the serious acreage of greystone in west chester bites the dust as development begins….

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Found on the internet

Long before I moved to Chester County I had heard of Greystone Hall.  Probably because the Jerrahian family live on the Main Line.  At least some of them do. In 2001 they were subjected to an attempted eminent domain taking from the West Chester school district. Yes, shades of Stoneleigh.

West Chester Daily Local Jerrehian owner condemns district
Kevin Plunkett Oct 15, 2001 Comments

“Before taking such and extreme step, the school district should go out of its way to be careful, fair and beyond reproach,” said Dean Jerrehian in a statement sent to area newspapers Sunday. “It is bad enough for the government to take someone’s property, but it is even worse to take it on a few days notice …and especially if they are not even sure they really want it.”

Jerrehian, one of the members of the Jerrehian Partnership, which owns the 400-plus acre property in West Goshen, was referring to an announcement made last week that the West Chester school board intends to discuss possible acquisition of a portion of the property for its proposed new high school.

He raised several objections to the possible move, including that it may not be the best site for the school, that its cost is uncertain, and that the district “has not fully explored all feasible alternatives.”

Jerrehian also said Sunday that by making its announcement on the heels of the Jerrehian Partnership’s application to create an Agricultural Secuirty Area for the property, which he referred to as his family’s farm …..The district said the action was taken because the Jerrehian owners recently filed an application with West Goshen to create an Agricultural Security Area protection. If that application is granted, the district could have a more difficult, lengthy and costly road to eventually buying the land through eminent domain.

Explaining his family’s decision to set the agricultural district up, Jerrehian said corn and “other field crops” are being grown on parts of the property. He did not know how many acres were under cultivation, however……All that was mentioned was that the district is interested in roughly 108 acres near the Greenhill Road and Route 100 intersection, he said.

Mind you that was not the only property at that time the WCASD tried to take. There as also the Singer Farm.  Unrelated, but the same time frame would have been the Saha Farm in Coatesville.

During at least a month or better in the winter of 2001, The Daily Local wrote a series of articles on eminent domain that I thought were quite powerful.  Here is an excerpt from one of the 2001 articles:

….America’s frontier has been closed for well over a century now. Its citizens, though, still need roads, schools and utilities. Its leaders develop plans for land improvements and economic revitalization. And the two groups face potentially bitter conflicts, here in Chester County and across the nation, over the locations of these projects on the one-time frontier and over the means by which those in charge carry out their plans…..In Valley, more than half of Dick and Nancy Saha’s 45-acre farm is under threat. The city of Coatesville, in an effort to revitalize its economy, is attempting to take the land for a recreation center and 18-hole golf course. The Sahas, vowing to fight the city’s condemnation to the Supreme Court, are seeking allies among public officials and the public. The Valley board of supervisors has joined their cause.

In East Bradford, the West Chester Area School District’s proposal for a new high school led to rushed efforts to take 102 acres of Philadelphia real-estate developer Michael Singer’s 172-acre farm on Route 322. Singer and his attorneys successfully fought off the school district’s plans earlier this year, with an assist from East Bradford officials who opposed the location of a large high school on the land.

Yes, I digress. But a point is coming. I have no clue what happened to Michael Singer’s 172 acres after they beat back the West Chester Area School District in 2001:

“In an opinion issued Tuesday, Court of Common Pleas Judge William Mahon ruled that the school district’s April 6, 2000 meeting — at which it voted to acquire 105 acres of Michael Singer’s 172-acre farm to build a new high school and athletic fields — was “void and of no effect” because it violated state “sunshine,” or open meeting, laws.”

I remember cheering the Jerrehian family’s victory over the West Chester Area School District.  But when I saw their plans for Greystone years later filed in West Goshen Township, I almost regretted cheering them on because I wondered for what did we cheer? So they could develop hundreds of ticky tacky new construction boxes? (Greystone-NID-Plan-Presentation-11.3.17-rev._2)

In late 2017, Bill Rettew wrote about this Greystone Development:

598 homes to be built in West Goshen
By Bill Rettew Jr. brettew@dailylocal.com Oct 11, 2017 Comments

WEST GOSHEN >> A development project to construct 598 homes at the 433-acre Jerrehian property is shovel ready.

