way to go radnor! keep setting the bar low on design standards!

Now granted, what was there before on the corner of Willow Ave and Plant Ave in the Little Chicago was known to many (myself included) as “the scary house.”

But I do not get why Radnor Township allows this kind of crap with zero design aesthetic to go up? The only thing this building is about is maximizing developer money making capability.

This is a prime example of how municipalities are dropping the ball. The trend of density and in this case serious infill density is ruining communities everywhere.

Directly opposite where this looming monstrosity is being built is relatively new construction. And what was built? Two pretty nice twin houses. This is an older neighborhood of what were historically smaller houses with neat back yards. Not the grand Victorians a couple of blocks over and it’s certainly not really urban.

Yet here’s this block house structure. And even worse in an area that redefines what it is to flood in even just a heavy downpour? They are totally built out on the footprint of the property. Where is the parking going to be?

Anyway this development gets an F. It truly is ugly. And is so out of place.

Bleck.

when good conquors evil eminent domain you get lavender fields

Long ago is what feels to be now another lifetime, I was part of the original Save Ardmore Coalition. We were ordinary people who banded together to save friends’ and neighbors’ businesses from eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore PA.

Along our journey the wonderful people at the Institute for Justice helped us and taught us and encouraged us. Through IJ we also met some amazing and inspirational people.  (and if your community is facing eminent domain check out the Castle Coalition part of the IJ website.)

Here straight from IJ (Institute for Justice’s website success stories):

Pennsylvania
Ardmore
Through the grassroots and political processes, a citizens group called the Save Ardmore Coalition (SAC) successfully defeated Lower Merion Township’s attempt to seize and bulldoze 10 thriving businesses in Ardmore’s charming historic district. When it comes to grassroots activism, the SAC did it all — rallies, protests, publicity campaigns and coordinated efforts to unseat local officials who supported eminent domain abuse. Its members testified before state and local bodies urging the reform of eminent domain laws, attended the Castle Coalition’s national and regional conferences, and worked with the media to bring attention to their battle. In March 2006, the Township took its condemnation threats off the table — no doubt in response to the public outcry generated by the SAC.

Valley Township
It cost Nancy and Dick Saha $300,000 of their retirement savings and six hard years, but they prevailed in their bout with the City of Coatesville. The couple bought their Pennsylvania farmhouse in 1971, making lifelong dreams of owning a small horse farm a reality. With their five children, the Sahas moved to Chester County and restored their charming 250-year-old residence. Truly a family farm, two of their daughters married and built their family homes on the land, giving Nancy and Dick the chance to see their five grandchildren grow up next door.

When Coatesville threatened to take their property by eminent domain to build a golf course—plans for which didn’t even include their farm in the first place—the Sahas remained fully committed to a grassroots battle. They submitted three petitions, protested at local meetings and took their fight to court. Ultimately, the city council backed off when the Sahas pushed to elect new representatives, agreeing to purchase five acres that the Sahas had offered to give the government for free at the beginning of the dispute.

It was a crazy time. What we all went through was hard. It was a brutal battle.  We went to Washington alongside the Sahas, Susett Kelo (think Little Pink House), people from Long Branch NJ, and many many more.  It was the time of the US Supreme Court case Kelo vs. New London.

Dick and Nancy Saha were inspirational.  They created a hand off my farm movement. (You can read about it here on the Institute for Justice website in more detail.) They had a great deal of local, regional, and national news attention.  We all did. It was kind of crazy.

It cost the Sahas hundreds of thousands of dollars and pure grit and hard work and they saved their farm.

I used to love seeing Dick and Nancy Saha.  They are the nicest people and they would make the drive from the Wagontown area to even visit us in Ardmore when we were hosting events.

But time and life move on and we all got on with our lives after eminent domain.  I moved to Chester County.  And since I moved to Chester County  I have thought about the Sahas once in a while.  I thought about reaching out, but then I thought well the battle was over so maybe it would seem weird.  But I always wondered what happened to the Saha family after.

So this morning an article from Main Line Today popped up in a social media feed. About two sisters named Joanne Voelcker and wait for it….Amy Saha! Dick and Nancy Saha’s daughters and their lavender farm! (Lavender farm? Wait what?? How awesome!!)

