life and b.s.

Right at the beginning of June, I invited some friends who had been around at a very difficult time in my life to go on a special tour of David Culp’s gardens at Brandywine Cottage in Downingtown. It was a thank you and a celebration of an important personal milestone: being 10 years breast cancer free. June 1, 2011 to June 1, 2021.

If you know women who have had breast cancer, each year we get extra is a blessing. Milestones like this are extremely important to mark, and I wanted to say thank you to some of these ladies, most of whom I have known since high school.

It was also another celebration and milestone. This also marked all of us finally being able to get together because of COVID-19 and we all finally had our shots. The ladies who came with me like to garden.

Pete Bannan photo 2011

One of the friends was Caroline O’Halloran who is the creator and chief writer at Savvy Main Line. She was with me and some other friends on Tuesday, July 13th, 2011 when I rang the bell at Lankenau Hospital where I had that morning finished up a few weeks of fairly grueling radiation treatment with Dr. Marisa Weiss.

When it was all over and I rang the special bell signifying the end of treatment, my friends cheered. A hospital administrator chided us for being too loud. (It was pretty funny.)

At the end of the day, I am very much alive with a terrific prognosis for a long and happy life. I am one of the lucky ones. I have lost friends to cancer including breast over the past decade, so I learned to stop and breathe and celebrate the milestones.

For a decade now I have been part of the sisterhood – women of different races, ethnicities, ages, sizes and shapes –forever bound together by this disease. It’s like the club no one asks to join. And you damn well celebrate the little victories.

I chose a garden tour.

I also invited someone whom I am pleased to call a friend for the past few years, who wasn’t with me that day. She just happens to be a woman I like and appreciate. You all know her as a Chester County Commissioner – Michelle Kichline. We have a lot of friends in common and have for years and years, and we share common interests like the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and a love for gardening.

Caroline wrote about the visit to David’s amazing gardens on her website a few weeks after the visit. It just happened because he and his gardens inspired her and struck a chord. Of course that doesn’t surprise me because David’s book The Layered Garden has been a huge influence on me personally. When I read his book it was like I had this epiphany that someone who really is a plantsman and horticulturalist gets how I like to garden. I don’t even know what printing the book is on, but it is really special.

Michelle posted the article on her page a couple of weeks ago. She also included how she loved the gardens and what a fun and just nice day it was. It’s true, it was just nice. I thought that was super sweet of her, and I was happy to have her with us.

But as is the case with social media, up rolls a jerk:

I have been called many things in my life, but “rich white people” has never been one of them. But apparently, we are all a bunch of “rich white people” who have an “eye” for horticulture according to this….well….a random white guy.

Are we to surmise that random white guy must have a political axe to grind with Michelle for whatever reason, and is also a garden critic? Ok he doesn’t have to like the garden, but his vitriol was unnecessary and unwarranted.

We all like to garden. David opened his private home garden to us on a very special anniversary for me. This day was a big deal to me. Michelle is allowed to NOT be a politician once in a while and just enjoy girl time.

I think we need to hit the pause button. We have come through 2020 into 2021 and a lot of us still have friends on both sides of the political aisle and that is ok. And that is what that snotful comment on Michelle’s page was about: politics. I don’t know what, and I don’t know why, and don’t care. WHY? Because all she was doing was sharing something nice.

I am a gardener. I love to garden. And random white guy? I do my own gardening and I earn my own money to pay for my gardening. I am hardly some heiress with a fainting couch. I even cook and clean and take out the trash.

Truthfully this is why I don’t share cool experiences on this blog sometimes like seeing David Culp’s garden. So instead a friend shares what another friend wrote about just a lovely day and we are suddenly bad people? That’s just wrong. And I say that as someone who can and does take politicians to task. But there is a time and a place for everything, and being a dick about someone talking about a nice visit to a special garden is not one of them.

But hey what do I know right? I am just a mere mortal and a female, and these are obviously just the rantings of a suburban housewife.

Cheers!

going to delaware: still love odessa and the little towns in the vicinity

We were in Delaware over the weekend. We met people at Cantwell’s for an early dinner one night. I love Cantwell’s. It’s historic and the food is good.

And Odessa, DE? Odessa is one of my favorite little towns, ever. It’s quaint and historic and they take their history and preservation seriously. Awesome historical society with wonderful events. (Check out Historic Odessa Foundation.) Communities like Odessa, DE should be an example to other communities. They show you preservation IS possible and communities will embrace it.

Odessa and the surrounding small towns aren’t perfect. There are houses that you see that are distinctly unloved. But these communities are trying and it is SO nice to see farm and fields and water and a distinct lack of townhouses and ugly apartments. And there are some little bed & breakfast inns tucked here and there.

Because of the Sunday Delaware beach traffic, we took some windy and twisty back roads coming home. I saw some cool little crossroads towns and hamlets, all chock full of historic houses. Including in Port Penn, where I saw a fabulous but boarded up house owned by the State of Delaware. Another Linden Hall, AKA the Cleaver House.

