I used to love Avalon as a kid. I stopped going in my mid to late 20s because the more it got developed, the less I liked it.
When I was a kid there was the penny candy story on 7th street. A tiny cedar shake shingled general store down around 7th street that had penny candy. Once when we were really little a friend of our parents and their friends named Weezy gave us each $1 and told us to go “blow our minds.” Root beer barrels, Charleston Chews, Mary Janes, those little colored sugar dots on white paper, caramels, and more. My mother would maybe give us a quarter if we were really good.
When it rained at the beach it was like the sea and air met as one. I remember going as a little girl to the then tiny and old Avalon, NJ library. Not the new library that stands today, but the little old dark one which still stood in the early 1970s. When you went up the stairs and opened the doors they gave that old creaky and heaving sound. Inside the library was dark and had that beach smell of sand mingled with mildew. I remembered picking out well worn copies of Nancy Drew books to take home and read. Or maybe we would go to the Paper Peddler and buy a book or a copy of Mad Magazine (which my mother hated).
In those days, Avalon had really tall dunes and the island began at 7th street. The first few blocks of Avalon washed away before I was born. That was the famous Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, which was truthfully a Hurricane Sandy-like storm. But the only a block of houses were swallowed by the sea at that time – 6th street. Below that had never been really developed because of tides. This 1962 storm was what caused the Avalon Hotel to be moved to 8th street. As a little girl I remember looking out over those beaches down by 7th street and wondering what the swallowed block of houses looked like? Was it a perfect bunch of houses just underwater like the fictional Atlantis, or a jumble of destruction? After watching the videos I discovered on You Tube which prompted this post, I learned more.
When I was little, the dunes were magnificent. I remember going through the twisty beach paths with mountains of sand and dune grass and scrubby pines on either side and even some old beach (probably rugosa) roses. This is where I first fell in love with black eyed Susan’s and beach daisies which grew in and on the edges of the dunes along with other wild flowers and cacti. In the summers when I was little too you could often see the sea turtles come ashore and lay their eggs and then wait for them to hatch and see all the little turtles head for the sea. It’s where I first fell in love with waxy bayberry bushes, and those memories are why I am trying to get a pair to grow in my own garden.
These videos done by the Avalon History Center are wonderful. It takes you back to the 1700s…and all the way through to today. And with the 19th century photos what I never knew before was how heavily forested the island was. Cedars and oak trees…and even cattle at one point. In the late 19th century there was a sawmill on the island that gave developers back then their wood for structures…and eventually deforested the island.
By the 1970s when we first started going to Avalon because Ocean City even down in the gardens was getting too developed, Avalon was developing but there was still a lot of room and cool old houses. The grey monster a big grey stone house around 10th street, and the cute little yellow cottage around the corner. I was fascinated by the old houses, a lot of them literally humble cottages. My parents’ friends owned the historic cabin on 13th street once owned by Woodrow Wilson when he was at Bryn Mawr College.
Listening to the history lectures presented by the Avalon History Center I literally watched a time line of how a small community became overdeveloped over time, including a garish recent example known as the Utz house that is this utterly vulgar high dune gobbling mega McMansion that created such a battle it even made the New York Times.
The New York Times also featured the reminiscences of a beach goer long ago that resonated. Jen Miller is her name. She talks about her memories before it became a summer McMansion boom town:
“On a hot August afternoon in the late 1990s, I waited at Donnelly’s Deli in Avalon, N.J., for our family’s sandwich order. This was a rare treat. We were a bologna-and-cheese-on-white-bread kind of family, loading up the car with beach chairs and boogie boards and a basket of towels for the drive to the Avalon beach from our trailer at a campground a few miles away.
But on that day, near the end of the summer, when my mother was tired of fixing our family of six a summer’s worth of beach sandwiches, we went to this one-story, brick-front deli that smelled like chips, sweat, pickles and meat, to let someone else do it for us.
In 2005, Donnelly’s closed, and the building was torn down — along with the rest of the block. In its place now is a three-story retail and residential building whose first floor features a Lululemon and a Lilly Pulitzer, both open for the summer only….The erosion of local character that I saw take over the South Jersey Shore is underway there too.
