old paoli at risk in tredyffrin and what’s up in mt. pleasant?

Sadly, these are the four “Seven Sisters” houses on Chestnut Road slated for demolition to make way for a multi-story apartment building. ~Pattye Benson Community Matters Photo

Sadly, these are the four “Seven Sisters” houses on Chestnut Road in Paoli slated for demolition to make way for a multi-story apartment building. ~Pattye Benson Community Matters Photo

My friend Pattye ended her post today with a sentence I would have led with:

Please do not misunderstand; I support economic redevelopment if thoughtful and well-planned.

 

I concur, but the sad truth is we rarely see thoughtful and well-planned redevelopment or infill development (are you listening or hearing anyone yet Brian O’Leary and Chester County Planning Commission???)

So the other day I wrote a post about more bad development planned for Tredyffrin Township. My main focus was Benson’s plan for Howellville (he’s the guy who said he would restore Linden Hall in East Whiteland if he was allowed to build townhomes, but all he did was sell his approved plans to Pulte who is still cramming them in on Lancaster Ave in Frazer ….And yes everything is Malvern now much like everything further west is Chester Springs even if it isn’t, but I digress.)

Anyway, there were a couple of other things on Tredyffrin Planning, including a cram plan for shoehorning in an apartment building on Chestnut Road in Paoli.

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Wonder where this is?  Here is a Google aerial view to help:

chestnut-aerial

Paoli, as a village, was larger but similar to places like Ardmore with residential neighborhoods which were planned and existed off Lancaster Pike (Lancaster Ave).  People still live in them today, and on Chestnut there are quite a few restored houses.

Tredyffrin like East Whiteland has no historic preservation ordinance in place and in spite of near losses like that of the Covered Wagon Inn (which if it wasn’t for my friend Pattye would be a pile of rubble), there seems to be no discernible forward movement in this area.

I wonder, is Murph Wysocki listening?  I seem to remember what he said when running for supervisor around 2013:

…My vision for the future of TredyffrinTownship is to preserve again what we have here that’s all good –our neighborhoods, our open spaces….

Chestnut Road in Paoli is still a neighborhood even if you also find mixed use and commercial in and around it. So what about these neighborhoods? Not fancy enough to save? What happens when all the inventory of starter homes and downsizing homes are gone?

This is why I have several philosophical differences with those who run and govern Tredyffrin and neighboring townships like East Whiteland.  The zeal for development and ratables combined with a lack of real community planning that communities actually want mixed with a disregard for historic preservation is just a big problem.

Paoli’s orginal roots were 18th century and Joshua Evans’ Inn – General Paoli’s Tavern – named after a Corsican General Pasquale Paoli. General Paoli also inspired the American Sons of Liberty.  Paoli is also famous for the Battle of Paoli/Paoli Massacre  (battlefields stretch into Malvern as we all know).

Where we are talking about is not 18th century Paoli, but 19th century Paoli.  19th century Paoli grew out of the railroad. First the village grew with the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, which became the Pennsylvania Railroad and their famous “Main Line” which ended at Paoli….you know why we still say the Main Line ENDS at Paoli? Paoli was the western terminus.

Paoli has quite a few small neighborhoods like this and it terrifies me that they could all just cease to exist through a lack of historic preservation and proper planning.

And the most terrifying thing of all?  THESE PROPERTIES ARE ALREADY UNDER ONE OWNER which means unless stopped, this plan could move FAST!

This is where I let Pattye’s post take over, and I will join you for a last word about continuing issues in Tredyffrin’s panhandle adjacent to Radnor Township.

Trading in four 19th century houses in Paoli for a new multi-story apartment building … is this progress?

The four houses to be demolished are individually included in the 2003 Tredyffrin Township Historic Resource Survey book.  For the township’s survey, the houses were surveyed and photographed. The historic consultant described their architectural style as “gable-end Colonial Revival cottage” and dated the properties to 1895.

