will village of howellville get squeezed by development in tredyffrin?

Pattye Benson Community Matters Photo

Pattye Benson Community Matters Photo

The Village of Howellville is one of Tredyffrin’s earliest villages. So historic and it was easily accessible by the farms of the Great Valley.  According to Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society it started with a tavern around 1712:

Howellville, one of Tredyffrin’s earliest villages, grew in an area convenient to the farms of the Great Valley. A tavern was often the start of a town, and the first one here was built about 1712. By the early 1700s, sawmills and gristmills had appeared. Nearest to the center of town was the sawmill on Crabby Creek. Several of the early farms had their own limestone kilns. The first school opened about 1720. A factory of some kind belonging to the Workizer family is listed on the 1798 Direct Tax. [Note 1] By the late 18th century, a shoemaker and a wheelwright had set up shop.

More industry developed in the 19th century, including a woolen mill owned by Samuel Wood. There was at least one blacksmith. By the middle of the century there was a store and the Chester Valley Railroad, and by the late 1800s Howellville was a thriving industrial town. The limestone quarries became big business and Italian immigrants arrived to work at them. Other nationalities followed, but were never as numerous or as prosperous as the Italians.

By the early part of the 20th century, Howellville had become a close-knit community-a bit naughty, with lots of drinking and gambling. Then came the Depression which dealt rather harshly with the village. Having lost their jobs, and with no place to go, the quarry workers lived hand-to-mouth. In 1934 Frances Ligget, later a member of the Tredyffrin Easttown History Club, marshalled the help of the Valley Forge Farm and Garden Club to clean up the town and help the unemployed workers and their families. Free seeds were given for gardens. The state provided medical assistance as well as sewing, knitting, and cooking classes, and a nursery school. Weaving was taught by Lettie Esherick, wife of the artist Wharton Esherick.

In 1681 land in the center of Tredyffrin Township that would eventually become most of Howellville belonged to William Mordaunt and John Hort Each owned 500 acres. They were Welsh Tract brokers-they bought the land from William Penn but never lived on it. In 1711 Mordaunt’s sons sold their 500 acres to John Evans, who had previously been Governor of Pennsylvania. Just to the east lay 1340 acres that David Meredith sold to William Powell in 1706. They were also Welsh Tract brokers.

Llewellyn David, a Welshman and one of the early settlers, bought 300 acres in 1708. The name David (later changed to Davis) was the biggest name in Howellville for the next two centuries.

The area sat at the bottom of a natural bowl where three hilly roads met to form a triangle. Swedesford Road, forming the north side of the triangle, came into existence about 1720, very early in the settlement of the Great Chester Valley. It led from the vicinity of Randall Malin’s house in East Whiteland to the Swede’s Ford at the Schuylkill River, near present day Norristown, and gave settlers in the interior access to Philadelphia.

Bear Hill Road, which formed the southeast side of the triangle, connected the Valley with the Black Bear Tavern at the top of the South Valley Hill near the Lancaster Road and today’s village of Paoli.

The southwest side of the triangle was Howellville Road, until a traffic light was installed at the corner about 1960. Then it became part of Swedesford Road and the north side of the triangle was made one-way. It was this way until most of Howellville’s buildings were torn down and Route 202 was completed and dedicated in 1971.

The triangle at the bottom of these roads was a convenient place for horses and wagons to stop and rest, and in 1745 a license was granted to establish the first tavern. When David Howell settled in the area and became the second innkeeper of the tavern, about 1765, it was called Howell’s Tavern. The village that grew up around it became Howellville. When the old inn was razed in 1921, the only house in the triangle was the little house described by Henry Darling later in this article.

The triangle disappeared in 1967 when Route 252 was widened and Route 202 was built.


The history of Howellville is fascinating and rich.  Most people just think of Howellville Road today…not that it was a historically important crossroads village. It is an integral part of the history of Tredyffrin and was discussed in Tredyffrin’s 2009 Historic Preservation Plan.