“The Cleaver family dominated Port Penn throughout the nineteenth century. Joseph built this Federal-style brick house, which included an office and store at right, divided from the residence by a firewall. The whole resembles two urban town houses. Cleaver maintained the adjacent wharf, practiced law, founded an insurance company, served on the board of a bank, and was local postmaster. The contents of the house are known by a room-by-room probate inventory undertaken after his death in 1858. In 1977 a new owner altered the interior for rental units and redesigned the roof of the wing, which caused the front wall of that section to collapse. In 1994 the State of Delaware bought it.”

~W. Barksdale Maynard

The State of Delaware hasn’t done much with it. It’s a beautiful structure even in decay. It was built around 1814. Thanks to the Port Penn Historical Society, I learned a little more about the property and found some old photos (mixed in with photos I took):

Yep, I can find old structures to be obsessed over everywhere. Also flew by the Augustine Inn…too fast to get photos so I looked them up. Also found the place written up in Delaware Today. And a piece on Augustine Beach too.

The Augustine Inn was on Ghost Detectives once upon a time:

Port Penn was kind of cute. Did not realize until I looked the area up that a lot of the houses were moved from Reedy Island. This is all on the Delaware River, which you take for granted exactly HOW wide it is until you see it again. The Augustine Wildlife Area is here. There are beaches too. Saw lots of folks fishing.

Delaware has a lot of cool little nooks and crannies. It was fun exploring them a little bit again. Just like Route 9 in NJ leads to some fun meandering, so does Route 9 (and other roads) in Delaware.

Thanks for stopping by.

rambling: how an island evolved…

I used to love Avalon as a kid. I stopped going in my mid to late 20s because the more it got developed, the less I liked it.

When I was a kid there was the penny candy story on 7th street. A tiny cedar shake shingled general store down around 7th street that had penny candy. Once when we were really little a friend of our parents and their friends named Weezy gave us each $1 and told us to go “blow our minds.” Root beer barrels, Charleston Chews, Mary Janes, those little colored sugar dots on white paper, caramels, and more. My mother would maybe give us a quarter if we were really good.

When it rained at the beach it was like the sea and air met as one. I remember going as a little girl to the then tiny and old Avalon, NJ library. Not the new library that stands today, but the little old dark one which still stood in the early 1970s. When you went up the stairs and opened the doors they gave that old creaky and heaving sound. Inside the library was dark and had that beach smell of sand mingled with mildew. I remembered picking out well worn copies of Nancy Drew books to take home and read. Or maybe we would go to the Paper Peddler and buy a book or a copy of Mad Magazine (which my mother hated).

In those days, Avalon had really tall dunes and the island began at 7th street. The first few blocks of Avalon washed away before I was born. That was the famous Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, which was truthfully a Hurricane Sandy-like storm. But the only a block of houses were swallowed by the sea at that time – 6th street. Below that had never been really developed because of tides. This 1962 storm was what caused the Avalon Hotel to be moved to 8th street. As a little girl I remember looking out over those beaches down by 7th street and wondering what the swallowed block of houses looked like? Was it a perfect bunch of houses just underwater like the fictional Atlantis, or a jumble of destruction? After watching the videos I discovered on You Tube which prompted this post, I learned more.

1970’s me photographed on the dunes probably between 10th and 17th streets in Avalon, NJ

When I was little, the dunes were magnificent. I remember going through the twisty beach paths with mountains of sand and dune grass and scrubby pines on either side and even some old beach (probably rugosa) roses. This is where I first fell in love with black eyed Susan’s and beach daisies which grew in and on the edges of the dunes along with other wild flowers and cacti. In the summers when I was little too you could often see the sea turtles come ashore and lay their eggs and then wait for them to hatch and see all the little turtles head for the sea.  It’s where I first fell in love with waxy bayberry bushes, and those memories are why I am trying to get a pair to grow in my own garden.

These videos done by the Avalon History Center are wonderful. It takes you back to the 1700s…and all the way through to today. And with the 19th century photos what I never knew before was how heavily forested the island was. Cedars and oak trees…and even cattle at one point. In the late 19th century there was a sawmill on the island that gave developers back then their wood for structures…and eventually deforested the island.

13th Street Cabin

By the 1970s when we first started going to Avalon because Ocean City even down in the gardens was getting too developed, Avalon was developing but there was still a lot of room and cool old houses. The grey monster a big grey stone house around 10th street, and the cute little yellow cottage around the corner. I was fascinated by the old houses, a lot of them literally humble cottages. My parents’ friends owned the historic cabin on 13th street once owned by Woodrow Wilson when he was at Bryn Mawr College.

Listening to the history lectures presented by the Avalon History Center I literally watched a time line of how a small community became overdeveloped over time, including a garish recent example known as the Utz house that is this utterly vulgar high dune gobbling mega McMansion that created such a battle it even made the New York Times.

The New York Times also featured the reminiscences of a beach goer long ago that resonated. Jen Miller is her name. She talks about her memories before it became a summer McMansion boom town:

“On a hot August afternoon in the late 1990s, I waited at Donnelly’s Deli in Avalon, N.J., for our family’s sandwich order. This was a rare treat. We were a bologna-and-cheese-on-white-bread kind of family, loading up the car with beach chairs and boogie boards and a basket of towels for the drive to the Avalon beach from our trailer at a campground a few miles away.

But on that day, near the end of the summer, when my mother was tired of fixing our family of six a summer’s worth of beach sandwiches, we went to this one-story, brick-front deli that smelled like chips, sweat, pickles and meat, to let someone else do it for us.