Through local history, the neighborhood of the seven 19th century homes on the east side of Chestnut Road was known as Paoli’s “Seven Sisters”.  Now one hundred and twenty-two years later and four of the ‘sisters’ are on the brink of demolition. Single family homes of the 19th century to be replaced by 21st century multi-family apartment building. Destruction of local history in the name of progress …?

Although the four 19th century homes are included in the township’s historic resource book, the identification is meaningless as Tredyffrin remains a municipality without a historic preservation ordinance of protection.  Without historic protection and the property’s inclusion in the Town Center zoning district, the proposed apartments are a permitted use. Chestnut Road Apartments will join the other new apartment plan in Paoli – Station Square on the corner of N. Valley and West Central.

Close-up of Colonial Revival cottage, c.1895 house on Chestnut Road that will come down for the proposed new apartment building.

Close-up of Colonial Revival cottage, c.1895 house on Chestnut Road in Paoli that will come down for the proposed new apartment building.

…The proposed Howellville Road townhouse plan returned to the Planning Commission. No Tredyffrin resident spoke in favor of the project and several in the audience voiced opposition……Neighbors spoke about the existing traffic issues on Howellville Road and the negative impact of this proposed townhouse on the community. Others, including myself, spoke of the historic significance of the village (and the old winding country road) and the changes the project will mean to the character of the area…..These proposed townhouses should not be marketed as a downsizing option – we were told each unit is 3,000 sq. ft.!  (READ MORE BY CLICKING HERE)

A reminder, this is the way Howellville could look:

howellville-road-townhome-plans
This is what it looks like now:
Pattye Benson photo

Howellville today. Pattye Benson photo

Tredyffrin, like neighboring East Whiteland needs to slow their development roll.  George Washington sure wouldn’t want to sleep there today, would he?

Now the last word.  Historic Mount Pleasant.

Mt. Pleasant is a historically important part of Tredyffrin adjacent to Radnor Township in Tredyffrin’s “pan handle”.

Because Tredyffrin also did not deal with student rentals for so long, this is also where student housing slumlords have set up quite the slumlord student rental shop, and well suffice it to say, the college students who rent there have historically treated an entire historic area like animal house.

I have a friend who lives there and the stories over the years have been appalling.  Things like urinating on children’s toys in some someone’s yard. Beer cans and party debris littering the streets. Out of control parties. Residents being shall we say, intimidated?

As my friend said around 2009:

I would like Tredyffrin to take a look at the historic value of Mount Pleasant.

The Carr House on the corner of Upper Gulph and Radnor Street Road was built c. 1774. The Carr School was built in 1833. My house, according to the deed was built around 1789. 961 Mt. Pleasant Avenue was built around 1810. 941 Mt. Pleasant was built around 1860.

And what about the significance of Mount Pleasant over the past 100 years as a historically african-american neighborhood?

As was said in 2010:

The Mount Pleasant neighborhood is located on the north side of Upper Gulph Road, across from St. Davids Golf Club…. several unsettling changes taking place in their neighborhood – the influx of investors converting family homes into student housing, and developers buying and razing properties to build new housing…..

Another issue troubling many in Mount Pleasant is the amount of land that has been snatched up in the past few years by developers. The demolition of homes and clear-cutting of land are viewed as detracting from the history and character of this predominately African-American community.

One developer reportedly clear-cut trees and shrubs despite a development plan that spared mature trees. In the process, some private property was cleared without the homeowners’ permission. Another developer demolished a house at 958 Mount Pleasant Rd., leaving the lot debris, trash and weed-filled, attracting rodents. This mess has sat unattended for over a year.

Maisie B Hall house 210 – Photo courtesy http://www.ttdems.com

The property under development at the foot of Henry Avenue appeared recently tidied and covered with erosion-control netting. However, at least three homes marked for demolition at this site continue to sit abandoned and a danger to neighborhood children. One is the century-old home (shown left) of revered community leader and civil rights activist, Mazie B. Hall.

