So this is Chester county. Do we want to preserve her or not? Because we’re running out of time if we do wish to preserve her. If we do wish to preserve her history, her great open spaces (what’s left of them), her farms (what’s left of them) , her architecture (what hasn’t been replaced by endless fields of McBoxes.)
This isn’t a Republican or Democrat thing, this is the people coming together and working to save Chester County kind of thing.
People drive me crazy when they say “Oh but if you only elect this Republican or this Democrat that change will happen.” No it won’t. When did all of you get so dumb about community activism?
All of these politicians bring YOU to them. That’s not the way you do it. The way you do it is every time you have an election, the politicians take on your issues as their issues. Because if you just continue out there to take their issues on as your issues, you will always end up the loser.
No, often it is not nice. It’s hard. It’s a slog. You have all sorts of people screaming and yelling at you and calling you names. You know, kind of like my average day being a blogger. But you have to work if you really want to save something. You can’t just say oh let’s put up a Facebook page and save something. You actually have to do the work behind it. Look at Crebilly. Those folks did not give up. And they did it.
There have been countless groups who have put up private groups and Facebook pages proclaiming their issue. But the thing is they never really get off the social media pages, do they? They don’t go to meetings. They don’t take meetings with elected officials of all levels. It’s like they expect the world to come to them. I have to bite my tongue and not say how’s that working out for all of you?
If they do have loosely held “groups“, often these days you find different members of sad aforementioned “groups” are going in different directions with slightly different objectives that are often counterproductive. It doesn’t work because you all need to come together.
It doesn’t matter what political party you belong to when you’re working for a common goal and a greater good, you leave that bickering at the door. You need to forget the whole thing about oh if we just do this one little thing for this politician then they’ll help us. No they won’t. The goal of them and their campaigns is to make all of you come around to see their perspective. As we learned years ago fighting eminent domain mean in Ardmore, you have to flip that perspective.
And if the politicians make hollow promises, then you vote them out and you start all over again. And you keep repeating the process till you have government that you can work with, that works for the people.
And I have to say after doing the whole thing in Ardmore, also gave me some of the most amazing friends as an adult. I remember the first event I attended that the Save Ardmore Coalition did years ago. I entered a room a stranger and left with new friends, Friends I still have almost 20 years later. I did not start at the very, very beginning. I heard what they had to say, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. Oh and one election cycle we flipped half of the Board of Commissioners in Lower Merion Township to politicians of BOTH political parties who made our issue theirs. And they kept their word and ended eminent domain for good a few months later. As opposed to that eminent domain circus in East Goshen recently , it didn’t take a year to unwind. That my friends was BS, just like the self-aggrandizing Libertarian “award” , “honor” or whatever was bestowed upon supervisors or one supervisor in general, like the day before their spouse became the head of the Chester County Libertarian Party. That was no better than a publicity stunt. And it made me very sad.
So now that the elections are over, it’s time for communities across Chester County to come together to save what’s left of their character. Yesterday because we were going to visit friends further out in the county from us, we had this gorgeous drive back and forth. It made me think. It made me appreciate all over again the beauty of where we call home.
This also means that we have to start getting busy with our state elected officials, the lame ducks and the ones poised to take office in January. They need to start helping us preserve where we call home. And that means changing certain laws so that is possible.
One big thing requiring change is the Municipalities Planning Code. It hasn’t been comprehensively updated seriously since like 1969. And the last time it was comprehensively updated, do you know what one of the developments was that happened as a result of changes? Chesterbrook. We need fewer developments and that means we have to lobby for these people to get off the rear ends and enact an act of the state constitution. We need to redefine suburb and exurb. We need more meaningful historic preservation and land preservation with built-in components to make it more attractive so that more people are interested in doing it.
This isn’t my job to do this. I am a curtain raiser, and I am once again drawing attention to this very important issue. We live in a beautiful place that is not that far off of being completely ruined forever. And those of us who come from the Main Line can tell you all about that because once upon a time the Main Line was truly beautiful and somewhat magical with amazing homes and properties. Now it’s just a suburb with too many people with misplaced senses of entitlement.
And that suburban sprawl continues to move west, or should I say march west because it’s not flowing, it’s attacking. Every time you turn around there’s another development planned. Or land getting gobbled up now by things like data centers and worse which we don’t know enough about here in this area, but in other areas of the country they’re fighting tooth and nail to get these things out of their communities.
We also don’t have to scream to be heard. When we scream we’re no better than those people that annoy the crap out of us at every school board meeting because they are undoubtedly uncomfortable with their own sexuality, so everything they perceive as different, is bad.
Anyway, it’s not just t-shirts and post cards and endless lawn signs that are going to bring us change. It’s involvement in our communities. And it’s consistent involvement, not involvement when the horses are out of the proverbial barn and nothing can be done.
