Last night I attended the virtual East Whiteland Historic Commission Meeting. One of the people presenting were representatives of the Great Valley School District.
You see, they are now faced with supersizing the elementary school campus. But nooooo of course it’s not due to wanton development in the area. Since the meeting occurred on St. Patrick’s Day I guess it was leprechauns just not being nice to them or something. Sorry not sorry for the deep sarcasm.
Anyway, the reason they were there as they want to tear things down and build new things and so on. But the district representatives did not like when I commented on the fact that school districts everywhere seem to do this following large swaths of new development in various communities. They will basically tell you it’s not true and everyone knows it’s true.
Of course I also commented that all those school districts are autonomous from municipalities, it’s still somewhat of a codependent relationship and I never for the life of me will understand why school districts won’t be honest and say “hey that’s too much development for us to handle.”
Again, sorry not sorry pointing out the truth.
I had to go out to Exton at the beginning of the week for a medical appointment. As I went up Route 30 from Malvern, I was again struck by the sheer volume of development I saw just there along that road. Every square inch that can be developed is being developed.
People are talking about the Ship Inn being for sale. Now that makes me sad because that is a very historic place. That used to be one of my landmarks years ago when I was going to a friend’s house further west. It was always this cheerful beacon on the road and so pretty and historic. Hopefully it survives.
But right where it’s located is at the vortex of a development tsunami. It’s West Whiteland and they are definitely one of the municipalities that can’t say yes fast enough to new development. Once upon a time I found these historic photos of Exton before all the development started. Night and day.
But it’s not just one municipality it’s more like pick a municipality. Look at East Whiteland. Do we really think the school district would be considering expansion if they weren’t out of room because of all the influx of people due to development? I mean come on let’s get real.
Go a little further east and you look at Tredyffrin and Eastown. Is the school district there not experiencing the same problems and need for expansion? It’s because of all the development, right? It doesn’t matter if it’s single-family McMansions, fake carriage houses, town houses, apartments, condos whatever you want to call them they are bringing people into our districts. The interesting thing is I still don’t necessarily believe that the economy is following the people so I wonder about the long-term sustainability but that’s another conversation for another day.
Go to other areas in Chester County and look at other districts. The West Chester Area School District is a monster it’s so big now. Owen J Roberts is huge, and so is Downingtown. And when you get out to areas like Elverson the kids actually go to school in a dual county district . This school district is Twin Valley, and it services two counties and like seven municipalities.
If you go east out of Chester County down to the Main Line, look at Lower Merion School District. The nasty eminent domain battles and fights because why? Because there are so many people coming into that district they needed to build another middle school. Now that middle school is going to be right on the border of Radnor Township which also has development worries of its own and only has one high school which is pretty crowded from what I’m told these days.
Of course in the case of Lower Merion School District and the location of their new school I have to ask what volunteer fire company is going to be responsible for that big complex? Especially when fire companies are going to be faced with the ongoing super sizing of both Bryn Mawr and Ardmore? So will that necessitate an additional fire company being built? Where would that go? And maybe it’s time for all fire companies to consider more paid staff because I think the volunteers are spread a little thin don’t you?
When are municipalities going to wake the hell up and realize the songs and tales of the Pied Piper-like developers and the Emperor’s new clothes they strew about are ruining our communities?
These developers are marching through our communities leaving overcrowding in school districts and stressed municipal services and infrastructure in their wake. And the Municipalities Planning Code ( aka the MPC), the Bible on which local development and zoning is based, allows all of this. It also allows all of the crazy zoning overlay districts which allow developers to get more and more into our communities.
The MPC was created at the end of the 1960s and I think it was signed in to being in 1970. It contains the extraordinarily outdated definitions of suburbs and exurbs that are still fueling all of this development today. And it’s got to stop. There needs to be a comprehensive update. And that update needs to contain language that actually protects our communities from over development. It needs to contain language that has more meaningful historic preservation and land preservation.
No matter where we live we are drowning in crappy new construction. And people don’t like when I say that because you know they’re reading this post from their McMansion. Well talk to me in 20 years and see how your house endures time and wear. I mean look at all the people alone who have had to remediate stucco in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
These developers roll into communities, they make a lot of money, they offer municipal rabbits the tiny baby carrots of ratables and they just move onto the next project. Or they will say to a municipality that they really care about the community in which they want to over develop because they live there? What do they really care about: the community or how much money they’re making?
Oh wait? What is that I hear? Oh that would be the chorus of I hate all development coming from some of you reading this post. I don’t hate all development but I really dislike the volume and lack of quality of the development we are seeing today. Why on earth do developers think that here in bucolic Chester County we want to see things that look like fake industrial?
And then there are the developers who basically take the same design and apply it to projects in multiple municipalities. Do they really think the public is that stupid? I mean maybe the local politicians are but not necessarily the people that live in these municipalities. Do we really want to live in developer created Stepford Land?
I have seen development in other areas, even urban areas that are clever and they actually have architectural design to them. Or they’re wonderful examples of adaptive reuse. My favorite recent example is something in Philadelphia called The Gotham. It was originally The Gotham Silk Factory, as in stockings. This project is amazing. It pays homage to its past yet it’s modern and new. It’s really cool. It proves you can meld old with new and come up with a good product.
But people, we have to start taking back our communities. We need to hold elected officials accountable. And even if they tell us there is nothing that they can do we still hold them accountable. And we need to find better replacements from within our communities and move these people out.
If you change the face of who governs you you can start to enact change in communities. But if it’s just the same old people sitting there year after year we are just going to keep on getting more of what we don’t like where we call home. That’s not just with local municipalities that’s with state representatives and state senators as well. So far with regard to the newbies in office on the state level I’m not really impressed. And there are some who skated in for additional terms riding on the coattails of others and they never impress me at all.
These are our communities. We deserve more of a say. But in order to have more of a say we all have to become more proactive within our communities. that starts with attending meetings. While they are all virtual, it’s much easier, so please take advantage of it. Pick a meeting and participate.
