development bug growing? wake up great valley school district and residents before it’s too late….

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File under who bought the farm?

Yes. Development whining shall now commence.

If you don’t like it, move off of the page now.

At present, it is a lovely swath of land on Monument in Willistown called Troutbeck Farm. However, as per Willistown’s Planning Commission Agenda for August 8, 2018 it is another parcel up for a cram plan. According to Willistown’s development list on their website it’s up for 35 homes on a 37 lot subdivision.

trout 1w3

Now I know some will say it’s “only” 35 homes.  (Like Willistown’s Paoli Walk is “only” 30 townhomes and the old Daylesford Abbey land development  now the preposterously titled Chapel Hill Paoli is “only” 55 homes)

You can CLICK HERE to check out the Willistown Development List. And I think much like East Goshen, Willistown records nothing so if you do not attend meetings, you don’t necessarily know what is going on do you?

(I am not going into  Easttown’s , Tredyffrin’s or East Goshen Township’s sock drawers at the moment because they aren’t in Great Valley School District.  Doesn’t mean I don’t wonder about development and politics there too, but I digress…)

But anyway…. a lot of us wonder if Great Valley School District has Captain Oblivious at the helm because there is SO much development in various stages in this school district in Chester County.  People always think it’s just East Whiteland, but multiple municipalities make up this district.  And they all are little development islands in a bigger development sea in Chester County.

And no, before all you school district cheerleaders jump all over me, I am NOT questioning how good the district is at present. I am questioning the school district’s perennial lack of interest in a topic which affects all of the families, taxpayers, and most importantly students: DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THE DISTRICT.

willistown

According to Niche and Patch as of August 1, 2018, Great Valley is ranked 11th in the state. Think they’ll maintain that if the unchecked development continues? Haven’t they done eminent domain before in this district? How will they remain so good if the schools are so huge we’re ready for Great Valley East and Great Valley West? Are their school board members awake?

I found three documents courtesy of Willistown:

17302 Plans 10 SWM Troutbeck Farms

Troutbeck_Development-Narrative-17-05-05

Troutbeck_Traffic-Planning-3

Apparently this has been going on for a few years?

According to Willistown, Troutbeck Development LLC is responsible for this plan. When you put that LLC name into Google you get:

where is trout llc

When you put the address into Google you get:

moser

Et voilà ! Another development is born in Chester County.  Don’t worry all livestock, horses, and crops will fit nicely on top of all of the Wegmans and Whole Foods Markets. And we don’t need open space.  Just traffic, pollution, infrastructure woes, and over-population issues, stressed out first responders, and school districts busting at the seams.

And what started all of this today?

The Philadelphia Business Journal heralding yet another development plan for East Whiteland in the Great Valley School District:

GMH Capital buys properties along Main Line

By Natalie Kostelni – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal
Aug 6, 2018, 1:31pm EDT

 ew yuck

GMH Capital Partners has paid $3.2 million in two separate transactions to buy several properties along Route 30 in Frazer, Pa., for a proposed mixed-use development.

The Newtown Square, Pa., real estate company assembled and bought the parcels as part of its plans to develop a four-story apartment building with retail space. Those plans have been going through the approval process in East Whiteland.

Mind you, East Whiteland seems to love development that comes it’s way (just look at this 2017 list.) Not being mean, this township has earned it’s pro-development reputation, has it not?

The old Frazer Lanes has been closed for a while.  (CLICK HERE for old Loop Net commercial real estate listing. Click HERE for another listing which is where aerial photo came from.)

Google maps gives us another look:

google maps

According to the article it’s the bowling alley, the trailer park next door, and the gas station.  The gas station is 558 Lancaster Ave, Frazer Lanes I think was 554 Lancaster Ave, and the trailer park is Norbros Circle These properties were mention in the 2017 fall issued land assumptions report in East Whiteland. I think they are also somewhere in the Route 30 Corridor Study.

Development, development, development.

Just yikes. But when it comes to this particular development can they build if the Alley Pub stays put? After all isn’t that in between Frazer Lanes and the Pioneer gas station?  The cheese stands alone? Can they withstand a big developer and survive as long as they choose? Here’s hoping the Alley Pub survives, right? It is after all the last of the old school joints in these parts isn’t it?