In 2005, Donnelly’s closed, and the building was torn down — along with the rest of the block. In its place now is a three-story retail and residential building whose first floor features a Lululemon and a Lilly Pulitzer, both open for the summer only….The erosion of local character that I saw take over the South Jersey Shore is underway there too.

But who cares, other than some old, nostalgic saps like me? Someone who on a recent cold spring day walked around town worrying that Circle Pizza and Avalon Freeze would go the way of the deli, to make room for a strip mall I could see in any other wealthy town in the country?”

~ DOMESTIC LIVES Memories of a Jersey Shore Town, Before a Boom By Jen A. Miller
June 16, 2017

I totally get her sentiments. I am one of those who remembers communities in the proverbial “way back when” of it all for lack of a better description. But what we see happening in and already has happened in quaint beach communities is happening on an even larger scale out here. Farms and estates and any open space getting gobbled up for condos, townhouses, and housing developments of all shapes and sizes where it’s crap, not quality construction and it’s packing them in like lemmings. You can’t even garden in a lot of these communities.

Watch these videos. It’s a cautionary tale as well as being a very well done history of a place I once loved…before McMansions and trying to make it the South Jersey Hamptons. The difference is in the Hamptons, they actually DO historic and open space preservation, it’s just ungodly expensive.

Oh and don’t forget to check out the news about the high rise in Miami that had half the building just collapse overnight. Surfside. Some news report said something about what the building was built on and how it was sinking. (see this story HERE.) This news is a cautionary tale of development for sure, and it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

And some day in a time far far away, maybe some historical society will be doing oral history videos and presentations where we live, and will talk of a time before pipelines arrives, and development gobbled up all the forests, farms, open space, and little hamlets.

Thanks for stopping by.

upper uwchlan might as well be renamed toll town, right?

For reals, Upper Uwchlan? Another Toll Brothers development?

I mean seriously, how many more fields of plastic Troll houses does one municipality need?

This is on the agenda for this evening June 21. I’ve included what I found on their website and a helpful screenshot of some of the who is who in this Township, and don’t you find it fascinating that the township solicitor who is the township solicitor in a lot of other townships locally as well where big developments are pending including Troll Brothers?

Between the proposed use of eminent domain in East Goshen to the continued travails of “Berwyn Square“ or whatever they’re calling it now in Easttown, to Crebilly in Westtown, development of the week in East Whiteland, West Whiteland, and more, poor Chester County is going to cave into the ground from development and possibly even bad pipelines, right?

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but figured people should know. Thanks for stopping by.

When will the madness end?

#handsoffthehicksfarm

Borrowed from the new Facebook page “Hands Off The Hicks Farm East Goshen

So….I did a FOIA Right to Know. I will genuinely compliment the new manager Derek Davis at East Goshen, as he appears to be a straight shooter and has been pleasant to deal with. Poor guy having to deal with the eminent domain triplets (Shane, Shuey, Lynch.)

I also keep getting all sorts of messages. From people against it to people who think I don’t understand. I do understand: the Hicks family have a working farm, equine based businesses. This is THEIR land and they said NO. And it doesn’t matter if they sold some land in the past, they don’t want to sell land now.

And you can’t compare East Goshen wanting to use eminent domain over a trail that might never be completed with Delaware County seizing Don Guanella land. If they didn’t the Archdiocese of Philadelphia which is perpetually cash strapped due to things like pedophile priests would sell out to a developer. Just look at Downingtown. And Delaware County is doing that to protect open space in a very developed area. That is very different from this.

But one thing I am curious about are wetlands on the Hicks farm I have been told about? And the path would go through them? Where are all the environmental studies? And endangered species there? Endangered plant species? Why are there so many loose ends on the part of East Goshen? Where are they with West Goshen? I mean isn’t there a lot of stuff that should be ironed out BEFORE anyone chats eminent domain?

And with the whole West Goshen and East Goshen I do not get why they details between townships are not seemingly complete considering the relationships, right? East Goshen’s new manager used to be West Goshen’s assistant township manager, right? And both municipalities have the same solicitor, right?

And emotions are running high, which is what eminent domain does. It disrupts; tears apart communities. People can be passionate for sure, but must keep civil, cool heads.

And I have heard talk of a Go Fund Me, but haven’t seen anything. And for those objecting to former State Rep. Dan Truitt being interested in this and advocating for the Hicks family like he did at the meeting the other night? It is his right. He is not in my opinion creating a conflicting situation for his wife Michelle Truitt who is one the East Goshen supervisors against this.

East Goshen can stop the madness now if they choose. Only Chairman Shuey seems to find this all very politically expedient for him….like he found it politically expedient to object to Sunoco/Energy Transfer’s use of eminent domain and to object to the eminent domain that was threatened for the traffic circle plan that went away at 352 and King Rd. It’s a classic case of do as I say, not as I do. And wouldn’t he do himself a favor no matter what side of this issue he is on to tone down his bully pulpit on the dais in East Goshen? His behavior was horrible the other night and somewhat unacceptable. And that Lynch supervisor has a hard time staying on topic doesn’t he? Also does not seem not particularly pleasant in a public forum. And Marty Shane? Dude, your old paw prints are all over this aren’t they? And so they name a path after you when you’re gone as rumor has it, but is this nasty legacy the one you will settle for?

