nam Phuong Bistro on Cricket Avenue. They have really wonderful Vietnamese cuisine. It was a terrific meal and I would go back again. I will caution people they don’t have much staff so you have to be prepared to be patient but the people who work there couldn’t be nicer. Their spring rolls were awesome and they also do softshell crabs which is one of my favorite things and they were fabulous. The prices were good and it’s one of those places that I had such a good meal. I forgot to take pictures of the food!
That was the end of my Ardmore re-entry adventure and we headed our way back home to Chester County. Walking back up Cricket. I was glad to see McCloskey’s had a good crowd, and looked as cheerful as ever. One thing that bummed me out, though is there is no more Marjorie Schneider Antiquary. I loved that store and used to love looking in the windows from the time I was young. She had wonderful antiques!
Before we went home, we drove around Ardmore a little bit, and I hadn’t been down some of the streets I used to walk on regularly for years. I came to the conclusion, however, that as much as I miss a lot of my friends down there, I do not miss Lower Merion at all. I think it is probably because the area I grew up in still exists because a lot of the buildings and people are still there, but it has lost so much of what made it very special. It has lost a feeling.
And seeing Ardmore with finally new restaurant destinations but no foot traffic and vibrancy on a Saturday night made me just shake my head. As I said earlier, Ardmore was one of those places where people would say hello to each other on the street as they passed by. Now there is this more transient nature, and a lot of that I think has to do with the infill development. The rental price points, like many other places, are off the charts, so people come, but they don’t stay.
I know this is kind of a mixed review of a visit to a place that I just loved so much once upon a time, but it just really disappoints me that Lower Merion Township just doesn’t really seem to give a crap about the Ardmore Historic Business District, even worse than before. What did we save Ardmore from when we stopped eminent domain for private gain years ago?
Small businesses need a lot of local love. If you are from outside Lower Merion, show Ardmore some love.
If we don’t support small businesses, they cease to exist and we are stuck with homogeneous box stores and chains. And if you live in Lower Merion Township still, I encourage people to stand up and not only demand a better police department but better township management and elected officials. What I saw last night wasn’t “first class” it was “We don’t care, just shut up and pay your taxes.”
Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it starts with baby steps and standing up and caring. Use social media to show why Lower Merion needs to do better on so many fronts. It’s also time to question why the Ardmore Initiative exists. They obviously aren’t living up to their mission statement which of course also begs the question of do they deserve their non-profit status?
Discover something new in Main Street towns like Ardmore, and even West Chester and Malvern Borough. Discover what makes them tick. And if you don’t like something a municipality would be responsible for, hold local government accountable, don’t take it out on the small businesses.
I was in Ardmore again for the first time in a very long time. There are lots of dining options and other things to look at, but the streets are broken and filthy.
The roadways themselves are broken and rutted and it’s hard to imagine a township with so much money and bravado can’t seem to see the ruts and potholes.
So here I was back in Ardmore, where the actual township building is located, in the Historic Ardmore Business District with a business improvement improvement district called the Ardmore Initiative and let’s talk about the god damn sidewalks in what they like to call “the Main Street” of the Main Line. They are deplorable and dangerous. But hey, they can keep deluding themselves, right?
The sidewalks are badly broken in too many places, so I wonder if this is an odd metaphor for the state of Lower Merion Township itself? And it’s February so why are the holiday snowflakes still up?
Many years ago many of us fought to save the Historic Ardmore Business District. I am not sure what we saved Ardmore for. It’s so wrong.
Three days before, he had bought the Old Guard House Inn in Gladwyne – even then it was “Old” – a warren of dimly lit dining rooms with log-cabin walls backing up to a bar regarded as the Main Line’s answer to Cheers. The previous fall, he started working in the kitchen for previous owner Jack Callahan, who opened the restaurant in 1949.
“One of those blue-hairs – we had them in those days – she called me over and said, ‘Hey, boy. If you keep your nose clean, you will do very well here,’ ” Breuers recalled this week….New Year’s Eve, though, will mark Breuers’ farewell from the Old Guard House. It also will spell the end of the Guard House as we know it.
Breuers struck a deal several months ago with the Union League in Center City, which in January – after some light redecoration and a kitchen makeover – will take it over. The Union League Guard House will be open to its members and their guests.