Speaking of development in East Whiteland, there is a petition circulating which was created in opposition to a development plan over on Flat Road.  The petition is called simply PETITION IN OPPOSITION TO FLAT ROAD DEVELOPMENT.  I am not the creator of the petition, but I feel for these people.  East Whiteland has been lobbing this around for a while. You can read about it HERE and  on HERE. If you want to see the Flat Road plan, CLICK HERE to go to East Whiteland’s site.  It’s “only” 47 more homes, no biggie, right? (There was an emergency meeting of the East Whiteland Historical Commission this evening about this too – the historic Amish Cemetery is over there.)

Wrong. Not picking on any development or developer in general but all of these “onlys” ADD UP, don’t they?

Soon there will not be one blade of grass left that is not planned for something.

And all of these “onlys” do indeed affect school districts. That readers, is what I got on my soap box about.  Every development adds up through multiple municipalities . This affects school districts.  School districts affect taxes, so do you get the vicious cycle?

Remember…is it not true a lot of things get pushed through local governments during holidays and the dog days of summer?  We live in a world where we must sadly remain ever watchful…and involved.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

bermuda botanical gardens

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Beauty awaits all who enter the Bermuda Botanical Gardens

Buckle up readers, I went “rambling” off shore recently.  Bermuda to be precise.  What a beautiful place!

Needless to say I have a lot of photos still to go through, but I wanted to share with you my photos of the Bermuda Botanical Gardens.

Before we left  I researched some things I wanted to tour specifically.  As I am a rabid gardener, I have heard for a long time how spectacular the Bermuda Botanical Gardens were. And rather historic as far as botanical gardens go.

We took a bus from where the ferry docked in Hamilton to the botanical gardens in Paget Parish.  The bus we rode is the number 7 and is considered the most scenic bus route, incidentally.

Where we got off was a bus stop sort of in between the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the botanical gardens.

When I had researched the gardens they looked  different from what I found.  There was also supposed to be a visitors center where you could buy bottled water and gifts.

HAMILTON & CENTRAL BERMUDA
Bermuda Botanical Gardens

Indulge your senses with a trip to the Bermuda Botanical Gardens, and experience the sweet smells and vibrant colours of roses, frangipani and flowering hibiscus. Established in 1898, these 36 acres have been a popular spot to walk and relax among the lush foliage for more than a century. Along with flowers, you’ll find a palm garden with native palmetto trees, a subtropical fruit garden and a sensory garden for the blind, with Braille signs fronting fragrant blooms and herbs. Greenhouses hold collections of orchids and succulents, and the grounds are also home to Camden House, the official residence of Bermuda’s Premier, and the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.

Special Features: Good for Groups, Kid-Friendly, Wedding/Event Venue on Site

Bermuda Attractions: Bermuda Botanical Gardens

The Bermuda Botanical Garden was inaugurated in 1898. The 35-acre landscaped park located in Paget parish, numerous flowers, shrubs, trees & plantations including a vast collection of subtropical fruit trees, hibiscus, an aviary and Banyan trees. The Garden has large glass houses with cacti and orchids along with formal gardens and lawns. There is also an aromatic garden designed for blind visitors.

There is a Visitor Center in the garden area which is open from 9:30am to 3:30pm (Monday to Friday)….The Camden House is located at the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. It is designated as the official residence of Bermuda’s Premiere and is an impressive colonial building with painted shutters and fretwork. Built in the early 1700s, Camden House is a great example of typical Bermudian architecture. It has a fine collection of art and antiques.

You can combine a visit to the Botanical Gardens with a free tour inside the Camden House. If you are carrying your lunch basket, there are picnic tables around this area for you to relax in the shades and enjoy your lunch. Alternatively for breakfast or lunch visit Homer’s Cafe. It’s located inside the Masterworks Art Museum within the garden area. There is also a cafe at the Visitors Center of the garden serving fresh fruits, salads, sandwiches, wraps, beverages etc.