Last time I was on Howellville Road was in the fall  when I was noodling around and found myself on that road.  It has long fascinated me and I lament the loss of one crossroads village after the other as time progresses.

villa-straffordToday I just finished reading a blog post by my friend Pattye Benson about a proposed development there. Oh and the developer is a name familiar to East Whiteland and Radnor 6602889_0_jrbnqjresidents: Benson Companies. Or you know, the townhouses without real trees crammed in at 115 Strafford Ave in Wayne and the eqully unctious cram plan that finally got approved at 124 Bloomingdale Ave in Radnor. And for East Whiteland? Linden Hall. You know the developer that said they would restore historic Linden Hall if they got approved for townhouses, only they haven’t done anything other than sell approved 124-bloomingdaletownhouse plan  to Pulte who built the townhouses with a view of the cigar store, Route 30 and the still rotting Linden Hall? But is that all on Benson? What about the teaming up with O’Neill at super toxic Bishop Tube?  And do not forget Kimberton Meadows, right?27685291670_2d629ed33d_o

Anyway….Benson is once again the proposed townhouse gift that keeps on giving:

Community Matters: How many townhouses and assisted living communities does Tredyffrin Township need (or want)? Can the T/E School District accommodate the increase in student population?

You may recall the abandoned Jimmy Duffy property on Lancaster Avenue in Berwyn and the subsequent construction of Daylesford Crossing, an assisted living facility on the site.  The approval for Daylesford Crossing was a long, drawn out redevelopment process in 2012 that required a text amendment to permit senior living facilities as a by-right use in C-1 (commercial) zoning.

Some argued at the time that the zoning change to permit senior living in C-1 was ‘spot-zoning’ to accommodate this specific project and others questioned what this would mean for future C-1 development in Tredyffrin Township. In 2015, the township expanded the C-1 District zoning to also include townhouses as a by-right use.

During the last few years, developers have flocked to the township with their assisted living and townhouse, apartment and condominium plans. Assisted living projects currently under construction or in the review process include Erickson Living at Atwater Crossing in Malvern (250 beds) and Brightview Senior Living on E. Conestoga in Devon (196 beds).

On the townhouse-apartment side in the township, there are many projects in the planning stages or under construction….Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed.  Top ranking school district, T/E brings an influx of people to the area which means an influx of students, and the growing problem of finding a place to put them….. a new proposed land development plan in the works that is extremely troubling – townhouses on Howellville Road. The proposal is to wedge a cluster of 20 townhouses, in four buildings, between the village of Howellville and the shadow of the Refuge Pentecostal Church.


….The proposed land development plan on Howellville Road is not compatible with the character and appearance of the area.  Beyond the impact of traffic on Howellville Road, the proposed development plan creates serious safety concerns.  The steep narrow winding nature of Howellville Road makes entry and exit from the proposed dense townhouse project a dangerous situation.

Benson Company’s proposed townhouse project on Howellville Road will change the look and character of this community as well as place a greater burden on the narrow, winding road – and again more students for the school district!

John Benson of Benson Company has enthusiastically offered that his proposed Howellville Road townhouses will look like his Grey’s Lane townhouses on Lancaster Ave.  A couple of things – (1) Grey’s Lane is on Rt. 30, a commercial 4-lane road vs. Howellville Road, a rural country road and (2) he squeezed 12 townhouses in at Grey’s Lane in 3 buildings where as this proposal is for 4 buildings with 20 townhouses….Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed. Between the assisted living communities and the townhouses and apartments, should the objective in Tredyffrin Township be to approve any and all land development projects regardless of the impact?

How awful this sounds and allow me to share two screen shots – one is Pattye’s photo of where the proposed townhouses will be stuffed in and perched like Jabba The Hut and all his children, and a rendering of the “Greys Lane” townhomes…another cram plan, and cheap looking to boot.

And from an aesthetic point of view, every time I see a staged interior of a “fabulous” Benson new construction piece of new construction dreck I am struck with the fact that every interior looks the same. If you want Barbie’s dream house, you are pretty much there. No character, predictable, mass produced, plastic.

Photo by Pattye Benson Community Matters

Photo by Pattye Benson Community Matters

25 Greys Lane, Berwyn, PA:



Residents of Tredyffrin are soooo right!!  How much of this does any one township want or need? And much like neighboring East Whiteland it seems like people are hell bent on developing every square inch of the township! Who needs King of Prussia? Soon Tredyffrin and East Whiteland will definitely resemble King of Prussia meets Bensalem.

