no billboards in bryn mawr…haverford township…lower merion township…tredyffrin township….east whiteland township…and MORE

In 2009, lots of people (myself included) started going to billboard hearings in Haverford Township. And in Lower Merion Township. Sometimes we numbered in the 150+ per meeting.

We all also used to protest regularly. The two townships and their solicitors and commissioners were solidly with the community too. They didn’t want these billboards anymore than the residents in these locations.

My friends in small Haverford Township neighborhoods were the most imminently threatened, like my pals on Penn Street, Dayton Road, Lee Avenue, San Marino and more (there are multiple locations in Haverford Township, these were just the streets near me.)

However, my own neighborhood which stretched out behind Our Mother of Good Counsel Church in Lower Merion was potentially affected. And even worse? Where I lived was in a HISTORIC DISTRICT! (Which is why The Lower Merion Conservancy is alerting people to the court hearings beginning today in Media! It’s STILL a historic district!)

Then after a few years of attending meetings which seemed monthly if not more, my life changed. First breast cancer, followed by a move to Chester County, and I thought well at least I don’t have to worry about those ugly billboards anymore, right?

Wrong.

Phoenixville, Charlestown Township, West Whiteland, Tredyffrin now headed for county court, and a lot of them planned for East Whiteland Township.

Relentless.

I get that the billboard company owner wants to sit in traffic and look at his signs, but they are his signs. They don’t belong to the community at all. Which is why you see elected officials in Lower Merion and Haverford Townships still fighting for the residents and starting today, if y’all want you can join them in Media:

Also this week? The billboard company is doing a presentation at the Desmond in Malvern on what they want to do in East Whiteland. See this flyer (which I personally did not create but I am sharing):

‼️Is this Chester County or Las Vegas? Good question. ‼️

It’s no secret how I feel about these billboards. I think they’re simply awful. I don’t think they have a place in our communities. I don’t think they do anything positive for our communities. It’s all about somebody else’s sense of capitalism. And while on a certain level I begrudgingly respect their desire to make a buck, they shouldn’t do it at the expense of people in communities everywhere should they?

The media has not really picked up on billboards in East Whiteland. They should as it is just another in a long long line or list of communities facing the same company.

And why is it that these billboards have to be everywhere? Or anywhere? Let us not forget there are FOUR states in this country that do not have billboards and they seem to live just beautifully. Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine—have prohibited billboards.

The protest photos you are seeing were taken by friends in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania yesterday. This morning I wish my friends who are headed or in court already in Media best of luck.

As communities near and far we are #StrongerTogether. #NoBillboards

do YOU want signs like this in your community?

A friend of mine sent me this today because they were up in Quakertown, PA.

This is the company that Haverford Township goes to court with this week after many years of no activity. This is the billboard company that Lower Merion Township has gone to court with and Tredyffrin Township is currently in court with as well. This is the billboard company that has been to West Whiteland, Phoenixville borough, Charlestown Township, and now is beginning a journey with East Whiteland Township.

I think this is like the best of tacky Vegas and that’s not where we live is it? I think it’s even worse than I 95. But that’s just my opinion.

What is your opinion on the signs out there in blog reader land? I am honestly interested in your opinions. Feel free to leave a comment.

Billboards = Blight

#NoBillboards #NoBillboardsInTheBurbs

over-development coming to radnor on dodo hamilton’s property?

218 Strafford Ave

A Radnor Township friend called this morning about this:

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton
By Linda Stein lstein@21st-centurymedia.com @lsteinreporter on Twitter Jan 13, 2020 Updated Jan 13, 2020

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton

RADNOR — Although no plans have been filed with the township, word is getting around that a developer has set his sights on the Wayne property of the late Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, who was one of the Main Line’s iconic grande dames….Hamilton, a billionaire who grew up in New York and Newport, R.I., where she also kept a home, was a generous philanthropist who gave millions to various institutions in the Philadelphia area….Radnor Township Board of Commissioners President Jack Larkin, who represents Ward 1, has written about the pending development at Eagle and Strafford roads in his newsletters to residents. When asked to comment, Larkin referred a reporter to those missives.

“The developer has shown me two concept sketches for the lots; the first is purportedly a by-right plan, and includes approximately 40 homes,” Larkin wrote in his newsletter. “This is, to me, an unattractive plan: Because the units are, by right, single family dwellings, cramming 40 homes onto the two lots means filling them with houses without space for buffers, open space, or stormwater recharge areas.”