But who cares, other than some old, nostalgic saps like me? Someone who on a recent cold spring day walked around town worrying that Circle Pizza and Avalon Freeze would go the way of the deli, to make room for a strip mall I could see in any other wealthy town in the country?”
I totally get her sentiments. I am one of those who remembers communities in the proverbial “way back when” of it all for lack of a better description. But what we see happening in and already has happened in quaint beach communities is happening on an even larger scale out here. Farms and estates and any open space getting gobbled up for condos, townhouses, and housing developments of all shapes and sizes where it’s crap, not quality construction and it’s packing them in like lemmings. You can’t even garden in a lot of these communities.
Watch these videos. It’s a cautionary tale as well as being a very well done history of a place I once loved…before McMansions and trying to make it the South Jersey Hamptons. The difference is in the Hamptons, they actually DO historic and open space preservation, it’s just ungodly expensive.
Oh and don’t forget to check out the news about the high rise in Miami that had half the building just collapse overnight. Surfside. Some news report said something about what the building was built on and how it was sinking. (see this story HERE.) This news is a cautionary tale of development for sure, and it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
And some day in a time far far away, maybe some historical society will be doing oral history videos and presentations where we live, and will talk of a time before pipelines arrives, and development gobbled up all the forests, farms, open space, and little hamlets.
I mean seriously, how many more fields of plastic Troll houses does one municipality need?
This is on the agenda for this evening June 21. I’ve included what I found on their website and a helpful screenshot of some of the who is who in this Township, and don’t you find it fascinating that the township solicitor who is the township solicitor in a lot of other townships locally as well where big developments are pending including Troll Brothers?
Between the proposed use of eminent domain in East Goshen to the continued travails of “Berwyn Square“ or whatever they’re calling it now in Easttown, to Crebilly in Westtown, development of the week in East Whiteland, West Whiteland, and more, poor Chester County is going to cave into the ground from development and possibly even bad pipelines, right?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but figured people should know. Thanks for stopping by.
So….I did a FOIA Right to Know. I will genuinely compliment the new manager Derek Davis at East Goshen, as he appears to be a straight shooter and has been pleasant to deal with. Poor guy having to deal with the eminent domain triplets (Shane, Shuey, Lynch.)
I also keep getting all sorts of messages. From people against it to people who think I don’t understand. I do understand: the Hicks family have a working farm, equine based businesses. This is THEIR land and they said NO. And it doesn’t matter if they sold some land in the past, they don’t want to sell land now.
And you can’t compare East Goshen wanting to use eminent domain over a trail that might never be completed with Delaware County seizing Don Guanella land. If they didn’t the Archdiocese of Philadelphia which is perpetually cash strapped due to things like pedophile priests would sell out to a developer. Just look at Downingtown. And Delaware County is doing that to protect open space in a very developed area. That is very different from this.
But one thing I am curious about are wetlands on the Hicks farm I have been told about? And the path would go through them? Where are all the environmental studies? And endangered species there? Endangered plant species? Why are there so many loose ends on the part of East Goshen? Where are they with West Goshen? I mean isn’t there a lot of stuff that should be ironed out BEFORE anyone chats eminent domain?
And with the whole West Goshen and East Goshen I do not get why they details between townships are not seemingly complete considering the relationships, right? East Goshen’s new manager used to be West Goshen’s assistant township manager, right? And both municipalities have the same solicitor, right?
And emotions are running high, which is what eminent domain does. It disrupts; tears apart communities. People can be passionate for sure, but must keep civil, cool heads.
And I have heard talk of a Go Fund Me, but haven’t seen anything. And for those objecting to former State Rep. Dan Truitt being interested in this and advocating for the Hicks family like he did at the meeting the other night? It is his right. He is not in my opinion creating a conflicting situation for his wife Michelle Truitt who is one the East Goshen supervisors against this.
East Goshen can stop the madness now if they choose. Only Chairman Shuey seems to find this all very politically expedient for him….like he found it politically expedient to object to Sunoco/Energy Transfer’s use of eminent domain and to object to the eminent domain that was threatened for the traffic circle plan that went away at 352 and King Rd. It’s a classic case of do as I say, not as I do. And wouldn’t he do himself a favor no matter what side of this issue he is on to tone down his bully pulpit on the dais in East Goshen? His behavior was horrible the other night and somewhat unacceptable. And that Lynch supervisor has a hard time staying on topic doesn’t he? Also does not seem not particularly pleasant in a public forum. And Marty Shane? Dude, your old paw prints are all over this aren’t they? And so they name a path after you when you’re gone as rumor has it, but is this nasty legacy the one you will settle for?