Two Sisters Transformed Their Family’s Chester County Farm Into a 42-Acre Lavender Oasis
Amy Saha and Joanne Voelcker, the owners of Wagontown’s Mt Airy Lavender, have dedicated themselves to growing and harvesting seven different varieties of the plant.
BY LISA DUKART

In the heart of Chester County, there’s a little piece of Provençe, France, thanks to sisters Amy Saha and Joanne Voelcker. On their 42-acre Wagontown farm, some 1,200 lavender plants flourish. In the warm months, those fields are abuzz with bees and butterflies. They flit from plant to plant, drunk on the heady scent the flowers release as they sway in the breeze.

Creating and maintaining such an idyll has been no small feat. Saha and Voelcker’s Mt Airy Lavender has required years of dedication and hard work. Their parents bought the farm in 1971, moving their family from Media to the homestead just outside Coatesville. With love and care, its rundown 48 acres began to thrive.

Years later, in 1991, the city of Coatesville tried to build on the property, claiming eminent domain. After a six-year legal battle, the family won, losing just six acres in the process. As their parents aged, preserving the land they fought so hard to protect became more and more important to the sisters. They couldn’t bear to see it sold.

Over the years, Saha and Voelcker built their own homes on the farm to be near their parents. The houses sit on either side of a long, shaded driveway that wends by pastures where horses can be seen cropping the grass. One lavender field is right behind Voelcker’s home. She began planting it in 2012, a year after she and her husband returned from a five-year stay in Brussels. “I worked and lived over there,” says Voelcker, the former head of client insight and marketing technology at Vanguard. “I got a chance to visit the South of France, and I just fell in love with the lavender.”

Please take the time to read the entire article. It’s so wonderful. I am so happy for the Sahas and this new success I am am all choked up with emotion.  It is so awesome to hear about nice things happening to nice people in a world that some days is truly nuts.

I can’t wait to visit the farm on open farm days.  Via their Facebook page for Mt. Airy Lavender I found their website.

They have great products they make that you can order online and they hose all sorts of events .

Events that interest me are the upcoming open farm days and I hope my husband will want to check it out:

Visit us when the lavender is expected to be in bloom – Mt Airy Lavender Open Houses – Sat. June 22, Sun. June 23, Sat. June 29, Sun. June 30
Come visit Mt Airy Lavender these weekends when we expect the lavender to be in bloom. Shop our products, bring your cameras and a picnic lunch. Fresh cut lavender and a variety of lavender products will be available for purchase. We aren’t normally open to the public, so this is a great opportunity to enjoy the farm. Please note – we lost quite a bit of lavender due to all the rain and lack of sun. We are in the process of replanting. The farm is still quite beautiful so we hope to see you at our Open Houses.

We will be open 11 am to 4pm on:

Saturday, June 22 & Sunday, June 23

Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30

Note: Bees love lavender, please be aware that bees will be attending the Open House as well. If you are allergic to them, please take special precautions!

Click here for directions to their slice of heaven.

What else makes me happy? Not just that this is still a farm and was saved, but how farmers in Chester County get creative to exist in today’s world.  See? We don’t need fields of plastic mushroom houses, we can have things like fields of lavender instead!

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Another view of the Saha Farm today courtesy of Mt. Airy Lavender 

the dance around eminent domain and other tales from the king road/route 352 meeting

The residents of East Whiteland, East Goshen, and elsewhere should be proud. You guys showed up for your communities and neighbors.

In spite of other committee meetings at East Whiteland and East Goshen (zoning and planning I think? Not sure which meeting where), Immaculata’s Great Hall was literally bursting at the seams for the King Rd and Route 352 meeting last night. (Thank you to Immaculata by the way, what an awesome space!)

It was a contentious meeting at times. East Whiteland Supervisors Chair Sue Drummond set the tone by her opening remarks and attitude. Dear readers, she might not like my opinion because she knows I do not care for her but it happens to be the truth. She opened the meeting with snippy acerbic comments about what residents were going to be allowed to say and not say do and not do and that’s kind of the Cliff Notes version but she was well...obnoxious. She seems to have forgotten for whom she works…the residents! And oh by the way? Me thinks the lady supervisor doth protesteth too much. (Just sayin’)  Also at ends of meeting shouldn’t a politician make sure no offending residents are left within ear shot? I was standing there with another resident and “the PennDOT guy.”