Larkin continued, “The second plan would require a conditional use approval by the township, and would put approximately 50 homes into the two lots —41 town homes on the western lot, and nine single-family dwellings onto the eastern lot. Because the homes on the western lot are town homes, they leave a lot of space for the things that are absent in the by-right plan: Stormwater management, sidewalks, buffers, and open space. The density is problematic for me, but with that in mind, it is a good plan.”…Meanwhile, about 40 nearby neighbors sent this statement to Larkin: “We understand and appreciate the developer’s rights to develop the property, and our goal as a neighborhood is not to squash any development, but to mitigate any negative changes to the neighborhood and keep its current character. For those of us who have lived here many years, we have seen the negative effects of cutting down trees on the Hamilton’s property and the building of just four homes on the corner of Strafford and Eagle Road. Despite the assurances of the engineers, developers, and other experts, our neighborhood has been substantially damaged and our lives negatively affected by ‘tiny’ changes to the Hamilton’s property. There are approximately 40 neighbors on Strafford, Hedgerow, Grant, Forrest, Fairfield, and Old Eagle School who will attest to being harmed financially by the improper regulation of storm water runoff in the past.

“The character of the neighborhood will be drastically changed by the proposed development. Haverford Properties is seeking to double the number of homes within our small community. Our current neighborhood contains 35 acres and 64 homes, approximately two homes per acre. The developers plan to build 50 homes will result in 114 homes, for over three homes per acre….Meanwhile, the developer, Charles Houder, with Haverford Properties Inc., declined comment, saying that he wants to meet with the neighbors first.

Is dear Dodo turning in her grave yet? Do we think the esteemed and philanthropic Dodo would have wanted this for her beloved home?  I mean isn’t the family raking in the cash already? They made what, like $9 million off of the sale of the Newport, Rhode Island property in 2018 according to Town & Country Magazine:

“Judge Judy” Scheindlin and husband Jerry have made the move to Newport, Rhode Island, with the purchase of a $9 million mansion. The iconic home, known as the ‘Bird House” and previously owned by Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, sits atop one of the highest points in all of Newport

And then there were the auctions of antiques and stuff, right? There was one at Bunch in Chadds Ford I remember. And the millions from the auctions held by Freeman’s right? (One was written up in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Freeman’s also auctioned off some of her very spectacular jewelry, didn’t they? (Forbes even mentioned the jewelry, and Philadelphia Magazine had an article too at the time.)

In 2008 Philadelphia Magazine wrote an article on Mrs. Hamilton:

The Last Great Lady
Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton has enjoyed a life of wealth and glamour: a debutante coming-out splashed in the “New York Times”, summers in Newport, and years as the face (and hat!) of the Main Line. In the waning days of Philly high society, we need “Mrs. H.” more than ever.

by AMY KORMAN· 10/21/2008, 10:02 a.m.

Matt Hamilton already knew that his mother was one of your more independent billionaire heiresses…. (When you’re a billionairess, people call you “Mrs.”) With her elegant suits and trademark wide-brimmed hats, she might look the part of the classic old-school socialite, but Dorrance Hill Hamilton (“Dodo” was a nickname inherited from her mother) puts her own stamp on everything she does. This past summer, her clan joined her in Newport, Rhode Island, to celebrate her 80th birthday at a full-on ball at the Newport Country Club — just around the corner from her summer estate, a splendid 1901 mansion called Wildacre — that featured, among other things, face-painting and an ice sculpture in the shape of a dodo bird. Along with her blue satin dress and emeralds, the guest of honor wore a tiny red hat in the shape of a birthday cake….Dorrance Hamilton was born to the role of socialite, of course — she is, famously, the granddaughter of Dr. John T. Dorrance, who invented the condensing process for soup and became the president of the Campbell Soup company in 1914. But while she has led a rarefied life, she is much more invested in carefully distributing her wealth, making sure that the money she bestows so generously is working properly. Recent gifts include $25 million to Thomas Jefferson Hospital; $5 million to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; $5 million to the Kimmel Center; $1 million to the costume collection at the Art Museum’s Perelman Building; and quietly dispersed millions to education causes all over the city, including several parochial schools in West Philly. In essence, she is CEO of what might be called Dorrance Hamilton, Inc., juggling businesses, charities, real estate projects and foundations.

So given what the late Mrs. Hamilton was about, would she be about having a cram plan of her estate whose driveway is on Strafford Avenue in Wayne, adjacent to the Eagle Village Shops ? You know where The Little House Shop and Valley Forge Flowers and more are?

This is the furthermost edge of Radnor Township and will also IMHO drastically affect Tredyffrin Residents won’t it? Traffic is already a nightmare there regularly, and what of Radnor Township School District?  This morning I had parents with kids in Radnor schools express serious concerns off the record.  Apparently the schools like many other schools and school districts are bursting at the seams.  More development doesn’t alleviate this issue. Also back there is a mess when it really rains, so what about storm water management?

Here is what Delaware County has about the real estate parcels. The commercial parcel is Eagle Village and all those stores:

 

Whether it’s the by right plan or the one which would require zoning approvals, why is this what they want to do with the property? I get that the heirs probably have their own ideas about what should happen, but is this what Mrs. Hamilton would have wanted?