Since the onset of Covid we have the ability in a lot of places for hybrid meetings. They are both virtual and in person. And most meetings are recorded now, and if you are in a municipality that does not record their meetings, start there. You have a right to have your meetings recorded, and/or you have the right to record the meetings in their entirety and broadcast them on YouTube or Facebook live or whatever.
I think the beauty and character and history of this county are worth preserving. That’s all I have to say. But people have to be willing to get involved and stay involved.
I am a realist. Not every old house can be saved, not every old farm can be saved. But I think as an extended group of communities, we can ask better of our elected officials all the way to Washington DC when it comes to this. But we all have to put the political BS aside and try.
“I have been coming here for 30 years” said the nice man yesterday who was taking photos of the farmhouse and remaining sunflowers like me. I think Pete Flynn AKA the Pete of Pete’s has been doing his thing for about 35 years. People tell me before he was a farmer with his namesake store, he was a truck farmer.
Yup. We all have been. Now granted for me, when I first discovered Pete’s I was a Main Liner, so I didn’t get out there often, but when I did, it was magical.
Going to Pete’s has always been magical. Decent prices, friendly people, plants, tradition….community.
But the magic is ending, and the auction signs have gone up and I am just sad.
Pete Flynn has been a beacon of hope in an area being swallowed up by development and pipelines. He deserves to retire, he has worked hard. What is sad is there is no one to take up the mantle after him. Now there will be no farm attached to Westtown School, just like there is no farm attached to Church Farm School. I hope the land is not eventually developed, but I don’t hold out much hope. No one wants to farm much any longer, and those who do have had land prices and taxes driven up by wanton development. That and government doesn’t adequately support farmers on any level.
I do not know how long his website will remain, so I am sharing it now. I hope he keeps it up. I really wish this wonderful place wasn’t leaving us. Farms and farmers deserve a better deal.
Thanks for the memories and great produce, Pete. Thanks for doing something that matters.
I still don’t know what to think about the Radnor farmer. First there is the whole low rent thing in a time when Radnor Township’s finances are ummm shall we say not fabulous? And that is no dig at farmers, I support farmers. But this is a farmer farming on public land and well, that changes the landscape, right?
I did a Right to Know on the whole farmer in the dell recently, and I have to say, I still am left wondering about so much.
Now in 2013, Radnor inked a deal to buy 71 acres of Ardrossan for $11+ million. Wheeler Field, Quarry Field, Rye Field. “Everyone loves the cows” was a catchy phrase back then attributed to a commissioner then who is on Delaware County Council now, and some say has higher aspirations still. The farmer is also on two other fields nearby supposedly, correct? Not owned by Radnor Township but old Ardrossan Land?
“I believe a license agreement with the current farmer will be on the agenda for one of our next meetings, so we will have the opportunity to hear resident comment and discuss all the issues involved,” said Schaefer. “The current farmer has been farming the Ardrossan land for over 25 years, and his father farmed it for the generation before him. I believe that most residents would like to see this farmer continue to farm the land, as his very unique operation provides the beloved cows that beautify the landscape. As I understand it, the proposed license will require that the farmer utilize best management practices and adhere to the NCRS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) approved soil conservation plan.”~ ELAINE PAUL SCHAEFER TO MAIN LINE MEDIA NEWS 3/3/2015
So, I think it’s TRULY wonderful part of Ardrossan is still farmed, don’t misunderstand me, but well, what chemicals are being used on the fields should be an open and evolving discussion, right? Way back when Radnor inked this deal with the farmer, people urged the farmer to be as organic as possible, correct?
People started asking questions again this year. And Radnor Township is nothing sort of SUPER TOUCHY when it comes to ANYTHING Ardrossan.
So my Right to Know. I filed it, included a note saying hi to the solicitor. Solicitor got my email, Radnor open records officer apparently did NOT. I did not know any of this, and discovered it when I realized I hadn’t received an acknowledgment of any kind, rejection, response. So I filed an appeal to Open Records in Harrisburg and let Radnor know. The open records officer at Radnor was super apologetic and got what I requested together. She was very nice, no issues with her. I subsequently withdrew my appeal at the state level because that was the right thing to do.
I have been going through what I requested. Some of the records are rather hazy. I believe that is because that is how documents were given to Radnor and quite frankly, the farmer should provide clear copies for that sweetheart deal he gets to continue to farm. He might not like that opinion, but he farms on public land, and he is answerable to said public.
Now interestingly enough someone Radnor-centric said to me when I was starting this why didn’t I just go to the fields and take water/soil samples since it is public land. Ummm. Yeah. No can do. It is public land with a tenant who has a leasehold, so that would be wrong, be trespassing. I do however, think the state and county, if not the township should do routine testing.
