nothing like a tropical storm to make you want to revisit the pace of development and all it entails.

Photo source: Facebook. Location: Exton PA West Whiteland Township.

The photo I am opening this post with speaks volumes. The first thought is aren’t we all lucky to have such great first responders in this area? But it’s the second thought that bothers me and makes me ponder. The location is on the photo. Route 30 and Route 100 in Exton, West Whiteland Township.

If there was LESS development would perhaps there be LESS flooding when a big storm rolls in?

It’s kind of what came first the chicken or the egg kind of a conversation, but Chester County, we need to have it. Yesterday is a clear indication we need to have it.

A disclaimer: I am using flooding photos sourced off of Facebook. Some from the Classic Diner folks, a friend, and just photos that have been publicly posted. People captured in the moment storm flooding images yesterday and I want you all to look at the photos and think.

Think about our communities.

Think about our safety, the safety of our first responders during storms like this.

Think about the pace of development out here.

Think about the need for better stormwater management and less density.

Source: Facebook Route 30 in Malvern /Frazer East Whiteland Township

A friend of mine took the photo above yesterday. This water is insane. I haven’t lived here long enough to know if it ever flooded like this before. They also took the next photo. It sure looks like those boats were ready to launch, right?

Source: Facebook Route 30 in Malvern /Frazer East Whiteland Township

However, it still renews my suggestion that East Whiteland Township is but one of many municipalities which needs to look at their stormwater management codes/rules and reevaluate immediately due to the constant development around here. I also think that East Whiteland and her neighbors to the east and west (West Whiteland, Easttown, Tredyffrin for starters) need to revisit the pace of development, period.

And there needs to be a conversation with the Chester County Planning Commission and their Landscapes quagmire which has this part of Chester County becoming the next King of Prussia. Come on now, I am not exaggerating see this screenshot from Landscapes:

Screenshot from Landscapes 3

I have been perfectly honest in the past of not being a fan of the Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission. Brian O’Leary has always been too pro-development and I remember a lot of his decisions on the Lower Merion Township Planning Commission back in the day not exactly fondly. (Here is his email to Chester County Planning Commission if you are interested: boleary@chesco.org or you can email them at ccplanning@chesco.org, or call them at 610-344-6285.)

This man has always been development first oriented and he lives in Lower Merion Township in a densely populated area. Don’t misunderstand me, he lives in a lovely area, but it is extremely unlike out here. And as per bios of him I have read, he grew up in an area even more densely populated than where he currently lives. So how can Brian O’Leary really get Chester County? Sure he works out here, but he doesn’t live out here so how can he get our day to day 24/7/365 experience? So when I see the density the Chester County Planning Commission says in hunky dory for certain parts of Chester County, it literally makes me queasy. Brian O’Leary is captain mixed use, high density. There already is one King of Prussia. There already is one Bensalem.

So Brian, what do you have to say today for the flooding in some places? Can you kindly put your planning brain to use over stormwater management and perhaps a density slow down? Yesterday’s flooding shows we desperately need another plan. A better plan. The more development which occurs, the fewer places for water to go. Common sense.

Source: Facebook Lincoln Court Shopping Center yesterday in East Whiteland Township, Chester County.

So many people are without power. So many people lost so much due to flood waters. People also lost homes due to falling trees. Yesterday was a very bad storm. But as temperature and weather patterns change due to climate change, we have to adapt. And we have to change. We can’t keep doing what we have been doing. Or more specifically, we can’t keep allowing the same patterns of development to continue.

Photo courtesy of the Classic Diner, Malvern. Location: Route 30 East Whiteland Township

Change won’t be easy. Change won’t happen overnight. There are a lot of politics involved to say the least. But I am tired of politicians also driving how we should want to live in our communities. We need more open space, less development. We need less high density development and some real/better stormwater management plans. Municipalities can’t just play lip service to this any longer. They also need to put existing residents first and quit drooling over the quick fix one-time hit of ratables when a new development occurs.

Critics of my thought process will undoubtedly say I can’t tie this storm and over-development together. But I can and I have. Because if there was MORE open space, LESS development, BETTER stormwater management plans, and LESS high density development would some areas have potentially had LESS flooding yesterday? Now I know that doesn’t mean everywhere that flooded yesterday, but in some places I believe people might have fared better.

But until we try as communities to do things better, we will never know if we can do better, will we? So how about it residents of Chester County? Can you ask your elected officials for change?

Thanks for stopping by.

Source: Facebook. Morehall Road at Atwater East Whiteland Township

oh goody…more development in….tredyffrin

A while ago a friend said “well you know Valley Forge sold off land to a developer.” Meaning Valley Forge Military Academy and College.