Behind Camden House, there is a beautiful rose garden, and a kitchen garden showcasing many types of herbs and cut flowers. There is also an aviary here with peacocks, ducks and many other birds. Lawns stretch from here all the way towards South Road having many matured trees like cedars and acacias. Some of the lawns are bordered with beds of seasonal flowers like lilies, freesias and dahlias.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International

About the The Bermuda Botanical Gardens
169 South Road in Paget Parish DV 04. Or P. O. Box HM 834, Paget HM CX. Phone (441) 236-4201. Fax (441) 236- 7582. Since April 2002 part of the Department of Conservation Services of the Bermuda Government’s Ministry of the Environment. On Main Island. The largest local public garden by far. One mile from the City of Hamilton, they are open daily from sunrise to sunset, via Berry Hill Road, Point Finger Road and South Road. Bus routes 1, 2 and 7 go to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital nearby. Open 365 days a year. Free for 362 days (except during the Agricultural Exhibition every April). A mix of park, woodland, greenhouses, agricultural buildings and horticultural collections. A Bermuda National Park under the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986. Chiefly of interest for its trees, orchard, collection of orchids and Camden. Visitors should expect a fair amount of walking. The Bermuda Botanical Society – a Bermuda Registered Charity # 249 – provides them from its Visitor Centre (9:30 am to 3:30 pm) in the Gardens, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays 10:30 am year-round, weather permitting.
Main Address: The Bermuda Botanical Gardens
P.O. Box HM 20
HAMILTON
HM AX Bermuda
Telephone: 1441 236 4201
Fax: 1441 236 7582
URL: http://www.bermuda4u.com/Attractions/bermuda_attractions_bermuda_botanical_gardens.html

Staff Details
Director’s Name: P.J.Truran
Curator’s Name: Lisa Outerbridge

I loved the gardens. They are spectacular even in the sad state of disrepair they are in.

Locals I asked on Bermuda tell me government budget cuts are to blame. However, as in all things political, Camden House (think Bermuda’s White House) home of Bermuda’s Premier located at one end of the botanical garden grounds apparently has no expense spared on it. Ahh government, right?

But meanwhile there is NO Visitors Center, the is NO aviary (no clue where all the birds went – there were Macaws, Peacocks, Parrots, Chickens and who knows how many other birds.) And the rose garden? Didn’t see it. I know it’s there, but I did not see it which was a bummer.

Needless to say, contrary to what was advertised on one tourist website, there were no happy volunteers to show you around.  We wandered around ourselves.

It was brutally humid and threatening thunder storms the day we toured and the gardens were eerily empty for summer.  I do not pretend to understand the government of this island paradise but those gardens were established in 1898 and is home to many amazing plant specimens.

As FODOR’S says in a 2009 travel guide:

Established in 1898, the Botanical Gardens are filled with exotic subtropical plants, flowers, and trees. The 36-acre property features a miniature forest, an aviary, a hibiscus garden with more than 150 species, and collections of orchids, cacti, fruits, and ferns. In addition to these must-see sights is an intriguing must-smell one: the Garden for the Sightless. Designed primarily for the blind, it has fragrant plants (like geranium, lemon, lavender, and spices), plus Braille signage. Weather permitting, free 60- to 90-minute guided tours of the Botanical Gardens begin from the Visitor’s Information Centre at 10:30 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The sensory garden still exists, but needs love. The same with every garden space within the 36 amazing acres.

Frommers had this to say to potential travelers:

This 14-hectare (35-acre) landscaped park, maintained by the Department of Natural Resources, is one of Bermuda’s major attractions. Hundreds of clearly identified flowers, shrubs, and trees line the pathways. Attractions include collections of hibiscus and subtropical fruit, an aviary, banyan trees, and even a garden for the blind. A 90-minute tour leaves at 10:30am on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, taking you through lushly planted acres. Guests meet at the Berry Hills entrance near the Botanical Gardens Visitor’s Center. On the Tuesday and Friday tour, participants stop in at Camden, the official residence of Bermuda’s premier, for a look around. The cafe sells sandwiches and salads (soup and chili in winter). Early in 2008, the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art opened within a much-restored, much rebuilt building in these gardens. And in the spring of 2008, the Botanical Gardens launched an ambitious 5-year plan to introduce four separate gardens of themed plants, including a Japanese Zen Garden, a 17th-century-style English Parterre Garden, a 12th-century-style Persian Garden, and a Tudor-style Children’s Maze Garden.