The news out of Gladwyne this morning is the Union League is doing a presentation in front of the Gladwyne Civic Association this evening at their regular monthly meeting for…wait for it….outside dining. Umm hello, a streeterie in the parking lot much? Eww. Maybe they should go for a streeterie on Broad Street instead? Yes, I know both are ridiculous ideas. I will also note, the Union League is building rooftop dining in Philthadelphia.
All – at our civic meeting on Tuesday, there will be a presentation from the GH Union League on an expansion to have an outdoor eating area. The civic never heard about this expansion (which is quite surprising and disappointing).
A few commissioners have questions as this expansion will take away some current parking spaces.
If you are interested, or have comments, please come to the meeting Tuesday, Jan 24 at 7pm at the Gladwyne Firehouse.
We are all surprised that the civic and even our Commissioners did not know about this until the other day, so we apologize for the delay in letting people know.
~ gladwyne civic 1/24/23
I will also note myself that this presentation to the Gladwyne Civic is VERY last minute. Why? Because apparently no one told the civic association these plans were in the works based upon what I read. Interestingly enough, I found reference to this on a Lower Merion HARB meeting agenda dated 7/26/22:
INFORMAL – 953 Youngs Ford Road – Old Guard House – Gladwyne Historic District Applicant seeks comment on a plan to create new window openings on the exterior wall of a non-original dining room extension adjacent to a proposed new outdoor dining area surrounded by a pergola structure.
So….why didn’t anyone tell the folks in Gladwyne this was actually in the air? I received a comment this morning from a Union League member. Allow me to share, although I will do the sender a favor and not share their name as that is not necessary, it’s just their opinion vs. mine:
This plan was in Place since they bought it. I think it is rather unjust to call the members discourteous. Parking is tight. You are correct. The UL is putting outside dining on the Roof at the UL and at great expense. It will be exquisite. They don’t do anything half assed. And BTW the DeSantis event is tonight. And what is wrong about that? The people of Gladwyne will be fine and will enjoy collecting the taxes from The guard house. Ain’t progress a bitch. BTW I do enjoy your writing very much. I just don’t see that you a a dog in this game. But free speech is free speech! Hope you are well.
~ Union league memeber to me 1/24/23
Dear member/friend, my “dog in the game” is not traditional. I used to live in Lower Merion (as you know) and I am aware of how hard Gladwynites work to preserve the history and character of this very important historic district. I also know how tight and bad the parking is and how people patronizing the Guard House these days don’t necessarily take care with their on street parking on Righters Mill Road, creating massive headaches for people who do live there. A plan as in their plans, is not the same as a filed plan, so is there a filed plan as in an actual plan, or is this still just a concept? This is also about being a good neighbor. This concept is not the potential act of a good neighbor, and it is that simple.
So now my question is, has this been formally discussed since? At a board of commissioners meeting or meetings? Any plans submitted even in draft form? Does the head of building and planning Chris Leswing know about this or the township manager Ernie McNeely?
I never object to outdoor dining where it FITS. It doesn’t FIT here. This is like when they wanted in Garrett Hill in Radnor not too long ago and diners would have been literally eating practically on top of Conestoga Road.
This is a very specific historic district. The Union League owns golf clubs with loads of outdoor dining space. Plus there is the rooftop dining project on top of the club’s home in Philadelphia. Here that idea just won’t fit. This is a village still, and parking for the Guard House is an issue, and having been there since the Union League took over to dine, the parking issue has never been sufficiently addressed. Righters Mill Road has been doubling as their overflow parking lot, and well the residents aren’t always so well respected when it comes to said parking. And when you add outside dining, there is also that good old expectation of quiet enjoyment so how would restaurant noises taken outside affect neighbors that way?
Now to be fair someone said to me they thought some sheds out back would go away and they would lose a “few spots” and everything would be hidden by a fence. Hidden by a fence made me laugh because it is now an extension of a private club, but it still comes back to village feel and parking. And this is a private club, not a public restaurant any longer, so there is that whole topic. I don’t personally care that it is now an extension of the Union League, except wonder what would happen if this club had a reversal of fortune? It is a valid question because they have been on quite the acquisition spree in the recent past
Union League, people can also go to Merion Cricket, Merion Golf, etc. for outdoor dining and they have the room locally. This location does not truly have the outside room. Leave Gladwyne Village alone, find another way to drive your revenue, and be a good neighbor. This is yet another reason I am glad I am no longer on the Main Line and no longer live in Lower Merion. In my humble opinion, this would be a very special bad plan if they go through with it.