We close the week out here in Chester County with this issue continuing to grow. It makes me sad because it doesn’t have to happen AND East Goshen has other alternatives. East Goshen can choose OTHER than eminent domain.
Well here is what was released to me via the Right to Know. I am making it public and there was NOT any note saying I could NOT make this public. Direct questions to East Goshen.
Oh why couldn’t my instincts have been wrong? The poor Hicks family.
Last night East Goshen voted 3-2 for eminent domain takings of the Hicks farm land. May God damn them all to hell, quite frankly. There are few things I abhor more than eminent domain.
When I first moved out here from Lower Merion to be with my now husband, we lived in East Goshen. I used to think the world of East Goshen township. No longer. No more.
I will be honest and say I was part of the group (Save Ardmore Coalition) in Lower Merion Township years ago which successfully defeated eminent domain in Ardmore. It was a brutal, often disheartening, community divisive issue. At the same time we were fighting eminent domain, the Sahas were fighting to save their farm from Coatesville taking their farm via eminent domain for a golf course. It was eventually classified as eminent domain for private gain, not sure if it started that way.
The Sahas won their case in Coatesville, as we did in Ardmore. The Sahas became friends through this process as we were all involved with The Institute for Justice. I feel so lucky that I can still visit their farm now Mt. Airy Lavender. The Saha family still owns and runs their farm in it’s new business. If Dick Saha was still alive, you would have seen him at that meeting last night. He would have rounded up his farmer friends and gone to East Goshen. That is the kind of guy he was.
Let’s start with the fact that the pro trail supervisors essentially disregarded Supervisor Michelle Truitt. Michelle offered an alternative plan. A plan that actually would work and the farmland and the Hicks Family would be spared. But the magic eminent domain trio are essentially behaving like misogynistic jerks in my opinion (which I am allowed to have), so that went nowhere fast.
So the documents you see above will be on East Goshen’s website tomorrow. I submitted a FOIA Right to Know and asked for these documents because although they SHOULD HAVE BEEN in the public meeting packet, they weren’t were they? They referred to meeting in executive session over “legal matters” and I am sure this was part of it only I have to ask if the eminent domain trio (“ED Trio”) didn’t want this out before the meeting? And in my humble opinion it should have been because well ED Trio, you are claiming eminent domain for public purpose which means…ummm…things should be public, right?
I also asked for a copy of the letter(or letters?) announcing this crap that were sent to the poor Hicks family and was told by the new township manager Derek Davis that he needed a legal opinion. Well East Goshen shares a solicitor with West Goshen and this person used to be with Easttown’s Planning Commission and is solicitor for East Brandywine and West Chester Borough and not sure where else will undoubtedly say “no”, right? So Hicks family if you decide you want to share the letters, please feel free. Those also should be part of the public record of this very public disgrace.
Oh and genuinely nice Derek Davis used to be the Assistant Manager at West Goshen, so with all these professional relationships between East Goshen and West Goshen, why is it it seems all fuzzy about the West Goshen part of this trail plan? And let’s talk about that: why is it if East Goshen doesn’t seem to have the West Goshen part of the puzzle worked out yet, why are they so gung-ho on eminent domain NOW? Greedy much?
And my hypothesis as to why now is simple: I think this trail has been a pet project of a retiring supervisor, right? So maybe as opposed to true public purpose this eminent domain issue is wound up in someone who wants a certain legacy? Well dude, 411 is eminent domain is now your legacy. Any good you did will flutter away into nothingness and THIS is what people will remember about you. This supervisor is Marty or Martin Shane. His term ends at the end of 2021. So East Goshen resident y’all better get your ducks in a row and get a candidate who will tip the scales against crap like this. Do it Ardmore style: make this an election issue. Whomever saunters up as a candidate should sign an anti-eminent domain pledge. If they won’t do that, find another person.
I also found it verrrry interesting that East Goshen went 100% in person for this meeting and did not offer zoom as well. And they could have since we are all newly emerged from the COVID world. That’s a little too cute, kind of like West Goshen’s technical difficulties for their YouTube or whatever stream of their meeting last night. Kind of Britney Spears oops I did it again, but I digress.