We close the week out here in Chester County with this issue continuing to grow. It makes me sad because it doesn’t have to happen AND East Goshen has other alternatives. East Goshen can choose OTHER than eminent domain.

Well here is what was released to me via the Right to Know. I am making it public and there was NOT any note saying I could NOT make this public. Direct questions to East Goshen.

next stop eminent domain town east goshen?

I am seriously bummed that my instincts were correct. I wrote a post about East Goshen Township in June 13th. I said the agenda read like an eminent domain saga waiting to explode over the Paoli Pike Trail.

Oh why couldn’t my instincts have been wrong? The poor Hicks family.

Last night East Goshen voted 3-2 for eminent domain takings of the Hicks farm land. May God damn them all to hell, quite frankly. There are few things I abhor more than eminent domain.

When I first moved out here from Lower Merion to be with my now husband, we lived in East Goshen. I used to think the world of East Goshen township. No longer. No more.

I will be honest and say I was part of the group (Save Ardmore Coalition) in Lower Merion Township years ago which successfully defeated eminent domain in Ardmore. It was a brutal, often disheartening, community divisive issue. At the same time we were fighting eminent domain, the Sahas were fighting to save their farm from Coatesville taking their farm via eminent domain for a golf course. It was eventually classified as eminent domain for private gain, not sure if it started that way.

The Sahas won their case in Coatesville, as we did in Ardmore. The Sahas became friends through this process as we were all involved with The Institute for Justice. I feel so lucky that I can still visit their farm now Mt. Airy Lavender. The Saha family still owns and runs their farm in it’s new business. If Dick Saha was still alive, you would have seen him at that meeting last night. He would have rounded up his farmer friends and gone to East Goshen. That is the kind of guy he was.

So. I watched the meeting.

Twice.

It was appalling both times.

Let’s start with the fact that the pro trail supervisors essentially disregarded Supervisor Michelle Truitt. Michelle offered an alternative plan. A plan that actually would work and the farmland and the Hicks Family would be spared. But the magic eminent domain trio are essentially behaving like misogynistic jerks in my opinion (which I am allowed to have), so that went nowhere fast.

So the documents you see above will be on East Goshen’s website tomorrow. I submitted a FOIA Right to Know and asked for these documents because although they SHOULD HAVE BEEN in the public meeting packet, they weren’t were they? They referred to meeting in executive session over “legal matters” and I am sure this was part of it only I have to ask if the eminent domain trio (“ED Trio”) didn’t want this out before the meeting? And in my humble opinion it should have been because well ED Trio, you are claiming eminent domain for public purpose which means…ummm…things should be public, right?

I also asked for a copy of the letter(or letters?) announcing this crap that were sent to the poor Hicks family and was told by the new township manager Derek Davis that he needed a legal opinion. Well East Goshen shares a solicitor with West Goshen and this person used to be with Easttown’s Planning Commission and is solicitor for East Brandywine and West Chester Borough and not sure where else will undoubtedly say “no”, right? So Hicks family if you decide you want to share the letters, please feel free. Those also should be part of the public record of this very public disgrace.

Oh and genuinely nice Derek Davis used to be the Assistant Manager at West Goshen, so with all these professional relationships between East Goshen and West Goshen, why is it it seems all fuzzy about the West Goshen part of this trail plan? And let’s talk about that: why is it if East Goshen doesn’t seem to have the West Goshen part of the puzzle worked out yet, why are they so gung-ho on eminent domain NOW? Greedy much?

And my hypothesis as to why now is simple: I think this trail has been a pet project of a retiring supervisor, right? So maybe as opposed to true public purpose this eminent domain issue is wound up in someone who wants a certain legacy? Well dude, 411 is eminent domain is now your legacy. Any good you did will flutter away into nothingness and THIS is what people will remember about you. This supervisor is Marty or Martin Shane. His term ends at the end of 2021. So East Goshen resident y’all better get your ducks in a row and get a candidate who will tip the scales against crap like this. Do it Ardmore style: make this an election issue. Whomever saunters up as a candidate should sign an anti-eminent domain pledge. If they won’t do that, find another person.

I also found it verrrry interesting that East Goshen went 100% in person for this meeting and did not offer zoom as well. And they could have since we are all newly emerged from the COVID world. That’s a little too cute, kind of like West Goshen’s technical difficulties for their YouTube or whatever stream of their meeting last night. Kind of Britney Spears oops I did it again, but I digress.

May be an image of map and outdoors
Is the point of the eminent domain to connect East Goshen Park with the YMCA?
And this aerial shot shows you they could leave the Hicks’ Farm alone if they wanted to.

Now let’s get into the meeting. Watch the video. My heart breaks for this family. Eminent domain is legal stealing, it’s bullying, and abusive. Kind of the way a couple of those East Goshen Supervisors were behaving.

The worst behaved of the East Goshen Supervisors was probably Chair David Shuey. He loves the sound of his own voice for sure and he knows everything. The king of “don’t interrupt me” and he’ll have people removed. Behaved like a total douche. Oh yes I am allowed to have that opinion of an elected official. Watch the meeting.