The township has approved the project, Woodlands at Greystone, at the former Sharpless Estate, with the potential developer still seeking an OK from supervisors to establish a Neighborhood Improvement District.

The property stretches from Phoenixville Pike on the southeast, the Route 322 Bypass to the south, near Pottstown Pike on the northwest and Greenhill Road to the north.

Through the NID, future homeowners would foot the bill for 30 years to pay off a bond issue financing almost $21 million of infrastructure improvements…..Greystone Manor will continue to operate on its own 35 acre lot.

The article quotes West Goshen Supervisors. Specifically FORMER Supervisor  Ray Halverson and still existing Supervisor Chris Pielli.  I will be honest that I think West Goshen is one of the more problematic Chester County municipalities and are part of the lovely Mariner II pipeline ground zero as it were.  Them approving this is sheer lunacy and am I alone in this opinion? And yes, I understand all too well the realities of development but when will more municipalities in PA do what is right for residents?

I had put Greystone out of my head until up popped an article this week in the Philadelphia Business Journal by Natalie Kostelni.

The week before the September 5th Philadelphia Business Journal article, there was also an article in the Daily Local on August 29 about construction starting. It featured  heart wrenching photos of construction equipment digging up the earth.

All of this comes on the heels of Crebilly in Westtown news from Mindy which I will share :
*******************************************

Dear Friends,

Crebilly Farm/Toll Brothers Conditional Use appeal court date is quickly approaching and I hope you are planning to attend:
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17TH, 1PM, Chester County Justice Center, 201 West Market Street, West Chester  COURTROOM #1 (Not #15).
We are coming upon what could be the final moments of what will set the tone for a long time to come.  Our national history is in jeopardy and all of us will pay a dear price in traffic congestion and environmental damages if the Judge grants this appeal.
 
Last week, I attended the Chester County Commissioners Meeting and asked the Commissioners ‘What can the public do between now and the court appeal to keep this fresh in the minds of others?  Can we write letters to the Judge?’  I learned this is an option and it is up to the discretion of each judge whether they will read them or not.
 
FRIENDS, THIS IS A CALL TO ACTION– for each and everyone of us; all those reading this message and all those you can share this message with.  I am calling on everyone for a new letter writing campaign- ASAP!   Please send a mailed letter in opposition of the proposed development via snail mail- yes, snail mail– one to the Judge and one to the Commissioners!  Please be polite.  If it’s too much to write a letter, that’s okay, then just write a sentence- and please mail it snail mail.  If it’s too much to write a sentence, that’s okay too, then please mail an empty envelope with the following message on the front at the bottom:   
PLEASE PRESERVE OUR NATIONAL HISTORY ON CREBILLY FARM!
*Every letter/sentence/envelope needs to have written on the front of the envelope at the bottom: 
PLEASE PRESERVE OUR NATIONAL HISTORY ON CREBILLY FARM!  
We need to flood the Judge and Commissioners’ mailboxes, office and desks with letters from all over West Chester, the county, the state and the country!  Make copies of the same letter and send numerous copies to both.  Flood them like the Brandywine River last week!  Whether the letters are opened or not, I think our message on the front of the envelopes will be pretty hard to miss and talked about by all.
SEND YOUR SNAIL MAIL TO:
The Honorable Judge Tunnell
Justice Center
201 W. Market Street
West Chester, PA  19380
*Remember to include on the front of each envelope at the bottom:
PLEASE PRESERVE OUR NATIONAL HISTORY ON CREBILLY FARM
 