A preface: This post is a week old. WordPress has this oddity and flaw in its app of sometimes making you republish things although you already did. Such is the case here.
So former Chester County Commissioner and U.S. Congressman Ryan Costello blocked me on Twitter. I don’t really care but he behaved today in a manner so purely childish that I can’t believe he seriously wants people to take him seriously that he wants to run for Pat Toomey’s seat in the United States Senate.
I used to think he was a nice enough guy. I liked dealing with his congressional staff because he quite frankly inherited a lot of them from Jim Gerlach. I had dealt with them for years.
So today comes this Philadelphia Inquirer article on how he wants to run for U.S Senate. (And so does Lt. Gov. John Fetterman so please for the love of God, who else is running?)
So that is the article if you want to read it. Anyway the PA and Chesco Twitterverse started discussing this. One because of the shall we say haphazard way he decided not to run for re-election and then bailed on the Chester County GOP. Because truthfully he did. Not that I actually blamed him back then because they were rattlesnake material circa 2016 in my humble opinion. And 2016 was a Republican epiphany back then for many of us, myself included. The day Trump became the nominee was my last day as a Republican.
My initial comment when I saw the article was ummm no, we have already been to this movie.
📌Ryan Costello, a critic of President Trump who held the 6th District House seat before Houlahan, said “watching these protestors invade the Capitol reminded me of the left-wing protestors who would storm in and occupy my congressional office and harass my staff on a weekly basis. Politics has become an invitation for extremist behavior; to be rude, dangerous and disrespectful to our institutions and policy-makers.”📌
Ummm…leftist fringe? Some of these people are my friends.
I did say the following:
So Ryan Costello wants to run for US Senate? Here’s hoping he is out of his diapers before then, because this response out of him is better suited for sucking a binky and living on Parler.
Honestly, I am disappointed because I used to like him. And to color outside the lines in such a manner BEFORE he announces a legit run for office? He’s not exhibiting strength, he’s demonstrating immaturity at a minimum. There already are enough hate spewing windbags like this in Washington D.C.
They didn’t threaten anyone. They are hardworking people and he seemed to forget he worked for the people not the Chesco GOP or whatever. They did not feel they were being heard. And that is the worst feeling and one we as regular people feel all too often at the hands of our elected officials.
Not that Fetterman is a better choice for US Senate….I wouldn’t vote for him either at this point either and I have never liked Political Lurch.
📌The Daily Local News should stop promoting former Congressman Ryan Costello’s false comparisons between our area and dangerous events on national news. The violent, seditious terrorists we witnessed at the nation’s Capitol bear absolutely no resemblance, whatsoever, to the peaceful demonstrators exercising their democratic rights outside his district offices in 2017 and 2018.
The former Representative should consult the Daily Local’s own accounts of what transpired before leveling dangerously false comparisons. Costello claims that protestors “stormed his office and harassed staff weekly,” but most of the constituent rallies took place outdoors and far away from Costello’s office and staff.
The one occasion constituents entered Costello’s district office to stage a sit-in, the Daily Local’s own account describes them as “unobtrusive” to the staffers. When asked to move to another room, they complied. They ate pizza and sang Christmas carols, then left. That was it. No guns, violence, broken windows, Confederate flags, Nazi flags, or threats of any kind.
Ultimately, Costello’s commentary once again proves himself disconnected from reality and from the community he was once elected to serve. There was nothing remotely similar between the peaceful gatherings at/near Costello’s office and the riotous mob in DC. Peaceful assembly and requesting redress are protected rights of our citizenry.
Responsible journalism would not treat Costello’s conflation of the two as fact. Clarity is critical at this moment for our body politic, and readers deserve to be informed about what relevance an opinion has to the truth. The Daily Local does a disservice to its readers by reporting such egregious claims without basis of truth.
Luke Bauerlein, Exton; Phil Dague, Downingtown; Jane Palmer, Wyomissing; Beth Sweet, West Chester and Claire Witzleben, Wayne📌
These folks have a right to be upset. I guess so does Ryan Costello that we were discussing it. And what happened next wasn’t very “senatorial.”
Ryan Costello started addressing me on Twitter. He told me I didn’t know what I was talking about and did I remember when he stuck up for me once upon a time. And I did remember that, and part of the topic was his wife had gotten upset when people startled her on their street. I believe she was a pretty young mom at this point and probably not used to the public eye. Politicians sign up for this life, and their families really have little choice in the matter. And I felt at the time and probably would still today that people could have been nicer to her and more understanding. I took a walloping on social media for my opinion, and he stood up for me and I will always appreciate that.
However, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to speak my truth about how I feel about certain things. And calling people I know some thing akin to domestic terrorists for staging a sit in with pizza it’s not some thing that sits right with me. And it is a gross miss characterization of what I believe happened.
We went back-and-forth a while and then he sent me a private message and basically said that he thought I was talking to him in good faith and then he saw the comment about calling him Baby Ryan. And then he blocked me. I guess he just wanted the last word.
He did however say in one Tweet he didn’t care if screenshots were taken and shown that he stands by what he said. So Ryan? I do think you are acting like a baby or a toddler. I was also however communicating in good faith. I wish you could see how you are hurting yourself. Pennsylvania is a much different political climate than when you pulled your exit with drama, stage right. You need to get to know people all over again and their issues then, and issues now.
Here are the screenshots. Hopefully in some semblance of order. 2021 is certainly quite the year so far:
A place where the above photo was shared had a couple of people who left a “laughing” emoji where you can like this post or find it sad or find it angry. To them I say there is nothing funny about this and you don’t have to like every post anyone posts – but at least TRY to be understanding of what other folks not too far away from you are dealing with. It could be your family, your neighborhood, your house affected.
Someone else made a comment about these pipelines and rights of way. Umm land agents and threats of eminent domain for non-compliance with these corporate bullies does not equal a traditional right of way does it?
I didn’t really understand this issue until I moved into Chester County. And while I am blessed that I don’t have one of these things going THROUGH my property, if the Adelphia pipeline comes through I will be in a potential “blast zone” with one of these pipelines either 1030 feet from a corner of our property or 1060 feet. We are also on wells where I live.