The Japanese Zen Garden while lovely is struggling. The Parterre Garden, Persian Garden, and Children’s Maze Garden sit empty. And throughout the gardens not one fountain is running. Except in fairness, it is summer on an island so they also have to conserve water.

And yet, even as a victim of Bermudian government budget cuts so obvious it makes you wince if you are a garden lover, these gardens still shine and should be gone through.  For me to see things like Bird of Paradise flowers just growing naturally, or amaryllis, and many other things including spice trees and big bushes of rosemary and lavender it was heavenly.

 

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The problem I think with these gardens is the Bermuda Botanical Gardens fall under the purview of Bermuda Government Park System.  We all know in the US that lovely phrase we’re from the government and we’re here to help….and the reality.

I have been searching and searching for a more comprehensive history of these gardens because they so captured my attention.  Haven’t found much, but I did find an ancient New York Times article:

New York Times: Along a Nature and Garden Trail
By PAULA DEITZMARCH 18, 2001

IN 1609, when Sir George Somers and his crew sailed from England to the Virginia Colony on the Sea Venture, they were shipwrecked between two reefs just off the coast of Bermuda, and thus were among the first to lay eyes on the lush primeval forest of cedar and palmetto that covered the subtropical archipelago. As Bermuda was one of the few island clusters in the world without a native population, early botanic observers had the opportunity to record flora untouched by human habitation before the 17th century — with the exception of the occasional shipwrecked crew that either perished or stayed on shore long enough to build a ship out of cedar and sail on.

In time, it was discovered that there are 17 endemic plants on the island (those that grow naturally nowhere else in the world), including the Bermuda cedar (Juniperus bermudiana), the Bermuda palmetto (Sabal bermudana) and the olivewood (Cassine laneana). Landowners’ wealth was judged by the number of cedars on their estates…

Mind you my research while it doesn’t find much on the history and early horticulturalists of the Bermuda Botanical Gardens has turned up that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is also based in/around these gardens.

So how is it they do not seem to want the gardens to shine? How can the Premier of Bermuda ignore what is literally outside his front door?

I noticed there is a citizens group on Facebook called Take Back Our Park They organized because of a threat of development of a maintenance yard there. So yes, imagine a public works department complete with all that a public works facility entails in the middle of your favorite park. (Read this letter in a local Bermuda paper about it.)

Thankfully, on June 28, 2018 the Bermuda residents prevailed and the Botanical Gardens were saved from that plan. (Read this article in the Royal Gazette.)

I hope these people persist and get some attention and funding directed towards these gardens.  I am happy to be able to share my photos with all of you.  It really is a special place.

At one end of the grounds close to where the aviary I think was is a museum and a cafe.  The museum is the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. 

Homer’s Cafe inside the museum is run by a local catering company called The Salty Lime.

The cafe is lovely and the people warm and welcoming.  The museum is quite interesting but the staff at the front desk of the museum aren’t particularly welcoming, or at least the woman I encountered wasn’t.

The permanent collection of the museum includes works by  Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth and Henry Moore.  The museum is dedicated to Bermuda.  Everything in it depicts things inspired by Bermuda. Paintings, sculpture, photography and more.  It covers the range of time from 1700 until today.  I believe the museum was founded in 1987.  It is quite unusual and as a tourist I would not have known it was something to see except for the fact I stumbled upon it.

In the courtyard of the museum and cafe is this sculpture dedicated to former Beatle, John Lennon. As I discovered in an old AdWeek article:

The British musician and artist spent several months in Bermuda during his last trip abroad, and the island served as his muse. Bermuda pays special tribute with “Double Fantasy,” a sculpture dedicated last year in Lennon’s honor.

Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art commissioned local sculptor Graham Foster to create the six-foot Cor-Ten steel structure. The work shows a stylized double-sided profile of Lennon and his “granny” glasses with his Rickenbacker guitar, doves of peace, and the double fantasy freesia flower. At approximately 4,000 pounds, it’s a weighty piece, and sits on a raised flowerbed in a courtyard near the museum’s entrance. The sculpture is located in Bermuda’s Botanical Gardens, on the island’s south shore in Paget parish.