Oh yes, one more thing? Tredyffrin residents need to get to the Planning Commission TOMORROW February 16th when this next great godforsaken plan makes it’s debut along with “Westlakes Hotel” and “Chestnut Road Apartments”.

Again I ask where the hell the Chester County Planning Commission and Brian O’Leary are? Lord above, Chester County is drowning, yes drowning in development plans.


here we go again in tredyffrin


I haven’t written about Tredyffrin in eons. But the news out of Tredyffrin is disturbing if true.

In July of 2012, then Township Manager Mimi Gleason resigned.  In 2014, Tredyffrin relieved then Public Works Director Scott Cannon of duties. In more blunt terms, Tredyffrin fired him.

Tredyffrin Township released a statement at that time (TT Press Release 2014 02 10 ) which said in part:

In his capacity as Director of Public Works, Mr. Cannon engaged in conduct, himself, and directed vendors and subordinates to engage in such conduct, involving two instances of the improper disposal of materials on Township property in a manner prohibited by Pennsylvania’s environmental laws. Since the areas affected are not easily accessible to the public and, as addressed in more detail below, since no immediate danger was identified by DEP, we cannot disclose the locations until that agency’s investigation is complete.


Well apparently Mr. Cannon was arrested and is facing criminal charges on chemical dumping (MDJReport Tredyffrin Cannon ).

Tredyffrin issued a statement over the past few days (Tredyffrin Press Release Nov 2015 ) which states in part:

Former Public Works Director, Scott Cannon turned himself over to the Tredyffrin Township Police Department for processing on Friday, November 20, 2015.

The charges brought by the State Attorney General’s office arise from facts that were disclosed publicly in February 2014 during a meeting of the Board of Supervisors following the Township’s own internal investigation. The Township is unaware of any allegations of violations other than those disclosed in February 2014.


Walt Hunter at CBS3 was the first media to cover this story. Walt quotes Cannon’s lawyer on the charges:

In response to a CBS 3 inquiry, Cannon’s attorney, A.J.Chotkowski, emailed a statement that reads in part:

“Mr. Cannon was surprised and disappointed to learn that charges were filed against him today… the charges occurred less than a year after Mr. Cannon initiated a civil action against Tredyffrin Township stemming from his termination as the Director of Public Works… Mr. Cannon denies that he, or any other employee under his supervision, violated any law or caused any environmental harm. The substance alleged to have been released is magnesium chloride, which is merely a common salt product used to treat roads.”


Ok but according to the state, aren’t chemicals like this supposed to be disposed of properly?  As in not just dumped on Tredyffrin Township owned property and allowed to spill into the Valley Creek?

Yes, the Valley Creek. You know where Tredyffrin had raw sewage issues? Remember groups filed suit against Tredyffrin this time last year over violations of the federal Clean Water Act? 

To quote Penn Environmental at the time :

penn enviro 2014

Last December 2014, Tredyffrin agreed to a costly clean up settlement in the raw sewage case .

And now this. The Philadelphia Business Journal says in their article:

Scott Canon, 56, of Glen Mills, is facing four counts of unlawful conduct and a count of prohibition against other pollutions for opening a large tank containing magnesium chloride, and releasing 1,000 gallons of the chemical into the township’s public works facility, according to the Office of the Attorney General.

Main Line Media News has a story today on this as well and the comments are as interesting as the actual article.

MLMN article

Political chess anyone? Mimi Gleason (so much for that pretty quote of “a job is not a life”, eh?) went to West Whiteland and Bill Martin came out of the polluted Bashore era in Radnor Township via problematic Bridgeport, correct? Is there culpability when it comes to Tredyffrin’s former Public Works guy and the current and former Township Managers of Tredyffrin when it comes to this case? Has anyone contacted Mimi Gleason in West Whiteland for her thoughts? Did she hire this Scott Cannon?

I can’t help but wonder what else will surface in the always politically charged muck and mire of Tredyffrin Township. Because can it said nothing there is ever simple?

