heaven on earth is home

It looks like a painting. But it is real life.  Taken a short time ago over in Westtown.  I made my last trip probably to Pete’s Produce for the season.  (They have the most fabulous pumpkins this year, but I digress.)

Heaven on earth is where we call home here in Chester County.  Traveling through the scarred battle zone of raped land of the Sunoco Logistics Pipeline horror show to get to Pete’s really made an impression today.

We as residents need to do a better job advocating for Chester County herself.  Election Day will be here in a blink.  The power of your vote is one of the greatest ways to be heard.  Those who are NOT stewards of the land need to GO.

We need more land preservation and land conservation and less development.  We need to see what can be done to save what is left of our beautiful landscapes, including from the damn pipelines.

We have an agricultural and equine heritage that needs to be saved.  We have waterways and woods and wildlife and even the humble honey bee depending on us.

We can’t just talk about it and we certainly can’t depend upon the Chester County Planning Commission.  Pretty pie-graphs and surveys just take up space on a website.  What are they doing, really?  What are the Chester County Commissioners doing, really?  Planned photo ops are good for politics, what do they actually do for all of us? The all like to say they are helping plan our future in Chester county but I ask again exactly whose futures are the planning? Mine, yours, or theirs and those who make lots of political contributions?

I was down on the Main Line a few times over the past few weeks.  I realized once again how I truly now dislike where I used to call home.  And it is not just the great pretenders to what now passes as the “social” scene.  It’s the density, the roads, the overall frantic pace and congestion.  I realized how I literally exhale when I start to feel the open sky, fields, and forest of Chester County every time I am coming home.

But we are at such risk of losing that. We are at serious risk of losing Chester County.  From the history to the land, forests, fields, water (wells, streams, lakes, everything), to the old farm houses and barns to other historic structures — we have to act.

As my friend Mindy Rhodes has wisely said via M. Jankowski “If not you, then who?”  and John Lewis  “If not now, then when?”

Think about it.  Start with who you vote for.  And what you vote for.

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the announcement: natural lands trust regarding saving bryn coed

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

Now that it has been announced, I can say that I have known for a few years that Natural Lands Trust was working on saving Bryn Coed.  I was asked to not say anything, so into the proverbial vault it went.  But I can’t say it is untrue that developers were sniffing around Bryn Coed’s 1500+ acres can I ?  After all, it is a magical piece of land that is almost mythical, isn’t it?

Here is the official press release:

One Step Closer to Preservation of Bryn Coed Farms

Media, Pa. – Natural Lands Trust announced today a major milestone in the non-profit land conservation organization’s effort to preserve 1,505 acres in northern Chester County known as Bryn Coed Farms.

 

On September 28, 2016, Natural Lands Trust and the current property owners, the Dietrich family, executed an Agreement of Sale for the property. Natural Lands Trust now has six months to conduct due diligence, including Phase II environmental testing.

 

The fate of the property has been the subject of much speculation over the years as development pressures have increased in the region. Located primarily in West Vincent Township, Chester County, with portions also in East and West Pikeland Townships, the property is one of the largest remaining undeveloped, unprotected tracts of land in the Greater Philadelphia region. Under current zoning, nearly 700 homes could be built on the property if it is not placed under protection.

 

Natural Lands Trust has been working with the Dietrichs for more than five years to conserve the land.

 

“It is too early to celebrate, but we are optimistic that much of this iconic property can be conserved,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “It’s a complex deal with many moving parts, but Bryn Coed is certainly worth fighting to save. It’s a community and ecological treasure.”

 

If successful, the deal would result in a 400-plus-acre nature preserve with eight miles of hiking trails that will be owned and managed by Natural Lands Trust. The preserve will be open to visitors, free of charge, just like other nature preserves owned by the regional conservation group—including the 112-acre Binky Lee Preserve in nearby Chester Springs. In addition, West Vincent Township is considering Natural Lands Trust’s offer to establish a 72-acre municipal park on the property.

 

The remainder of the property would be divided into large conservation properties, preserved by conservation easements, and sold to private individuals.

 

“The amount of land that can be permanently protected as a Natural Lands Trust preserve is dependent on the amount of funding we can raise. The cost of preserving the entirety of such a vast and valuable property is beyond the currently available resources. We will be seeking support from the public in the weeks and months ahead,” Morrison added.

 

In 2003, the Dietrich brothers decided to divest themselves of the property. Various conservation and development options were explored but never came to a successful conclusion.

 

In recent years, several developers have been in negotiations with the Deitrichs, including Toll Brothers, which had proposed a 254-unit development on about one-quarter of the property.

 

Much of the property is actively farmed or in pasture. There are nearly 500 acres of mature woodlands on the property that are home to a myriad of songbirds and other wildlife. Generations of residents and visitors have enjoyed the pastoral views of Bryn Coed Farms.

 

The land also contains the headwaters to Pickering Creek, and is a high priority for source water protection. Bryn Coed Farms alone constitutes 17 percent of the remaining unprotected high-priority land in the Pickering Creek watershed.

 

Persons interested in receiving more information as the Bryn Coed Farms conservation effort progresses are invited to visit www.natlands.org/bryncoed and sign up for email updates. Those interested in learning more about the conservation properties that will be available for sale should contact Brian Sundermeir, Bryn Coed project manager, at 610-353-5587, ext. 237.

 

Natural Lands Trust is the region’s largest land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 43 nature preserves totaling nearly 22,000 acres. Today, some 2.5 million people live within five miles of land under the organization’s protection. For more information, visit www.natlands.org.

 

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

So, this is not yet quite a done deal. There are three municipalities and a lot of due diligence and environmental testing.  From what I am reading, not all of the land will be conserved (it’s a little unclear) ,  but one can hope and no matter what this is a heck of a lot more than anyone expected.

As I understand it, The NLT-owned preserve will be a “big chunk ” of Bryn Coed.  The remainder will be large conservation lots with easements on them and trail easements as well. The size of the preserve can grow if Natural Lands Trust gets more money towards the project.

To David Robinson and his family who own Crebilly, why can’t you look at something like this? You can afford to.

Ok I just wanted to put this out there as some thought my post from the other evening was fabricated. I do my homework, and it doesn’t get much more official than the press release from Natural Lands Trust. And this is THEIR hard work and no one else’s (because I know some who will try to take credit, and well it is not theirs to take.)

BRAVO NLT!  This is why I am a member and big believer in the Natural Lands Trust, they  do not just talk the talk, they walk the walk.  (Brian O’Leary and the Chester County Planning Commission could learn something here, just saying.)

I am a member of Natural Lands Trust, and proudly so.  Please consider a membership. This is me asking incidentally, not them. Go out and enjoy the glorious weekend this weekend. This surely is an awesome way to start it!

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

saddle up for crebilly, chester county

kathy-shea-photo

Photo Courtesy of Chadds Ford Live and Kathleen Brady Shea “With the expanse of Crebilly Farm ahead of her, Mindy Worth Rhodes rides on Dunvegan Road in Westtown Township. Her goal is to raise awareness about Toll Brothers’ subdivision plan for the 330-acre property.” (Photo edited by me to achieve this cool effect)

Sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 words. Kathleen Brady Shea’s photo in her article today did that for me. She seems to be the sole member of the media who cares about the fate of Crebilly Farm.  I find it disturbing that I have not seen anything anywhere else as a matter of fact.

This article is about a woman whom I do not know but wish I did, because she sounds marvelous. Her name is Mindy Worth Rhodes, she is now a resident of  the historic village of Trimbleville in West Bradford Township, grew up in Westtown on General Howe Drive. She is a life-long equestrian and growing up she rode through Westtown neighborhoods to be able to ride on Crebilly.

So on Sunday, like the Pony Express rides again or Paul Revere, she saddled up her horse and distributed flyers about saving Crebilly.

How cool and appropriate is that?  To do it on horseback!

I am thrilled other people are stepping in and stepping up the game to Save Crebilly, or at least part of it.  Community matters and so does coming together on this issue.