Read more about the Double Fantasy sculpture on THIS WEBSITE.

 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos and if traveling to Bermuda, try to visit the Bermuda Botanical Gardens.  Especially because I feel they may be at risk. As I continue to go through my photos I will add other posts about Bermuda.

Thanks for rambling along to Bermuda this evening.

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adelphia gateway is coming…is here…so how will they be received, chester county?

I have written twice about my concerns over Adelphia Gateway. Once HERE, and then HERE.

A small group of my friends and I met with Adelphia the other day. We had a small parlor meeting. The meeting with Adelphia was not unpleasant I am happy to report. Many questions still, but a nice opening conversation. Hopefully with the help of folks like the Pipeline Safety Coalition and other groups East Whiteland will be part of the larger community conversations.

I have been concerned because there is not much information available (as one example) to residents in East Whiteland to date.

There is a lot to be learned about pipelines. There’s a lot to be learned about the safety aspect. And I learned that there are a lot of things unanswered with regard to this and other pipelines when it comes to safety. This pipeline is in East Pikeland, Phoenixville, Charlestown, Westtown, and East Goshen unless I am looking at the map incorrectly.

Some residents in seem better informed to date depending upon the municipality. Sadly, East Whiteland residents are in the dark in my opinion, and East Whiteland Township has the distinction of NOT filing an intervenor status with FERC and Adelphia’s application, which I have to ask why not? What does it lose to be better informed for your residents? What does it hurt to be a better advocate for said aforementioned residents?

Things that are also concerning is the system that is supposed to tell you how deep certain pipes are isn’t necessarily accurate – which is why some water mains have gotten hit.

Some unanswered questions include whether or not Adelphia will need more land from people down the road and if it’s just gas or if it will be “other hydrocarbons”. And what the “other hydrocarbons” could be. I understand that no one has a crystal ball and can’t see into the future, but there has to be some idea somewhere of what “other hydrocarbons” might be and isn’t that reasonable?

Adelphia has PUC status indirectly through Interstate from whom they are buying the pipeline but they do not have their own PUC status pending the outcome with FERC. Land agents are around so you all need to know that. FERC *may* give approval as early as the fall for Adelphia but it’s not a done deal. And if approvals are conditional from FERC it could be a lot longer – see Penn East pipeline as an example (conditional approval like 4 years so far?)

That being said residents should also be aware that land agents working for these companies are not regulated with in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Hinging on THAT is do not sign anything if these land agents are coming through at this point because Adelphia does not have its own stand-alone PUC status.

Do not sign your rights away and if they give you anything, give it to an attorney.

The sections of pipeline are 12 inch, 18 inch, and 20 inch. This pipeline was put in circa 1970s don’t have an exact date.

Adelphia is planning on re-purposing 50 miles of pipeline. This particular pipeline is a total of 84 miles from Lower Mt. Bethel through to Marcus Hook in Delco.

50 miles that concern us start south (not a directional genius so I hope that is right?) of Bucks County and have not been used for anything since 2014. This line is currently a petroleum line they wish to convert to gas and “other hydrocarbons”.

No one knows at this point if they will just stick to this pipeline or if they will become more like Mariner II. In other words, will it be more complicated with more construction and problems like we have seen in East Goshen, West Goshen, West Whiteland, etc etc.

The person who came out and met with us is with Bravo Group PR. I understand she has or had Mariner II as a client as well. Her name is Ivana Wolfe. She is actually connected to a lot of Republicans I know or know of. Went to Villanova. Very bright, very nice. I really like her even if I do not trust her client.

We may have lived with these pipelines underground for decades but there is a big difference in using them for petroleum versus gas and other things.

My head is swimming with terms like shut off valves and blow downs. I also learned more about PHMSA through the department of transportation — Pipeline Hazardous Materials Administration (I think I got it straight!)Blowdowns if I have the definition right are systems that do a complete venting of the natural gas within a compressor or pipeline to the atmosphere, to reduce pressure and empty the system. These typically either occur during an emergency shutdown or during routine station maintenance. (Read more here, kind of concerning in my opinion.)