But at the end of the day what disturbs me the most are Tredyffrin’s pollution problems. It’s bad enough when it’s a specific company in a certain municipality and all of this has been well, municipally caused has it not? First raw sewage, now this?

And how have these issues affected Tredyffrin residents as well as their municipal neighbors?

To all the sewage add a 1000 gallons of Magnesium Chloride.

What the heck, Tredyffrin Township? Well only time will tell where this case will go , especially given all the problems in the attorney general’s office in Pennsylvania.

Sign me glad not to live in Tredyffrin but I sure wish they would clean up their act (and pollution problems).




tredyffrin has blogging *issues*

UPDATE 9:31 a.m.  At 8:22 a.m. on 9/7/12  the letter posted on Tredyffrin’s official government website was taken down.  At 9:24 a.m. the letter is back up.

So unfortunately for all concerned who tried to do good, it is somewhat disturbing to think a local government website paid for with Tredyffrin taxpayer monies is being used somehow like a private website for personal gain?

The uncomfortable question must be asked: are people to assume that this is now officially an official letter?  Sanctioned by Tredyffrin Government and every elected and  appointed official and township employee? What happens the next time a resident questions something?  Another letter from another supervisor on official letterhead? Or something worse?
This municipality has  part of Valley Forge in their borders, correct?   Are the freedoms our founding fathers so long ago that they are forgotten and ironically this whole scenario is in essence a modern version of  what the people who founded the United States fought to escape in Europe in the first place?
I am hardly the only one questioning this.  Please see the article written by Tredyffrin Patch Editor Bob Byrne (and I quote):

The Vice Chairman of the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors is on the warpath and he’s launched a savage political attack on the media and a private citizen on Tredyffrin Township’s official, taxpayer funded, website.

In a page-and-a-half screed that reads like a vicious political campaign hit piece, Republican Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman John “JD” DiBuonaventuro offers his explanation of his romantic involvement with a township Zoning Hearing Board member who is at the center of a “drunk and disorderly conduct” criminal case….The letter then turns blatantly political as DiBuonaventuro launches an attack on Main Line Media News which ran the original story (Patch linked to the story on the MLM website) and goes after Community Matters Blogger Pattye Benson, who also posts many of of her blogs here on TE Patch.


(Prior part of post continues below)

I had no idea until a little while ago that the letter that this Tredyffrin  Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro wrote was on the Tredyffrin official government website.

Truthfully, I am somewhat scandalized by that.  Because in addition to everything else, for someone who did not like this entire topic, they just blew the topic larger than life in a more tawdry manner than any blog post and attacked a resident in Tredyffrin who happens yes, to blog on her blog at Community Matters, but who also happens to give hours and hours of herself to the residents with items involving historic preservation and fun things like the Paoli Blues Festival.  This woman doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk.

Her name is Pattye Benson, and she is a magnificent human being.  I am sticking up for her here because I know her and she has integrity and personal values.  She is kind and pleasant and will always lend a helping hand.  She is also a rather thoughtful blogger and I know for a fact she mulled over posting the latest Tredyffrin tackiness for a while because she just did not know what to think.  Now apparently in Tredyffrin over this issue, you are damned if you don’t and damned if you do anyway?

She wrote another post this evening called Community Matters Closes the Chapter on Police Investigation but Tredyffrin Supervisor Opens a New Chapter . Read it.

She ends her post thusly:

I hope that all who read the above narrative, come away with a positive feeling about these four individuals (Tom Hogan, Michelle Kichline, Tom Tartaglio and Tony Giaimo) and the parts of our local government that they represent – I believe that these individuals respect the citizens of Tredyffrin and are trying to do ‘what’s right’ by us.

Unfortunately, as I was completing this exhaustive summary, I was told of an open letter to the citizens, penned by BOS supervisor John DiBuonaventuro.  Apparently, DiBuonaventuro does not support Main Line Media News, Community Matters or the civil rights of citizens to express their opinions on this topic.  Below is the last paragraph of DiBuonaventuro’s letter, click here for the full text. The tag line for Community Matters is “Your Voice Matters, Join the Conversation” and I stand behind it … we, as the community do matter and your voice does count!