I know the video is not the best quality and the township also recorded it, but I felt it was important, very important to get it out there.  State level elected officials sent representatives although they did not stay for the entire meeting. This YouTube is a recording of the 3 hours we Facebooked live last night. I will try to get the rest of it loaded. Some media was present as well.

I am completely against a traffic circle, roundabout, or whatever clever marketing term you prefer.  It will mean eminent domain.  Eminent domain is ugly and your home is your castle in this country until some government entity wants to take your land. ANY ELECTED OFFICIAL WHO CHOSES EMINENT DOMAIN NEEDS TO BE PUT OUT OF OFFICE WHENVER THEIR TERM OF OFFICE IS UP.

Last night residents asked over and over again for elected officials to say NO to the use of eminent domain.  East Goshen remained eerily silent but East Whiteland politicians sort of danced a dance.  So did the gentleman from McMahon associates who go quite the grilling from potentially affected residents. He got very defensive at times.

Listening to resident after resident it became abundantly clear that the consensus is NO EMINENT DOMAIN.  And for THREE hours those leading the meeting would do anything other that say the words EMINENT DOMAIN.  They referred to “slivers”, you know like they were sneak slicing bits of pound cake or a pie or something? If you can’t say the words “EMINENT DOMAIN” then obviously on some level it bothers you so East Whiteland and East Goshen Supervisors why not just take a pledge to NOT use eminent domain?

[Follow this link (as in click on it) for everything residents have obtained via Right to Know requests thus far.]

Things I find perplexing from the meeting includes how for 95% of the meeting East Whiteland Supervisor Chair Sue Drummond kept announcing how while she was not sure of East Goshen’s timeline, the East Whiteland Supervisors would decide next week —the East Whiteland Board of Supervisors meets NEXT Wednesday, June 12 at 7 PM and if you are concerned about this project you need to attend this meeting as well.  Public comment still belongs to the residents.

OK that is cray cray right? Except for those of us who have been dogging this topic, how many people knew about this? And to send residents a letter within the last two weeks which one would presume mentions slivers…err eminent domain as a potential, what the hell is up with that?

By the end of the meeting East Whiteland Supervisor Sue Drummond was saying she had conferred with her colleagues and well maybe they would wait for the July to vote?

Again what the hell is up with that? Does July mean when people are on vacation? After all doesn’t everyone know that a favorite trick of government and traffic counters is to do what they do at weird times of the year and/or holidays?

They have been tossing this idea around of at least intersection improvements for years, so what is a few more months of study with residents fully and openly engaged? And how can they use traffic issues on Carol Lane and Summit as justification for the potential of a traffic circle? How do they NOT understand that would cause MORE cut through traffic over there?

And if the politicians  say they don’t really want a traffic circle then why didn’t they say last night “there we showed you a circle, but we aren’t going to do that”? The cannot be a little bit pregnant here. They need to be definitive, which of course some politicians have a difficult time with because it affects talking out of both sides of their mouths, right?

And the presentation was flawed. Residents pointed out things on what was presented like how some wouldn’t literally be able to get out of their driveways.  Some people speaking were heartbreaking.  All they wanted to know is why these supervisors hadn’t let them know in some cases sooner this was a possibility and what would happen to their homes they worked so hard for?

I will note again that East Goshen was oddly silent through a lot of the meeting.  I will also note that residents pointed out how the land taking would basically occur in East Whiteland if it occurred.

As they spoke of traffic counts and studies last night, I could once again hear the wise words of one of my favorite Commissioners once upon a time in Lower Merion Township.  He quipped in comments at one meeting where some members of township staff and certain commissioners were trying to justify the results of a traffic study that was done either around a holiday or in the dog days of August before school started “When it comes to traffic studies, you get what you pay for.”

He wasn’t saying that in a flattering way.

East Whiteland wants to hurry up and slam this through and my honest opinion is affected residents might wish to consider legal counsel to make sure their interests are properly protected.  Or they should at least consult with legal counsel.

Our homes are our castles.  And these are our neighbors and friends.  I thank everyone who came out last night and hope they keep on showing up. And remember the unintended consequences of all the freaking development in Chester County are truly to blame here. Or at least in my humble opinion.