 

Now this where I have always been puzzled about Tredyffrin.  They have bragging rights to Mazie Hall since she lived in Mt. Pleasant. I think they named a park after her. So why not honor her 103 years on this earth by trying to preserve the community she fought for and called home? Every time I hear anything about Mt. Pleasant I feel like they are trying to erase it.

Here is what Ryan Richards, who used to write for the Suburban, wrote about Mazie Hall upon her death in 2005:

Obituary: Civil-rights activist and educator Mazie Hall dies at 103 Date: 2005
Suburban and Wayne Times

By Ryan Richards

Mazie B. Hall – educator, mentor, civil-rights activist, community leader and friend to many – passed away Sunday evening at age 103.

She was affectionately known simply as “Miss Mazie,” and until only recently she called the Mt. Pleasant section of Tredyffrin her home since her birth in 1902. According to those who knew her, Miss Hall left a legacy of caring and compassion.

“She lived her life and she lived it greatly,” remarked Kevin Stroman, a native of Mt. Pleasant and close friend of Miss Hall. “She was just a living legend; her legacy was how many lives that she touched, not just through education but personally.”

“She was an inspiration and beacon to us all through educational, civic, horticultural contributions to the Main Line community, and especially her beloved Wayne,” said Mrs. Arnelia Hollinger, a Wayne resident of nearly 35 years and former chair of Radnor Township’s Community Awareness Committee…..Yet, according to Rector, she was humble, not “stuffy,” and modestly talked about her life. She fondly recalled her luncheon visits to her Mt. Pleasant home, where Miss Hall was a genteel host. She baked a special dessert, Sally Lunn cake, a slightly sweetened teacake, reminisced Rector, serving it with the proper silverware and glasses. The gracious host also took her guest on a tour of the grounds.

“She showed me trees that her father had planted,” she remembered.

Miss Hall graduated from the former Tredyffrin-Easttown High School and then graduated from West Chester Normal School (West Chester University). Until her death, she was the university’s oldest graduate. The school maintains a scholarship fund in her honor.

She taught school for many years in New Jersey’s Camden School District. Her career as an educator also included serving one year as principal at the former Mt. Pleasant School in Tredyffrin in the 1930s. When schools in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District became segregated, she was involved in the movement for desegregation.

She teamed up with long-time friend Margaret Collins to crusade for fair-housing practices on the Main Line during the 1950s. Their efforts influenced the formation of the Pennsylvania Fair Housing Act, the basis for federal fair-housing laws.

READ THE REST HERE

Now I knew Miss Collins as I called her. I used to wait on her when I worked at Bryn Mawr Feed & Seed a million years ago. She loved to garden.  She would show up in her crazy beat up old station wagon and I was the one who would wait on her.  I worked there at that nursery after I stopped working in New York. I was totally disenchanted at that time by the financial services industry and decided to explore my passion for gardening professionally. (Suffice it to say working for the widow who inherited and eventually shuttered the business almost killed my joy of gardening for a while, but that is a story for another day.)

Miss Collins, by the time I met her was a very old lady like her friend Mazie Hall.  But what a career they had.   Read about some of what they did on the website Housing Equality Center of PA.  Also the papers of Mazie Hall are curated and archived by Temple University, while her friend Margaret Collins’ papers are at Swarthmore College.

So sorry for going off on a tangent, but when I think of Mazie Hall and all that she accomplished, I think of Miss Collins.  And when I think of Mt. Pleasant, I think of Mazie Hall.

Back to Mt. Pleasant.  It still suffers from off campus student housing and now it also apparently suffers from developers who get away with crazy stuff.  Like this photo I am about to show you:

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Mt. Pleasant has been photographed in the past HERE and HERE. I am wondering if it needs to be photographed again? (Residents can feel free to message the blog’s Facebook page with any photos they care to share)

If you lived in a neighborhood of small homes, would you want this thing next to you? And how is that garage a basement?