Now let’s get into the meeting. Watch the video. My heart breaks for this family. Eminent domain is legal stealing, it’s bullying, and abusive. Kind of the way a couple of those East Goshen Supervisors were behaving.
The worst behaved of the East Goshen Supervisors was probably Chair David Shuey. He loves the sound of his own voice for sure and he knows everything. The king of “don’t interrupt me” and he’ll have people removed. Behaved like a total douche. Oh yes I am allowed to have that opinion of an elected official. Watch the meeting.
Shuey tried to proclaim how community positive he was and how he was against eminent domain for the pipeline and the whole traffic circle of it all that almost happened. I was at that traffic circle meeting, and he wasn’t user friendly there and I believe with the proposed eminent domain for the traffic circle and the pipelines it was more politically expedient to say he was against THAT eminent domain. For the Paoli Pike trail to nowhere, it’s more politically expedient to say eminent domain is the way to go.
Oh and of course Shuey tries to compare this Paoli Pike trail to the Radnor Trail. Apples and oranges dude, and no farms lost land for it. Do you think when that trail was built if it had been slated to go through Ardrossan’s cow field it would have gone through? Oh hell to the no and East Goshen will never be Main Line, and shouldn’t want to be. And then Shuey said something to the effect that East Goshen needs to be more competitive and say what? East Goshen was a gem, now it’s crown as a great Chester County community if forever tarnished and it’s sad, he can’t see the forest for the trees on this. He has a huge ego and he was combative and dismissive of residents. And I don’t know that he actually took all of the public comment. I know dude is a Democrat but last night he was very Trump-like in demeanor. Very unattractive public servant behavior in my humble opinion.
One of the speakers who resonated with me from the public in addition to the Hicks family and horse owners involved on their farm was former State Representative Dan Truitt. I have always liked Dan Truitt. He is quite simply a good man with a strong moral compass and sense of ethics. He made a heartfelt appeal to the supervisors to stop this process before it starts.
If I understand this convoluted trail mess correctly it’s like $5 Million Bucks a Mile and they don’t know if they will have all of the land in the end? So why eminent domain now? And it’s not like they will give it back if this goes kerflooey right?
Some folks out there in public opinion land are of the mind that this shouldn’t be such a big deal and the family sliced off pieces of land in the past. What they owned at one time in total is hardly the point. In fact, it’s not the point at all. What is the point are also the other potential impacts if East Goshen takes the land. They run an equine-based business and farm. HUGE amount of liability insurance they must pay for. Putting a trail for people as in strangers there all of the time puts the liability in a very bad spot, potentially a bad enough spot that they could possibly NOT have coverage and detrimentally affect their business, their livelihood . It’s not as simple or as offensive as saying “well they sold land before.”
Eminent Domain is legal stealing and it’s wrong.
Someone said to me “it’s just a sidewalk”. It’s not just a sidewalk. And it’s a trail part that may very well never be completed. And we’re also talking about a working farm. Again, you can’t just put sidewalks through working farms. It affects their liability which affects their ability to do their business on their own damn land. And the most important thing is the Hicks family said no. This is no better than when Coatesville tried to take my friends the Sahas’ farm years ago for a golf course.
Eminent Domain is legal stealing and it’s wrong.
A couple of comments from local community pages that have stood out to me:
(1) “Unfortunately (the way I understand this is going down) the walking path will disrupt a small business that currently uses the property in question as a private riding stable. People (and their dogs) are not always respectful of “do not pat or feed the horses” signs and this opens a huge liability issue up for the business owner. Horses can be unpredictable and spook easily creating potential harm and injury to both themselves and those around them. I think utilizing the property that they already have access to across the street makes more sense.“
(2) “In late 2019 the supervisors were using this bike/walking trail to justify changing the zoning along Paoli Pike from Boot Rd to 352 to allow three story apartment buildings with shops underneath. Also wanted zoning to allow townhouses at Boot and Paoli Pike and 352 and Paoli Pike. The plan was for Goshenville to be a town center. They were saying people will use the trail to bike and walk to this town center. People were very opposed to the change in zoning and I’m not sure if this plan is still in play. They had maps and renderings of the Town Center on their website. The building of the trail seemed to have a lot to do with this vision of Goshenville.“
I also think this debacle was a horrible final thing for retiring manager Rick Smith. This is what people will remember with him as well and that makes me sad. East Goshen can proclaim all the Rick Smith Days they want, what people will remember is the meeting last night and a particular exchange between he and one of the Hicks family members where he was quoted as saying “the train is coming” I guess in reference to eminent domain. It’s on the public meeting tape, and I did not misquote.