So if you take the Quarry field, from what I was able to see on some documents which were fuzzy at best, the following products look like they were used used on Quarry Field in 2022 (Soybeans):
TORCH: manufactured by Farmalinx Pty LTD; a preemergent herbicide for annual weeds
FRONT RUNNER: manufactured by Atticus; preemergent for weeds, where crop is specifically for soybeans. Possibly acute hazard for aquatic environment?
CREDIT41 – manufactured by Keystone Pest Solutions. “Credit 41 Extra is a post-emergent, systemic herbicide with no soil residual activity. It is generally non-selective and gives broad-spectrum control of many annual weeds, perennial weeds, woody brush and trees.”
Other post-emergent chemicals used: Fome kill, Status, Turbo, Durango – all weed killers, but with minimal toxicity.
Now remember, I wrote about the chemical issues before and a resident went to the township and provided thoughtful commentary about chemicals used by the farmer in March of 2022:
Although not directly noted (as I do not know how to add the direction arrow to the Quarry Field), between the bottom of the Quarry Field and the boundaries of the Skunk Hollow Community Garden, lies the Little Darby Creek. This creek is a part of the Darby Creek system, is stocked, on an annual basis, with trout for fishing by both adults and especially children, is played in and most importantly, the endangered American Eel has been directly observed moving up through this creek and into the Willows Pond.
Thus, there are several herbicides delineated to be toxic to fish, to water invertebrates and generally to be avoided. DEVOUR, by Federal law, is NOT to be used in parks, golf courses and playgrounds – thus, as this field is Township owned, PLU, this herbicide should not be used!
Thank you…. for passing on to me the official records for herbicides applied to the Township-owned property called ‘the Quarry field’, in which the farmer….applies to the field in order to grow a good crop of Corn, that will be fed to his cattle. The records that I have received are from 2016, 2017, 2018, with the note that nothing was grown in the Quarry Field in 2020. What seems to be absent are any records for 2019 and 2021.
For purposes of review, the principal herbicides applied have been consistent across the time span, including Acuron, Princep, Warrior II, Max Supreme, Abundit Extra, Devour, LamCap II, Gramoxone.
ACURON is a Syngenta product, an herbicide for long-season re-emergent weed control and specifically for Corn. It is a restricted pesticide/herbicide, and hazardous to the applicator through skin irritation and allergic reaction. This product may damage fertility. It is a mix of chemicals, including Atrazine. “Research has liked Atrazine to birth defects and cancer in people, and even miniscule doses can chemically castrate frogs. It has been banned or is being phased out in more than 35 countries but is the second-most commonly used herbicide in the United States. “It is known as an Endocrine-disrupting pesticide. “
PRINCEP, aka Simazine, is manufactured by Syngenta, focusing on corn, to address 40 broad-leafed weeds and annual grasses. The chemical is not persistent in soil. It is a restricted -applied chemical, with applicator issues of eye irritation, and a suspected but not proven carcinogen. The MSDS sheets indicated that it is toxic to fish and other water invertebrates.
WARRIOR II – manufactured by Syngenta US. The primary use is to ‘defeat’ beetles, weevils and borers. This chemical is HIGHLY toxic to bees if directly exposed or if ‘’visiting’ flowers in bloom. P.S. Now being used to address Spotted Lanternfly.
MAXSUPREME – is a liquid activator adjuvant specifically formulated to maximize herbicide performance for the designated crop.
ABUNDIT EXTRA/EDGE – a Syngenta product, this is a pre-emergent herbicide, containing Glysophate which is formulated for ‘tolerant corn’. It has acute toxicity as an inhalant. It is noted on the USMS sheets to avoid spillage near water, as it is toxic to water organisms.
DEVOUR, manufactured by Innvictus Cone, LLC. A highly-toxic, PARAQUAT-based, not selective, broad spectrum herbicide. There are lawsuits moving through the courts to remove this chemical from use, as mis-use of this herbicide has been proven to cause at 250% increase in the disease Parkinson.
There is established FEDERAL law that the use of DEVOUR is prohibited in parks, on golf courses and playgrounds!
LAMCAP II – manufactured by Syngenta, a restricted insecticide. This chemical is extremely toxic to fish, aquatic organisms, and toxic to wildlife. Note the MSDS sheets advise to be careful to avoid wet ground, to avoid runoff into water.
GRAMOXONE SL2.0 – manufactured by Syngenta- A ‘knockdown herbicide. The active ingredient is PARAQUAT [see comments in Devour that relate to Paraquat (and Parkinsonism). Gramoxone is toxic to fish and other water invertebrates.