Tredyffrin has zoning and development issues.  They are hardly alone in Chester County with this as I have mentioned before. Developer driven zoning and zoning overlays eats communities one road at a time like an army of Pac-Men.  Community input should actually be taken into consideration, not just paid lip service to.  And these smaller neighborhoods like you see in Paoli being threatened are often representative of a community’s more affordable housing.

I am sorry but not sorry in my thought that people do not move to Chester County to live crammed in like lemmings in overpriced squished together townhouses and apartments.

Here’s hoping townships like Tredyffrin and East Whiteland which share borders, history, and apparently developers learn to hit the pause button before what makes each of these municipalities special is eradicated one bad plan at a time.

#SlowDownChesterCountyPADevelopment

the anti-development valentine

This is what development does to open space, to farms. Taken from the air by a friend.

This is what development does to raw land. Given that some reporters are writing “elegies” for Crebilly and 6ABC’s coverage last night, I thought I would leave all of you with an anti-development valentine to ponder today.

It used to be if development was thoughtful, a community might be able to tolerate it. But when was the last time anyone anywhere saw a thoughtful, inclusive development that nodded towards the future while respecting the past?  When is the last time any developer who came into Chester County gave a crap about the agricultural and equine heritage of Chester County let alone open space?

Affectionately referred to as "Lake Pulte" - out near/in West Vincent. Reader submitted photo

Affectionately referred to as “Lake Pulte” – out near/in West Vincent. Reader submitted photo

Oh sure they say they will give you a trail and preserve the trees but is that fair compensation to communities that depended on farming for so many reasons let alone starting with growing our food? Is that fair compensation to the schools when they get overcrowded and taxpayers are forced to build new ones?  Is that fair compensation for the loss of history? Is it fair compensation for turning country roads into scenes from outside the King of Prussia Mall?  And in the end do they actually preserve the trees let alone preserve a way of life and the history that makes Chester County great?

This is “Liseter” in Newtown Square. It used to be known as Foxcatcher Farm. This is what Toll Brothers did there and it has almost the same number of plastic McMansions they want on Crebilly.

I don’t think so. And no one is doing anything too slow or even measure the pace of development. Brian O’Leary and the Chester County Planning Commission want to talk a good game but what do they actually do? Unless we all forget Mr. O’Leary learned how to talk a good game from the masters in Lower Merion Township where he lives and where he once served on that planning commission, right?

Our state and federal elected officials are all busy fighting each other over who was elected president, but what are they doing for us in as far as historical preservation, land conservation, environmental conservation, open space conservation? What are they doing to protect the future of farming and Chester County and across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?  Come to think of it since election day what has any elected official done for any of us in any capacity other than being a talking head?

Happy Valentine’s Day Chester County.  Here is hoping from one end of the county to the other people wake up before it’s too late and realize developers are no gift.

Also Toll Brothers. Was once the most glorious series of farm fields and beautiful woods. Little Conestoga Road, Upper Uwchlan. Went by there last week and what was different is there are a couple of “sample” houses on a barren stripped swath of land.

Notice the land and tree “preservation” at Foxcatcher? Be horrified, this is the future at Crebilly.

 

Not Toll Brothers but this was the old Quigley Farm on White Horse Road in Charlestown Township. The title of this photo is “death of a farm”

Another view of what used to be open space in Chester County…..

Even Malvern Borough can’t escape – used to be Gables Greenhouses….

every day a new “executive action”

buh-bye-dodd-frank

Buh byes Dodd-Frank Act.

To me as a former Compliance Officer I am mixed on this.  Five years ago around this time I left a job and regulators I detested. I had recently finished breast cancer treatment and I was exhausted.  And my head wasn’t in the game any longer.  Being a Compliance Officer is like being the nanny to recalcitrant adult toddlers. So I decided to leave because essentially that is what you are supposed to do. It was not an easy decision and there was that great unknown quality, but stress kills and post breast cancer my doctors said flat out to reduce my stress or I would most definitely suffer a recurrence.