With regard to blowdowns, I heard yesterday elsewhere that one will go in East Goshen? Is it really planned to go next-door to East Goshen’s park? Or is that just a rumor? How will that impact mother nature, the people who use the park, and the people who live around the park if true?

Are East Goshen’s newish Supervisors really on top of their game here when it comes to pipelines? I ask because I have heard mixed reviews and I wonder if they are listening to the environmental and pipeline safety group formed by residents (East Goshen Safety and Environmental Advocates) who have been doing a lot of research?

To be fair to East Goshen, I heard the following which is good news:

Other recent news courtesy of East Goshen Safety and Environmental Advocates:

I am concerned with pipelines in general in East Whiteland in part because if you look at the interactive maps found on the Chester County Planning Commission website you see that in East Whiteland (for example), it looks like once again pipelines are near elementary schools?

And will the Adelphia/Interstate pipeline run right down the center of that new cul de sac development planned for the farmette that was sold on Morstein?

Also learned about the Pipeline Safety Coalition and how the group’s founder became like many of us, an accidental activist.

The bottom line is we aren’t little islands in the pipeline storm no matter where we live, we are part of a bigger community. The better our communities share with one and other the better we all are for it. That is why these community groups keeps springing up with regard to pipelines. If our local governments aren’t going to act on their own, they need encouragement from the public. Sometimes they need a lot of encouragement, depending upon the municipality.

I will still be honest and say I am still anti-pipeline based on what I have seen thus far. I am always willing to listen and learn but at my core I think we’re getting the short end of the stick in Pennsylvania and Chester County.

I will note I found the following on Adelphia and it has to do with this pipeline they wish to repurpose around Chester County, etc:

Saucon Sorce: Letter to the Editor: Adelphia Pipeline Project is Dangerous, UnnecessaryBy: JOSH POPICHAK | February 13, 2018

The Intellegencer: West Rockhill files motion to intervene on pipeline projectJuly 3, 2018West Rockhill residents again air concerns about proposed pipeline compressor building

Township to invite Adelphia Gateway to meetingBy Bob Keeler bkeeler@21st-centurymedia.com @bybobkeeler on Twitter Jul 24, 2018

So yeah people, Adelphia is here with the pipeline party and land agents are around. If your municipality is not being particularly proactive, and where you live falls along this pipeline, time to contact your supervisors, commissioners, borough council people – whomever represents you. Especially in townships like East Whiteland which are quite frankly in my opinion behind the eight ball when it comes to pipelines.

No one knows if any of these pipelines when they come to town are just repurposing forever, if the repurposing will work, if the pipelines are in perfect shape, or what the impact is really when you lay it all out petroleum versus gas and “other hydrocarbons” .

There are also so many safety questions that it makes your head spin. Petroleum is not as volatile as gas. Period. So even a simple, or what is presented as a simple pipeline repurposing, is not necessarily easy-peasy simple no worries. There are worries.

We are all connected in this pipeline mess in Chester County.It’s our county, we live here. Our homes are our castles and our own little slice of heaven.

We need to quite simply, defend what we love. We have to also think and act responsibly.

#defendwhatyoulove

we hold these truths to be self-evident

It is the eve of the 4th of July, that day where we celebrate American independence from British tyranny. That day where we celebrate how we came to be Americans.

But I ask you, is more today like the famous quote of Jean Jacques Rosseau? “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains” ?

Our country is in a state of free-falling mess.

We are a nation of neighbors fighting neighbors, and fat, salacious politicians who pontificate greatly yet accomplish little. We are led by a President who some days I feel learned what he learned about being an American on the back of a cereal box.

And yes, I am entitled to that opinion by our very own United States Constitution. It hasn’t been eradicated yet.

We are a country that is supposed to have freedom of the press. Yet the current news cycle will remind you that a man walked into a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland and shot five dead.

We are a country where deranged individuals shoot up schools as well.

I am not getting into a giant debate on the second amendment, but will say where are the litmus tests for who is actually capable and sane enough to bear arms? We need proper mental evaluations so is this in part a conversation about healthcare? Because we should be having a conversation about healthcare before the current administration undoes it, shouldn’t we? We pay for it literally, and we are paying for it metaphorically as it continues to be a political pawn.