And it’s true – I found the Philadelphia Business Journal article from December, 2019 where they wrote:

📌”Dec 27, 2019 · Bentley Homes heads back to the Main Line, buys land from Valley Forge Military Foundation. Valley Forge Military Academy Foundation has sold five properties adjacent to its Wayne campus to Bentley Homes for $1.65 million.”📌

I realized where it was yesterday on my way home from a skin cancer procedure at Penn Medicine in Radnor. That corner where Upper Gulph Road meets Radnor Road (Radnor Street Road when down the road a piece in Radnor Township, Delaware County.)

This location is Tredyffrin Township, Chester County.

Now Valley Forge has been selling and or leasing land since 2010 according to an old article I found in the Delco Times. So it shouldn’t be a surprise. Except in 2010 this deal was with a neighboring academic institution, Eastern University.

Valley Forge is one of the academic institutions that people wonder if they will survive COVID19. There are a lot of schools across the country that may or may not. This global pandemic affects enrollment (see Forbes article from April, 2020 and Deloitte.com for example.) Schools were already rocked by student visa issues given the current isolationist tenor of this country which is affecting the ability to host foreign students. Coronavirus just puts them more into uncertain times, financially.

But a development on this corner? High up on a hill? Will everyone around them be their storm water management program? And why does another Main Line McMansion project need to occur?

The irony is in a time when people are starting to question whether or not they want to live on top of one and other as we are still experiencing a global pandemic , development is not slowing down. It seems to be at a fever pitch. And this development will also impact the Tredyffrin Easttown School District which seems to be rather crowded already?

New Bentley Development – plan courtesy of their website on “Boxwood Hill

Now someone will snap these homes up I suppose, except it all depends on the economy in general which has been rocked by COVID19 if we’re honest.

To quote Delco Today which I guess was quoting The Philadelphia Business Journal in January 2020:

📌”Valley Forge Military Academy Foundation has sold five undeveloped lots along Radnor Road at Upper Gulph Road to Bentley Homes for $1.65 million, writes Natalie Kostelni for Philadelphia Business Journal.…“I was building on the Main Line for years and the market died,” Tom Bentley said. “Now, we’re coming back to the Main Line. We return.”

During the Great Recession, Bentley built smaller homes, townhouses and multifamily properties further west in Kennett Square, Chadds Ford and Exton…..Bentley has also accumulated three lots on the east side of Radnor-Chester Road not far from Lancaster Avenue in Radnor and a dozen lots off Newtown Road in Easttown.”📌

Development keeps on rolling doesn’t it ? Are there really people to fill all these developments from single family to townhouse to apartments?

Pay attention to Tredyffrin’s neighbor Easttown. They also have development looming. Which will also feed into Tredyffrin Easttown School District. And then head west. More and more development.

When is enough development enough?

Thanks for stopping by.

malvern borough have you learned nothing since eastside flats?

Development is a funny thing. I see all of these amazing adaptive reuse and other projects everywhere but in the area we call home. Chester County is overrun with bad and/or inappropriate plans. And yes there is one that concerns me in Malvern Borough. But first we need to talk about the last development which caused me concern there before due to it’s hulking nature: Eastside Flats.

And at the end of the day one of the biggest problems STILL with Eastside Flats is lack of human scale and inappropriate design for the area.  They tower over everything and citify a small town in a way that is architecturally inappropriate. And I would still like to know how fire trucks can navigate this site completely in the event of fire? 

Eastside Flats still is in my opinion, architecturally unimaginative and looks like hulky, looming Lego buildings that created a canyon effect in tiny Malvern. That is NOT a reflection on the businesses there which I love and patronize. Nothing about these buildings ties into the quaint Borough of Malvern or it’s history. I said this in 2013 and I still think that.

Empty lot that used to be old store fronts

And again, this has NOTHING to do with the businesses. It’s the aesthetics, lack of human scale and even the crappy scored-to-look-like-brick-concrete-sidewalks which are a slip and fall and trip hazard. And the fact there is STILL no curb cut from the public parking lot so you don’t have to walk over MULCH. I mean how many years will it take to correct that? And there is little room for delivery trucks, so it’s not uncommon to find UPS and other trucks blocking a pedestrian’s path from parking lot to sidewalk. The finishes on the facade of the buildings are also already showing wear.

Eastside flats being built.

The consequences of Eastside Flats caused an election upheaval in 2013. Yet, Malvern Borough is still facing inappropriate development that will be completely out of scale again, in my opinion, if built. And no, I don’t have a horse in this race. I will merely be around to say I told you so if it gets built the way it looks now in the plans.