Shuey tried to proclaim how community positive he was and how he was against eminent domain for the pipeline and the whole traffic circle of it all that almost happened. I was at that traffic circle meeting, and he wasn’t user friendly there and I believe with the proposed eminent domain for the traffic circle and the pipelines it was more politically expedient to say he was against THAT eminent domain. For the Paoli Pike trail to nowhere, it’s more politically expedient to say eminent domain is the way to go.

Oh and of course Shuey tries to compare this Paoli Pike trail to the Radnor Trail. Apples and oranges dude, and no farms lost land for it. Do you think when that trail was built if it had been slated to go through Ardrossan’s cow field it would have gone through? Oh hell to the no and East Goshen will never be Main Line, and shouldn’t want to be. And then Shuey said something to the effect that East Goshen needs to be more competitive and say what? East Goshen was a gem, now it’s crown as a great Chester County community if forever tarnished and it’s sad, he can’t see the forest for the trees on this. He has a huge ego and he was combative and dismissive of residents. And I don’t know that he actually took all of the public comment. I know dude is a Democrat but last night he was very Trump-like in demeanor. Very unattractive public servant behavior in my humble opinion.

One of the speakers who resonated with me from the public in addition to the Hicks family and horse owners involved on their farm was former State Representative Dan Truitt. I have always liked Dan Truitt. He is quite simply a good man with a strong moral compass and sense of ethics. He made a heartfelt appeal to the supervisors to stop this process before it starts.

If I understand this convoluted trail mess correctly it’s like $5 Million Bucks a Mile and they don’t know if they will have all of the land in the end? So why eminent domain now? And it’s not like they will give it back if this goes kerflooey right?

Some folks out there in public opinion land are of the mind that this shouldn’t be such a big deal and the family sliced off pieces of land in the past. What they owned at one time in total is hardly the point. In fact, it’s not the point at all. What is the point are also the other potential impacts if East Goshen takes the land. They run an equine-based business and farm. HUGE amount of liability insurance they must pay for. Putting a trail for people as in strangers there all of the time puts the liability in a very bad spot, potentially a bad enough spot that they could possibly NOT have coverage and detrimentally affect their business, their livelihood . It’s not as simple or as offensive as saying “well they sold land before.”

Eminent Domain is legal stealing and it’s wrong.

Someone said to me “it’s just a sidewalk”. It’s not just a sidewalk. And it’s a trail part that may very well never be completed. And we’re also talking about a working farm. Again, you can’t just put sidewalks through working farms. It affects their liability which affects their ability to do their business on their own damn land. And the most important thing is the Hicks family said no. This is no better than when Coatesville tried to take my friends the Sahas’ farm years ago for a golf course.

Eminent Domain is legal stealing and it’s wrong.

A couple of comments from local community pages that have stood out to me:

(1) “Unfortunately (the way I understand this is going down) the walking path will disrupt a small business that currently uses the property in question as a private riding stable. People (and their dogs) are not always respectful of “do not pat or feed the horses” signs and this opens a huge liability issue up for the business owner. Horses can be unpredictable and spook easily creating potential harm and injury to both themselves and those around them. I think utilizing the property that they already have access to across the street makes more sense.

(2) “In late 2019 the supervisors were using this bike/walking trail to justify changing the zoning along Paoli Pike from Boot Rd to 352 to allow three story apartment buildings with shops underneath. Also wanted zoning to allow townhouses at Boot and Paoli Pike and 352 and Paoli Pike. The plan was for Goshenville to be a town center. They were saying people will use the trail to bike and walk to this town center. People were very opposed to the change in zoning and I’m not sure if this plan is still in play. They had maps and renderings of the Town Center on their website. The building of the trail seemed to have a lot to do with this vision of Goshenville.

Photo of the Hicks Farm where they would steal the land via eminent domain
with horses grazing at around 6:30 PM 6/15/21

I also think this debacle was a horrible final thing for retiring manager Rick Smith. This is what people will remember with him as well and that makes me sad. East Goshen can proclaim all the Rick Smith Days they want, what people will remember is the meeting last night and a particular exchange between he and one of the Hicks family members where he was quoted as saying “the train is coming” I guess in reference to eminent domain. It’s on the public meeting tape, and I did not misquote.

So another fun avenue to consider is this gem on Axley Attorneys website someone sent me. When is a sidewalk a trail?

When Is a Sidewalk a Trail?

MAY 31, 2011 by Buck Sweeney
csweeney@axley.com
608.283.6743

In a recent case from the Court of Appeals, Hildebrand v. Town of Menasha, the appeal court upheld Judge Scott Woldt’s opinion in a Winnebago County assessment case. In this particular case, the Town of Menasha specially assessed a vacant commercial property owner for the cost of placing a trail through the property. The Hildebrands were assessed $33,205.60 in construction costs for the installation of a 10’ asphalt trail abutting their commercial property. In response, the Hildebrands filed a notice of appeal to the circuit court raising numerous issues.

The question for the trial court, which was upheld by the Court of Appeals, was whether the Hildebrands’ property was:

*Specially benefitted by the trail segment for which the assessments were imposed.
*Whether the trail segment for which assessments were imposed constitutes a local improvement.
*Whether the trail segment for which assessments were imposed constitutes a general improvement for the community at large and therefore not a proper subject for imposition of the special assessments.