I have a friend who lives up the road apiece from me into West Whiteland Township. When she and her husband bought their house no one told them about the pipeline easement on the property. As in it didn’t show up at the settlement table from either realtor. They are barely in their house a hot minute and Sunoco/Sunoco Logistics/Energy Transfer shows up. As it turned out, the people they bought the house from had sold an easement to the pipeline company maybe a year or less prior. Now she has a ticking time bomb in her front yard.
These pipelines are dangerous and they pollute our wells, they are problematic and sinkholes occur because of how they are digging (in disregard for the geological composition of the area), roads have had visible issues in spots and the “plans” for first responders won’t save anyone including them and oh how about they are drilling right next to Goshen Fire Company at Boot and Greenhill in West Chester? What happens if something happens there? Who will save the first responders?
They ARE drilling next to schools, libraries and so on. You may have even driven by a site where they are working and not realized what’s going on behind giant temporary construction walls that to us never seem temporary at this point.
If and when there is an explosion do you think the people on the road driving by are going to be any safer than the rest of us?
And then of course there is the giant fairytale that these companies like to tell everyone which is you’re getting gas, etc because of these pipelines. What is being taken from the ground here and shipped through these pipelines through residential neighborhoods is going overseas. To places like Scotland to make plastic.
And the other fable they like to tell is how this brings lots of local jobs. All you have to do is drive by a site and count the out-of-state plates. And I’m not talking New Jersey and Delaware out of state I’m talking Oklahoma,Texas and so on where the wildcatters are from.
My mother, who lives in the city, was stunned at what she saw when we were driving back from a Christmas lunch in West Chester a week ago. She couldn’t believe what she saw and compared it to the issues and conditions with coal mining companies in PA in the 19th century (the Molly Maguires era).
I think we all in this area have to become more informed on what is going on with regard to this issue even if it’s not in our backyard literally.
The above photo was originally posted by someone else with the following:
My neighborhood has been held hostage by Sunoco/Energy Transfer for over 2.5 YEARS now… with no end in sight.
This dangerous export pipeline project claimed eminent domain for overseas plastics production. It carries highly explosive and highly pressurized by-broducts of fracking.
Sunoco continues to cause sinkholes, contaminate private drinking water, drilling mud spills, etc. They are an egregious operator who’s latest illegal tactics include false reports to law enforcement authorities.
We want our backyards back. We want our safety back. We want our clean air & water back. We want our peace & quiet back.
So when this all first started, residents were told “you won’t even notice we’re here.”
Did you know on a clear and quiet day if they are working in a neighboring Township I can actually hear the rhythmic thump thump thump of whatever that machine is they use to move the pipeline along￼?
I will also share what a lovely lady I am privileged to know named Carrie wrote the other day. These are her words and her photo:
#CleanWater is a human right.
We stand in solidarity with our friends David Warren, David Mano, Rosemary Fuller, Erica Tarr, Ralph Blume and many others across Pennsylvania who have had their private well water contaminated by the destruction of the dangerous Mariner East export pipeline project.
In 2010 the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.* There are many families throughout the United States who are currently living without clean water. Industries, like the fossil fuel industry and other resource extraction industries, have continued unchecked to contaminate our water resources.
There are too many examples of a lack of clean water. Here in Pennsylvania, fracking and pipelines, like the Mariner East Pipeline Project have poisoned people’s aquifers and have left residents to fend for themselves. In fact, some may be drinking poisoned water and they do not know it yet. Leaving individuals and families without clean water is unacceptable. Clean water is our right and we need to hold policy makers accountable.
Two states and only a handful of municipalities have legally established their rights into local constitutions and municipal regulations. For example, in Pennsylvania’s constitution
“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.**”
**Article I, section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution
Thanks for listening and thank you to our founding fathers for our First Amendment Rights.
Something occurred to me the other day. And I am not a psychologist or expert in the field of how negativity affects people, especially where they live, so these are merely my opinions and observations.
We live in an area that was bucolic and peaceful. Agricultural and equine heritage and traditions. It is now being overrun by development. Every time you turn around, another community is threatened. That is stressful if you are directly affected/impacted, and it can raise your blood pressure just driving by a place where you used to see cows, or horses swishing their tails while they grazed to seeing how it is now just a big pit of scraped earth or budding Tyvec-wrapped communities where everyone is or will be jammed in like lemmings.
And then there are all of the pipeline sites. They are ugly and raw and NOISY. People’s property values are declining, their wells being poisoned by whatever the heck it all is they drill with (there are enough articles in local papers etc about this, right?) And we can’t forget the sinkholes. When I was first coming out to Chester County before I moved here, I used to love when I turned on 352 off of West Chester Pike if I came that way. All of a sudden it was just green with rolling stretches of lawn and trees. Now it is a raped landscape that actually stresses me out just driving by it, so I can’t even imagine how directly affected residents feel.
Or other area stressers like contested sites within municipalities where state agencies like PennDOT are concerned. Take the site of Route 352 (A/K/A N. Chester R or Sproul Rd) and King Road in Malvern. This directly affects residents in East Whiteland and East Goshen.
And here we are at year end and no one knows what is happening for sure at that intersection, and that includes the directly affected residents. Will they face any eminent domain? Will they face a complete loss of certain properties through eminent domain? It’s a big mystery. And I watch email after email by affected residents go by to municipal officials and PennDOT. PennDOT never replies. It is like they are ignoringthe residents utterly and completely, which adds to the feelings of stress, dismay and uncertainty.
Is it just me or have any of you noticed how people aren’t putting up their usual Christmas displays in some of these areas targeted by pipelines, development, construction, and PennDOT? This is what I have noticed, and it bums me out to see houses usually bright and cheery at the holidays look dark and sad. But in all fairness, if you were facing any of these things, how cheerful and full of Christmas spirit would you feel?