To accomplish this research I examined the website for each of these chemicals, focusing on the purpose, usage and any possible toxicity. Since the purchase of sections of Ardrossan by Radnor Township, resulting in an increase of acres of parkland [Public Land Use], means that the resident/owners of this land needs to be protected, as well as the wildlife that inhabits the land and waters. ~RADNOR RESIDENT 3/23/22
So this resident had come to a blogger because she felt she was not really being heard. She is a senior citizen. However when watching an EAC meeting recording in August, I noticed something somewhat terrifying to me: the citizen’s EAC was told not to discuss this topic and it made me stop and go HUH and isn’t it just bizarre? I mean it’s NO big secret that Radnor Township Commissioner Lisa Borowski (former BOC Prez and Vice Prez) has aspirations and is running for State Rep in the PA 168th, right?
So here we are. And I know some of the documents are BEYOND fuzzy, but as it was explained to me, Radnor complied with my request. A municipality produces what it has in its possession and does its best to be responsive to a request. It doesn’t enhance or detract from the quality of the record. And that is if a municipality is responsive to a request. Not all are, like West Whiteland Township, for example. But that is another conversation.
I still have concerns, but it is up to Radnor Township residents to wake up on this and many other issues. Radnor is sliding back to days people don’t want, and most sadly don’t remember, including their current commissioners who don’t know their rear ends from holes in the wall a lot of the time, let alone township history. That is my opinion, of course.
One thing that did bug me a smidge in what I got from the Right to Know was what I consider a major face palm moment via a PA DEP pesticide guy named Donald Gilbert:
Sooo I am wondering what this PA DEP chemical specialist doesn’t understand about some Radnor residents being concerned about what farmer leasing Quarry/Rye field/Wheeler Tract sprays do you? Public land that leads to Little Darby Creek,a water source, right?
And for argument’s sake, is the PA DEP on top of the golf courses he refers to as far as chemicals they use and proximity to natural water sources too? Aronomink and Overbrook? That would mean they would have to watch Thomas Run and Miles Run, right? They flow to Darby Creek according to maps? And then if you want to include another club, Radnor Valley Country Club they have the Ithan Creek running through somewhere, right? And doesn’t that new Ardrossan Wigwam community have creeks or similar too?
What is going onto the fields is important. If engineered seed is indeed used, also important. It’s important to the cows one would think, as well, right?
Now I asked other state people some questions to try to better understand things. Not a complaint, but essentially seeking clarity on how things work from a state perspective. I asked how they check up on chemicals farmers or using near streams:
All agricultural operations that land apply manure or agricultural process waste water are required to have a manure management plan or nutrient management plan. Any starter or supplemental fertilizer must be accounted for in the Manure Management Plan or Nutrient Management Plan.
If the operation is a CAO (over 2000 lb of livestock or poultry per acre available for manure application) or a large CAFO (determined by EPA’s headcount numbers in 40 CFR 122.23(b)(4)) the operation is inspected annually by the county conservation district or State Conservation Commission. If the operation is a CAFO it is inspected at least once every five years in addition to the annual inspection by the county conservation district or state conservation commission.
If the operation is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and not a CAO or CAFO, routine inspections are conducted by the County Conservation District or DEP to determine compliance with manure management regulations.
Other inspections are carried out by DEP or county conservation districts in response to manure-related complaints.
However, I must restate that the above is the compliance strategy associated with the land application of manure, not pesticide use. Paraquat and RoundUp are pesticides. I will reiterate what is stated below:
Concerns of pesticide applications including those on public (township) lands would be addressed-by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) or by the Township. The certification of pesticide applicators and the pesticide application program is under PDA, not the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
I also support touching base with the township which may have additional considerations for township land.
~ PA DEP Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management Agriculture Compliance Section 10/20/22
Now also interesting is I asked about Little Darby Creek. Little Darby Creek and its tributaries have a designated use of Cold-Water Fishery, Migratory Fishes. There are no Special stream protection designations such as High Quality or Exceptional Value in this area. I had previously though there was a high quality or exceptional value designation. I did read it somewhere, so I will have to consult my notes. I was grateful for the clarity.
In this recent journey for information, I coincidentally did discover there is a site the DEP used to monitor (some heating oil thing) with Facility ID 778907 Ardrossan Farm Parcel A7 – close to this same area where the fields are. It was some sort of remediation from years ago having to do with I think a heating oil spill. I found it once on this thing called emap (https://www.depgis.state.pa.us/emappa/). It’s a public tool which should be easy to use, but I find it somewhat temperamental to use.
So Radnor residents, what I learned from the state is concerns regarding pesticide applications including those on public (township) lands would be addressed-by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) or by said township. Now Radnor does have “policy” here as it is in the lease agreement the farmer operates under. The farmer is NOT required to be organic, and I will note getting an organic status is a lot of work and money. But Radnor has this verbiage in their agreement about the farmer utilizing best management practices, but it is not up to me to decide if best practices are up to snuff, etc.