Also worth pondering? What work should the Union League be doing on the Guard House building itself before even contemplating outdoor dining?
The Union League has a responsibility being in a historic area in Gladwyne. This is also a nationally registered historic district. They also just need to be a good neighbor here and not try this. Maybe my opinion doesn’t matter, but I do have the right to express it.
Sorry folks, it has been a busy day. Received official word from East Whiteland regarding the data center of it all. After that I will share the article that prompted this:
In response to recent articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily Local News, where the Township was asked to provide comments and a status update regarding recent data center proposals, below is a statement from East Whiteland Township:
To date, no land development application has been received by the Township and there have been no revisions to the previously approved Zoning Hearing Board application to permit the data center usage at the properties located along the south side of Swedesford Road near the border with West Whiteland Township.
Also, it is important to note to our residents and businesses that the Board of Supervisors of East Whiteland Township has no interest in entertaining a proposal for a hydrogen power plant within our Township. We are aware of the zoning activities in our neighboring Township and will continue to monitor the situation.
Scott Lambert, Chair of East Whiteland Township Supervisors
A Chester County developer is planning to build a data center approaching the size of the retail space at King of Prussia Mall that could consume more power in one location than any other Peco customer.
Charles Lyddane said he hopes to begin construction this year on the two million-square-foot facility on 65 acres of a remediated Superfund sitehe owns in East Whiteland Township.
“This will be a major economic engine for Chester County and for Pennsylvania,” said Lyddane, whose company Green Fig Land LLC is partnering with Fifteen Forty Seven Critical Systems Realty of Matawan, N.J., to develop the East Whiteland site…..East Whiteland approved zoning variances that Lyddane requested for the project in 2021, and he plans to submit a land development plan to the township this spring. If the plan is approved, construction would begin within six to 12 months and be finished by the end of 2024.
Lyddane said strong demand for new data center capacity is expected to continue despite current economic uncertainties.
Nevertheless, he has “put on hold” a proposal to build a 100,000-square-foot data center along with a power-generating facility on 25 acres he owns in West Whiteland Township that are contiguous with his East Whiteland property.
“Our only plan at this time is to build two data center buildings … in East Whiteland Township,” Lyddane said Tuesday….But Loudoun County, Va., home of what’s widely regarded as the greatest concentration of data centers on the planet, last year approved guidelines to limit their growth. Andthe East and West Whiteland proposals have sparked concerns among environmentalists and some residents in northeastern Chester County, where rolling hills, winding roads, and quaint stone buildings belie the sometimes toxic legacy of mining, steelmaking, and other heavy industries that once dotted the landscape……Sometimes called server farms or carrier hotels, data centers are nothing new. But what’s proposed for East Whiteland would be significantly bigger than most….The proposed East Whiteland data center location once was home to a limestone mining and later, lithium ore-processing business called the Foote Mineral Co., which closed in 1991. A Superfund cleanup project there was substantially completed in 2010, although monitoring of several locations on the property is continuing…..In West Whiteland, nearly 250 people have joined a “Protect Exton Park from Power Plant/Data Center Hub” page on Facebook since it was established earlier in this month. The popular recreation area is close to where Lyddane has explored building a second data center and a power plant.
A 700-acre expanse of woodlands, ponds, and open space, Exton Park was established 30 years ago after local residents fought fiercely to prevent construction of a large housing development, said Ginny Marcille-Kerslake, the administrator of the Facebook page.
“The zoning amendment Charlie requested is very open-ended and would open the door to [development of] hyper-scaled data centers in West Whiteland,” said Marcille-Kerslake….As for the future of the West Whitelandproperty, which includes a storm-water management area that would serve the East Whiteland data center, the developer said: “We don’t have a plan yet. We’re not sure if we’re going to do anything there.”
EAST WHITELAND — A 2-million-square-foot data center, at a cost of approximately $6 billion, is planned for the 100-acre former Foote Mineral site. Seventy-five acres sit in East Whiteland and 25 acres are located in West Whiteland Township.
Fifteenfortyseven Critical Systems Realty partnered with Green Fig Land to obtain East Whiteland zoning variance changes that would allow for two separate million-square-foot, two-story structures and microwave towers, near the intersection of Valley Creek Boulevard and Swedesford Road.
Charlie Lyddane, who works with partner Greg Walters, of Green Fig Land, said on Monday that he wants eventually to also build on the adjacent 25-acre property in West Whiteland Township.