For example, Mrs. Hamilton was an avid gardener. I have a Clivia plant that I bought decades ago at St. David’s Fair. It had been grown in Mrs. Hamilton’s greenhouses.  I almost lost this plant a few years ago when I accidentally left it out in too much sun.

And do people know here how she restored the famous Frederick Law Olmstead Jr’s Blue Garden in Newport, RI??  She was a fixture literally at the Philadelphia Flower Show for decades.

Does anyone here much know that she founded the Swiss Village Foundation also up in Newport, Rhode Island. SVF is a nonprofit that along with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine  is dedicated to preserving heritage breeds of livestock. One of the animals they study and protect are the Dutch Belted Cattle which many in Chester County recognize as the “Oreo” cows. Mrs. Hamilton was mourned throughout New England when she died  for all she did.

She gave millions away to charity and seriously, are her heirs suddenly destitute or something? I mean I could get not wanting to be responsible for all of the land but why overly dense development?  Why not have at least part of the property become something like an arboretum like Jenkins, or even go under the umbrella of PHS (you know like  Meadowbrook Farm?)

I find this all to be incredibly sad. And it’s truly so disappointing that her family is considering this. I mean do they need the money that badly? I wish they would consider something else.  But in the end, will they care enough? Who knows. This sad saga is just beginning.  And I predict the surrounding residents will not just go quietly into the night over this. Nor should they.

218 Straf

christmas has left the building

Bit by bit, Christmas has left the building. It has taken longer this year post knee surgery. I also have been sorting the ornaments, honing down what I actually use versus what I haven’t been using.

I did decide I really liked the look of my copper tray loaded up with my old glass candlesticks, so that I am keeping that the same way. I have just put away the Christmas candles and the Christmas tablecloth I used this year which was a cheerful tartan. Now I have one of the vintage damask tablecloths I own on the table. It’s sort of a deep teal to green shade. Totally mid-century and totally fun.

Only the tree remains up and that is indeed a process to take down. The old ornaments all go into their own boxes. One by one. It’s old mercury glass topper has already been put away.

One thing I linger on is my great grandparents’ German Kugel that hung in their home in Lancaster when Mumma, my maternal grandmother, was a little girl. Mumma gave it to my mother, who gave it to me. I don’t have any daughters so I don’t know to whom I will pass it some day.

What I can’t ever decide about the Kugel is should I put it away. It hangs on the dining room chandelier and I love to look at it. So should I keep it hanging? I want to, but realistically if I keep it hanging all year round, chances are I will damage it. So into it’s box it will go until next year.

That is the funny thing about Christmas decorations. There are some you could look at all year round like the Kugel, and others like the Santas and Nutcrackers who seem to stare at you after a while.

Until next year, Christmas, until next year.

east whiteland are you woke to billboard issue YET?

When is the last time you saw essentially EVERY local television network report on an issue in suburbia? Well they turned out in force for billboards in Bryn Mawr. This makes me happy personally, because I was at most of the billboard hearing meetings which began in May, 2009.

So the media should have said MORE than a decade when referring to when this issue began for the beleaguered residents of Bryn Mawr. And while the billboard location is Haverford Township, those billboards also will affect Lower Merion Township residents across Lancaster Avenue. I took the next photo on May 7, 2009. Residents bought blue tarps and put them all together so everyone could see how big a billboard would be. I’ve never forgotten this visual.

NBC 10: Billboard Battle Rages in Bryn Mawr

CBS 3: “These Signs Aren’t Safe’: Decade-Old Billboard Battle Renewed On The Main Line

6 ABC BILLBOARD CONTROVERSY IN HAVERFORD, PA.

VILLAGE VIEW: We don’t want billboards in Bryn Mawr By Bonnie Squires, For MediaNews Group Dec 30, 2019

More than a decade later because it’s actually been 11 years for these Bryn Mawr billboards, the meeting rooms still get packed every time this company comes calling. And last night it wasn’t just residents. People from other communities and staff members from State Senators’ offices and State Representatives’ offices. I actually saw in one news report that State Representative Greg Vitali was there.

I spent years going to meetings about these billboards before I moved to Chester County. Then the issue seemed to slow down but I always felt they would be back. In the intervening years I have watched this billboard company go to Phoenixville (see this article too), Tredyffrin, West Whiteland, Charlestown (yes Charlestown!) and more. Now they want to come to East Whiteland.

And sorry not sorry, as is the case with many other things, East Whiteland seems kind of asleep at the municipal wheel and why? How many things are some of these Supervisors going to seemingly ignore?