These thoughts were bought to you in part by the First Amendment.

 

 

another apocalyptic spring

I remember when my husband and I were dating and I would make the trek from the Main Line to Chester County on weekends. Sometimes I would come out Route 3 and turn onto Route 352.

Once I hit 352 it would start to get green and lush as I made my way out. I traveled part of that same route today and it is a war zone.

This is what the pipelines give us. There is not anything positive or good about them. They rape the land, scar the landscape and ship out gas and “other hydrocarbons” to places like Scotland to make plastics.

We the residents of Chester County and all of the other counties get to assume all sorts of risk. But these pipeline companies are like an invading army and they just keep marching. It’s all about the money, honey, and we simply don’t matter.

I haven’t written a pipeline post a long time. But today seeing another apocalyptic spring thanks to Energy Transfer or Sunoco Logistic or Sunoco or whatever they may call themselves, the words have come tumbling out.

There is always some problem with the pipelines and residents hold their breath and pray their wells will survive, sinkholes won’t open up, and that nothing will blow up.

Pipeline company told to repair, restore all damaged streams, wetlands

By Paul J. Gough

Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times

May 15, 2019, 7:35am EDT

A subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners is being ordered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to restore or repair dozens of streams and wetlands that it said were either eliminated or altered by the construction of the Revolution Pipeline.

DEP said ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC violated Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Laws, Dam Safety and Encroachments Acts, the Oil & Gas Act of 2012 and regulations over erosion, sediment control, dam safety and waterway management. The order came out of its probe into Sept. 10, 2018, explosion in Center Township, Beaver County.

MAY 21, 2019 | 8:30 AM

Federal pipeline safety regulators issue warning on floods and subsidence

The PHMSA advisory bulletin says pipeline incidents caused by erosion have increased in the eastern U.S.

Susan Phillips

Citing a number of recent incidents, including one in Pennsylvania, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, sent a warningto natural gas and hazardous liquids pipeline operators earlier this month detailing the dangers of flooding and heavy rain events.

The advisory points to “land movement, severe flooding, river scour, and river channel migration” as causes of the type of damage that can lead to leaks and explosions. It outlines current regulations, and details requirements for insuring safe pipeline construction and continued monitoring once a pipeline is in operation.

APRIL 29, 2019 | 4:33 PM

UPDATED: APRIL 30, 2019 | 11:48 AM

Sunoco buys two homes at Chester County site of Mariner East 2-related sinkhole

State and county documents show company paid $400,000 each for properties

Jon Hurdle

Sunoco Pipeline bought two homes on Lisa Drive, the Chester County development and pipeline construction site where residents have been tormented by sinkholes since late 2017, according to state and county documents obtained on Monday.

The documents said Sunoco agreed to buy the homes and land of John Mattia and his next-door neighbors, T.J. Allen and Carol Ann Allen, for $400,000 each in transactions dated April 18.

A Realty Transfer Tax Statement of Value filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue records a “total consideration” of $400,000 for each of the properties.

The home sold by the Allens is estimated with a market value of about $300,000-$330,000, according to listings by Zillow and Realtor.com. The value of the former Mattia home is estimated at about $340,000, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage….Two of the Lisa Drive residents, Russell and Mary March, and another nearby homeowner sued Sunoco in March 2018, claiming the company had negligently drilled through porous rock near their homes without recognizing that sinkholes would likely result, and ignoring the results of a geotechnical investigation there. The suit was settled but the terms were not disclosed.

The company’s activities at Lisa Drive have been shut down twice by regulators on the grounds that public safety is endangered by construction of two new pipelines – Mariner East 2 and 2X – plus the operation of an existing natural gas liquids pipeline – Mariner East 1 – on a geologically unstable site.

State Impact PA does a LOT of coverage of the pipeline horror show and you can CLICK HERE to read some of the coverage.

Look at what pipelines has already destroyed and you understand why we don’t want anymore pipeline companies coming to town. This is why we are so uneasy about Adelphia, for example, and can’t figure out why municipalities where Adelphia will be in Chester County don’t appear to be particularly proactive on behalf of their residents.

Yesterday my friend Ginny Kerslake did not prevail in her bid to be a candidate for Chester County Commissioner in the fall. The Democrat party chose to endorse others over her. That is our great loss.