Life can be hard, that is the reality of life. But for a lot of these people, it shouldn’t be so hard. These folks moved here and bought their homes to raise their families. Their piece of the American Dream. You live right, pay your taxes, are part of your community. And your home is indeed your castle, and for a lot of these people there are quite literally barbarians at the gate.
Elected officials NEED to think about how these scenarios are affecting their constituents. All they have to do is drive by and notice how the longer these negative issues persist, how they affect people. Real people. People who in a lot of cases voted for them. It shows in the little things like gardening and holiday decorations. I think it is criminal to drive by homes where you know the owners were once so house proud and see these changes.
Just some of life’s little observations. Wishing these people peace.
This is yet another potential example of the devastating cost of over development in Chester County. School districts in particular piss me off with this crap because they always act like they know nothing about what’s going on around them.
￼These people should not be forced to lose their properties, the developer should give up part of their land to build the school there￼.
People need to go after the school district now please contact all your elected officials local, county, state, federal.
Contact the media. Attend this upcoming meeting and raise hell.￼￼
This is another piece of the cost of development at the expense of where we call home.
It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s not just, it must be protested.￼￼
I know nothing more than what I am showing you right here right now.￼
Roundabouts. That is PennDOT new speak for traffic circles. I know, I know I have been writing about this a lot on this blog. Most recently at the beginning of this month (October, 2019) That is when East Whiteland and East Goshen released a letter they received from PennDOT September 30:
At that time I said September 30th was Monday, so why has it taken this long for the people to be notified and have they even notified the potentially affected residents? I marvel that PennDOT dated the letter September 23rd and it took until September 30th to be received? DO they not also send an electronic copy?
PennDOT needs to define “minor construction” and does that mean any eminent domain land takings?
PennDOT will do this project when exactly and how long will it take?
And if PennDOT was offering to meet with both townships, I suggested that when that occured the most directly affected homeowners should be present with whatever representation they so chose to be with them.
Well guess what? According to residents I know (directly affected in fact) the meeting DID take place. And East Whiteland Towsnhip verified this on October 15 when they said on their website “On September 30, East Whiteland and East Goshen Townships received a letter from PennDOT regarding its recommendations for the Route 352 and King Road intersection.
The Townships recently met with PennDOT to discuss those recommendations. No decisions as to road improvements have been made, but the Townships agreed to update traffic counts along the roads and expect to continue discussions with PennDOT when those studies are completed.”
Please note who was missing at said meeting with PennDOT. Yup, you’ve got it, the potentially affected residents.
When they received the news these residents (my extended neighbors) replied to East Whiteland very politely but firmly:
Thanks for keeping us in the loop and for pushing back on PennDOT’s recommendations.
That said, while we appreciate that you may be hesitant to proceed with the only two options PennDOT is permitting (a roundabout or making the roads perpendicular), we still have much to talk about. Will you share why the townships are willing to pay for new traffic counts, what the townships think are the existing problems that must be fixed and what is your goal?
It is my understanding that the various justifications the township has presented have been adequately debunked. It started with cut through traffic, then law breaking cut through traffic, then rush hour delays, then unjustified future traffic predictions, and eventually it morphed to safety. Now, it seems like rush hour delays may be the leading reason again. Or, is this all just a means to mask future plans for over-development? Whatever the reason, it is concerning and very disappointing that the township hasn’t ruled out eminent domain given the community feedback as well as an overwhelming evidence contradicting those justifications.
If the township still feels adequate justification exists and cares about the affected residents, you will help us to understand those justifications. We don’t need to wait for new counts.
If people were dying in the intersection, bad accidents were above “normal” or traffic was backed up frequently enough that it was unpleasant for those of us who actually live here, we would understand (or move). However, these conditions absolutely do not exist. We live here because we want to. If you plan to take our land, destroy our properties, reduce our quality of life, eliminate our privacy and reduce our safety by making the traffic move faster and closer to our homes, we need to understand and accept your justifications or we will fight you to the bitter end.
Finally, can we audit the new counting process when it occurs? Or can we be involved in hiring the firm to perform the counts? Given the conflicts of interest identified with McMahon and the weakness of their presentation, the legitimacy of any further data they present will be called into question.
Subsequent email letters went to PennDOT (three times) from directly affected residents and as they can be obtained on a Right To Know Request, I am publishing them now.
I read your September 23, 2019 response to East Whiteland and East Goshen Townships regarding the intersection of Sproul (S.R. 0352) and King Road (S.R. 2022).
In your first paragraph you cite an increase in traffic volumes as the justification for a solution requiring eminent domain taking. A solution that “must be advanced for eventual implementation within a reasonable timeframe.”
Given your solution will destroy homes, privacy, safety and home values (for which payment alone will not cure), are you basing your recommendation on the two traffic reports prepared by McMahon & Assoc in 2005 and 2016? Or, do you have some other traffic volume data that you can share?
It is my understanding that both McMahon studies were performed for just (2) one-hour periods during peak traffic periods in 2005 and 2016, respectively. Further, while I am not currently able to locate the 2005 report to confirm, I was informed by an EG township official that there was very little traffic volume increase measured at the intersection between 2005 and 2016. If this is true, then what “increase in traffic volumes” are your referring to? Is it based on only future predictions? Please quantify.
My wife and I have lived at the intersection for over 20 years. (I purchased the home on December 31, 1996.) Our home literally faces the center of the intersection. Based on my extensive experience, I vehemently disagree with the premise that there is a volume problem that must be resolved. You may consider my opinion biased because the widening and tree/brush removal will eliminate all of the privacy I have spent 10s of thousands of dollars (and a couple decades) to build up, it will dramatically reduce my safety (I can provide more details), and moving me closer to the intersection will destroy my property value.
That said, don’t take it from me. At the June 5, 2019 meeting at Immaculata, I surveyed an audience full of 100+ township residents by asking, “Who thinks delays are the primary problem at the intersection?” Exactly zero people raised their hands. (https://bit.ly/2oueoGQ: Time Stamp: 1:50:10)
So, while your recommendations may be suitable if there were a traffic delay problem at the intersection, the township residents do not agree with the premise under which you have proposed a solution.