I do not think Radnor Township is paying close enough attention. In my opinion in part this is because it’s Ardrossan.
But Ardrossan is like Radnor’s proverbial sacred cow. But it’s 2022 and the estate is dotted with McMansions and McMansion attitudes. Who knows what will happen to the great house some day. But those fields and that land which Radnor bought in 2013 was purchased with public funds, yes? Then Radnor Township still has a duty to the public here, yes? I think they do.
You can’t undo what has already been done with regard to herbicides and pesticides, but I think Radnor and Radnor’s farmer could go forward with perhaps a better plan? It’s publicly owned land, after all. I support farms and farmers, but I believe in farming responsibly. I see it out here in Chester County, so it’s possible. This isn’t the only farm in Delaware County, so even from that perspective Radnor Township officials could check out best practices for farmers and maybe the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau could help them? I am sure they could also consult with Natural Lands?
Whatever, am sharing what I learned for the greater good. What Radnor residents do (and Radnor Township itself) is up to them.
I remember years ago when East Goshen was having their yard sale day going to a yard sale here. Or I am pretty sure this was the house. I bought a brass oil lamp that I had electrified. I remember thinking what a spectacular property this was. This has to be the place. I have a pretty good memory for places like this.
So this will be another farm bites the dust, won’t it? Another cul-de-sac subdivision on a road that already can’t handle the traffic it has? More houses in an area that has significant stormwater damage almost every time it rains, doesn’t it? 15 more houses in Chester County. These houses will affect the West Chester Area School District, BUT this isn’t so far from the border with East Whiteland Township, is it ?
This is a spectacular property. I found some more photos on the Internet. And I’m also sharing some of the stuff off of the planning commission agenda. I don’t think residents in East Goshen around here will like this plan. I don’t think their neighbors next-door in East Whiteland will like this plan either. I mean why would anybody like this plan?
Pipeline activists, is this in the midst of any of that?
How many more freaking subdivisions do we need in Chester County?
Well residents of East Goshen and neighbors in next door East Whiteland it’s up to you guys now, I told you about it, here it is. Another potentially bad plan for Chester County. A cluster F of a cluster development is being proposed. Proposed is the operative word if you care about this road which is truthfully rather special.
It would be really nice if municipalities would stop blowing smoke up all of our collective asses in Chester County about open space. It would be really nice if local supervisors made state representatives and state senators earn their keep and update the Municipalities Planning Code before Chester County is overdeveloped out of existence.
To cover the $11.6 million cost, Radnor plans to use a $10 million bond issue (previously approved by Radnor voters) as well as supplementary grant funding requested from DCNR, Delaware County and private fundraising, according to the township document.
“The bond payments would be largely funded by revenue from our Open Space Fund, which comes from the real estate transfer tax, rather than from property taxes. However, for an 11 year period (2015 to 2026) the projected payments will exceed the amount available in that fund and we would need a millage increase to make up the difference,” reads a township document on the acquisition.
The document continues, “The millage increase would be structured to sunset in 2026. The millage increase required would be .15 mills. The median home assessment in Radnor is $264,710. That landowner would pay $39.71 a year with such an increase. Further, 67% of the properties in Radnor are assessed under $344,682 and those taxpayers would pay an average of $29.34, with the highest in that range paying $51.70.”
“Board President Elaine Schaefer said the community has had a ‘long-standing desire’ to preserve Ardrossan as open space. She pointed to a 2006 referendum that allowed the board to sell up to $20 million in bonds to pay for open space that was approved by 80 percent of the residents,” reports Main Line Media News.
“Also, in the four recent hearings held to discuss the purchase where “scores of people spoke,” residents supported the plan 3 to 1, she said. While Schaefer said that she understands the financial concerns of ‘the minority,’ Schaefer, who was just reelected, said that Radnor was a democracy,” the newspaper reports. According to the document, the intended use for the land would be for a trail system (both walking/running on the perimeter and macadam/biking on the road) “and continued agricultural use through a farming licensing agreement, and reforestation, habitat and wetland restoration.”
OK, let this sink in again for a minute “According to the document, the intended use for the land would be for a trail system (both walking/running on the perimeter and macadam/biking on the road) “and continued agricultural use through a farming licensing agreement, and reforestation, habitat and wetland restoration.”
I have to ask, are their proper trails back there yet and has all of that mentioned years ago happened? Or just cows grazing up against McMansions, so McMansions get tax breaks and the farmer grows his cow’s food and no one seems to wish to actually release a comprehensive report since he signed off on his original lease and Radnor developed the ordinance to produce the lease or whatever?