We are turning into a country where immigration officials (“ICE”) act like state sponsored secret police. Terrifying raids that we have recently learned also mean literally ripping children from their mothers’ arms and putting them in literal cages in detention camps. Little children treated like animals in cages, terrified with good cause. We are a nation founded on the backs of immigrants, yet now we persecute them? To have strong borders we have to terrorize the defenseless?

And this is America?

Where has our America gone?

Even in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Supreme Court, times seem bleak. Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring. The swing vote of reason all these years will be turning in his judicial robes for a bathrobe of retirement.

As a woman, as a human being this terrifies me because who will the administration seek for the bench next. My guess is someone young and rigidly conservative somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun.

It doesn’t matter what your political persuasion is, what you want out of our highest court in the land is balance. (Read this Vanity Fair article.)

So on the eve of the 4th of July, I am going to post the text of the Declaration of Independence. I hope you read it to remind yourselves of what it actually means to be an American.

We need an end to the daily violence that is tearing us apart from coast to coast. We need to be free of politicians from the most local of levels through to state capitals and Washington D.C. who serve many political masters, just not their constituents.

We need our communities preserved, our farmland and open space preserved and revered, and that includes an end to these pipelines which are not helping America achieve “energy independence”, they are just contributing to the financial coffers of greedy corporations.

Same with development. Why can’t we have more control over what our communities look like? Why are our best interests being decided by politicians and developers without our real input?

It seems to me that our country is regressing in a way which would make our founding fathers weep, doesn’t it?

So take a minute. Remember the actual history. Say a prayer for all of those who serve in our military (past and present) who literally put their lives on the line to preserve what our founding fathers established. Our proverbial inalienable rights.

Try to be kind to one and other. Neighborly. Supportive.

Happy 4th of July.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
THE UNANIMOUS
DECLARATION
OF THE
THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyranny only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean Time, exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our Legislatures.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our Fellow-Citizens, taken Captive on the high Seas, to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions.

IN every Stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them, from Time to Time, of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our Connexions and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the Rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connexion between them and the State of Great-Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour.

John Hancock.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr. Thomas Lynch, junr. Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, &c. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.

IN CONGRESS, JANUARY 18, 1777.
ORDERED,
THAT an authenticated Copy of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCY, with the Names of the MEMBERS of CONGRESS, subscribing the same, be sent to each of the UNITED STATES, and that they be desired to have the same put on RECORD.
By Order of CONGRESS,
JOHN HANCOCK, President.

is great valley school district about to slide down the slippery slope of reassessments?

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New development on Church Road in Malvern within the Great Valley School District

So..are they? Is the Great Valley School District about to slide down the slippery slope of reassessments?

I received a message overnight:

The Great Valley School District has decided to go after property owners that they think are under assessed……If you want to see the discussion at the School Board meeting where they decided to take this action here are the directions:

Click here and then on the June 4th meeting – go to the 1 hour 5 minute mark and listen to the discussion:  https://www.gvsd.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=237

Targeting specific landowners and not going after everyone who may be under assessed is discriminatory , unfair but legal. They are going after those where they think they can get the most return for the appeal.

Here is the video:

Here is the list:

NINE of the properties are FARMS. THREE are RESIDENTIAL

This is very Lower Merion School District of them.  Sadly, every time Lower Merion School District has done this it has resulted in MASSIVE amounts of litigation.  I found a 2016 case that I think is of note because of   legal footnotes that I will share:

Here are the footnotes I think that is something that should be read:

2.   In a tax assessment case, the Board has the initial burden of presenting its assessment  records into evidence, which establish a prima facie case of the validity of the assessment.
Expressway 95 Business Center, LP v. Bucks County Board of Assessment, 921 A.2d 70, 76 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007). The burden then shifts to the property owner to present sufficient evidence to
rebut the assessment’s validity. Id. “Where the taxpayer’s testimony is relevant, credible and un-rebutted, the court must give it due weight and cannot ignore it in determining a property’s fair market value. Where the taxing authority presents rebuttal evidence, the court must
determine the weight to be given all the evidence.” Koppel Steel Corporation v. Board of Assessment Appeals of Beaver County, 849 A.2d 303, 307 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004) citing Deitch Company v. Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County, 209 A.2d 397 (Pa. 1965).