So, if PennDOT will not support a permanent, signal-only solution to help address the left turn issues from 352, does PennDOT support a “do nothing” approach? It was not entirely clear whether you were recommending or requiring your “comprehensive” eminent domain taking solution. This is an important detail. Please clarify.
Here is the second letter:
From: Tom Stuart Sent: Thursday, October 3, 2019 3:37 PM To: ASHPATEL@pa.gov Cc: Sue Drummond <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Rich Orlow <email@example.com>; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ <email@example.com>; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ <email@example.com>; John Nagel <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RE: Eminent Domain Taking @ King & 352 – *** Major Safety Concern ***
Dear Mr. Patel,
I have a critical safety concern regarding your suggestion to enable King Rd traffic to drive head on through the 352 intersection at the same time (“in exchange” for split phasing on 352.)
First, do you have a sketch or diagram of the revised intersection layout you are proposing?
I have driven up and down King Rd through the intersection a few times since I read your letter—including in the pitch dark last night. I wanted to get a feel for and imagine the shifted sight lines you are proposing (if the township proceeds with a 2-phased approach.) I imagined it with the westbound King Rd lane being re-located southward by about 1 lane width.
Given that the westbound approach rises slightly to the intersection and the eastbound approach rises significantly, you are inviting a full-speed, head on collision by letting that traffic flow at the same time and at full speed with such limited visibility.
Even if your plan includes destroying a half dozen or so properties by removing all of our privacy and safety providing trees and shrubs, safe sight lines simply do not exist with the current (or the slightly modified) geometry.
As you may or may not be aware, the left turns from 352 are not a major safety hazard now. They are more of an inefficiency and annoyance. The resulting accidents from those turns tend to be low speed fender benders… not head on and certainly not at full speed. The worst symptoms are frustrated drivers honking and cursing.
For this reason, I believe that switching the split phasing from King Rd to 352 as you propose (in part 1 of your 2-phased approach) will make the intersection considerably less safe.
Incidentally, there is a similarly shaped intersection geometry where Paoli Pike meets route 30 in Paoli. The sight lines are MUCH better there because it’s more level. However, in the mid to late 1980s (before the lights were changed to include a protected left turn phase from 30) there was a head on collision that occurred with so much force the driver’s heart detached from all of her arteries. So, unless you and the township want to be directly responsible for introducing fatalities to the intersection, I suggest you withdraw or amend that portion of your recommendation.
If you have any feedback defending what you proposed, I’d be interested to hear it—especially because the townships will likely heed your input more than mine.
I urge the townships to respond to this concern as well.
Best Regards, Tom Stuart
And here is the third letter:
Tom Stuart Thu, Oct 17, 8:21 PM (12 hours ago) to ASHPATEL@pa.gov, Sue, Rich, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, John, Christie, email@example.com, TINA, Timothy, Christine, Zeek747, me, Ted
Dear Mr. Patel,
I gather from your lack of response to my previous emails (and because the residents were not invited to recent closed-door meeting) that you do not intend to respond to me. The important part is that I have raised my safety concern, you saw it, the townships saw it and it’s now part of the public record.
I would like to draw your attention to a few more critical issues I have identified in your letter of Sept 23 to the townships:
Your suggestion (2e) indicates that signal upgrades could better detect traffic. Obviously, this means reducing delays without any negative impact on safety or otherwise. If PennDOT thinks traffic delays are a problem, why would this not be your recommended solution as a first and immediate phase? Why wasn’t this recommended and implemented years ago? You go on to state that this improvement would not be approved by PennDOT unless the township also agree to take land from local residents in “a reasonable timeframe”. This is outrageous and extremely upsetting. Is this how PennDOT operates– with a complete and total disregard for residents’ homes and properties not to mention a disregard for common sense and unnecessary expenditures? One of your suggestions is to clear the vegetation through the intersection along King Rd to improve visibility (2c). When it comes to the goal of improving safety, this applies not only to the drivers but also to pedestrians and residents, I assume. As Senior Manager of Traffic Engineering and Safety Division, you must be aware that trees and shrubs create a safety barrier between the traffic and the residents when they must co-exist in close proximity. Tearing them down, as you propose, reduces safety for residents (and pedestrians). You state that that safety is the department’s primary goal. Yet, you directly contradict this statement with your proposed solutions. If safety is the primary goal, a safety improvement like enhanced traffic detection and painted lines (as you suggest in 2f) could be implemented now. (Or, years ago.) In fact, if safety were the primary goal, a safety improvement such as signal phasing on 352 could be delivered even if it came at the expense of added delays. Your proposals not only fail to make safety the primary consideration, you go so far as to suggest that signal-only safety improvements to 352 traffic can only be delivered if the township agrees to reduce safety on King Rd by letting it drive head on, simultaneously. Local residents would likely agree with me that this could be a net reduction in safety. The reality is that the goal of your proposal appears to be: reduce delays and, if possible, improve safety and do so at the highest possible expense. I find it disappointing that neither you nor the townships ever acknowledge this glaring falsehood being perpetuated. This is not and has never been about improving safety. Each time I read your proposal and consider what has transpired to date, I become more and more disappointed by what appears to be a complete lack of competence, integrity, honesty, transparency and common sense by all parties carrying some sort of responsibility here. If you disagree with anything I have said and do not wish to have a dialogue with me directly, I understand. I hope you will communicate your feedback to the townships so they can pass it along to me. Or, if the townships care about the affected residents, they can prove it.
Until I see common sense prevail, I will not go away.
“….would not be approved by PennDOT unless the township also agree to take land from local residents in “a reasonable timeframe”.”
There you have it. EMINENT DOMAIN. They always try to make it sound pretty. How was it one of the East Whiteland Supervisors referred to it? As “slivers” of land or something equally preposterous?
It’s eminent domain. It’s stealing someone’s property and for what? So PennDOT can have their Roundabout Reign Of Terror?
I noticed in September PennDOT was doing the old soft shoe PR on their pet project to ruin where we live. All. Across. The. State.