Not to be picky, but from said document of 2015:
And here, the entire document signed by Bill Spingler in 2015:
So in theory, the chemicals would have to be human, domestic animal and wildlife friendly, right? Also in theory, chemicals used could not pose an actual or potential threat to natural water sources, right?
So if the list of chemicals used by said farmer as part of the lease agreement is supposed to be provided, are they regularly and PUBLICLY available (as in always posted on township website as exhibits in the form in which they arrived with only personal email addresses and phone numbers redacted?) ??? At this point why can’t the issue be discussed at Radnor meetings whenever and why can’t the public seem to ever quite know the truth? I still don’t understand what the big deal in Radnor Township’s mind is since that agreement lays out disclosing of chemicals, etc?
So Radnor what about the chemicals? Has that creek been tested regularly and by whom and where are the test results? Why are no outside environmental groups involved or are they involved and if so who? Does Trout Unlimited know for example? What does Delaware County say or a state thing like the PA DEP?
OK now let’s think about the folks who think the lease agreement is ridiculous and come on where else can someone get a deal of renting gobs of land at a $1 and they keep all the lovely moola they make off of the land as well? That my friends, is a farmer’s dream. I can’t blame a farmer for wanting a great deal because farming is brutally hard work and ungodly expensive. However, there is an original ordinance and lease and lease agreement correct? So what happens if the farmer isn’t keeping with the agreement? Has the lease been changed in any way since it’s original issuance?
So yes, to those who wanted the lease overturned in 2021, did you ever think another way to invalidate a lease is if the terms of the lease weren’t being adhered to? And wouldn’t super nasty chemicals be a lease issue?
Bringing it full circle to today, is that why Radnor doesn’t seem to want to release all of the information the public is entitled to see because it is public land?
Seems pretty simple and straightforward, doesn’t it? But sadly, hasn’t Radnor Township had transparency issues in the past? Sunshine doesn’t just help the crops grow, yo’.
Here are links to articles relevant to the farmer and the original lease. I looked for stuff on the trails that were part of this idea and purchase and subsequent leases or changes in lease verbiage, but…. ???? Does this stuff exist?
An elected official in Radnor is pushing for the township to cancel its lease with a cattle rancher on publicly owned land that had once been part of the sprawling Ardrossan estate, saying the deal helps wealthy landowners on other sections of the former estate take unfair advantage of tax breaks for agriculture.
Richard Booker’s motion, which he plans to introduce at a Board of Commissioners meeting on Nov. 22, would end the agreement that lets rancher Richard Billheim’s Fern Valley Farm use 71 acres of township-owned property for its beef cow operation in exchange for $1 a year.
Booker said in a memo with his motion that he decided to take action on the lease after reading an article published earlier this year by The Inquirer about the tax breaks at the former estate enabled by statewide agricultural-conservation programs under Act 319 — better known as “Clean and Green” — and Act 515.
The programs tax land for what it is worth as a working farm and not what its value would be if sold on the open market for housing, strip malls, or offices. Under Act 319, by far the most commonly used of the programs at Ardrossan and elsewhere, the land must produce $2,000 a year in farm goods.
At least two dozen parcels on more than 260 acres are successfully enrolled in the programs, accounting for more than 40% of the former Ardrossan estate’s acreage sold over the last quarter-century, according to an Inquirer analysis of Delaware County records.
Properties covered by the tax breaks include homes of a leader at a major real estate firm, members of the family that cofounded the Apple Vacations tour business, and the top-ranking member of the County Council for surrounding Delaware County.
The only known agricultural products coming from the enrolled land are the corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay grown there to feed Fern Valley’s cows. While cows do graze on a portion of that land, most of their grass-munching is done on the township-owned property. To Booker, that means Radnor is helping private property owners get their tax breaks because those cows wouldn’t be there absent the generous lease.
Officials in Radnor have defeated a measure to cancel a lease on township land for a cattle operation that also helps residents on parts of the former Ardrossan estate save hundreds of thousands each year on their taxes.
In a 4-2 vote with one abstention, the township’s Board of Commissioners on Monday rejected member Richard Booker’s motion to terminate Fern Valley Farm’s $1-a-year lease to use 71 acres of publicly owned property for its 60-head Black Angus beef business.
Booker said at the sometimes combative hearing on Monday evening that this was not a good use of the land that Radnor paid $11.7 million to purchase in 2013 and now costs the township $600,000 a year in debt service payments.
“I don’t want anyone to lose their job or for the farm to go away,” said Booker, who is one of two Republicans on the seven-member panel. “What I do want is to get the township out of … the business of farmland-assessment reductions it has been in for the last seven years…….”However, commissioner Lisa Borowski, a Democrat whose ward includes part of the former Ardrossan estate, said residents are benefiting from the deal…..