Pattye has style.  Now the whole world knows that a sitting elected official did date a current appointed official in Tredyffrin.  This is by this elected official’s own hand, and very Ed Rendell of him.  Me thinketh the supervisor doth protesteth too much???

However his attack on a private citizen named Pattye Benson that was in a sense condoned (supported? I mean what adjective does one use?)  by ALL in Tredyffrin Township because this was published on seemingly  letterhead   on the official Tredyffrin Township Website is a sad state of affairs.  It sends a message to the citizenry that you are o.k. as long as you do not question your government, let alone criticize anything. Does it also imply the First Amendment doesn’t matter when it comes to politics?  It is also very revisionist history because people concerned about this issue, who have commented on this issue, who have reported on this issue did not ever create this issue.

So congratulations, Tredyffrin Township, you have created a pickle of a new mess, indeed.

And while we are talking about this, someone whom I guess must be a supporter of this Supervisor DiBuonaventuro wrote a comment.  I imagine he also wrote Pattye’s blog, but I have not checked yet.  Here is this guy and what he had to say:

Brian Holton Bholton5@aol.com

Wow indeed. JDB is right on the money. These blogs are a haven for cowards, namely the anonymous posters and you bloggers who allow the postings without any verification.The National Enquirer has higher standards than chester county ramblings or community matters.

I am sorry that this dear man feels this way about two female bloggers.  We’re just regular gals.  And my goodness he is all in a lather.  Truly he can kiss my grits on this one.   I am entitled to my perspective and allowed his opinion to post. I am not hiding who I am, and I am also a writer. If he or anyone else does not like this blog then don’t read it.  He takes a jab at anonymous bloggers, and Pattye and I aren’t so anonymous.  But some do blog anonymously for any number of reasons.

A pen name, nom de plume, is as old a tradition as the United States itself. Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine and John Adams all wrote with pen names.  And in their time, they were heroes.

Ironically, I wrote an editorial in 2009 about blogging for Main Line Media News. Here is part of what I said then:

So let’s talk about being a blogger, or “citizen journalist.” Sometimes we write about what we had for dinner, and sometimes we write about who that politician had dinner with. Sometimes we are just giggling over political shenanigans and a political-blog lampoon is born.

Do politicians like blogs and bloggers? Heck no. Ending up on a blog is like being caught outside in your underwear. Politicians are all about the image, and when the emperor has no clothes, the image can get tarnished, can’t it? I think blogging is a way for the common man to level the playing field. I like to think bloggers can make a difference. After all, look at what blogging has done for the billboard issue in Haverford. Look at eminent domain in Ardmore.

Politicians, despite protestations to the contrary, know that blogs can be good for them. Sometimes they will release a statement or will even create a blog during an election cycle. Simply put: they like it when they can control the output; they don’t like it when they can’t….Why is blogging on the Main Line such a big deal? Is being a blogger like having chronic halitosis? Or do people who complain about blogs complain about them because they have not figured a way to use them to their own advantage yet?

OK, I will admit I have a lot of opinions and am as politically inconvenient as the next local blogger. But so what? …I am amused by the festering Petri dish that is Main Line politics and other local issues….Bloggers blog under catchy “handles,” as well as under their own names with or without a fun handle. People love to make a big hairy deal out of blogger anonymity. But pen names are definitely as American a tradition as apple pie.

Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison were among our founding fathers who wrote under aliases. If alive today I bet they would embrace blogging as a communicative medium….To wind this up I think blogging is here to stay, and people should just get used to it. Blogging is another way for people to have a voice in what matters to them.  Much like this editorial page, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

At the end of the day, am I really surprised this guy Brian above left a nasty comment? Nope. Is it the first nasty comment I have received as a regular writer or a blogger? Nope and it won’t be the last.

Truthfully, dear readers and blog followers when I wrote my original post on this sorry arsed topic I had truthfully no idea it would mushroom into “As The Tredyffrin Turns.”  Didn’t know this woman.  Did not know this Supervisor.  Did not know any of it.  I merely read an article I found profoundly disturbing on the Main Line Media News website written by a reporter.

And now, here we are.  And isn’t it sad.