Here, courtesy of Talk Erie News, is essentially PennDOT’s press release in September about this:
Richards was elected to the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors in 2007, and became chairwoman of the board in 2008.
Richards was elected to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2011. Her election, along with that of fellow Democrat Josh Shapiro, marked the first time in over a century that Democrats controlled the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. Richards served as Montgomery County’s representative on the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. Richards also serves on the board of SEPTA.
Pennsylvania political operatives had mentioned Richards as a potential Congressional candidate in Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district. Richards declined to run for the seat after incumbent Congressman Jim Gerlach retired in 2014.
In 2015, following the election of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, Richards was nominated to serve as Secretary of Transportation of Pennsylvania. She was subsequently confirmed by the Pennsylvania State Senate in May 2015.
In 2017, Richards was appointed the first female chair of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission as well as the Public Private Partnership (P3) Board.
But what does she actually DO? I will note I contacted Ms. Richards when this whole Roundabout Reign of Terror began. Her response, even an acknowledgement, of the fact that I contacted her must have gotten lost in the mail.
So people always say when it comes to things like road projects to follow the money, right? So what happens when we follow the money to PennDOT with regard to things like Roundabout Reigns of Terror? Who is benefitting? Is it a long list? Is it a short list?
I sent an e-mail overnight to Senator Andy Dinniman since I feel the State Representatives have been quite invisible on this.
What is happening here is terrifying. He needs to act. He actually might have the power to help my neighbors and get the pause button pushed.
NO ONE HAS TRIED BASIC SIGNALIZATION CHANGES! Why the heavy PennDOT push for traffic circles or the more politically new speak term of “roundabouts” ? Whatever happened to trying something less expensive before taking people’s homes?
Again, if the money trail is followed all the way to Harrisburg where will it lead?
The basic intersection changes affected residents asked for would cost a whole lot LESS than a Circle. And it would not involve eminent domain.
But we, as residents and taxpayers, have been told that PennDOT doesn’t want that. Everything they want seems to involve eminent domain doesn’t it?
Money, money, money. It’s only money and OPM or Other People’s Money at that. Do you want your taxpayer dollars to go to stealing a neighbor’s home?
Why should my neighbors be forced to this? Why should they fear losing their homes? How would you feel if you were facing eminent domain?
None of us asked for this. And the origins of this current situation is somewhat mind boggling to me. That all came out when we did RTK requests a few months ago.
People have asked State Reps for help and to the best of my knowledge that has kind of gone nowhere.
My neighbors need and deserve help. This affects residents in East Whiteland and East Goshen. Truthfully it affects anyone who travels through this intersection. Have you watched people use roundabouts? And what about Immaculata and the buses that come through to them and the trucks, big trucks, which travel these roads?
Of course my personal thoughts include that wanton development is also a culprit here- another thing residents didn’t ask for.
I have seen what the threat of eminent domain does to communities as I have been to this movie before. I just didn’t expect it out here as a threat quite as often as I have seen it.
We have done rights to know. In the spring we learned a lot. Is that the only way we can ever get answers is to pay to be flooded with paper?
This summer I took photos while a passenger in a car. Of a roundabout no one knows how to drive on in Chester County. On Route 52. Where it is still kind of rural and no one lost their homes, although undoubtedly someone lost some land as in open space/farm land.
The topography where that circle was placed is radically different from where PennDOT seems hell bent for leather to get one at King and 352.
Putting a traffic circle, roundabout, whatever you wish to new speak it as on King and 352 is like the proverbial square peg in the round hole, or is it round peg in the square hole? (Sorry, traffic circle humor)
Remember this issue when election day rolls around.
Soon it will be Halloween. Then we will have Thanksgiving and Christmas and Channukah and so on, so what do these poor residents have to look forward to with the evil specter of eminent domain courtesy of PennDOT lurking around seemingly every corner?
Residents asking for traffic improvements on side streets somehow translated to a potential pork project and please stop the roundabout turntable, residents want to get off.
Can anyone help stop this? Does anyone give a crap about residents anymore? Or all we just expendable?
Just a reminder that tomorrow night Sept 17 at 7pm will be the zoning meeting to hear public comment regarding the Berwyn Square/Handels development. We need the business community to come out to support this project which could be the game changer for Berwyn like East Side Flats for Malvern. The neighbors who are against it have rallied a petition and seem to project fear based on change and not looking at this as an opportunity for growth and vibrancy in our community and getting rid of an eyesore at the entrance to the Village. If you can’t make it please text me or email Stacey Ballard at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments and support. Again we need to balance the negative but not majority voice. Thank you!!!
So the author is a Realtor aren’t they? And I have to ask how much Eadeh Enterprises would profit if this project goes up? Wouldn’t it benefit their property values?
Also note the post card that went out to the business community about the project (and a meeting last week) and do you see the rendering? The people who are running this business association don’t seem to respect the residents they want as customers do they?
Look, the thing about businesses is that a lot of those people do NOT live RIGHT there where this is being proposed 24 hours a day /7 days a week / 365 days a year. Not all business owners anywhere and everywhere are also residents of municipalities going through development angst. That is WHY they often do NOT get WHY residents are upset.
In this case in Easttown I don’t get WHY developers don’t get why residents are upset, especially because some of them live in Easttown, so how could they propose something so out of character, right?
And oh yeah, have you all looked closely at Eastside Flats that the business association seeks to make a comparable on? Facade is the only thing with something to it and 3 sides of the building are NOTHING as in they look like a cheap motel at the beach on 3 sides and will the facade finishes withstand the test of time? And as for safety, can a fire truck actually get BEHIND Eastside Flats? Or would they have to go up on the train tracks? And have you ever stood in the little neighborhood on the other side of the train tracks to see what those people see? A big hulking building shadow hanging over them? And the sidewalk don’t even properly go to the edge of the driveway/parking lot at Eastside Flats. You have to step up and go over mulch so isn’t that a problem for the handicapped and elderly? (And why has Malvern Borough had them fix that?)