As a friend said to me today:

The more letters and emails that go to ANY public officials, including the county commissioners, the better….. Here’s what I know about the previous apartment building: It would have conserved 90 percent of the tract. That is why some, including the supervisors, supported it. Members of the public hated the concept and came out in droves to defeat it;

 

Here is an excerpt of today’s article:

Saddling up support for Crebilly preservation

 

I can’t pretend to understand the heirs to and most of the current residents of Crebilly, one of whom resides in New Mexico.  But the person we see mentioned the most when it comes to Crebilly is David Robinson. I do not know what drives Mr. Robinson.  Wish I did. I guess I do not and will never understand how a significantly affluent and influential family can sell to a Toll Brothers?  I get wanting to divest themselves of some of the land because it is an awesome responsibility, but how do you inherit something like Crebilly and not want to preserve it for future generations?

How do you not value the legacy that was dropped in your lap because you were related to certain people? Is it the whole having to work for it versus inherit it? How can you sell to Toll and live in your same homes and watch hundreds of plastic boxes grow up like demented plastic corn around you? Does the man have an overwhelming desire to be the Squire of his very own plastic Toll Village? And since the family has avoided telling anyone anything, no one knows besides the obvious objective of financial motivation and gain what is going on, right?

Now, onto other things. First,  I thought I would mention in addition to my Save Crebilly Farm Page on Facebook, there is now a Neighbors for Crebilly Page on Facebook.  I know the people who started that page a little bit, one is a residential realtor in Chester County and her significant other who is a businessman  is no stranger to conservation and land deals. They are what a friend of mine would term simply as “good people”.  So that being said, while they are not neighbors in close proximity to Crebilly anymore than I am, they are smart people whose heart is with Crebilly….you can’t go wrong with that now, can you? Maybe give their page a like too please?

So while I am on the topic of neighbors, I know people in Westtown Township are upset about Crebilly, but they are not going to Westtown Meetings to discuss it with their Supervisors.  Supervisors might be local politicians, but they are also human beings and not clairvoyant.  People with actual standing, who live in Westtown, need to speak up now before it is too late to have a voice, any voice in the eventual outcome. And whomever started the latest petition should probably come forward as I assume they wish to present their petition to Westtown?

I get the need to have anonymity when voicing opinions on certain local topics, but whomever you are, you inspired me and others to raise our collective voices regarding Crebilly with your simple message to go with your petition:

Help join the cause to save Crebilly Farm, a prized open landscape that represents Chester County’s unique history and natural beauty. There are currently plans installed by real estate company Toll Brothers to develop the Crebilly property. If you oppose these plans, please show your support. Together we can preserve Chester County’s historical significance and natural integrity that are central to our community’s identity. Let’s keep our home an enjoyable place to live in.

Here are some of the comments left by petition signers:

1-more another-1 family history memories more regrets

I hope someone hears their pleas. Eloquent and simple.

I hope Westtown residents express themselves soon so their township hears from the residents in time.

I hope people from ALL over Chester County bombard the Chester County Commisisoners with phone calls, e-mails and letters over Crebilly and the state of development in Chester County in general.  It would be nice for example if they could tell us the taxpayers and residents of Chester County why it is that our county planning is headed up by a hired gun who does not even live in Chester County? Why is the Chester County Planning Commission led by Brian O’Leary who lives in super pro-development Lower Merion Township, used to be on their planning commission and accomplished nothing really to combat over development and sprawl during his tenure in Montgomery County? Why does a pro-development Auslander the best choice? Are there no qualified planners who reside in Chester County? Really?

Other Crebilly posts:

https://chestercountyramblings.com/2016/09/17/before-crebilly-gets-developed-westtown-lets-talk-traffic/

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

a love note to the chester county planning commission

Oh and one last thing. In order for Chester County Planning Commission to be as confusing as humanly possible they have split the survey they recently sent out into different sections. You can now take a survey on just certain sections like Preservation or Agriculture, for example.

I will note their original survey seems to be not load right (maybe it’s just me, not sure and it could be Survey Monkey which gets hung up if some thing is busy), so   FOLLOW THIS LINK. It will lead you to the split up sections page.

Carpe diem folks! Once places like Crebilly are gone, they are never coming back.  It is up to us collectively to step up and demand better.  Historic preservation, equine and agricultural preservation, meaningful open space preservation.

I would like to think when it comes to Crebilly, the ghosts of American Revolutionary War Soldiers would want us to speak up don’t you?  They died to keep our land free from invaders, right?

Thanks for stopping by.