Borowski also said that the farmland-preservation programs give Ardrossan landowners an incentive not to subdivide and develop their large properties, which they could opt to do. This does not appear to be accurate, since all of the privately held properties enrolled in such programs are also covered by deals known as conservation easements that prohibit them from being further developed in perpetuity, according to an analysis of property records by The Inquirer.
When the former estate was first broken up, buyers of those properties qualified for federal tax breaks for land conservation thanks to those easements, as The Inquirer has reported.
Asked in an interview Tuesday about which properties she was referring to in her public remarks, Borowski referred the question to Township Solicitor John Rice. Rice said he had not performed an analysis that would identify such properties.
Oh and don’t forget, Lisa Borowski is running for State Rep in the 168th against Chris Quinn, right? So maybe it would benefit State Rep Chris Quinn to inquire as to the chemicals used on the fields, etc,. right?
Look, I love open space and I will admit it, I love cows and those cows are awesome and special. BUT chemicals are a big deal and look at all of the things in the news about glyphosate and paraquat-based herbicides? And what about the pesticides they warn about that can harm bees and other beneficial insects? I totally get that not all farmers can go completely organic BUT where this land is being farmed should be part of a more organic plan if not a completely organic conversation, correct?
So time to show ALL of the cards on this, Radnor. At a minimum if you like and respect your farmer, don’t you want him to be able to farm in peace? And farm safely to protect humans, domestic animals, natural water sources, nature in general, etc, etc?
When a friend texts you a photo like this holding THEIR wedding photo, you feel like the room is spinning. And in my world, we have been so caught up in a very sick dog in ICU at VRC, I had no idea my friend’s barn caught fire Saturday morning.
Thankfully, none of the animals or humans living on the farm were killed or injured. And no, the house didn’t catch fire. But they had just moved to the farm and were painting the farmhouse and fixing her floors….so all of their possessions: furniture, clothes, pictures, kid’s toys, books, shoes, etc, etc WERE IN THE BARN. Along with farm equipment.
The barn and contents are a total loss. Thanks to the marvelous firefighters in Chester County, the house was saved and so were all humans and animals. Kimberton Fire Company took the lead here, and they were so amazing.
It is a daunting loss. But we love our friend Ashley May Brenner and we are paying it forward for her, like she does for everyone else, every single day. It’s who she is. A hard working, pretty, intelligent woman who is also a young widow. She has the biggest heart. And she needs not only a barn raising right now, she needs a life raising.
So some of us who are her friends, along with some of our friends have banded together to give Ashley and her family a hand up. We have started a Go Fund Me and truly hope to surpass our posted goal because fundraising platforms charge a percentage. We are hoping you can help us out? Any amount you can spare?
This past weekend an amazing local family lost just about everything in an early morning barn fire. Having just moved in two weeks ago all of their furniture, clothes, toys, and household items were being stored in the barn while they did some painting and renovating. While the true blessing is that no one was hurt and the animals were all rescued safely by our amazing local fire companies the reality is that a home needs furniture, and lamps and stuff, closets need filled, kids need toys, and so on. I have had the absolute pleasure of knowing this family for several years now and while I agree with her that all that was lost were just things and things can be replaced I also believe when a friend, a neighbor, when anyone needs help you simply help in any small way you can. This woman is truly an amazing, strong, and beautiful soul.. having lost her husband unexpectedly one month ago, to moving her family and animals to their new farm two weeks ago, to now this she has been nothing short of courageous and strong through it all. Always finding the silver lining in anything and everything she can… she is amazing, her kids are amazing, her animals bring smiles to so many, and it’s time to show them some good old local love in the form of a “house raising”. While the barn raising will happen in the future it’s the house we are focused on filling now… so…the barn is joining together with several other amazing local community members to reach out far and wide for help…
Help comes in all ways and forms… it comes in donating gift cards to the family for supplies, food, and more…. in contributing to a go fund me that will be going live later today, and most importantly through kind words, love, and support from the community around you. It takes a village and this village is going to show up for this family.. so if you can help rebuild dreams, help fill the house, help create new memories and smiles thank you. Thank you for showing this amazing family what a village can do when led by neighborly love…❤️
And… always, always, always remember your local fire departments.. always there when you need them and always going above and beyond.
❤️Love what…. and who…are local ❤️
If you want to help with this “house raising” gift cards can be dropped off at the barn (425 Little Conestoga Rd Downingtown). If you have furniture or other items to donate off the wish list please send me a private message to coordinate.
If you’d like to send a card or note or something else to show your neighborly love that too can be dropped off here at the barn. If you’d like to help delivering furniture and other things let me know! First load is headed over today!! And if you’d like to help in any other way please just reach out….