The site abuts the heavily used Chester Valley Trail and Exton Park for what Lyddane said would be an “ancillary” use.
Data centers house equipment such as servers, and air conditioning and cooling equipment for storage of large amounts of data. Data centers run the systems that cell phones are connected to and it’s part of the internet. A data center is the building that houses all of that equipment.
Residents rallied to fight some of the uses after West Whiteland had set a January 25 date for a hearing on zoning changes in the existing office/lab district. Those changes would allow for the data center and a power generating facility to help run the data center. PECO has already agreed to supply a large amount of power. Lyddane said it was enough to fully run the East Whiteland facility as planned.
Lyddane pulled the request for a township hearing which was to appear on the agenda of the Jan. 25 meeting.
“There is no plan for a power plant,” Lyddane said, although a zoning ordinance change for such was requested. “There are a number of options for things to do there.
“We want to see what happens with the data centers. Nothing is definite. We don’t have a plan. We are looking at options.
“The only plan at this time is to build two data centers and that’s it. We are nearly through the approval process in East Whiteland.”
Lyddane also said that more than half of the 25-acre West Whiteland tract is being left as open space because it includes existing wetlands.
Any zoning changes would allow for additional data center construction on more than 100 nearby acres in the township that Lyddane said he doesn’t own and is not for sale. Lyddane said it would be possible to operate a green power plant at that location.
West Whiteland resident Ginny Kerslake is strongly opposed to the project that might include a power plant, as was requested and written with the new zoning variance language.
“Power plants, whether gas or hydrogen from methane, emit the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, and methane,” she said.” In addition to this, there are methane emissions all along the route from fracking to the power plants, and impacts to public health and safety, water resources and the environment. No matter how you try to greenwash it, gray or blue hydrogen is not sustainable energy. It’s a false climate solution being pushed by the fossil fuel industry.”
Data centers in New York, Oregon, Hawaii, Wyoming, Wisconsin and two in Illinois are operated by 1547 Critical Systems….. A $50 million cleanup of the Foote Mineral site is completed, according to Lyddane, who said he spent $2 million on sewer improvements and $500,000 for the cleanup of the township sewer treatment plant.
The proposed West Whiteland zoning changes also call for a 60-foot height limit rather than the current limit of 35 feet.
“We are looking for flexibility,” Lyddane said.
The developer said that each of the two floors might measure 20 feet high, with equipment on the roof. He said that the facility would create 50 permanent “very good paying jobs” onsite and about 3,000 jobs during the construction period.
West Whiteland Supervisor Brian Dunn talked about the zoning changes that might lead to a data center and power plant in the township.
“I’m always skeptical about amending zoning ordinances,” Dunn said. “I’ve found through my experience that whenever a zoning ordinance is amended it’s not always what was proposed.
“A lot of times it opens up a can of worms for something worse.”
West Whiteland Supervisor Rajesh Kumbhardare said he wants to see the facts while noting that the site sits far from residences.
“I don’t see any issue with the zoning changes,” he said. “There is no power plant on the books.
.Kerslake argued that the zoning changes suggested for the canceled Jan. 25 meeting clearly stated such.
“Let’s consult the experts,” Kumbhardare said. “Let’s not put the cart before the horse.”
West Whiteland Supervisor Theresa Santalucia preferred to not comment when reached by phone.
Libby Madarasz is running for the seat occupied by Santalucia on the West Whiteland board of supervisors.
“I’ve spent hours this past long weekend speaking with residents in their neighborhoods and out enjoying Exton Park and the Chester Valley Trail,” she said. “There was a resounding objection to these (proposed) changes in the zoning ordinances which would have such an impact to these treasured spaces.
“The prospect of a fracked gas/hydrogen power plant was especially offensive. I truly hope our township supervisors listen to the people and honor their duty to put the desires of the residents first.”
Kerslake: “The developer’s withdrawal of his zoning ordinance amendment is a victory for all those speaking up against this bad plan and a testament to the power of community. The requested change, oddly submitted without plans and impact assessments, was a trojan horse that would have opened the door for a fracked gas power plant in close proximity to neighborhoods and our treasured Exton Park and Chester Valley Trail.