The evidence at trial made it very clear that this particular trail was clearly not a sidewalk, but was in fact a bike trail to help connect a regional multi-community recreational trail linking Oshkosh to Hortonville. The trail in question was asphalt and 10’ wide, unlike most typical sidewalks.

After the Town realized that they were losing, they tried to transform the trail into a sidewalk. Too late, according to the Court of Appeals.

If municipalities want to make sure they have a correct legal special assessment, the assessment must be local. Although incidentally beneficial to the public at large, its primary means for the accommodation and convenience of inhabitants in a particular locality and confers special benefits to the property.

Remember, if you do not want your sidewalk to be specially assessed, consider asking your municipality to place a 10’ asphalt trail through your yard.

Photo of the Hicks Farm where they would steal the land via
eminent domain at around 6:30 PM 6/15/21

My head is spinning. I thought I was done with hating eminent domain but it just keeps trying to happen.

The Hicks Family said NO. East Goshen is WRONG.

Oh and procedurally I found other issues with the meeting other than the eminent domain resolutions were omitted from the public meeting packets. Like they should have done a ROLL CALL vote on this and they DID NOT. So do you want to know who voted YES for eminent domain? Marty Shane, David Shuey, and Mike Lynch. Shane is gone at the end of 2021 and Shuey and Lynch are done in 2023. East Goshen residents need to get on the stick now. And not let up one minute until these people are out of office. They are not so much public servants as they are self-serving. They are the Eminent Domain Trio forevermore.

As a human being, I stand with the Hicks family. Their land, their decision. They said no. Residents of East Goshen and Chester County residents and farmers, please stand with this family. This is crap. Pure and simple.

#HandsOffTheHicksFarm pass it on. Post it. Share it. Stand with this family. Trust me, you think eminent domain couldn’t happen to you…until it does. Remember Stonleigh and Natural Lands?

Eminent domain is an ugly business. It is defined as the right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction.

It’s morally and ethically reprehensible.

#HandsOffTheHicksFarm

really east goshen? you are going to play the eminent domain game?

I read local municipality agendas. It’s a very easy way to learn what’s going on around you. and when I read the most recent one for East Goshen Township warning bells went off in my head.

https://eastgoshen.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/2021-06-15_Board-of-Supervisors-Agenda.pdf

So….let’s get to it. Has anyone looked at East Goshen Township’s upcoming BOS Agenda? There is some special and interestingly worded language about a potential “right of way land acquisition” for the Paoli Pike Trail and the Hicks Farm. (Item 11 “New Business”)

When you read that after reading item 5B which refers to “Executive session” and “legal matter pertaining to the Paoli Pike trail”, if you have ever followed eminent domain cases it makes you wonder what East Goshen Township is up to precisely doesn’t it?

East Goshen are you playing at eminent domain???

https://eastgoshen.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/2021-06-15_Board-of-Supervisors-Agenda.pdf

Read the agenda and ask those supervisors some questions….at the meeting.

At what cost do trails get built? And is this where they were talking development a while back?

Eminent Domain is something I despise. I helped find it successfully many years ago in Ardmore thanks to our groups help from the Institute for Justice in Washington DC. I learned about both kinds of eminent domain, private gain and public purpose. And municipalities love to say public purpose is for the public good but is it always for the public good?

Since I saw these items on the agenda I have been asking around. And I was told that indeed residents did receive an eminent domain letter from East Goshen Township. And then I saw this:

I went through the public meeting packet for East Goshen Township for their upcoming meeting. And there is nothing like taking letter included in the packet and that should be publicly posted. Because if they’re doing it for the public good, don’t hide it in executive session agenda items which I have to ask is that what they’re trying to do?

Here is this Op-Ed I saw in Patch and Delaware Valley Journal:

📌‼️Chester County’s Eminent Problem
Posted to Politics June 11, 2021 by Stephen Wahrhaftig

Imagine a knock on your door, and somebody announces that they intend to purchase your home, and that you will need to vacate it shortly. Imagine, also, that you are told that the value of your home will be established by the purchaser, and that you must accept the offer without objection. Sounds like a nightmare scenario.

This nightmare has played out time and again here in Chester County. It occurs when a local government decides that they want to take someone’s property for public use that is deemed more important than the rights of the property owner. It does not matter how long the property may have been owned, or how the owner feels about being forced to give up their land. If the locality wants it, they can take it at a price they feel they should pay. The process is called Eminent Domain, a somewhat gray area of law that has been in constant dispute for decades.

In the recent past, there have been examples of localities using Eminent Domain to seize private property for values that owners have felt unjust, and for reasons the community has sometimes found inappropriate….The latest threat of Eminent Domain use is happening in East Goshen Township. The victim in this case is Goshen View Farm, owned by the Hicks family. The ancestors of this family settled in Chester County back in 1769. According to a family member, this farm was purchased by William Huey Hicks in 1909. William was interested in the land because of the new system of electrification along Paoli Pike. Hicks bought the farm from the Sharpless family the old-fashioned way, by offering the owner a fair price and having the seller agree to the transaction in a free and agreeable sale….You may ask what the critical need is for taking a strip of land from a farm along Paoli Pike? Is there a hospital being built? Perhaps some emergency access is needed for a fire department? In fact, this property is being seized for a possible walking trail no more than two miles long, according to some local residents.