MAY 31, 2011 by Buck Sweeney email@example.com 608.283.6743
“In a recent case from the Court of Appeals, Hildebrand v. Town of Menasha, the appeal court upheld Judge Scott Woldt’s opinion in a Winnebago County assessment case. In this particular case, the Town of Menasha specially assessed a vacant commercial property owner for the cost of placing a trail through the property. The Hildebrands were assessed $33,205.60 in construction costs for the installation of a 10’ asphalt trail abutting their commercial property. In response, the Hildebrands filed a notice of appeal to the circuit court raising numerous issues.
The question for the trial court, which was upheld by the Court of Appeals, was whether the Hildebrands’ property was:
*Specially benefitted by the trail segment for which the assessments were imposed. *Whether the trail segment for which assessments were imposed constitutes a local improvement. *Whether the trail segment for which assessments were imposed constitutes a general improvement for the community at large and therefore not a proper subject for imposition of the special assessments.
The evidence at trial made it very clear that this particular trail was clearly not a sidewalk, but was in fact a bike trail to help connect a regional multi-community recreational trail linking Oshkosh to Hortonville. The trail in question was asphalt and 10’ wide, unlike most typical sidewalks.
After the Town realized that they were losing, they tried to transform the trail into a sidewalk. Too late, according to the Court of Appeals.
If municipalities want to make sure they have a correct legal special assessment, the assessment must be local. Although incidentally beneficial to the public at large, its primary means for the accommodation and convenience of inhabitants in a particular locality and confers special benefits to the property.
Remember, if you do notwant your sidewalk to be specially assessed, consider asking your municipality to place a 10’ asphalt trail through your yard.“
My head is spinning. I thought I was done with hating eminent domain but it just keeps trying to happen.
The Hicks Family said NO. East Goshen is WRONG.
Oh and procedurally I found other issues with the meeting other than the eminent domain resolutions were omitted from the public meeting packets. Like they should have done a ROLL CALL vote on this and they DID NOT. So do you want to know who voted YES for eminent domain? Marty Shane, David Shuey, and Mike Lynch. Shane is gone at the end of 2021 and Shuey and Lynch are done in 2023. East Goshen residents need to get on the stick now. And not let up one minute until these people are out of office. They are not so much public servants as they are self-serving. They are the Eminent Domain Trio forevermore.
As a human being, I stand with the Hicks family. Their land, their decision. They said no. Residents of East Goshen and Chester County residents and farmers, please stand with this family. This is crap. Pure and simple.
#HandsOffTheHicksFarmpass it on. Post it. Share it. Stand with this family. Trust me, you think eminent domain couldn’t happen to you…until it does. Remember Stonleigh and Natural Lands?
Eminent domain is an ugly business. It is defined as the right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction.
So….let’s get to it. Has anyone looked at East Goshen Township’s upcoming BOS Agenda? There is some special and interestingly worded language about a potential “right of way land acquisition” for the Paoli Pike Trail and the Hicks Farm. (Item 11 “New Business”)
When you read that after reading item 5B which refers to “Executive session” and “legal matter pertaining to the Paoli Pike trail”, if you have ever followed eminent domain cases it makes you wonder what East Goshen Township is up to precisely doesn’t it?
Read the agenda and ask those supervisors some questions….at the meeting.
At what cost do trails get built? And is this where they were talking development a while back?
Eminent Domain is something I despise. I helped find it successfully many years ago in Ardmore thanks to our groups help from the Institute for Justice in Washington DC. I learned about both kinds of eminent domain, private gain and public purpose. And municipalities love to say public purpose is for the public good but is it always for the public good?