So to West Whiteland Supervisor Raj Kumbhardare, is a bit of a puzzle here. Supervisor Raj should have more to say more than his evasiveness in The Daily Local News about carts and horse, right? Supervisor Raj as a day job is in database administration so is there anything in this for him? Not being mean but does he care about all of his constituency equally? After all this issue is bigger than computer and database type professionals being excited that the data center is coming, right? And then there is the wondering if he really understands the zoning and how zoning doesn’t exist in a little bubble or vacuum and these changes could potentially have far-reaching changes for the township he is supposed to serve equally to his best efforts so??? I am not saying he’s not a good guy I am asking reasonable questions. I am also wondering how is feeling about carts and horse right now?
And my favorite angry lame duck supervisor is mums the word on this? Why? Rather odd considering….she’s always so pithy, yes?
Anyway, East Whiteland is not being shy about how they seem to be feeling, do they?
Also do not forget this hopeful piece from September, 2022:
With the passage of new tax incentives for data centers in Pennsylvania, developers have announced plans for a hyperscale campus outside Philadelphia that could create 2 million square feet of data center space.
The project is a big bet that Pennsylvania can become a destination for cloud campuses for huge Internet companies. The incentives are also being welcomed by existing data center providers, primarily enterprise colocation and interconnection specialists.
Last year, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a package of data center incentives that includes a sales and use tax exemption for the purchase of computer equipment….
Last month data center operator fifteenfortyseven Critical Systems Realty (1547) said it will partner with real estate developer Green Fig Land Company (GFLC), to acquire 100 acres of land in Chester County, Pa. to build a data center campus with 150 megawatts of capacity. The site plans call for a pair of two-story data centers, each sized at 1 million square feet of space.
“We at Green Fig have spent three years working with the legislature to enact a bill to eliminate the sales tax on data center equipment in Pennsylvania,” said Charles Lyddane, Managing Partner of GFLC. “With access to Tier 1 carriers like Arelion, Lumen, and Windstream, Pennsylvania is the ideal location for an additional data center cluster sitting between markets like NJ/NY and Ashburn.”…If the project succeeds, the Chester County site could be expanded with to support an additional 149 megawatts of power, and up to 5 million SF of space. Green Fig said it is also working on a dedicated, sustainable power generating facility on site.
Tonight class we re-learned a valuable lesson or two:
(1) Sometimes the peasants revolt.
(2) Carts and horses are funny things.
(3) Sometimes municipalities want the public to have actual clarity.
I had someone reach out to me very recently, who was a descendent of the Newlin family who once lived at Ashbridge house on Indian Run Farm in Exton/West Whiteland. His name is Nick Schade and he has shared some photos that I will share at the bottom of what this used to be but now a few words about what it has become.
This was one of the broken down old beautiful Chester County farm houses I have been obsessed with over the past few years. This was the one that when you went into Main Street, looked like it was shrink wrapped in plastic so it could be shipped somewhere like a package I don’t know how else to describe it. I have been writing about this place for a few years, the last time in 2020.
I will be completely honest, and I never thought that this would ever be restored. But it has been. This next photo is another one from Bozzuto who was the developer.
Now I am not going to be a hypocrite, and change my tune and say I love the development around the farmhouse, because I most assuredly do not. First of all, I think there are too many apartment complexes being built out here and we don’t want to be at King of Prussia in Chester County. But it sure seems like that is the direction that everything is going, isn’t it? But I will say that I am honestly grateful that the rehab actually occurred.
It is so important for municipalities to see that adaptive reuse of old structures can occur. Like what finally happened here would be ideal for the Lloyd Farm House in Caln. Or the 18th century farmhouse on the property of the boat dealership that was Clews and Strawbridge in Frazer. Or what about the old farmhouse in Exton – you know 105 S. Whitford Road in Exton? Was part of Oaklands Estate originally and a familial/childhood home of a now retired and popular former Chester County State Representative?
I am also going to say that in spite of the insane amount of development in West Whiteland, it is also a municipality that has some mighty fine adaptive reuse and restoration of historic structures if they survive.
Back to Ashbridge House/Indian Run Farm. So the farmhouse is part of the development, and the old barn is World of Beer. The photos you will be seeing are from the Newlin family.
I am always grateful when these family members send me photos of these places I write about. Because when I see them as they were in my minds eye, and I imagine, it’s always so wonderful when I see actual photos if they exist to see that I wasn’t wrong in my imagining. It’s also cool since a lot of these families don’t have a lot of descendants left, or they don’t have descendants that know of once came from this area and lived in these great places.
The photos I am about to post start in the late 19th century and run through to the 1970s.
Thank you so much Nick for the photos and the prompt to post an update.