3.   Article VIII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that “All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws.” Pa. Const. art. VIII, §1. This constitutional uniformity requirement is based on the general principle that “taxpayers should
pay no more or less than their proportionate share of government.” Downingtown Area School District v. Chester County Board of Assessment Appeals, 913 A.2d 194, 199 (Pa. 2006). To meet the uniformity requirement, “all property must be taxed uniformly, with the same ratio of the
assessed value to actual value applied throughout the taxing jurisdiction.” Clifton v. Allegheny County, 969 A.2d 1197, 1224 (Pa. 2009).

I did not ask a lawyer about this, I am not a lawyer, but I can read and I can research.  I was told there is more to the story by a friend and that this was a list of “mostly profitable commercial businesses.”  

But it’s not just commercial properties (which will get sick of tax increases and reassessments too, by the way).  There are NINE farms and THREE residences on this short list. As someone else said to me “I don’t doubt their motives. Especially since they have 9 Farms with lots of open space to Overtax so they can’t afford the tax, thereby having to sell, thereby giving an in for more higher density development to make even more in taxes.

I watched this play out again and again in Lower Merion Township.  What ends up happening is people are forced from where they call home because they can’t afford the school taxes.  We as residents and taxpayers who stay pay for that as well. And if a school district doesn’t get what they want, they next logically move to reassess ALL of us. That is what happens. They need money because this school district is close to bursting at the seams. Why are they bursting at the seams? Development.

So yes, is also my opinion that this is a direct result of too much development too fast within this particular school district from multiple municipalities. In addition the behemoth with the view of the eerie blue lagoon (A/K/A/ dead quarry) known as Atwater and all around there on 29 that is residential, there is development perched over highway and next to a quarry at the intersection of Phoenixville Pike and Charlestown Road from Southdown Homes called Pickering Crossing. And then there is the new Toll Brothers development starting to happen on Church Road called Great Valley Crossing. And the new development most of us just realized was going to happen on Swedesford Road from people called McKee Builders called Malvern Crossing. Linden Hall which just when you think they can’t add another row, they add another row of houses. Or Ryan Homes’ Malvern Walk on Planebrook.

 

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And those are just a few of the developments that are either still in planning, approved, and so on.  Look at the Route 30 Corridor Study for East Whiteland. Did they not suggest additional residential long Route 30 in there? Remember the Malvern Transit Oriented Development Study from a few years back in malvern Borough? (Also see with regard to Malvern’s T.O.D. CLICK HERE. and re-read this column form Henry Briggs. How much more development could Malvern Borough alone see?)

These developments are just targeting bodies. And all these municipalities are falling for the Emperor’s New Clothes of Zoning Overlay Districts.  These new developments aren’t specifically saying “senior living”, for example.  So all of these developments might bring really nice new families to the area, but they are also adding in a lot of kids to the school district. It’s bringing the city to the country, only I don’t think the country can really handle it.

And JUST like developers did and continue to do around Downingtown where they call EVERYTHING Chester Springs even when really, it’s not….everything in the Great Valley School District is being described as “Main Line”. It’s not the Main Line and well damn, a lot of us (myself included) came here in the first place because we wanted beauty and open space and wanted to escape the Main Line. As in the actual Main Line, not the fake developer speak of what they think the Main Line is, or should be, or where it is.

And with the fake Main Line of it all, we in Chester County are starting to experience real Main Line problems. Tax increases. Traffic congestion. Infill development. Shrinking open space…and oh yeah SCHOOL OVERCROWDING.

Cause and effect.

These reassessments are in my opinion only the beginning.  Hope everyone who lives in the Great Valley School District is ready for when we all become Great Valley East and Great Valley West.   Because given the pace of development, that is a potential reality.  Or Great Valley School District just becomes a monster district like West Chester Area School District. And if that happens, where do the new schools go? Whose land gets taken for that?

Maybe some don’t like my opinions on this.  Maybe some think I am being unfair to the Great Valley School District.  I am not. It’s just the reality of the situation. And it bears watching.