I took this photo when the flats were being built
We all patronize the businesses at Eastside Flats because we love them, but stand inside some of them if something gets flushed upstairs and tell me what you hear ? IMHO inside this one store you hear everything. And that was with music playing in the store.
East Side Flats still does not fit or complement Malvern Borough from a design aesthetic and never will. I don’t think that is right. And to say that building getting built created a renaissance is a fallacy because that project was built because Malvern was already on an upswing. Another opinion I am entitled to.
I also took this photo a few years ago. Please note that is scored concrete, not real brick. And when it is wet, that is STILL more slippery than real brick in my humble opinion. These buildings are still out of character with the size and scale of other buildings in Malvern. People might be getting used to them, but it still doesn’t make it right. Human scale and setbacks matter.
The things about East Side Flats getting built that businesses and Easttown aren’t mentioning include the piss poor low ratables – $60,000 was ALL that Malvern Borough got wasn’t it?
During a discussion of the police services and budgeting at the of Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:
“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.
“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said, citing a financial feasibility study done before the project was approved.
“That’s it?” Yeager replied, expecting a bigger payoff from the several new businesses and hundreds of new residents that will be moving to the east end of the borough.
“It was staggering, how small it was,” Mayor Jerry McGlone said
So remember the fairy tales spun on pots of Township gold from ratables are NOT necessarily true are they?
Oh and the thing that Easttown and the pro-development faction DO NOT tell you about is the fact that after East Side Flats went up it was a HUGE catalyst for change because that next election the mayor and I think half of borough Council were removed on a massive stealth write in ballot campaign weren’t they?
In an example of democracy in action the voters in Malvern turned out in record numbers in the Nov. 5 to sweep out the incumbent mayor and three councilmen.
The pace and character of development in the borough was evidently the issue that brought voters to the polls, resulting in the successful write-in candidacy of three residents for seats on the council…David Burton, a Democrat who won the mayoral race 509 to 266 against long-time incumbent Gerald J. McGlone Jr., said development was the issue on people’s minds as he knocked on doors this fall.
At four stories, residents thought that Eastside Flats was too tall for Malvern, which is a small town with only 3,000 residents and encompassing a square mile. People worried that additional development would change the character of their hometown.
“Most people were upset as I campaigned,” said Burton. “People expressed that concern.”
So Easttown Township residents, it’s UP TO YOU. Don’t let non-residents and others tell you what your community should be. If you want to preserve your “village” then you need to send plans like this right back to the drawing table. Development needs to be careful and inclusive, not selfish. Don’t let non-residents, politicians, and developers make your village decisions. Learn from the mistakes of residents in many different municipalities and counties.
Again, development should be inclusive and growth should make sense. In my humble opinion, this plan is another one that doesn’t make sense and I am entitled to said opinion. Naysayers will point to this post and say again that I am anti-development. I am not. But what I don’t see around here that I have seen in other areas are plans that are complementary to the surrounding area. Does the Flat Iron Building in NYC look like it would fit here? Because that is what looking at some of the renderings made me think of, right or wrong. And we can’t downplay the impact continued development has on traffic, other infrastructure, school districts, municipal services, etc.
….a four-story, 150,000-square-foot mixed-use development with Handel’s and one or two small retailers on the ground floor, luxury apartments above, and a public plaza in the center. The complex also would have a two-story, 228-spot parking garage. Della Porta declined to comment on how much they intend to spend on the project.
Over the course of two meetings this summer, developers presented their plans to the zoning board, asking it to allow the construction of a public plaza and one more story than the code permits. They will have a third meeting later this month. When the presentations are finished, Briggs said, the board will decide whether to recommend the project for consideration by the township planning commission, a process that would take months….Residents who oppose the project say the complex will increase traffic, put pressure on the police and fire departments, and increase enrollment in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District. They’ve started a loosely organized group called Save Easttown to protest the plan, which developers have called Berwyn Square.
I am going to close with the words of the residents who are part of Save Easttown. I don’t know that I know any of them personally, but I feel for them. This is too reminiscent of the crap which has destroyed Ardmore. Sorry not sorry for that opinion too. A lot of us worked to literally save Ardmore from eminent domain. But how many years later what did we save exactly? It’s still a quagmire of crappy development plans, horrible traffic and no parking. And it keeps getting worse.
You may have heard of current plans to construct a mixed use project situated on what is now Handels Ice Cream and its adjacent buildings. The developer, Berwyn LLC, is requesting zoning variances in order to build above the current 42’ limit, meaning that the building will reach the 50’ + level. The project will consist of 122 apartments with commercial space, and will fill the entire block of Lancaster, Midland, Woodside, and Berwyn Aves. We are a group of concerned citizens of Easttown Township, who have come together to preserve and promote the historic residential neighborhoods of the village of Berwyn. We are opposed to the development of this project for a variety of reasons, which we’ve described below.
We are opposing the development of this project, because of its size, its population density, the increased traffic it will create, the impact to our police and fire departments, the parking shortages on the adjacent village streets it will cause, and the inevitable increase in the student population within the T/E school district. We also believe that there is a safety issue related to the number of children walking to and from T/E middle and Conestoga HS, especially with sidewalks being incomplete.
To give an idea of the density — the number of residents who would be housed in the apartment complex would mimic the entire population of all of Midland and Woodside Avenues combined. When questioned by an Easttown resident at the August 5 zoning board meeting, on the need for a zoning variance and why a project of this size is necessary, the developers provided two main reasons: the toxic underground waste presents a ‘hardship’ that can only be partially remediated (meaning that they can’t dig down very far to build a parking garage, and thus need to extend the height of the complex), and that the scale of the project needs to be this large, simply because anything smaller would not be “feasible” for them.
A project of this magnitude is unlike anything ever undertaken in the village (and it’s only one of several currently being proposed to our zoning board). The Berwyn village streets were built to accommodate traffic and parking needs from 100 years ago, not for what will occur if this development is allowed to go through as planned. Unless we oppose this project now, the impact will be felt for years to come. Not only will we face congested streets and parking shortages for existing Easttown residents (think Friday and Saturday around the local restaurants), but we are also endangering our children who walk to T/E middle and Conestoga HS – on streets without sidewalks.