Here are the documents you can peruse that were sent to me by concerned residents in Malvern Borough (screenshots below are from these documents – it shows the evolution of proposed plans and note it doesn’t look like it’s Malvern at all):

What the resident said to me (in part):

So much local development that happens before people are aware of it, and then the only thing people can do it complain after the fact. It would be great to get public input on this before it’s an inevitability.

The residents who attended the last PC meeting raising the several concerns about this project are:
* Height – it will be out of scale and character with the surrounding buildings and neighborhood behind. They are requesting a variance for height.
* Traffic – The proposed design will have people entering leaving at the intersection of King and Bridge, adding to our current rush hour traffic woes.
* Construction – How are they going to stage this kind of construction on our overcrowded streets. They are refusing to consider another entrance off of Woodland, which would make this easier. To get the Woodland entrance they would need to purchase 2 parking spaces from the current owner.
* Aesthetics – This is a gateway to Malvern. Do we really want a corporate monolith looming above the street as our welcome to Malvern?

Another resident said:

“I think the applicant should turn his building 90 degrees on its eastern axis nearest Woodland. The short side of the structure takes up only half the King St. frontage of the current proposal. Run the remainder of the building back to the property’s 160′ depth, ending up with the same size building. Plenty of window light all around because the Woodland and King neighbor is small and not deep anyway (which the applicant should buy if possible, anyway). A now 65′ wide frontage (by 43′ high) is far more compatible with the current scale on King.
Now, what do you do with the remaining half of the lot to the west? You put in a beautiful hardscape (cobblestones, bricks, maybe even pervious, etc) all the way to the property depth, studded with lots of trees (diminishing a couple or three parking spaces, for sure, but that’s all, and don’t forget, trees reduce bare ground temperature by 30%). Maybe the drive comes in from Bridge or maybe it goes in from Woodland, but that doesn’t matter to the concept. (Woodland is clearly better for traffic, though.)
Office parking on the hardscape during business hours. The Borough gets the parking in the evening, without security concerns because no one has to go through the off-limits parking under building.On special occasions we would have a new park-like hardscape area for public events. And most critically, we all enjoy the view from Bridge, seeing lots of trees and openness at Our Town’s last main entrance.”
It’s a creative solution instead of a box building that checks all of the bureaucratic boxes. In Malvern it seems we use our ordinances to justify buildings that no one wants. “

I am told that developer folks are asking for like 4 variances: height relief, parking relief, buffer relief (going from 20 ft. to 5 ft.), relief from having to install some kind of parking island? So, if these variances are granted without conditions, such as making them subject to PC recommendations based on SALDO issues, there will be very little the Borough can do to require changes to the plan, right?

Ok so I wrote about the site in 2015 when the original buildings were coming down. I felt back then that although I understood there probably there was no way to save the 19th century storefront and other structures given the decrepit buildings they was attached to. But this is the kind of waste that makes me crazy because someone had seemingly sat on this land for the better part of what? A decade or better?

Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives October 1961 Volume 11 Number 4, Pages 88–93 . The history of Malvern by Cherri Quann

From the UpHome Facebook page years ago.

Still lost? Remember where the lovely store UpHome had their first home? Across King from The Flying Pig? What was reported to have been Malvern’s last 19th century store front? There.

So Malvern Borough, you got rid of Malvern Victorian Christmas for something not quite as memorable, although nice. Are you slowly going to be overtaken by things too large and hulking for a small Main Street oriented town? Please consider better.

And Malvern Borough residents? Some of you will send me nasty comments or post them because I am expressing concern here. That’s on you. You can be ostriches or you can get involved with your borough again.

Your choice.

If I lived and paid taxes in the Borough of Malvern I would want better for my community. I would want new construction to fit and reflected the character of the borough. So ask your borough folks when meeting will occur for this plan. Or not. Again, it’s up to you. I am merely expressing my opinion and concern.

east whiteland tell west whiteland NO on plans for weston on w. king road!

I am going to plant a seed here: I believe concerned residents of East Whiteland Township need to contact Township officials to make sure they take a position and protect our interests when it comes to the proposed development of the Weston Tract on West King Rd in West Whiteland.

If you are concerned like I am please contact the supervisors and or township manager John Nagel 

jnagel@eastwhiteland.org

slambert@eastwhiteland.org

sdrummond@eastwhiteland.org

rorlow@eastwhiteland.org

In West Whiteland, the emails for supervisors and the township manager Mimi Gleason are:

mgleason@westwhiteland.org

rkumbhardare@westwhiteland.org

tsantalucia@westwhiteland.org

janderson@westwhiteland.org

The reason I say this is quite simple: this development will negatively impact our stormwater management which is already an issue down King Road past the Little League field and beyond? (there are residents who have actually videotaped and followed the water who live on Collegeview.)