Relative from Scenic America:

To learn more about billboard blight and what you can do about it, click on any of the issue areas below:

The Truth about Billboards

Digital Billboards

Legal Issues and Billboards

Public Opinion on Billboards

Tools for action

On-Premise Sign Control

And don’t forget three states in this country prohibit billboards: Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine. So it IS possible.

This company wants to put THREE giant electronic billboards in East Whiteland. This needs to be STOPPED.

There is no reason why we need these billboards in our community. They do nothing for us except destroy communities. I mean if these signs were really so fabulous don’t you think the owner and employees of this billboard company would have them on their own front lawns? This is about using our communities just to make them money isn’t it?

I warned everyone a public hearing was coming in a prior post that also had the proposed locations.

Well East Whiteland’s agenda is out:

January 15 at 7 PM. East Whiteland Township Building as of now. Please turn out for this meeting and turn it up. For residents in the communities not too far off of Lancaster Avenue you’re going to want to come to this meeting too. Those signs are that bright that you need to seriously be concerned in my humble opinion. ( And don’t forget what West Whiteland did to test HOW bright the signs proposed there would be)

Oh! And speaking of West Whiteland, is this 2019 LLC entity thingy West Whiteland or another municipality? Where is this for?

And oh yeah maybe a little excerpt from a very lengthy 2011 Philadelphia Inquirer article:

Since 2008, Thaddeus J. Bartkowski III’s billboard wars have flared in more than a dozen communities in Delaware and Montgomery counties.

Now he is moving on Phoenixville, with the first shot fired toward the Chester County borough’s historic downtown.

If Bartkowski prevails, three electronic, V-shaped billboards, 12 feet high and 40 feet wide, will go up along Nutt Road, a major thoroughfare. They will rise 43 feet above a borough that has struggled to reinvent itself, filling the void of industrial decline with quaint shops, good restaurants, and gussied-up rowhouses…..In tonier Pennsylvania suburbs in particular, Bartkowski has tried to erect billboards by mounting legal challenges to municipal zoning codes.

He has used as ammunition Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings dating to the 1960s that outlaw “exclusionary zoning,” typically in regard to low- and moderate-income housing. Municipalities may not restrict development in ways that keep out specific classes of people or kinds of businesses…..Attorney Jim Byrne, Bartkowski’s most notable opponent, represents six municipalities in their fight against the billboards. He contends they can bar the signs as long as the municipalities prove they represent a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of residents by, say, distracting drivers.

The exclusionary zoning thing? Why is that important here ? Because exclusionary zoning is something that was designed more with affordable housing in mind, not billboards. I find that offensive. Of course it also makes me wonder what they actually do in Harrisburg all day. After all it’s no joke that the Municipalities Planning Code is out of date. Where are the laws that protect the residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from the blight of billboards in small towns?

East Whiteland needs to get woke and fast. Don’t just bitch on social media in local groups about this issue, roll up and attend this meeting. I hope people from other municipalities show up in solidarity too.

Please call State Senator Andy Dinniman’s office ( 610-692-2112 ) and ask him to attend this East Whiteland meeting. It would also be nice to ask invisible State Representative Kristine Howard (610-251-1070) attend but she will undoubtedly have an excuse.

Don’t you think billboards equal blight in our communities? What do you think things like this actually do for property values in addition?

Residents YES. Billboards NO.

life in black and white…at life’s patina

Once upon a time in 2012 in the summer I was asked to photograph beautiful Chester County properties for a historic house tour. The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s Annual Historic House Tour.

On this day, for the first time I saw Willowbrook Farm, which most of you know as Life’s Patina. At this point in 2012, the barn where so many go to enjoy special events and charity shopping days was being restored. I had not even met Meg Veno yet.

I fell in love with this farm on that day many years ago.

The restoration and adaptive reuse of the barn and the restoration of the property is an amazing thing to behold. It’s just so beautiful.

The care, the love, the attention to detail. And I have loved all of my many subsequent visits ever since.

Meg is inspirational to me. She is endlessly creative and has an incredible eye. She is also one of the kindest people I have ever met.

I was going through old photos and came across these and thought I would share them.

Life’s Patina is also expanding. They are restoring and renovating the Jenny Lind House in Historic Yellow Springs Village.

Now Yellow Springs is one of my very favorite places and has been since I was much younger. I used to come to Yellow Springs with my parents. My father loved the village and we used to come for the art show and sale and the antiques show they used to host (which I always thought was fabulous by the way.)

I took these next two photos of the Jenny Lind House last May 2019. I was in the village for the Herb Society Plant Sale. It’s so wonderful to see the house come back to life!

Anyway, enjoy the photos and celebrate those who chose to restore and renovate and find an adaptive reuse for old structures. We need more of that around here!

Make sure you check out Life’s Patina on their website and Facebook page. They often have terrific events. And the bonus is you also get to see a property that’s a slice of heaven in Chester County!