Ginny is a true warrior in this pipeline hell. A courageous, educated and ethical voice. In the fall, the woman the Democrat party decided to back will ask for your vote and tell everyone she is as dedicated as Ginny. She is not. Political opportunism is not community caring. Fortunately Josh Maxwell prevailed and he will get one of my county commissioner votes.

I know I got off on a pipeline/political segue there for a minute, and I am sorry, but it was also on my mind because the pipelines in Pennsylvania have indeed become a political hot button topic. And I think any politician that wants our vote has to prove they support residents a.k.a. people over pipelines. You know, like State Senator Andy Dinniman.

I was so sad traveling part of the pipeline path today. I feel like I am 100 million years old because I can remember where a certain tree one stood or where I used to watch a man mow his lawn when I drove by.

Energy Transfer/Sunoco has bought pain and sorrow and a path of destruction. As Pennsylvanians we deserve better. Our homes are our proverbial castles and all these pipeline companies do is destroy.

People over pipelines. Pass it on.

meeting on route 352 and king road set for june 5th at 7pm at immaculata university

I am cutting and pasting from East Whiteland ‘s website. The meeting is June 5th at 7 pm at Immaculata’s Great Hall which is 1145 West King Road Malvern. (the school calls it “Immaculata, PA” )

I urge residents to turn out in numbers for this meeting. I don’t know about you, but I do not want any neighbors having to deal with the Sophie‘s choice of which neighbor’s property goes for eminent domain so they can have a circle or round about that nobody really wants. I haven’t heard supervisors from either municipality pledge not to use eminent domain either, have you?

Please contact State Reps Comitta and Howard and Senator Dinniman’s office and urge them to attend as well. State grant money and state money will be involved here, so they do have a place at this table and should be representing the interests of the plurality as a whole. There is also the potential of Federal funds, correct? So our Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan should be looped in as well, right?

And PennDot? Is PennDot attending? Shouldn’t PennDot be attending? We pay taxes locally and to the state, shouldn’t that buy us an audience?

I hope someone shows up with some kind of camera equipment to record this meeting as well.

It seems like the alternatives proposed by McMahon (who also does nice little videos on PennDot’s website and isn’t that special?) are can involve EMINENT DOMAIN – Cliff notes version: install turning lanes on 352 for $2.5 million or take property via eminent domain and install a roundabout for 3.1 million?

Why have they not tried things like cutting back shrubs and changing signal timing so there is NO right turn on red and each side of the intersection goes ONE SIDE AT A TIME?

There are options they could try without taking people’s freaking houses. Maybe if these townships didn’t all approve so much development the infrastructure wouldn’t be failing, right? Always remember they are from the government and they are here to help. (Sorry, just dripping sarcasm today)

Below is the head of PennDOT. She is a double Wolf appointee. She was a good soldier and somewhat useless Montgomery County Commissioner prior to that. Her position in my humble opinion was a reward for campaigning for the governor:

The Honorable Leslie S. Richards

Secretary, PA Dept. of Transportation Keystone Building

400 North Street

Harrisburg, PA 17120

lsrichards@pa.gov

Maybe she should be hearing from us too, right?

So without further ado:

Route 352 And King Road Meeting Set For June 5

East Whiteland Township and East Goshen Township will hold an informational meeting in the Great Hall at Immaculata University, 1145 West King Road, on June 5 at 7 p.m. on alternatives for reducing the congestion at the intersection of Route 352 and King Road.

McMahon Associates will make a presentation on the alternatives followed by a question and answer period.

Click here to review a McMahon Associates report on the alternatives:https://www.eastwhiteland.org/DocumentCenter/View/927/Rt352-KingFeasibility

Prior posts on the topic include:

Post #1

Post # 2

#NOEminentDomain

And from PAAsphalt.org:

And once again the meeting poster for June 5 at Immaculata’s Great Hall:

an old chester county poem

I can’t take credit for discovering the poem below, as a reader kindly sent it to me. Note the line “her landscapes beautiful and rare.”

The poem dates to 1916. Or, you know, when there were plenty of farms and real open space. Not fields of plastic mushroom houses.

The tree photo is one I took. It’s one of our trees.