Since I saw these items on the agenda I have been asking around. And I was told that indeed residents did receive an eminent domain letter from East Goshen Township. And then I saw this:
I went through the public meeting packet for East Goshen Township for their upcoming meeting. And there is nothing like taking letter included in the packet and that should be publicly posted. Because if they’re doing it for the public good, don’t hide it in executive session agenda items which I have to ask is that what they’re trying to do?
📌‼️Chester County’s Eminent Problem Posted to Politics June 11, 2021 by Stephen Wahrhaftig
Imagine a knock on your door, and somebody announces that they intend to purchase your home, and that you will need to vacate it shortly. Imagine, also, that you are told that the value of your home will be established by the purchaser, and that you must accept the offer without objection. Sounds like a nightmare scenario.
This nightmare has played out time and again here in Chester County. It occurs when a local government decides that they want to take someone’s property for public use that is deemed more important than the rights of the property owner. It does not matter how long the property may have been owned, or how the owner feels about being forced to give up their land. If the locality wants it, they can take it at a price they feel they should pay. The process is called Eminent Domain, a somewhat gray area of law that has been in constant dispute for decades.
In the recent past, there have been examples of localities using Eminent Domain to seize private property for values that owners have felt unjust, and for reasons the community has sometimes found inappropriate….The latest threat of Eminent Domain use is happening in East Goshen Township. The victim in this case is Goshen View Farm, owned by the Hicks family. The ancestors of this family settled in Chester County back in 1769. According to a family member, this farm was purchased by William Huey Hicks in 1909. William was interested in the land because of the new system of electrification along Paoli Pike. Hicks bought the farm from the Sharpless family the old-fashioned way, by offering the owner a fair price and having the seller agree to the transaction in a free and agreeable sale….You may ask what the critical need is for taking a strip of land from a farm along Paoli Pike? Is there a hospital being built? Perhaps some emergency access is needed for a fire department? In fact, this property is being seized for a possible walking trail no more than two miles long, according to some local residents.
Sometimes referred to as “The Trail to Nowhere,” this strip of property is supposed to meet up with other township trails that may or may not ever exist, or even meet with this section of the trail. Perhaps the prospect of millions in government grant money is affecting the decision to invoke Eminent Domain. By some estimates, the township is spending about $5 million per mile to build the trail, $10 million in total.
The family that owns the property is not only unhappy with the threat of Eminent Domain but is also concerned about how visitors may impact their valuable horse stabling business, and about liabilities that may ensue when bikers and hikers cross the vehicle traffic on the farm lane exiting to Paoli Pike.‼️📌
Ok East Goshen there is building a walkable community and then there is bullsheit. This,East Goshen, is bullsheit .
I am all for walking trails. And I love the trails that East Goshen has in their park down the road. But this this is crap. I mean what are they going to do connect their trail with West Chester Borough? I mean do they want to connect their trail to 202 or something?
I have not seen the eminent domain taking letter, only told by a few sources that it exists. If the owners want to make it public I am happy to publish it because Imms always going to have a problem with eminent domain. And I don’t think this has anything to do with public purpose I think this has to do with legacy building on the part of some of these supervisors and that is WRONG.
And when I saw this editorial, it did make me realize that Chester county does have an eminent domain problem from time to time and this is one of those times.
And East Goshen? Time to be public about this. And stop the madness. Why is it farms especially farms with horses have to be subjected to eminent domain takings? Aren’t enough things like overdevelopment threatening the equine and agricultural history and traditions of this county as it is???
Other things East Goshen is NOT considering is the impact this would have on a working farm or how this not might but would affect their liability and liability coverage.
Trails are like a shiny new bauble for municipalities but they have to be done and created for the right reasons. If East Goshen wants to use eminent domain it’s the wrong reason.
Farmers and equestrians I am asking you to stand with concerned East Goshen residents and the Hicks family Tuesday , June 15th at this IN PERSON meeting at EAST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP located at 1580 Paoli Pike West Chester, PA 19380. The meeting starts at 7 PM. If my friend the late Dick Saha was still on this earthly plane I know for sure he would be there with his farmer friends.
Also, I encourage people and media to FLOOD East Goshen with emails and calls:
Eeast Goshen Township Building East Goshen Township 1580 Paoli Pike West Chester, PA 19380-6199 Phone: (610) 692-7171 Fax: (610) 692-8950 Office hours 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Please note that you must wear a mask when entering the building.
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.￼