Sometimes referred to as “The Trail to Nowhere,” this strip of property is supposed to meet up with other township trails that may or may not ever exist, or even meet with this section of the trail. Perhaps the prospect of millions in government grant money is affecting the decision to invoke Eminent Domain. By some estimates, the township is spending about $5 million per mile to build the trail, $10 million in total.

The family that owns the property is not only unhappy with the threat of Eminent Domain but is also concerned about how visitors may impact their valuable horse stabling business, and about liabilities that may ensue when bikers and hikers cross the vehicle traffic on the farm lane exiting to Paoli Pike.‼️📌

Ok East Goshen there is building a walkable community and then there is bullsheit. This,East Goshen, is bullsheit .

I am all for walking trails. And I love the trails that East Goshen has in their park down the road. But this this is crap. I mean what are they going to do connect their trail with West Chester Borough? I mean do they want to connect their trail to 202 or something?

I have not seen the eminent domain taking letter, only told by a few sources that it exists. If the owners want to make it public I am happy to publish it because Imms always going to have a problem with eminent domain. And I don’t think this has anything to do with public purpose I think this has to do with legacy building on the part of some of these supervisors and that is WRONG.

And when I saw this editorial, it did make me realize that Chester county does have an eminent domain problem from time to time and this is one of those times.

East Goshen should learn from the mistakes of others. We will start with Coatesville when they tried to take the Sahas’ Farm for a golf course. Then will move right along to West Vincent Township when they tried to take the Ludwigs Corner Horse Show via eminent domain. In both cases this ended quite badly for these municipalities and at quite an expense.

And East Goshen? Time to be public about this. And stop the madness. Why is it farms especially farms with horses have to be subjected to eminent domain takings? Aren’t enough things like overdevelopment threatening the equine and agricultural history and traditions of this county as it is???

Other things East Goshen is NOT considering is the impact this would have on a working farm or how this not might but would affect their liability and liability coverage.

Trails are like a shiny new bauble for municipalities but they have to be done and created for the right reasons. If East Goshen wants to use eminent domain it’s the wrong reason.

Farmers and equestrians I am asking you to stand with concerned East Goshen residents and the Hicks family Tuesday , June 15th at this IN PERSON meeting at EAST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP located at 1580 Paoli Pike West Chester, PA 19380. The meeting starts at 7 PM. If my friend the late Dick Saha was still on this earthly plane I know for sure he would be there with his farmer friends.

Also, I encourage people and media to FLOOD East Goshen with emails and calls:

Eeast Goshen Township Building
East Goshen Township
1580 Paoli Pike
West Chester, PA 19380-6199
Phone: (610) 692-7171
Fax: (610) 692-8950
Office hours 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Please note that you must wear a mask when entering the building.

dshuey@eastgoshen.org

mlynch@eastgoshen.org

jhertzog@eastgoshen.org

mshane@eastgoshen.org

mtruitt@eastgoshen.org

Interim Township Manager: ddavis@eastgoshen.org

Outgoing Township Manager: rsmith@eastgoshen.org

Giddy up folks. This farm needs our support. And East Goshen? While I respect a lot of what you do, I don’t respect this and I am entitled to my opinion.

Thanks for stopping by.

#PACKTHEMEETING

the potential willistown development project that needs people on a zoom call for is tonight! rock hill farm which is 222 acres!

I do not have a horse in this race but this is one of these properties that if it all gets chopped up for development it would be horrible. This property is in Willistown Township and Great Valley School District. The Great Valley School District is bursting at the seams already, so all of these developments add up.

So according to what I saw posted in Willistown Community Page it is like 14 houses. Big questions include: if the property is 222 acres per realtor and media descriptions are these homes all going to be on like 15+ acre lots? Or will these McMansions be built on smaller parcels and what happens to the rest?

If you are interested in this meeting the Willistown Planning Commission is TONIGHT June 9 at 7:30 PM. It is a ZOOM meeting and you can register for it here:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kV9E5WFOTL65buU3aNCCrg

Hopefully a good chunk of this land is in conservation, but given what we have see happen with other large parcels including what is still being fought over at Crebilly in Westtown, the devil is in the details. Tune in!

People should be tuning into Willistown now anyway given all sorts of things like….why are there only TWO supervisors now????

one more night for crebilly! please virtually attend! take a stand! bear witness!

The battle to save Crebilly in Westtown is perhaps at its crescendo tonight. I am asking if you have the time to be at this virtual meeting, please do so. You don’t have to speak, but please bear witness. Let Troll Brothers and the Robinson family know we are all still out here.

May be an image of text that says 'Time for the People to BE HEARD. PUBLIC COMMENT ON TOLL BROS CREBILLY Il CONDITIONAL USE HEARING #12 Geoa MAY 26, 2021 7T09PM LINK FOR ZOOM INFO SCAN CAMERA HERE NEIGHBORSFOR CREBILLY FARM'
~Courtesy of Neighbors for Crebilly and that scan code is awesome!