Long ago is what feels to be now another lifetime, I was part of the original Save Ardmore Coalition. We were ordinary people who banded together to save friends’ and neighbors’ businesses from eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore PA.
Pennsylvania Ardmore Through the grassroots and political processes, a citizens group called the Save Ardmore Coalition (SAC) successfully defeated Lower Merion Township’s attempt to seize and bulldoze 10 thriving businesses in Ardmore’s charming historic district. When it comes to grassroots activism, the SAC did it all — rallies, protests, publicity campaigns and coordinated efforts to unseat local officials who supported eminent domain abuse. Its members testified before state and local bodies urging the reform of eminent domain laws, attended the Castle Coalition’s national and regional conferences, and worked with the media to bring attention to their battle. In March 2006, the Township took its condemnation threats off the table — no doubt in response to the public outcry generated by the SAC.
Valley Township It cost Nancy and Dick Saha $300,000 of their retirement savings and six hard years, but they prevailed in their bout with the City of Coatesville. The couple bought their Pennsylvania farmhouse in 1971, making lifelong dreams of owning a small horse farm a reality. With their five children, the Sahas moved to Chester County and restored their charming 250-year-old residence. Truly a family farm, two of their daughters married and built their family homes on the land, giving Nancy and Dick the chance to see their five grandchildren grow up next door.
When Coatesville threatened to take their property by eminent domain to build a golf course—plans for which didn’t even include their farm in the first place—the Sahas remained fully committed to a grassroots battle. They submitted three petitions, protested at local meetings and took their fight to court. Ultimately, the city council backed off when the Sahas pushed to elect new representatives, agreeing to purchase five acres that the Sahas had offered to give the government for free at the beginning of the dispute.
It was a crazy time. What we all went through was hard. It was a brutal battle. We went to Washington alongside the Sahas, Susett Kelo (think Little Pink House), people from Long Branch NJ, and many many more. It was the time of the US Supreme Court case Kelo vs. New London.
Dick and Nancy Saha were inspirational. They created a hand off my farm movement. (You can read about it here on the Institute for Justice website in more detail.) They had a great deal of local, regional, and national news attention. We all did. It was kind of crazy.
It cost the Sahas hundreds of thousands of dollars and pure grit and hard work and they saved their farm.
I used to love seeing Dick and Nancy Saha. They are the nicest people and they would make the drive from the Wagontown area to even visit us in Ardmore when we were hosting events.
But time and life move on and we all got on with our lives after eminent domain. I moved to Chester County. And since I moved to Chester County I have thought about the Sahas once in a while. I thought about reaching out, but then I thought well the battle was over so maybe it would seem weird. But I always wondered what happened to the Saha family after.
So this morning an article from Main Line Today popped up in a social media feed. About two sisters named Joanne Voelcker and wait for it….Amy Saha! Dick and Nancy Saha’s daughters and their lavender farm! (Lavender farm? Wait what?? How awesome!!)
In the heart of Chester County, there’s a little piece of Provençe, France, thanks to sisters Amy Saha and Joanne Voelcker. On their 42-acre Wagontown farm, some 1,200 lavender plants flourish. In the warm months, those fields are abuzz with bees and butterflies. They flit from plant to plant, drunk on the heady scent the flowers release as they sway in the breeze.
Creating and maintaining such an idyll has been no small feat. Saha and Voelcker’s Mt Airy Lavender has required years of dedication and hard work. Their parents bought the farm in 1971, moving their family from Media to the homestead just outside Coatesville. With love and care, its rundown 48 acres began to thrive.
Years later, in 1991, the city of Coatesville tried to build on the property, claiming eminent domain. After a six-year legal battle, the family won, losing just six acres in the process. As their parents aged, preserving the land they fought so hard to protect became more and more important to the sisters. They couldn’t bear to see it sold.
Over the years, Saha and Voelcker built their own homes on the farm to be near their parents. The houses sit on either side of a long, shaded driveway that wends by pastures where horses can be seen cropping the grass. One lavender field is right behind Voelcker’s home. She began planting it in 2012, a year after she and her husband returned from a five-year stay in Brussels. “I worked and lived over there,” says Voelcker, the former head of client insight and marketing technology at Vanguard. “I got a chance to visit the South of France, and I just fell in love with the lavender.”
Please take the time to read the entire article. It’s so wonderful. I am so happy for the Sahas and this new success I am am all choked up with emotion. It is so awesome to hear about nice things happening to nice people in a world that some days is truly nuts.
I can’t wait to visit the farm on open farm days. Via their Facebook page for Mt. Airy Lavender I found their website.
They have great products they make that you can order online and they hose all sorts of events .
Events that interest me are the upcoming open farm days and I hope my husband will want to check it out:
Visit us when the lavender is expected to be in bloom – Mt Airy Lavender Open Houses – Sat. June 22, Sun. June 23, Sat. June 29, Sun. June 30 Come visit Mt Airy Lavender these weekends when we expect the lavender to be in bloom. Shop our products, bring your cameras and a picnic lunch. Fresh cut lavender and a variety of lavender products will be available for purchase. We aren’t normally open to the public, so this is a great opportunity to enjoy the farm. Please note – we lost quite a bit of lavender due to all the rain and lack of sun. We are in the process of replanting. The farm is still quite beautiful so we hope to see you at our Open Houses.
We will be open 11 am to 4pm on:
Saturday, June 22 & Sunday, June 23
Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30
Note: Bees love lavender, please be aware that bees will be attending the Open House as well. If you are allergic to them, please take special precautions!
What else makes me happy? Not just that this is still a farm and was saved, but how farmers in Chester County get creative to exist in today’s world. See? We don’t need fields of plastic mushroom houses, we can have things like fields of lavender instead!
Another view of the Saha Farm today courtesy of Mt. Airy Lavender