Chester County Commissioners
313 W. Market Street
Suite 6202
West Chester, PA  19380
*Remember to include on the front of the each envelope at the bottom:
PLEASE PRESERVE OUR NATIONAL HISTORY ON CREBILLY FARM
Friends, this is MASSIVE PUBLIC OUTCRY.  And I promise- it’s now or never.  I thought it one of the silliest ideas ever to ride my horse through the nearby neighborhoods of Crebilly Farm almost two years ago to raise awareness, but it was all I could think to do at the time.  To my surprise, it woke people up.  And then together, we woke up the Westtown Township BOS.  And they heard us.  And they voted ‘NO.’  Time to wake up the Judge and Commissioners before it is too late.
If not you, then who?
Sincerely,
Mindy Rhodes

******************************************

So back to Greystone. It is over 400 acres, right? And it has how many homes ultimately planned? 598 houses? So even if this development is built in stages, it is the same school district as Crebilly, so if Crebilly goes through where is West Chester Area School District going to go to get more land now?  How will THAT school district handle all of these new district families?

Kind of ironic, and bitterly so, isn’t it? The Jerrehian family saves their property from eminent domain via a school district to turn around and sell to a developer? Makes you wonder if this is the ultimate FU to a school district, doesn’t it?

But it’s not just the school district which will suffer, is it?

Chester County collectively needs to seriously wake the hell up.  And that includes that misbegotten Chester County Planning Commission headed by a Lower Merion Township Resident, doesn’t it? Pick a school district. Pick a municipality.  All the land is going under developers’ collective shovels and I am still asking how this insanity is sustainable?

What about the farm land that was on Greystone property?

Now for the history.  My dear friend Sara’s grandfather was the architect Charles Barton Keen . Mr. Keen was the architect on Greystone Hall built for Philip M. Sharples.  I found some great history on a blog called Hackberry Hill:

HOUSE HISTORY
PHILIP SHARPLES’ GREYSTONE HALL
OCTOBER 26, 2016

Philip M. Sharples (who often went by P.M.) was a fourth-generation Pennsylvanian and from an influential Quaker family in Chester County. Not surprising that one of Sharples predecessors was the first mayor of our town.  In 1881 Sharples established the Sharples Separator Works Company with plants in Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Canada and Germany.  At its peak, Sharples Separator Works was the largest industrial company in our town, employing 600 workers and turning out an average of 3700 separators a year (West Chester University Archives).  He was clearly a big deal.

Sharples 5

The company did exceedingly well for over 30 years and Sharples became a rich man.  In 1907, he finished construction on Greystone Hall, an incredible house that sits just north of town designed by architect Charles Barton Keene.  Coincidentally, just after looking at the Sharples’ city house, I attended a lecture at Greystone Hall, not initially realizing that this was a Sharples’ house as well.  I am not sure P.M. lived in or owned the city house though – it was possibly a relative. There are a lot of Philip Sharples in the family tree!  I need to look into that further.  In any case, by 1907 P.M. Sharples was living quite grandly at Greystone Hall with his wife and three children.

Sharples 2Sharples 4

…..P.M. and his wife moved in and a mere four years later his wife passed away leaving Sharples and his three children alone. He later remarried and had 3 more children.  His second wife and 6 children lived at Greystone until 1935.

Sharples fell victim to the Depression and ended up losing Greystone to foreclosure in the early years of World War II. Greystone was pledged as collateral on loans and about half of the original nearly 1000 acres of land were sold off in small parcels starting in the late 1930s.  Sharples relocated his family to Pasadena where he lived for 9 years before passing away in 1944 (www.greystonehall.com).

You can read more about the history of Greystone in detail and the family who has owned the house since 1942 here.  The house sits on an incredible 500 acres. Still.

Pennsylvania is a private property rights state. It is what helped defend Greystone from eminent domain, after all, wasn’t it?

But where do we draw the line on developers and politicians and their visions for where we call home?  When did the rest of our collective private property rights as extended community stop mattering?

Chester County is literally disappearing and soon you won’t be able to tell if you are in Chester County, or say some bland subdivision in Oklahoma.

Today an Inquirer article by Vinny Vella made me pause and decide to write something about this.  It’s not like we can stop it. The plan is approved and the construction has begun. 

While I was researching and hunting for the old articles on the eminent domain play which occurred, I also came across this thing from Temple University about restoring the Greystone lands I guess. (Haven’t read through it all but have also uploaded MLArch 2015_Greystone Hall 2_Web here.)

Here is one page from that PDF showing the trees on Greystone:

plants

Greystone was mentioned in another post I wrote in 2017 about the still missing Toni Lee Sharpless . 

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I think this development will create havoc. It will overwhelm infrastructure, a school district, and so on, won’t it? Can you imagine the traffic when all of the houses are built? I was told that land that was probably undevelopable was given to West Goshen Township for parkland or something? Hopefully that saves a good chunk of the forest, right? There is supposed to be some road cut through the development.  Friends say it will be a narrow windy 25 MPH road?

Sign me sad. I am glad the mansion is staying, but am totally bummed that all those acres will become plastic houses.  For any number of reasons. Hope the ratables were worth it, West Goshen. In the Philadelphia Business Journal, West Goshen’s Manager was quoted:

West Goshen has been dealing with developer interest in Greystone for years. “We couldn’t stop the development but we could manage it,” said Casey LaLonde, township manager of West Goshen.

I had to laugh because Casey LaLonde? Y’all GOT managed versus managing anything didn’t you?

Other interesting tidbits from the Philadelphia Business Journal article include:

…Other developments Reiser was involved with include Atwater, Muir Wood in Newtown Square and Carriage Hill in Doylestown……As it did with those projects and will do with Woodlands at Greystone, Reiser will serve as the master developer and has partnered with NVR, which builds under Ryan Homes and other brands, to construct the houses. Under that arrangement, Reiser plans to prepare the lots for development, install the infrastructure and then sell them to NVR on a scheduled basis over the next six years.

Atwater? It’s in East Whiteland, right? Large and kind of unattractive?  Hmmm isn’t that the development which has already caused some elementary school redistricting within Great Valley School District?

Here is the Inquirer article:
PENNSYLVANIA Philadelphia Inquirer
In Chester County, hundreds of homes to rise near historic Greystone Hall
by Vinny Vella, Updated: 21 hours ago

More than 400 acres of land, the largest remaining undeveloped tract in West Goshen Township, Chester County, were sold last month to make way for hundreds of houses in a deal that was a decade in the making.

But the origin of the $38 million sale of land surrounding the historic Greystone Hall traces to the 1950s, when the Jerrehian family, its owners, first started courting developers.

Their vision was finally realized Aug. 23, when half of the property surrounding the mansion was sold to Reiser Land Development. The other half, according to Drew Reiser, a managing partner at the company, is expected to be sold in a separate deal, the details of which, he said, are private.

Reiser’s plan for the Woodlands at Greystone calls for the construction of 598 homes….The Jerrehian family has owned the land, once the property of West Chester manufacturer Philip M. Sharples, for nearly 80 years. The main building, Greystone Hall, frequently used for corporate retreats and wedding receptions, will remain under their ownership and will not be part of the subdivision.

Sharples, who built Greystone Hall in 1907, founded the Sharples Separator Co. but lost his money during the Great Depression. The Jerrehian family, which immigrated to the United States from Turkey in the early 1900s, bought it in 1942.

Read the entire article.  It is informative and interesting.

Bah Humbug. I am glad the mansion is surviving but why all the houses? I will never understand. Kind of disappointed in the Jerrehians on this, have to be honest. I don’t know what I thought they would eventually do with all of the land, but it wasn’t this.

 

development bug growing? wake up great valley school district and residents before it’s too late….

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File under who bought the farm?

Yes. Development whining shall now commence.

If you don’t like it, move off of the page now.

At present, it is a lovely swath of land on Monument in Willistown called Troutbeck Farm. However, as per Willistown’s Planning Commission Agenda for August 8, 2018 it is another parcel up for a cram plan. According to Willistown’s development list on their website it’s up for 35 homes on a 37 lot subdivision.

trout 1w3

Now I know some will say it’s “only” 35 homes.  (Like Willistown’s Paoli Walk is “only” 30 townhomes and the old Daylesford Abbey land development  now the preposterously titled Chapel Hill Paoli is “only” 55 homes)

You can CLICK HERE to check out the Willistown Development List. And I think much like East Goshen, Willistown records nothing so if you do not attend meetings, you don’t necessarily know what is going on do you?

(I am not going into  Easttown’s , Tredyffrin’s or East Goshen Township’s sock drawers at the moment because they aren’t in Great Valley School District.  Doesn’t mean I don’t wonder about development and politics there too, but I digress…)

But anyway…. a lot of us wonder if Great Valley School District has Captain Oblivious at the helm because there is SO much development in various stages in this school district in Chester County.  People always think it’s just East Whiteland, but multiple municipalities make up this district.  And they all are little development islands in a bigger development sea in Chester County.

And no, before all you school district cheerleaders jump all over me, I am NOT questioning how good the district is at present. I am questioning the school district’s perennial lack of interest in a topic which affects all of the families, taxpayers, and most importantly students: DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THE DISTRICT.

willistown

According to Niche and Patch as of August 1, 2018, Great Valley is ranked 11th in the state. Think they’ll maintain that if the unchecked development continues? Haven’t they done eminent domain before in this district? How will they remain so good if the schools are so huge we’re ready for Great Valley East and Great Valley West? Are their school board members awake?

I found three documents courtesy of Willistown:

17302 Plans 10 SWM Troutbeck Farms

Troutbeck_Development-Narrative-17-05-05

Troutbeck_Traffic-Planning-3

Apparently this has been going on for a few years?

According to Willistown, Troutbeck Development LLC is responsible for this plan. When you put that LLC name into Google you get:

where is trout llc

When you put the address into Google you get:

moser

Et voilà ! Another development is born in Chester County.  Don’t worry all livestock, horses, and crops will fit nicely on top of all of the Wegmans and Whole Foods Markets. And we don’t need open space.  Just traffic, pollution, infrastructure woes, and over-population issues, stressed out first responders, and school districts busting at the seams.

And what started all of this today?

The Philadelphia Business Journal heralding yet another development plan for East Whiteland in the Great Valley School District:

GMH Capital buys properties along Main Line

By Natalie Kostelni – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal
Aug 6, 2018, 1:31pm EDT

 ew yuck

GMH Capital Partners has paid $3.2 million in two separate transactions to buy several properties along Route 30 in Frazer, Pa., for a proposed mixed-use development.

The Newtown Square, Pa., real estate company assembled and bought the parcels as part of its plans to develop a four-story apartment building with retail space. Those plans have been going through the approval process in East Whiteland.

Mind you, East Whiteland seems to love development that comes it’s way (just look at this 2017 list.) Not being mean, this township has earned it’s pro-development reputation, has it not?

The old Frazer Lanes has been closed for a while.  (CLICK HERE for old Loop Net commercial real estate listing. Click HERE for another listing which is where aerial photo came from.)

Google maps gives us another look:

google maps

According to the article it’s the bowling alley, the trailer park next door, and the gas station.  The gas station is 558 Lancaster Ave, Frazer Lanes I think was 554 Lancaster Ave, and the trailer park is Norbros Circle These properties were mention in the 2017 fall issued land assumptions report in East Whiteland. I think they are also somewhere in the Route 30 Corridor Study.

Development, development, development.

Just yikes. But when it comes to this particular development can they build if the Alley Pub stays put? After all isn’t that in between Frazer Lanes and the Pioneer gas station?  The cheese stands alone? Can they withstand a big developer and survive as long as they choose? Here’s hoping the Alley Pub survives, right? It is after all the last of the old school joints in these parts isn’t it?

Speaking of development in East Whiteland, there is a petition circulating which was created in opposition to a development plan over on Flat Road.  The petition is called simply PETITION IN OPPOSITION TO FLAT ROAD DEVELOPMENT.  I am not the creator of the petition, but I feel for these people.  East Whiteland has been lobbing this around for a while. You can read about it HERE and  on HERE. If you want to see the Flat Road plan, CLICK HERE to go to East Whiteland’s site.  It’s “only” 47 more homes, no biggie, right? (There was an emergency meeting of the East Whiteland Historical Commission this evening about this too – the historic Amish Cemetery is over there.)

Wrong. Not picking on any development or developer in general but all of these “onlys” ADD UP, don’t they?

Soon there will not be one blade of grass left that is not planned for something.

And all of these “onlys” do indeed affect school districts. That readers, is what I got on my soap box about.  Every development adds up through multiple municipalities . This affects school districts.  School districts affect taxes, so do you get the vicious cycle?

Remember…is it not true a lot of things get pushed through local governments during holidays and the dog days of summer?  We live in a world where we must sadly remain ever watchful…and involved.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

is great valley school district about to slide down the slippery slope of reassessments?

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New development on Church Road in Malvern within the Great Valley School District

So..are they? Is the Great Valley School District about to slide down the slippery slope of reassessments?

I received a message overnight:

The Great Valley School District has decided to go after property owners that they think are under assessed……If you want to see the discussion at the School Board meeting where they decided to take this action here are the directions:

Click here and then on the June 4th meeting – go to the 1 hour 5 minute mark and listen to the discussion:  https://www.gvsd.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=237

Targeting specific landowners and not going after everyone who may be under assessed is discriminatory , unfair but legal. They are going after those where they think they can get the most return for the appeal.

Here is the video:

Here is the list:

NINE of the properties are FARMS. THREE are RESIDENTIAL

This is very Lower Merion School District of them.  Sadly, every time Lower Merion School District has done this it has resulted in MASSIVE amounts of litigation.  I found a 2016 case that I think is of note because of   legal footnotes that I will share:

Here are the footnotes I think that is something that should be read:

2.   In a tax assessment case, the Board has the initial burden of presenting its assessment  records into evidence, which establish a prima facie case of the validity of the assessment.
Expressway 95 Business Center, LP v. Bucks County Board of Assessment, 921 A.2d 70, 76 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007). The burden then shifts to the property owner to present sufficient evidence to
rebut the assessment’s validity. Id. “Where the taxpayer’s testimony is relevant, credible and un-rebutted, the court must give it due weight and cannot ignore it in determining a property’s fair market value. Where the taxing authority presents rebuttal evidence, the court must
determine the weight to be given all the evidence.” Koppel Steel Corporation v. Board of Assessment Appeals of Beaver County, 849 A.2d 303, 307 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004) citing Deitch Company v. Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County, 209 A.2d 397 (Pa. 1965).

3.   Article VIII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that “All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws.” Pa. Const. art. VIII, §1. This constitutional uniformity requirement is based on the general principle that “taxpayers should
pay no more or less than their proportionate share of government.” Downingtown Area School District v. Chester County Board of Assessment Appeals, 913 A.2d 194, 199 (Pa. 2006). To meet the uniformity requirement, “all property must be taxed uniformly, with the same ratio of the
assessed value to actual value applied throughout the taxing jurisdiction.” Clifton v. Allegheny County, 969 A.2d 1197, 1224 (Pa. 2009).

I did not ask a lawyer about this, I am not a lawyer, but I can read and I can research.  I was told there is more to the story by a friend and that this was a list of “mostly profitable commercial businesses.”  

But it’s not just commercial properties (which will get sick of tax increases and reassessments too, by the way).  There are NINE farms and THREE residences on this short list. As someone else said to me “I don’t doubt their motives. Especially since they have 9 Farms with lots of open space to Overtax so they can’t afford the tax, thereby having to sell, thereby giving an in for more higher density development to make even more in taxes.

I watched this play out again and again in Lower Merion Township.  What ends up happening is people are forced from where they call home because they can’t afford the school taxes.  We as residents and taxpayers who stay pay for that as well. And if a school district doesn’t get what they want, they next logically move to reassess ALL of us. That is what happens. They need money because this school district is close to bursting at the seams. Why are they bursting at the seams? Development.

So yes, is also my opinion that this is a direct result of too much development too fast within this particular school district from multiple municipalities. In addition the behemoth with the view of the eerie blue lagoon (A/K/A/ dead quarry) known as Atwater and all around there on 29 that is residential, there is development perched over highway and next to a quarry at the intersection of Phoenixville Pike and Charlestown Road from Southdown Homes called Pickering Crossing. And then there is the new Toll Brothers development starting to happen on Church Road called Great Valley Crossing. And the new development most of us just realized was going to happen on Swedesford Road from people called McKee Builders called Malvern Crossing. Linden Hall which just when you think they can’t add another row, they add another row of houses. Or Ryan Homes’ Malvern Walk on Planebrook.

 

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And those are just a few of the developments that are either still in planning, approved, and so on.  Look at the Route 30 Corridor Study for East Whiteland. Did they not suggest additional residential long Route 30 in there? Remember the Malvern Transit Oriented Development Study from a few years back in malvern Borough? (Also see with regard to Malvern’s T.O.D. CLICK HERE. and re-read this column form Henry Briggs. How much more development could Malvern Borough alone see?)

These developments are just targeting bodies. And all these municipalities are falling for the Emperor’s New Clothes of Zoning Overlay Districts.  These new developments aren’t specifically saying “senior living”, for example.  So all of these developments might bring really nice new families to the area, but they are also adding in a lot of kids to the school district. It’s bringing the city to the country, only I don’t think the country can really handle it.

And JUST like developers did and continue to do around Downingtown where they call EVERYTHING Chester Springs even when really, it’s not….everything in the Great Valley School District is being described as “Main Line”. It’s not the Main Line and well damn, a lot of us (myself included) came here in the first place because we wanted beauty and open space and wanted to escape the Main Line. As in the actual Main Line, not the fake developer speak of what they think the Main Line is, or should be, or where it is.

And with the fake Main Line of it all, we in Chester County are starting to experience real Main Line problems. Tax increases. Traffic congestion. Infill development. Shrinking open space…and oh yeah SCHOOL OVERCROWDING.

Cause and effect.

These reassessments are in my opinion only the beginning.  Hope everyone who lives in the Great Valley School District is ready for when we all become Great Valley East and Great Valley West.   Because given the pace of development, that is a potential reality.  Or Great Valley School District just becomes a monster district like West Chester Area School District. And if that happens, where do the new schools go? Whose land gets taken for that?

Maybe some don’t like my opinions on this.  Maybe some think I am being unfair to the Great Valley School District.  I am not. It’s just the reality of the situation. And it bears watching.

 

another historic home bites the dust….

A reader named Eric wrote to us this morning (and sent these two photos):

905 Westtown Rd. in West Goshen is a wonderful historic home built in 1818. This beautiful estate is about to be demolished to build 12 new houses…..Sadly it seems like its time is up. It’s been abandoned for 15 years and had been up for Sheriff’s sale, though these have been cancelled and demolition is now scheduled.

Again, the photos have graciously been provided by Eric for our use here.

It seems like every day brings us a tale of another demolition in another township in Chester County.

Soon we will be very urban in even more places and that’s very disturbing as we are very urban in many places already in this county because of development.

And all these new developments load up our school districts to the point of overcrowding. And then the students pay for that because the situation changes from lovely high schools to overcrowded high schools were students are packed in like lemmings without the proper attention from educators. As taxpayers this overcrowding will be eventually reflected in our taxes, if they aren’t already.

All of this development puts undue stress on our infrastructure. And developers never pay enough towards the infrastructure. You’re lucky if you get a traffic signal out of them.

And this is the architectural history of our county that will never be replaced once it is demolished. This is why I believe the Chester County Planning Commission should not be run by someone who does not live in the county and has no intention of living in the county. That carpetbagger should go back to Lower Merion Township where he lives.

And speaking of issues with overcrowding in the schools, look at the result of all the recent past years of infill development in Lower Merion Township and the effect it has had on the Lower Merion School District. 

Lower Merion School District is eyeballing several choice private properties for eminent domain to expand their footprint. And one of the properties they have particular interest in as reported by local media a couple weeks ago, is Natural Lands acquisition Stoneleigh in Villanova. That property which spans I believe 42 acres and it was donated by the Haas family so it would be protected. This is the terrifying reality of over development and communities. This is the terrifying reality that no municipality, no elected officials, no developers want you to know about.

These developers do not give a crap about where we call home. We are just an area to make a quick development buck off of. They aren’t invested in our communities it’s all about what they can make and what the municipalities can get for the short term high of what they call “ratables.”

Between pipeline and developments Chester County is getting gobbled up. Soon there will be limited open space and limited farmland. Soon we will not recognize where we call home.

I have to ask all of you, is that the future you want for this spectacular county in Pennsylvania? If the answer is no, you need to get busy where you live. We need to toss out of office anyone who does not care about where we call home. Pro-development is a bad thing at this point because there is no moderation.

If you want to see another hideous plan or to check out the rape of the land on Pottstown Pike spitting distance from Upper Uwchlan’s municipal building right there on the edge what is left of the Village of Eagle. Toll Brothers.

For yet another hideous plan drive along Church Road in Malvern. Another Toll Brothers plan. Or should we say Toll Smothers? Because that’s what they do: they smother every square inch of space with McBoxes.

When is enough development enough?

tigue farm in west chester to bite the dust

At 945 Tigue Road, West Chester, PA just below the Stadium at West Chester University -between the stadium and Route 52 – actually the other side of the stadium- is this gorgeous farm you see in courtesy photos from my friend Robin Ashby.

And it’s yet another farm which will soon be plowed under for yet another development of plastic houses. I am told the actual farm is on the northeast portion of the parcel. The open land is Tigue Road and Route 52 looking north.

According to information found on the Internet at RealtyTrac.com:

945 Tigue Rd is a farm, crops located in West Chester, PA 19382. Built in 1750, this property features 7 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 58 acres lot, and 3,999 sq ft of living space.

This is East Bradford Township. And oh yeah, it’s Toll Brothers….again:

TOLL BROTHERS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

During their Regular Meeting on December 12, 2017, the Board of Supervisors approved a settlement agreement with Toll PA VI, L.P. for the development of the Tigue Farm (Tigue Road and Lenape Road) to be known as “Darlington Ridge at West Chester.”  Minutes from this meeting are available on the Board and Commissions page.  The next phase of the development will involve submission of land development plans and Township review during 2018. This application may be prominent on the Township Planning Commission agenda during 2018.

Does everyone realize that acre by acre, what made Chester County Chester County will literally cease to exist at some point in the not too distant future?

How is this crazed thirst for development sustainable? How many times can we expand our schools and/or redistrict until we’re out of room?

It’s time for the residents of Chester County to have their eyes on the prize that is our home county and not just the developers.

Our agricultural and equine heritage are about to be lost forever along with the architectural heritage of Chester County farm houses, outbuildings, and barns. Once the farms are gone, they are gone forever.

Also don’t forget, that a lot of these farms were also proven or potential battle sites during the Revolutionary War. So in a lot of cases our nation’s very history is getting plowed under. And well Tigue Farm dates to the 18th century, doesn’t it?

Are we all to have “green roofs” and grow our food and put animals out to pasture that way? I find that doubtful since all these developments come with homeowners association’s and lots of rules don’t you?

Farming is often a brutally hard life. When did we stop caring about our farmers in this country? We must’ve stopped caring because they’re all selling to developers, right?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers other than restating the obvious which I keep saying, and that is the pace of development must slow down.