Anyone is welcome to virtually attend this meeting. Westtown has provided simple instructions HERE:

Instructions for Westtown Board of Supervisors
Toll Bros./Crebilly Farm Conditional Use Hearing #12
Virtual Public Meeting via the Zoom Platform
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Meeting Start Time is 7:00 PM


Anyone wishing to attend the virtual Conditional Use hearing may do so by calling this phone number: 1-646-558-8656 When your call is answered, you will be required to enter the meeting ID#: 843 6206 3236

If you are prompted for a participant ID, press # (a participant ID is not required).


OR you can watch a live-feed of the meeting by clicking on this link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84362063236
When you are prompted for a pass code, enter: 246277


You may connect to the meeting up to 15 minutes prior to the start time. All attendees will be placed in a waiting area before being permitted into the hearing.

The hearing audio and video will be recorded and be used by the Court Reporter to assist in transcribing the testimony. Following the completion of the hearing transcript, the Zoom recording will be destroyed.


If you have party status, please ensure that you enter your full name so that the host will be able to recognize you. The parties will be recognized individually, and given the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses. If you have party status and join by phone, please indicate your presence by pressing *9 for the hearing host to recognize you. You will then have to press *6 to unmute yourself when prompted by the host. The non-party members of the public will have the opportunity to observe the hearing, but public comment is deferred until the end of the evidentiary portion of the hearing.

Due to the online nature of the system, there is a slight delay, so please take your time and be patient. There will be a slight pause when one person finishes speaking and another person starts. While in this virtual hearing, we ask that you conduct yourself in a civil manner. Any conduct deemed inappropriate (language, etc.) will result in your being removed from the hearing.

No in-person attendance at the Township Building will be permitted.

Now I am going to share thoughts from two women I know and call friends:

From Kathleen Brady Shea:

And from Mindy Rhodes (and I am including a plea she made to the Robinsons back when this first began:)

Dear Friends,

This coming Wednesday, May 26th at 7pm will be the 12th Conditional Use hearing regarding the Crebilly II application and the agreement of sale between Toll Brothers and the owners of Crebilly Farm.  THIS hearing needs all hands on deck because public comment will begin as soon as Toll completes their rebuttal of last hearing’s witnesses.  This is an opportunity for every single one of us to make our voices heard.  It does not matter where you live.  It does not matter whether you have party status.  It does, however, matter that every single one of us rise to this opportunity and speak up by stating how this development will negatively impact our community and why the Westtown Township Board of Supervisors should deny Conditional Use to Toll Brothers.

HEARING #12, WEDNESDAY, MAY 26TH, 7PM to be held virtually

To attend via zoom, click on the link below and enter the passcode if/when prompted:

Link:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84362063236

Passcode:  246277

To attend by phone, dial the number below and enter the meeting ID#:

Dial:  1-646-558-8656 

Meeting ID#:  843 6206 3236

*No other ID is required, press # if asked for one

For more information, here is the link from the Westtown Township website:

Below is the link to my last message about how important Massive Public Outcry is now more than ever; please review and be prepared with written statements to read for public comment; how will you be negatively impacted and why the BOS should deny Conditional Use to Toll Brothers:  https://crebillyfarmfriends.com/2021/04/28/crebilly-farm-update-4-28-21-a-call-to-action/

The time and energy all of us have invested over the last (almost) five years, needless to say, has been substantial.  When compared to the permanent impact a development of this magnitude will have on our community, American history and the devastation it will do to land, nature and nearby waterways- the time and energy is invaluable.  I still believe the owners of Crebilly Farm have every right to sell their land for profit.  However this plan and this developer is simply unacceptable.  And it is up to the rest of us to continue to speak up and stand firm:  Westtown Township must deny Conditional Use to Toll Brothers.

If not you, then who?

Sincerely,

Mindy Rhodes

And one last thing? This YouTube about the history of the land. It’s not just about saving a spectacular swath of land from greedy Toll Brothers and their horrible developments, it’s about our very history:

We all lead busy lives. But it requires nothing of us to spend a little time on a virtual meeting. I don’t have standing, but I will tune in out of solidarity for those who do and who have been valiantly fighting the good fight here. We drove past Crebilly on 202 and 926 not so long ago. You couldn’t help but notice the deterioration of the structures on the edge of Crebilly….and that horrible forest of development signs at the corner of 202 and 926. We need to come together as a county every damn time one of these projects is featured at a meeting. It doesn’t matter what township we are from, we are all affected by this crap.

And all of this new development is crap. Pure and simple. Chester County is losing more and more open space and farmland by the day. And with the potential for more crap coming out of West Chester Borough regarding the Wyeth site, this is even more important from a traffic standpoint alone.

I know, I know, it’s like yes we are coming out of a global pandemic, but apparently it hasn’t slowed down the developers, has it? And with virtual meetings we really can put in an appearance occasionally as residents.

Please make time for Crebilly tonight. It cold be the last time. Take a stand Chester County, Take a Stand. Don’t let Crebilly become the next Foxcatcher Farm/Liseter.

is it possible to STOP toll brothers from destroying crebilly farm in  westtown? sadly, probably not. | chestercountyramblings

swiss mess

Swiss Pines is a real Swiss Mess. I wrote about Swiss Pines a few years ago (see along charlestown road and swiss pines.)

Swiss Pines is still a magical place although totally beat up looking now from the road. Last news I heard was that Swiss Pines is saved but I hope to God something happens with it soon.