It will negatively impact our infrastructure and W. King Rd. is already like a highway. With the addition of over 100 additional high density houses, how long will it take people to get out of side streets? How will people be able to safely cross the road to get to Immaculata? How will Immaculata be impacted?

Then there is the impact to the ecosystem in the area. That has always been a heavily wooded area what happens to the heritage trees and wildlife?

It comes down to how many developments do we need in this area? Also why can’t we move to 2 acre lot minimums to preserve more open space? High density housing is destroying Chester County. And mark my words it will not be sustainable into the future.

Another fact to be considered with development of this site are the pipeline easements. How many pipelines are going through this property dead or alive? And is that creating another issue down the road and don’t we have enough pipeline issues already?

It’s time for East Whiteland Township to step up and not just approve developments and turn a blind eye to developments but to protect the interests of the residents here.

I also encourage any of you who are concerned to send an email to West Whiteland Planning Commission: questions@westwhiteland.org

december demolition

39 East Montgomery Avenue, 41 East Montgomery Avenue and 108 Glenn Road – all on the Montgomery Avenue side of the Suburban Square neighborhood in North Ardmore.

(Here is an interior tour of one of the homes demolished.)

I remember all of these houses. I used to walk my dogs past them when I lived on the Main Line. This is in Lower Merion Township (see page 29 if you click on hyperlink.) This plan has been around a few years as per a Main Line Media News article from November, 2018.

One of my readers from the Main Line sent me these photos.

Two of these homes were converted into apartments many, many years ago.

These three homes all were built between 1900-1920. These homes housed about 10 residents prior to this demolition from what I was told.

Once upon a time I knew some of the people who lived here. Hardwood floors, amazing woodwork, and architectural details that withstood the test of time. These homes, although rentals, still had gardens. Lovely, established gardens.

I still remember when I first saw inside one of the houses. I was in awe. AMAZING. The tenants were house proud.

But like other cool old houses I have been enamored of in the township I used to call home, they have been demolished.

When completed, There will be 21 three bedroom residences and 42 parking spaces. This is what will replace three once graceful and beautiful homes as per the developer’s website:

The developer describes his project thusly:

Inspired by the stately and legendary architectural heritage of the iconic Main Line, 39 MONTGOMERY offers 21 private residences suited to the way people live today. Gracefully proportioned, the combination of limestone and brick façade harmoniously blends with both residential neighbors and commercial Suburban Square.

I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I just do not see any of that. I did see that description in the three places torn down. They were definitely gracefully proportioned. And well-maintained. Timeless. Elegant.

I have known quite a few people who lived on and around Glenn Road. I wonder what they think?

I remember hearing how the residents of these now torn down homes attended many meetings in Lower Merion Township. It made me so sad. Been there, done that.

Once upon a time when I lived not too far from where these homes stood, my then neighborhood also had a December demolition. I still haven’t forgotten those houses. They were in a “historic district”. December, 2008. Here is an image from that day:

I remember what it felt like that day in December long ago. It was so sad. Like watching a neighborhood get torn apart for someone else’s version / vision of “progress”.

This is what the Glenn Road house specifically looked like:

Maybe my thoughts on “progress” like this don’t matter. Riddle me this however: when does it matter what residents in municipalities facing all this infill development they really don’t want are feeling?

RIP to three really and truly lovely homes.

then there is this other stepford mecca being built on white horse road…

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.

Wake up Chester County. Wake the hell up.

townhouses next to a live quarry, how luxurious, right?

Perched atop the hill slightly off Charlestown Road is “Pickering Crossing“.

Here is how they advertise themselves:

That’s NOUVEAU FAUX Main Line yo’ because Charlestown Road is NOT the Main Line unless the R-5 Paoli Local is running through that quarry.

But hey in case you were wondering why Great Valley School District is suddenly having meetings about essentially expanding the district. The “community is invited to participate in facilities planning” translates to “there is so much development we need to expand and there go your taxes” correct? Because they don’t hold these lovely little charrettes until they’re getting ready to drop the expansion bomb on you, do they?

But hey these townships just keep approving new construction yupscale ghettos, don’t they?

But this place? A land Stepford built that seems quiet and empty doesn’t it ?

“spring oak” development…remember the beautiful farm?

This used to be a farm. A gorgeous farm on White Horse Road.

Now it’s a field of Tyvec wrapped dreams where according to the developer your child can have a lemonade stand. Ummm as long as the Homeowners’ Association doesn’t mind.

In this particular land of Stepford, you also don’t garden.

Oh and it’s in the, wait for it, Great Valley School District. Will that be Great Valley East or Great Valley West?