Let’s join together to show this amazing family what a community can do when we all lend a helping hand❤️
I really hope that people in Chester County can put aside their differences that seem to grow by the day to help this family.
At the end of this post will be a slideshow of photos. This next photo is what the barn looked like before the fire. It was a magnificent 18th century barn and they also want to rebuild.
Please help if you can. Even sharing to someone who can help if you can’t is a help. Yes this is personal for me, because Ashley is my friend. And she did not ask us to do this, because she is so self-reliant and independent. But she is our friend and we want to help. So please consider helping us help her.
I’ve written several times about Chef Paul Marshall‘s Farm Boy Barbecue. We think it’s the best around and have since we first discovered it.
They were formerly in the spot at 29 and 30 in Malvern where the Three Crazy Ladies used to be at the gas station there. That was a good location I think for Paul initially as he was seeing how people would take to his barbecue and it took off and well, that was never supposed to be a permanent home, and he’s been looking for a while and where he’s ended up is he has taken over the old Friendly’s next to Public Storage at 43 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern, which is one block west of 29.
They are in the process of a building makeover, but they are still serving up the barbecue, weather permitting outside usually Thursday and Fridays, sometimes an occasional Saturday. They weren’t out yesterday because the heat was so brutal, but they were there today. The best thing to do, as they are rehabbing their space, is to check their Facebook page to find out if they’re going to be there. They are usually there like 11 AM to 2 PM on those days.
I was delighted to see that Paul and Julie were still out when I was coming by after being at my oncology appointment. I had not ordered ahead, which you can do on Toast Tab, so they were out of chicken and pork ribs but I got brisket (which is like a religious experience), pulled pork, and short ribs for everyone for the weekend. And when I was there I ran into our mutual friend Bob!
The building rehab is coming along and I took a peek at the plans and I think it’s going be really cool! It’s going to be a good size sit down restaurant and they are looking for a fall opening in this new location. But in the interim check for pop-ups at that location a couple of days a week, weather dependent. They also do catering if any of you are interested.
Anyway, #shopsmall #eatlocal
I am a very happy customer of this business I have not been compensated in any way shape or form for writing another post. It’s just the perfect solution for really stinking hot summer weather. Let Paul Marshall do your cooking because no one BBQs like him!
So yesterday I did a thing. I went and checked out the new Sycamore & Stone on 401!
Jeff Devlin‘s new property is one I am familiar with, because I used to patronize the antique store that was once in this barn. I love this property and was sad when it went up for sale because I was afraid some developers would snatch up the property and the beautiful barns and house would disappear. However when Jeff announced he had purchased this property I was totally psyched because I knew it was going to be saved, preserved, and wonderful!
Along with the barn which has the store there will be other things available to do on this property including the house becoming a fabulous Airbnb.
I will note that both the Mercantile/Jenny Lind and Jeff’s Sycamore & Stone are both located in West Pikeland Township. West Pikeland is a treasure trove of amazing historic properties. I hope that Township realizes how fortunate and blessed they are that they have people willing to come in and do these amazing adaptive resources that are viable on historic properties.
Jeff’s store is a feast for the eyes and there is all sorts of fun stuff! It has a great Americana country vibe. It’s a lovely space and shoppers feel relaxed in it. It is almost like welcoming someone into a great big farmhouse and not just a hands down super amazing barn. I gravitate to places that are warm and welcoming. And their staff is equally warm and welcoming!
One of the things I liked best are the reproduction hog scraper candlesticks he has available for sale. I collect the actual vintage/antique variety, so these are a real favorite with me! If Jeff Devlin had a wish list for customers mine would be to carry hand dipped taper candles that fit into hog scrapers because that is the right shape for them!
I look forward to this property further coming back to life and it is such a joy to see the work occurring on it every time I drive by. Jeff is a quality craftsman, and such a nice guy so I am glad he found his spot here on this property. My only lament is I don’t have a super old farmhouse for him to help me restore!
Sycamore & Stone is located at 1251 Conestoga Road, Chester Springs, PA. Right now the hours are WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY 12PM-7PM, SATURDAY 10AM-7PM, SUNDAY 10AM-4PM.
I will note that I have not been compensated in any way, shape, or form to write this post. I’m merely visited the store and I am now a happy customer: I like to shop local and support the businesses of people I know.
When you are headed on 202 south, just before the light at 926, there is a farmhouse or two. The one right on the corner of 926, still looks inhabited but the one before the corner ? It’s falling apart literally.
I thought maybe this old farmhouse was a Crebilly house. My sources however tell me that it is not part of Crebilly but at one time Crebilly did try to acquire it.
I would love to know the history if anyone knows. It’s in really bad shape.
Here is it’s barn or similar kind of structure:
Here are some closeups and other photos I was able to get of bits of the house as a passenger going by: