Of course then there is this development on White Horse Road in Malvern.
I don’t even know what this Stepford Mecca is called.
But hell’s bells I guess these local municipalities must really think that we are going to grow our food on top of Whole Foods and Aldi and Wegmans given the rate they are approving developments out of farm land and open space, right?
And when everyone is so surprised when every school district doubles in size splits into two takes land by eminent domain for new buildings, don’t be. This is exactly why it’s happening.
This is also the Chester County Planning Commission and Municipalities Planning Code of Pennsylvania hard at work…for anyone other than the actual residents.
I took the above photo of Ashbridge House located in West Whiteland at Exton Main Street in Exton in 2017.
It’s been mothballed for years in plastic since the mall was built. It’s another Chester County property with quite the history.
They even have a sign up in Exton Main Street about it:
Supposedly this house is being restored. I don’t know exactly which decade that’s going to occur in however, do you? I found this 2017 West Whiteland Planning Commission document (CLICK HERE) which indicates it would be preserved in the middle of hundreds of new apartments. (Also check out the Daily Local Article from May, 2017 and a blurb on the WCHE website from the same time.)
Hundreds. Because you know there aren’t enough apartments and townhouses and carriage houses being built in West Whiteland Township now are there?
That’s crazy. Obviously it was approved. Click HERE to see a list of developments in various stages in West Whiteland. Suffice it to say, I thought the list of developments in East Whiteland were bad enough. And I can’t say for sure that these lists are current as to what development is planned where.
But I digress.
Here we are in March, 2019 right? So a couple of weeks ago I guess it is now, I was over at Exton Main Street with my husband. I can tell you I was stunned by the way Ashbridge House and the outbuildings looked.
Ashbridge House in Exton. 2019.
When exactly is the preservation going to finally begin? Is it just me or do others of you out there think it’s never going to happen and someday will just hear how the house mysteriously fell down?
Ashbridge House in Exton. 2019.
I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why people no longer seem to care about historic preservation in a county that used to be known for it.
If you are interested in Ashbridge house, I have found a couple videos:
I am hearing from neighbors (across from Lloyd house) the developer isn’t tearing the circa 1795 house down. I hope that’s true! A bunch of us walked the house. Teens have vandalized it yet the house is solid. Something like 9 bedrooms!!
I met a lady in town whose mother grew up there. Her mother’s mother died when she was young so the father took a job at Lloyd farm taking care of the stables and horses and they lived in the house with the Lloyd family! (We assume based on dates it was the Lloyd family)
Sending photos I took. It’s such a huge old house.
Abandoned Steve photography documents old Chester county houses before they’re torn down. He took photos as well. His are better than mine.
Lloyd Farm. Sigh.
In December 2018 I had posted about Lloyd farm in Caln being at risk. Sources tell me that they had quite the crown turn out the other evening who turned out to protest this?
Things that people are worried about include will that historic farmhouse be torn down no matter what? Is it true that farmhouse does indeed have a fairly new roof and if this land was part of a William Penn Land Grant as in the guy who settled PA, how can this even happen? And what about the component of the big pipeline easement? How should that affect density of any development plan?
Things also being wondered about is this developer just looking for plan approvals to flip the parcel with approvals to yet another developer? And is this developer the guy who owns Suburban Propane?
Is it true that Caln’s solicitor was snippy with residents? And isn’t she the same gal who USED to hold or holds a similar position in West Goshen? East Goshen? Does something in Easttown and more places? Why does she seem so pro-development? Is she going to be mad I ask these questions? Aren’t we allowed to ask these questions? Will she try to stop me from asking these very reasonable questions?
And as for the category of “in the audience” who was the mystery attorney who seemed to object to some community flyer? Who was he there for? Apparently they also objected to residents concerned about development jacking up traffic?
So the meeting was paused until January, 2019, correct? And then there was this update January 5th that a reader posted:
Update on the Lloyd Farm. There is no public hearing being rescheduled. The people have spoken and the Commissioners have heard you! While this plan isn’t going to get through, REGAL WILL BE BACK. As quickly as they can. Yes they have a right to develop land the own and paid $4.6M dollars for. But they need to do it in a manner that is acceptable to the Caln Twp residents. We will be watching and reporting so keep a look out for news here and on www.calnwatch.info
I was driving by Lloyd Avenue while in Downingtown on Saturday with a friend, so is this part of that parcel? See below:
Is this part of “Lloyd Farm”?
So a recap is in order before I press on, ok?
Super historic. Known as the “Lloyd Farm”, “Valley Brook Farm” has a fire I would call mysterious a few years ago? Seriously.
Pretty crazy historic, and I understand there was a fire, but is super-sized developement all Caln Township can think is right for this property??? I am told the developer who has bought the “Lloyd Farm” was proposing 5 story apartment buildings, and commercial where there is NO zoning for it? So now what?
So if I read the history of the property correctly, it dates back to the late 1600s and a Penn Land Grant? And by 1996 it was owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia? (Now I make no secret of my disdain of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and their pedophile priest problems of recent past. Sorry, I digress again…)
Also check out places like the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s website. Land that was part of any Penn Land Grant is extraordinarily historically significant. Residents near and far and hsitorians should take note and attend meetings. Media local and regional might not find history and land development sexy, but they also need to get on the stick here. One blip on this important topic was in the Daily Local in early December.
According to the Caln Watch Website there is a meeting Tuesday, February 12 at the Thorndale Fire Hall 3611 Lincoln Hwy, Thorndale, PA 19372 – 6pm to 8pm (Parking located in school lot):
Soooo…among the questions that should be asked and that Caln Township and this developer needs to address is are they SAVING the historic farmhouse for real? If so enough with the demolition by neglect, right? If people are sending me interior photos, then the building is not properly secured and while safe for now the longer it is exposed to punk ass vandals and the elements is not good, correct?
Sooooo…my suggestion? Contact these folks. Make your opinions known. Flood meetings with bodies. Reach out to public officials and those who want to be in office or ummm have aspirations for higher office who are in local office now. Reach out to any historic preservation or media contacts you have.
Those misguided supervisors are voting on higher density B.S. zoning thing I never thought I would see in that township on Tuesday February 5th. I heard and was not surprised to hear they refused a resident petition against this? The East Goshen meeting starts at 7 PM. The agenda is posted and can be read HERE. People and media should attend that as well and read the packet linked here. (Also on Tuesday in East Goshen? A chicken ordinance. I find it ironic that chickens have such issues in a township that was once also a lot of farms. Yes, I am pro-chicken although I personally keep none.)
Why is this a call for arms? Simple. Chester County is groaning and suffering under the weight of over development and it needs to slow down or even stop for a good long while. Just this weekend I was in Glenmoore for example. They seem to suffer from lots and lots of power outages. Locals speculate part of the cause is the infrastructure can’t keep up with the pace of development.
Moderation is the key to true and actual smart growth. Only we don’t see that any longer. There is limited respect for the past and the architectural heritage of Chester County. Just like there is lip service paid to open space and agricultural preservation at times. It’s great when small parcels are preserved and handed down to the next generation, but what about these big parcels? Parcels like Crebilly and Lloyd farm are what a lot of our county was like for a very long time.
Now I actually do believe progress has a place but it’s the vision of progress I take issue with. Progress doesn’t have to hurt and wanton development hurts. We can’t support it long-term and by the time a lot of folks figure that out, the developers and current elected and appointed officials will be long gone, correct? As a county we have to look past the damn ratables that elected and appointed officials salivate over. They are a short-term financial gain if a gain at all since is it not true sometimes the ratables are not what people thought they would be?
Maybe some do not like my opinions, but I am entitled to them. Not every square inch should be developed. Not every square inch needs to be developed. Y’all aren’t going to get your veggies off the roof of places like Whole Foods are you?
Farms, open space, history need to be respected and preserved. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. What do you as a resident want the future to look like? Lots of Tyvec wrapped plastic beige boxes? More stucco McMansion horror show stories? Human warehouses for seniors and others? More ugly strip malls? The end of Main Street? Constipated bits of “open space” which is usually land that is not able to be developed?
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.
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?
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.
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.
Because the original link does NOT work anymore. Great planning: they send out a link ask all their contacts to distribute within their communities and then they change it. Or make it go away. Of course I have no answer what happened to all of the answers of people who already completed the survey, do you?
Developed to gather stakeholder opinions on specific topical areas, these surveys are also being made available to the public. Targeted to representatives of organizations active in the topical areas, interested individuals are welcome to complete these surveys as they become available.
The development of Landscapes3 will be an open and collaborative experience. The public is invited to participate throughout. The process includes:
Participants can submit their favorite Chester County place in this photo contest, which is aimed at taking a different approach to identifying what is valued by residents. Prizes will be available. (coming soon)
A series of stakeholder meetings will be held to identify issues and challenges facing Chester County over the next ten years. Experts will meet under the following topics: preservation, agriculture, housing, utilities and infrastructure, transportation, economic development, and community health. The public is invited to attend and observe these meetings. Click here to view meeting schedule.
How many of my photos of farms and historic houses would they like to see?
But then we come to the stakeholder meetings. Here is a screen shot of the schedule:
In the middle of the afternoon, in Coatesville? Seriously? Hello people work, pick kids up from school/sports, have farms and businesses to tend, and so on.
But no, Chester County’s idea of most opportune time to schedule these meetings is in a place not quite ideally located and at times inconvenient for the majority of people living int the real world. Common sense would dictate if they were REALLY interested in what people who live here and pay taxes (as opposed to the carpetbagger Executive Director of Chester County Planning Department Brian O’Leary), they would have chosen a location like West Chester, or done a series of traveling meetings and maybe holding them in school auditoriums or something.
But Brian O’Leary and the Chester County Planning must not really be terribly interested in citizen participation if they choose times that are NOT convenient for average folk, even farm folk and choose a location like this one in Coatesville, that is not really even convenient to anyone. (Which is why I think they should have had travelling meetings to capture different quadrants of the county more effectively.)
This is not an auspicious beginning to a long process that is supposed to matter, Chester County.
And no, Brian O’Leary I am not going to stop mentioning you are not a Chester County resident and come from a uniquely pro-development township (Lower Merion Township) where I don’t think you listened much at all to residents while on the Planning Commission there, arranged for political pasty “planning” awards be given to politicians who weren’t planners except in the landscape sense of the word, and were employed by Montgomery County which as a whole has been decimated by development in part.
Our chief planner should be one of us. I find it hard to believe that no such qualified planners exist in Chester County.
Carpe Diem, Chester County Residents. I know many of you care. Speak up. Please…before all the open space, farmland, and history is gone. This county has a unique history, and it is very much at risk.
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;
Posted by Kathleen Brady Shea on October 10th, 2016
The news that Crebilly Farm, a historic, 330-acre property in Westtown Township, was poised to become a massive subdivision hit a former neighbor particularly hard.
Heartsick is how Mindy Worth Rhodes described her reaction to the news that Tolls Brothers had an agreement of sale for the farm, where the developer hopes to erect up to 385 homes. Rhodes explained that she grew up on General Howe Drive in Westtown Township, and about two decades ago, she often rode her horse through adjacent neighborhoods to get to Crebilly’s pristine open space.
Rhodes, who now lives in the historic village of Trimbleville in West Bradford Township, is also acutely aware of Crebilly Farm’s historic significance. Like her current residence, Revolutionary War troops traversed the property, which is bounded by Routes 202, 926, New Street and West Pleasant Grove Road.
And even though Rhodes lives in West Bradford, she said she still travels past the scenic farm on a regular basis by car, enjoying its magnificent vistas.
“Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever,” said Rhodes. She stressed that she’s not anti-development and firmly believes that Crebilly’s owners should be fairly compensated. However, she also maintains that every effort should be made to protect such hallowed ground.
And toward that end, she decided to get back on her horse.
On Sunday, Oct. 9, after printing more than 100 flyers, Rhodes saddled up White Spike and set out on a wind-swept odyssey to raise awareness….nyone interested in joining the effort or receiving more information could contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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:
I hope someone hears their pleas. Eloquent and simple.
I hope Westtown residents express themselves soonso 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?
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.
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?
Imagine all of this if 350 or whatever the exact number of houses get approved and built on Crebilly in Westtown. Of course it also makes you realize that Chester County Planning is somewhat asleep at the wheel when it comes to regional planning and so called “smart growth” doesn’t it?
What is so smart about this? Seems pretty dumb to me. I realize I am but a mere mortal and a female, but that is what I think.
Anyway, Westtown apparently has a Supervisors’ Meeting September 19. People should start asking them about things like traffic….just saying…..
Near / at 926 Picture of rt 202 traffic 5:30 pm
Backup along Crebilly at new street heading toward 926 Actually blocks the entrance to the farm and Robinson’s house
During a presentation at the commissioners’ Sunshine meeting, Matthew Hammond of the Chester County Planning Commission pointed out that eight percent of the county’s open space enjoyed permanent protection prior to Landscapes; now the number is nearly 27 percent.
Hammond noted that an influx of 150,000 residents is predicted by 2045, reinforcing the need to have a plan that continues the focus on managing that growth through open space preservation, urban center revitalization, and municipal planning assistance.
“We’re very excited to be moving forward on this,” said Brian O’Leary, executive director of the Chester County Planning Commission.
Landscapes3 will involve a two-year effort that begins with a series of stakeholder meetings this fall, to determine the issues and challenges facing Chester County over the next 10 years.
“Twenty years ago, Chester County made a choice to redirect growth, to protect open space and to revitalize our towns and urban communities,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chairman Terence Farrell. “Landscapes and Landscapes2 have served us very well in doing that, but it is time to renew our vision and ensure that Chester County remains a highly attractive place to live, work and visit.”
Ok that’s all nice and fluffy, but how are you preserving open space REALLY? What land are you saving? Look at all the parts of Chester County at risk, what are you doing? You guys talk a good game, but to be honest I lost faith in you when you hired Brian O’Leary whom I remembered none too fondly from Lower Merion Township where developers say “jump!” and Lower Merion says “how high?”
POSTED: 09/16/15, 3:46 PM EDT|UPDATED: ON 09/16/2015
A Montgomery County official will be the new head of the Chester County Planning Commission, and will be counted on to oversee the future update of the county’s award-winning land and community planning document, Landscapes2, in the coming four years.
The county commissioners announced the appointment of Brian O’Leary as executive director at their meeting Tuesday. O’Leary currently serves as section chief on the Montgomery County Planning Commission, where he has worked for nearly 30 years.
O’Leary replaces former county Planning Commission Executive Director Ronald Bailey, who retired in June. Bailey had served as head of the commission since 2006. O’Leary will formally begin his work in the county on Oct. 5.
Lower Merion Township will ultimately be ruined by all the development still coming at it, and Montgomery County is a giant development mess.
As the county planning commission you are supposed to seek balance, where is that balance exactly? How are the rights of existing residents being preserved? How is the agricultural and equine history, tradition, and culture being honored? When arable farmland and open space is gone, it’s gone.
How many developments do we need ? How come residents do not truly get a say in this? I mean you say you want our input, so we give it to you, and up pops another development or strip mall. It is a bit frustrating.
What are you doing to save Crebilly Farm???? Bryn Coed??? Any open space and farmland anywhere throughout the county? Do you care about ANY of the historic structures threatened throughout the county at all?
How is any of the current development “smart” growth? Your Brian O’Leary is even on the board of the Smart Growth Alliance, and allow me to quote them on him:
Through his work in local planning, Brian has seen the importance of smart growth. With smart growth, new development is focused towards existing communities, helping these places revitalize, improve their infrastructure, and create vibrant and healthy neighborhoods. Without smart growth, farmland is lost, people’s transportation choices are limited, and the economy suffers.
So are we supposed to all hop into our smart cars now and jump on board the New Urbanism Fairy Tale Express? Brian O’Leary is a resident of Penn Wynne or Wynnewood in Lower Merion Township so seriously, what does he know from open space? And that is whose hands our future is in? Have any of you dealt with the congestion that is the Main Line recently? Or seen community after community torn asunder by development and the constant whirl of political shell games? Well I did, and I want better for the gorgeous county I now call home.
The news last week that Crebilly Farm, a picturesque 300-plus-acre property in Westtown Township, was poised to become a 300-unit Toll Brothers subdivision, prompted swift public outcry.
Hundreds of area residents took to social media, many expressing outrage as well as interest in doing whatever possible to stop the bulldozers. Dr. Ryan K. Tamburrino, an area orthodontist, even pledged to donate $300 to the cause for each new patient he receives in July who mentions the preservation effort.
However, questions remain about what, if anything, can prevent Westtown Township’s conditional-use approval, particularly since the developer’s preliminary plans fall within township guidelines.
Speaking at an information session on Thursday, June 30, Andrew J. Semon, a division president for Toll Brothers, said the agreement of sale is contingent upon getting that approval. He said he expected the developer to submit an application later this summer.
Chester County Planning, as the planning department you hold the public’s trust. So what are you doing for us exactly? Why is it we should “trust” you?
You do not seem to be slowing down development after development which each one after the other is a cram plan like:
How are those Stepford communities preserving Chester County? Do we have a new agricultural crop known as plastic houses? Does it go with the hideous and dangerous gas pipelines which are snaking through our communities at an increasing rate?
But I digress. No pipeline talk today, back to all this development.
These developments are not good planning for the residents of Chester County. These developments are good for lining the pockets of the developers who built them….and then they leave. They give municipalities a short term junkie fix of ratables and then they have to be sustained and are they long term? Or will we eventually end up with development ghost towns like discussed in this Atlantic article from 2011:
There are several counties in America, each with more than 10,000 homes, that have vacancy rates above 55%. The rate is above 60% in several.
Most people who follow unemployment and the housing crisis would expect high vacancy rates in hard-hit states including Nevada, Florida, and Arizona. They were among the fastest growing areas from 2000 to 2010. Disaster struck once economic growth ended……..Data from states and large metropolitan areas do not tell the story of how much the real estate disaster has turned certain areas in the country into ghost towns.
……These are the American Ghost Towns Of The 21st Century. Each has a population of more than 10,000 along with vacancy rates of more than 55%, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
Is that our future? It very well could be. Unless Chester County Residents rise up now and take back our county.
Yes, them’s fighting words according to some, but when the head of the county planning department doesn’t even actually live in Chester County, how does he truly get it?
The answer is he can’t. He is not living in our communities, he merely has a job here, collects a salary in the county, and goes back home to a place very different from us. Not being mean, it’s just the truth.
Chester County residents deserve better.
But how do we get there before the county is destroyed by wanton development?
Here is Brian O’Leary’s e-mail if you would like to contact him to ask him about Crebilly or anyplace else in the county facing wanton development : firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes it is just imitation or borrowing a name to play on the history they don’t care about anyway. Such is the case of developer to the masses Eli Kahn and his “The Village at General Warren” in the “Charlestown Retail Center” on “General Warren Blvd” in Malvern off 29 in or near that behemoth of ugliness known as Atwater. You know Atwater, where there is a giant quarry and insufficient fencing? And lots and lots of development?
It makes me recall a recent blog comment which in part said:
The “Suburban Landscape” County planning category promotes infill and appropriate density. County buzzwords for “put all the crap in this part of the County so we can keep some parts of the County green.” East Whiteland is already written off as far as controlling development….the more here, the better in the County’s eyes. The prior issue of County Plan had existing homes obliterated by corporate park….so their intent has been clear for a long time. All very sad.
So that says to me no one really cares, and we have to wonder if everything is a fait accompli? How sad, indeed.
So what got me thinking about this today? An article in Patch which doesn’t exactly represent actual journalism at this point. They regurgitate the hard work of actual reporters and they post press releases in their entirety as articles. Journalism, Patch style. Here is is with typos (you’re welcome):
Three screenshots as they appeared in Malvern Patch August 31, 2016
Ah yes another chain pub style restaurant…because there are not enough of them locally, correct? Is this the finest of fine dining they think we should have in Chester County? And much like name brand car dealerships, they all look the same. They all have the same menu. Pick a Whelihan’s, they are all the same and there is one in Downingtown, there is one coming to Oaks, there is one in West Chester, Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, Reading, Blue Bell, and Leighton and that is just PA. There is also Cherry Hill, Haddon Twp, Maple Shade, Medford Lakes, and Washington Township.