And amusingly enough, a couple of weeks after I resigned my job some of the SEC either five or six regulators who were assigned to overseeing my branch of the financial services industry called me on my cell phone after I left  my old company – you see when compliance officers leave, regulated businesses have to file about that – it is a material change to a company in the financial services industry.  Therefore, in a sense, my decision to leave because of breast cancer became a public one of sorts.   (Good thing I decided from jump to be open about my breast cancer, right?)

Anyway, I can’t say I didn’t expect the call, nor was it completely out of the realm of normal.  It still, however,  irritated the crap out of me – one because my cell phone isn’t just out there with directory assistance, and secondly because government has this big brother aspect at times that I find incredibly intrusive and in a sense at times runs contrary to the freedoms our founding fathers bled for two hundred some odd years ago.

I told them yes, I really did have breast cancer, really was treated for breast cancer,  and yes having breast cancer really did motivate me to look at my life and make changes.  So the part of me who had to deal with that then cheers what Trump did today BUT then there is my rational mind.  And my rational mind knows that there do need to be regulations.

I think I can safely say trying to navigate under Dodd-Frank was a hot mess BUT it was put in place for very good and valid reasons. Remember 2008? A guy named Madoff?

Dodd-Frank is large, no huge. Dodd Frank is also cumbersome and interpretations of rules always felt like  a moving target at best .  People were never sure if even the regulators knew which end was up a lot of the time, but hey it did increase the presence and budget on the Securities and Exchange Commission didn’t it?

Obviously I feel Trump is and always will be Wall Street’s boy although I do think that he makes them nervous because of his unpredictable nature.

Elizabeth Warren said today I believe as per The Street:

“Donald Trump talked a big game about Wall Street during his campaign — but as President, we’re finding out whose side he’s really on,” the Massachusetts Democrat said. “The Wall Street bankers and lobbyists whose greed and recklessness nearly destroyed this country may be toasting each other with champagne, but the American people have not forgotten the 2008 financial crisis – and they will not forget what happened today.”

 

She’s not wrong.  And (again)  the problem is the Democrats had quite a few years to work out the kinks on Dodd-Frank and they did not.

It was introduced as “The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009” (H.R. 4173)  December 2, 2009 – described as “an Act to promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end “too big to fail”, to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes.”

But where I think parts of it should have been rolled back and/or amended I think rolling it ALL back is a mistake and will open up American investors to harm with no recourse.

But as Bloomberg is reporting:

Trump on Friday signed two directives aimed at starting the process of rolling back restrictions put in place to prevent another financial crisis. Among the targets are rules that guard against predatory lenders, force brokers to lower fees for retirees and ban proprietary trading — protections that consumer advocates vowed to defend….“We’re going to attack all aspects of Dodd-Frank,” Gary Cohn, the director of the White House National Economic Council and former Goldman Sachs president, said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. The administration “can do quite a bit” without help from lawmakers, Cohn said, “but the more help we get from Congress the better off we’re all going to be.”

Does everyone remember MCI Worldcom?  Years ago at another job I was in an office building where MCI Worldcom had a presence.  I remember the day many many moons ago when I ran into a single mom who worked for WorldCom after she had lost her job AND after she lost all of her years of retirement savings when they went bust.  It’s something you don’t forget.

Now Wall Street must be cheering.  Fat cats hate, hate, hate rules and regulation.  But you do actually need it. Greed is good to fictional characters like Gordon Gekko, but in reality, greed is not a good motivator.

Forbes has an interesting piece out on aspects of Dodd-Frank they think should be retained.

Here is what NPR had to say a little while ago:

President Trump signed two directives on Friday, ordering a review of financial industry regulations known as Dodd-Frank and halting implementation of a rule that requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

Trump himself made his intentions clear in a meeting with small business owners Monday. “Dodd-Frank is a disaster,” Trump said. “We’re going to be doing a big number on Dodd-Frank.”…”This is not an attempt to undo Dodd-Frank,” the administration official insisted before going on to explain that some of the work of changing regulations, including the so-called Volcker Rule to mitigate risks, could be done through personnel, putting Trump-allied people in charge at agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Small business owners and everyday mom and pop small investors are exactly the types of folks who need protection.

And Washington D.C. always runs on the buddy system, but now we are talking scary buddies, or we are seeing what happens when you let the foxes have fun in the hen house.

One of the quotes which stood out in the New York Times this afternoon is:

“We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank because frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine that had nice businesses, they can’t borrow money,” Mr. Trump said in the State Dining Room during his meeting with business leaders. “They just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let them borrow it because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank.”

Respectfully Mr. President, maybe some of your friends shouldn’t be getting loans?

Trump signing this latest Executive Order (he seems to issue forth with them like farts) doesn’t mean he can like magic immediately undo Dodd-Frank. Which means Americans really should be calling their elected representatives about this, immigration, environmental issues, the Affordable Care Act and so many things.

MODERATION.  We seem to be missing that with this new administration.  At times we missed in in the prior administration. But it is what we desperately need before this great nation of ours completely dissolves into riot.

But as far as Dodd-Frank goes (and mind you I do not want to make my readers’ eyes glaze over), I leave you with this:

You know how Showtime has a show called Billions? Well it might be a Hollywood created drama, but well let’s just say they take their inspiration from the real world.

We need a system of checks and balances in this country and with good and proven reason. (see Too Big To Fail)

Right now as American we are riding on the tail of a tsunami.  That’s not good for anyone.

 

 

seen at phl 

I have a couple of friends down at a huge Trump protest going on right now at Philadelphia International Airport over immigration policies he put into action via Executive Order.  One of them sent me this sign photo.

Apparently there are thousands upon thousands of people protesting and it seems from the Facebook live videos that it is peaceful but impassioned.

As a child who was born in the mid 60s, I never thought I would see protests like some of the ones I remember seeing on television as a young child.

I have to admit all this anger and resentment and protest roiling in this country scares me. yet at the same time I understand why people feel it is their civic duty to do this.

These are dark times for the USA.

on walls.



Dear People Celebrating Border Walls Being Built,

Your taxpayer dollars and all of our taxpayer dollars are building the US equivalent of the Great Wall of China meets the Berlin Wall.

As a wise friend said today, build a wall and someone else will build a tunnel. By all means beef up the borders, but a wall is a fools’ errand. And we get to pay for it. Now and in the future.  

Nationalism and patriotism are fine but are being perverted and twisted into something ugly. I do not feel that was what the founding fathers intended. 

We are a nation founded of immigrants who fled tyranny and religious persecution for the hopes of a better life. We now seem to be a country in the early stages of a dictatorship, not democracy. Democracy implies a thoughtful balanced process, and we are not seeing that.

What we are seeing in this country is the politics of extremism hard at work. The politics of extremism foments hate, and fear, and ugliness. There is nothing “great” about that.

A lot of the people celebrating each new hour and things like building walls and putting a woman’s place in a wayback time machine to the 1950s and earlier are people who profess themselves to be Christians. I am having a particularly hard time getting my head wrapped around that.

Sorry I just don’t get it.

Sorry this garbage is not what it means to be an American.

Be careful if you leave a comment as I am in a not suffering fools lightly kind of mood.

And if you want to read a really interesting piece on America’s new reality, check out:
 

Politico: How Trump Could Shrink the Government (While Still Keeping the Good Stuff)

Call it limited-government liberalism, or compassionate conservatism, Washington could ink a new contract with Americans. Is the new president bold enough to try?

By MICHAEL GRUNWALD January/February 2017