After all, nothing says date night or family dinner out like a modern day Houlihan’s, right? You can never have too much of the same thing everywhere, right?
I am sorry not sorry but why do we have to be both a development wasteland and a dining wasteland too?
And then there is the whole “Village at General Warren” of it all. Apparently the whole thing is brought to you by a company called Bernardon. Look at their website and you will find little individuality. It’s all formula “architecture” (they also “designed” that thing Easttown residents are fighting called Devon Yard.)
Perhaps Mr. Kahn is getting older and forgets there already is a General Warren Village. Part of it is located within the view shed of CubeSmart which he built and caused neighbors great distress over, right?
Now granted, General Warren Village as a development. Post WWII.
But it was a planned development with decent sized lots which did not eat every tree in sight. The kind of development they don’t do today because today it is all about developers getting in and out with as much money as possible, which means what you get are cheaply constructed cram plans of same-y saminess.
The General Warren Inne, for which the real Village is named after is a country inn constructed in 1745. This 250 plus-year-old inn, once owned by the grandson of William Penn, is surrounded by woods on a few acres, and is an 18th century survivor (just think if anyone really gave a crap about Linden Hall, Linden Hall could be just as charming!)
I love the General Warren Inne. I have seconded wedding photographers there and it is just lovely. And it is still a bed and breakfast, and provides a wonderful alternative to chain hotels. So you have a developer borrowing the name after a fashion, but I bet they don’t really know the history. Here is the history compiled by the General Warren Inne on itself:
Since 1745, the historic General Warren has been center stage for American history and a premier carriage stop for hungry travelers.
During The French & Indian War The story of the General Warren can be followed through its name changes. The Inne was first named in 1745 as The Admiral Vernon Inne, in honor of the naval commander Admiral Edward Vernon. He led the 1739 attack and capture of Portobello, Panama. In 1758, the name was changed to the Admiral Warren after the famed Admiral Peter Warren, a hero in defense of the American colony that year at Louisburg, (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) during the French and Indian War.
American Revolution During the revolution, the inn was owned by John Penn of Philadelphia, loyalist and grandson of William Penn. Its key location on the main highway between Philadelphia and Lancaster had helped the Admiral Warren become a popular stage stop and a Tory stronghold. It was here that the Loyalists met, drew maps and plotted against the revolutionaries. Howe and Cornwallis use these maps to negotiate the great valley, the route to capture Philadelphia.
Paoli Massacre The infamous Paoli Massacre, was planned and launched from The Admiral Warren Inne. Local folklore has it that on the night of September 20, 1777, the British, led by Lord Grey, captured the local blacksmith and tortured him on the third floor of the inn. Upon receiving the information that General “Mad Anthony” Wayne was camped one mile South of the Inne, the British attacked with bayonettes after midnight.
The Lancaster Turnpike Era In 1786, John Penn sold the property to Casper Fahnestock, a German Seventh Day Adventist from Ephrata. During Fahnestock’s long ownership, the Inne once again thrived, attracting many Lancaster County Germans and other travelers along The Lancaster Turnpike because of its reputation for clean lodging and excellent food.
The Early 19th Century In 1825 an effort was made to make amends with the new nation, the Admiral Warren was renamed the General Warren, to honor the American hero of Bunker Hill. During the 1820’s, the height of turnpike travel was reached, and the General Warren became a relay stop for mail stages and a post office. Then in April of 1831, the Philadelphia and Columbia Railway opened for travel, and in May of 1834, the last regular stage went through. The new, faster and cheaper means of travel via the rails doomed the inn as traffic by-passed the property.
The Inn’s Dormant Period In the 1830’s the great grandson of the first Fahnestock turned the Inne into a Temperance Hotel, cutting down his apple orchard to prevent cider from being made. The lack of spirits doomed the hotel, and it closed within a few years. From that point into the early 20th Century, The General Warren changed hands often, occasionally becoming a private residence. In the 1920’s, the inn reopened as a restaurant, with limited success over the next 60 years.
The Modern Era As area population and business grew in the mid 1980’s, the current owners made great strides to return the inn to its 18th Century elegance. The upper floors were renovated into 8 suites, the addition of a private dining room and all-weather heated patio for cocktail parties, outdoor dining and weddings. In 2005, the latest improvements included the new Admiral Vernon Dining Room and the return of The Warren Tavern, a spacious bar for dining and spirits, relocated to the original spot of the old tavern from the 19th Century.
Today at the General Warren Today’s guest at General Warren will find the perfect blend of old world charm, excellence in continental cuisine, fine wines and delightful overnight accommodations.
The answer of course, is it is not. It is just another example of a developer using aspects of our communities to sell their projects. And another chain restaurant brings mostly minimum wage jobs with it, and well how many people do you know who can support a home and a family on a minimum wage job?
I don’t know who development like this is for, but certainly not truly our communities. Maybe if these developers actually tried to do something better with their commercial spaces or tried to being actual fine dining and not just chain pub food I wouldn’t be so cynical. But I am.
Apparently chain pub food is becoming as plentiful as WaWas. Say here’s an idea: why not merge the two and add a chain drug store with a drive thru. All smushed together – save time!!! No one has ever done that before.
Eyes rolling in Lego Land. It’s a big box world out there.
The General Warren Inne for which the real General Warren Village was named
I actually have photos of 99 Church Road but don’t have time to dig through them (but I will later). This property (photo above off Google or Bing) is up for discussion tonight in East Whiteland:
Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan – 99 Church Road – APG – Proposed construction of 43 new single family residential units and the restoration of one existing historic home on the east and west side of Church Road. The property is zoned R-1 Residential and is approximately 41.5 acres and a motion to adopt Resolution No. 23-2016 granting approval of the Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan.
Come on, East Whiteland. I know you can’t stop every development, but 43 new “residential units” on 41.5 acres? Lord above people, can’t you find any developers who will develop large lots to conserve some open space?
From the May 14, 2014 East Whiteland Supervisors Meeting
So it is being marketed with information on the local schools , so the potential is to add 43 new households with kids here, right? Add that to all the OTHER development in various stages of planning in East Whiteland and elsewhere in the Great Valley School district and is someone going to say with a straight face that these developmnents will NOT impact the schools, will NOT impact our infrastructure, and will NOT affect things like police and first responder coverage?
These folks captioned above are locals? And apparently a couple of these folks above are part of the family that owns the National Bank of Malvern? That is what an article in The Hunt Magazine said circa 2009. Heavy sigh. These folks are legendary in equestrian circles, so one would think they would be able to market this property to other than a developer who wants to build quite so many homes on this parcel?
Some will say it’s “only” 41.5 acres. Well if you can do basic math, all the acres add up. Who knew when I wrote my development post earlier, I would be following it up with yet another East Whiteland Development project.
It’s too late to fight city hall on this one unless there are bog turtles or Revolutionary War Soldiers buried there, or something similar, but Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ East Whiteland hit the pause button somewhere, anywhere.
And speaking of the Revolutionary War, how does anyone know this potential development site is clean of artifacts given it’s proximity to other places?
from the February 11, 2015 East Whiteland Supervisors Meeting
Every time you turn around somewhere in Chester County is yet another GD development being proposed. And once again you have one where the “promise” to restore the historic asset. Umm East Whiteland, we are still waiting for the developer who “promised” to restore Linden Hall to make good on said promise. And we all know that if push comes to shove they can’t make these developers do anything, correct? So telling them they have to do something basically doesn’t mean squat, does it?
So we are seeing the slow death of more open space. Fabulous.
After all, the MPC is the bible that guides planning and zoning across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Maybe if it was updated to protect and enhance our communities with more control over development and help for historic preservation and land conservation we would all stand a fighting chance?
Just a thought.
Thanks for stopping by. Sign me development depressed.
Oh and before I close off this post, here is this little something concerning Linden Hall: