the dance around eminent domain and other tales from the king road/route 352 meeting

The residents of East Whiteland, East Goshen, and elsewhere should be proud. You guys showed up for your communities and neighbors.

In spite of other committee meetings at East Whiteland and East Goshen (zoning and planning I think? Not sure which meeting where), Immaculata’s Great Hall was literally bursting at the seams for the King Rd and Route 352 meeting last night. (Thank you to Immaculata by the way, what an awesome space!)

It was a contentious meeting at times. East Whiteland Supervisors Chair Sue Drummond set the tone by her opening remarks and attitude. Dear readers, she might not like my opinion because she knows I do not care for her but it happens to be the truth. She opened the meeting with snippy acerbic comments about what residents were going to be allowed to say and not say do and not do and that’s kind of the Cliff Notes version but she was well...obnoxious. She seems to have forgotten for whom she works…the residents! And oh by the way? Me thinks the lady supervisor doth protesteth too much. (Just sayin’)  Also at ends of meeting shouldn’t a politician make sure no offending residents are left within ear shot? I was standing there with another resident and “the PennDOT guy.”

I know the video is not the best quality and the township also recorded it, but I felt it was important, very important to get it out there.  State level elected officials sent representatives although they did not stay for the entire meeting. This YouTube is a recording of the 3 hours we Facebooked live last night. I will try to get the rest of it loaded. Some media was present as well.

I am completely against a traffic circle, roundabout, or whatever clever marketing term you prefer.  It will mean eminent domain.  Eminent domain is ugly and your home is your castle in this country until some government entity wants to take your land. ANY ELECTED OFFICIAL WHO CHOSES EMINENT DOMAIN NEEDS TO BE PUT OUT OF OFFICE WHENVER THEIR TERM OF OFFICE IS UP.

Last night residents asked over and over again for elected officials to say NO to the use of eminent domain.  East Goshen remained eerily silent but East Whiteland politicians sort of danced a dance.  So did the gentleman from McMahon associates who go quite the grilling from potentially affected residents. He got very defensive at times.

Listening to resident after resident it became abundantly clear that the consensus is NO EMINENT DOMAIN.  And for THREE hours those leading the meeting would do anything other that say the words EMINENT DOMAIN.  They referred to “slivers”, you know like they were sneak slicing bits of pound cake or a pie or something? If you can’t say the words “EMINENT DOMAIN” then obviously on some level it bothers you so East Whiteland and East Goshen Supervisors why not just take a pledge to NOT use eminent domain?

[Follow this link (as in click on it) for everything residents have obtained via Right to Know requests thus far.]

Things I find perplexing from the meeting includes how for 95% of the meeting East Whiteland Supervisor Chair Sue Drummond kept announcing how while she was not sure of East Goshen’s timeline, the East Whiteland Supervisors would decide next week —the East Whiteland Board of Supervisors meets NEXT Wednesday, June 12 at 7 PM and if you are concerned about this project you need to attend this meeting as well.  Public comment still belongs to the residents.

OK that is cray cray right? Except for those of us who have been dogging this topic, how many people knew about this? And to send residents a letter within the last two weeks which one would presume mentions slivers…err eminent domain as a potential, what the hell is up with that?

By the end of the meeting East Whiteland Supervisor Sue Drummond was saying she had conferred with her colleagues and well maybe they would wait for the July to vote?

Again what the hell is up with that? Does July mean when people are on vacation? After all doesn’t everyone know that a favorite trick of government and traffic counters is to do what they do at weird times of the year and/or holidays?

They have been tossing this idea around of at least intersection improvements for years, so what is a few more months of study with residents fully and openly engaged? And how can they use traffic issues on Carol Lane and Summit as justification for the potential of a traffic circle? How do they NOT understand that would cause MORE cut through traffic over there?

And if the politicians  say they don’t really want a traffic circle then why didn’t they say last night “there we showed you a circle, but we aren’t going to do that”? The cannot be a little bit pregnant here. They need to be definitive, which of course some politicians have a difficult time with because it affects talking out of both sides of their mouths, right?

And the presentation was flawed. Residents pointed out things on what was presented like how some wouldn’t literally be able to get out of their driveways.  Some people speaking were heartbreaking.  All they wanted to know is why these supervisors hadn’t let them know in some cases sooner this was a possibility and what would happen to their homes they worked so hard for?

I will note again that East Goshen was oddly silent through a lot of the meeting.  I will also note that residents pointed out how the land taking would basically occur in East Whiteland if it occurred.

As they spoke of traffic counts and studies last night, I could once again hear the wise words of one of my favorite Commissioners once upon a time in Lower Merion Township.  He quipped in comments at one meeting where some members of township staff and certain commissioners were trying to justify the results of a traffic study that was done either around a holiday or in the dog days of August before school started “When it comes to traffic studies, you get what you pay for.”

He wasn’t saying that in a flattering way.

East Whiteland wants to hurry up and slam this through and my honest opinion is affected residents might wish to consider legal counsel to make sure their interests are properly protected.  Or they should at least consult with legal counsel.

Our homes are our castles.  And these are our neighbors and friends.  I thank everyone who came out last night and hope they keep on showing up. And remember the unintended consequences of all the freaking development in Chester County are truly to blame here. Or at least in my humble opinion.

These thoughts were bought to you in part by the First Amendment.

 

 

one development that is looking good in chester county

I am not a fan of the color scheme which was chosen (too blah beige) but the new apartment building on King in Malvern Borough really looks good. It’s not quite done as you can see from the lawn that isn’t a lawn yet, but I like it.

They put a lot of time and attention into architectural design and detail. And it’s all the way around the building not just a false front, which is the case most of the time.

Everyone always thinks I hate every bit of development. The truth is, I don’t. When you have people like this who are thoughtful about what their finished product is going to be I totally respect that. These people put a lot of time and effort into trying to make their building blend with the surrounding area and structures. It’s a modern building with homage to the past.

dear developer, if you are going to preserve lloyd farm’s historic farmhouse…actually DO IT

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Reader submitted photo. Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse. 2019

I received a message overnight:

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

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I was driving by Lloyd Avenue while in Downingtown on Saturday with a friend, so is this part of that parcel?  See below:

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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.

Then I hit Google and oh the things I found including this amazing history compiled by someone named Edward G. Lendrat on the West Chester University Old Caln Historical Society CollectionCaln Township has this buried on their website.

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?

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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…)

Ironically something I wasn’t looking for with regard to this property but seemed to have stumbled upon is a 2015 pipeline easement between the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Columbia Gas. So umm, high density development being proposed and a pipeline? NICE, right?

(See my prior post for links to the history I found and some document on the easement.)

Again I will tell you I have never been on this property. But people near it have, which is how I was sent the photos I am sharing.

Do I have the answers as to what to do with this property? Sadly, no.  Don’t know that area well enough.  But if there is a pipeline easement, maybe the developer should go light on the development?

Again, how many cram plan developments does one county need? Who is driving this?

Chester County, we can’t just keep sitting idly by as chuck after chunk of land gets carved up.  Once open space is gone, it’s gone.  Once history is gone, it’s gone.

They had me with part of a Penn Land Grant.  That is older than the American Revolution and is so the literal founding and early settlers.

Here is a snippet off of Wikipedia – sorry – it saves me time:

The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in English North America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II. The name Pennsylvania, which translates roughly as “Penn’s Woods”,[1] was created by combining the Penn surname (in honor of William’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn) with the Latin word sylvania, meaning “forest land”. The Province of Pennsylvania was one of the two major Restoration colonies, the other being the Province of Carolina. The proprietary colony‘s charter remained in the hands of the Penn family until the American Revolution, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was created and became one of the original thirteen states. “The lower counties on Delaware”, a separate colony within the province, would breakaway during the American Revolution as “the Delaware State” and also be one of the original thirteen states.

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):

meeting

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?

So the Daily Local seems to indicate that Caln Township is not really particularly chatty on the topic of Penn Land Grant becomes development and why is that?

They did post a teensy 2/1/2019 update on this issue:

2 1 update

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.

Caln officials:

Jennifer Breton jbreton@calntownship.org

George Chambers gchambers@calntownship.org

Josh Young jyoung@calntownship.org

John Contento jcontento@calntownship.org

Lorraine Tindaro ltindaro@calntownship.org

Always cc ​info@calntownship.org

It borders Downingtown, right?

Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell would be on my list and he wishes to be a Chester County Commissioner. Jmaxwell@Downingtown.org

Downingtown Borough Council:

Borough Council

Anthony Gazzerro, President
Ward: West
Term Expires: 2021
Contact: agazzerro@downingtown.org

Alex Rakoff, Vice President
Ward: East
Term Expires: 2019
Contact: arakoff@downingtown.org

Phil Dague – Councilperson
Ward: East
Term Expires: 2019
Contact: pdague@downingtown.org

Jeff Thomas, Councilperson
Ward: West
Term Expires: 2019
Contact: jthomas@downingtown.org

Ann Feldman, Councilperson
Ward: East
Term Expires: 2021
Contact: 610-518-5615
afeldman@downingtown.org

Patricia McGlone, Councilperson
Ward: West
Term Expires: 2021
Contact: pmcglone@downingtown.org

The Chester County Planning Commission:

Brian N. O’Leary, AICP,
Executive Director

boleary@chesco.org

Carol Stauffer, AICP,
Assistant Director

cstauffer@chesco.org

(P) 610-344-6285
(F) 610-344-6515

CLICK HERE FOR ENTIRE STAFF DIRECTORY.  You never know who you may know, right?

Like Crebilly (in Westtown and still at risk) this is a call to arms. (See Crebilly Farm Friends and Neighbors for Crebilly  for more on that issue.)

Also at issue and not in Caln and not Lloyd Farm but I must mention given the shared solicitor?

Development in East Goshen.

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?

Tick tock Chester County, tick tock.

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Reader submitted photo Lloyd Farm 2019

along 401, say buh-byes to barns and farm fields…and hello to ball fields and park land?

First the barns went…now the land is being leveled out….if it walks like a duck and looks like a duck, it must be a new development?

Sometimes NO and I have never been happier to correct a blog post. (See that’s the thing about putting these photos out there , people will tell you what’s going on.)

This land is being preserved as open space just not a farm anymore. It’s becoming I am told ballfields and a park. I have had someone comment and someone sent me an email which says:

Not development on 401. New ball fields and township park. Elmer White’s farm preserved forever! West Pikeland Township did something right!

Here is what it looked like a few short years ago in 2015:

not sure what to do with this?

Being a blogger is sometimes a strange business.  The document I am sharing pertaining to development in East Whiteland and purported number of students that some developments old and new add to the Great Valley School District. It was left in my mailbox a couple of days ago. No note, no envelope.

The letter is written by David C. Babbitt & Associates (CLICK HERE FOR SCAN of what I have called frazer lanes)

frazer lanes 1

Frazer Lanes 2

Frazer Lanes 3

Now when it comes to experts and consultants, the voice of one of my favorite former Lower Merion Commissioners named Lew Gould comes to mind. He said one time when it came to a particular traffic study at the time that those who commission the studies gets what they pay for.

I will also note that this letter ONLY ADDRESSES APARTMENTS. Not other kinds of developments. Not townhouses, not “carriage homes”, not single family homes. I think the numbers might creep up significantly?

So I do not know what to think of this thing that was left for me. But I do not feel I am sharing anything privileged or illegal.  As a matter of fact this is the type of information which would be shared with a municipality during a planning process. I belive this was left for me because I have been critical of the affect of new development on the school districts in Chester County, in this case this study pertains to Great Valley.

Where I find this puzzling is it kind of runs contrary to some of what I have heard pertaining to the elementary schools in Great Valley School District and how crowded they are becoming.  I have also heard the high school is incredibly crowded.  My days with kids in any school district is done, and our son went to a charter school.

I figure this letter is another good place to start a conversation.

Thoughts?

can you hear the people NOW, east goshen?

East Goshen Township meeting 10/25/2018. Residents from multiple municipalities packed the board room. Inside and outside the room.

East Goshen got a good dose of the public’s ire in three municipalities over their proposed zoning changes last evening.

Now I am still not sure how the meeting ended other than I don’t think anything was completely decided and the supervisors were clearly annoyed that the public had the temerity to pack the house . I was watching on YouTube and fell asleep.

Here are two photos people sent to me. One from inside the meeting room, and one from the standing room only overflow in the hall. I really do not know what ails the newer commissioners to the East Goshen board but I hope they snap out of it. But I don’t know that they will, do you?

Prior to this East Goshen has always been such a jewel because it avoided this kind of development and it avoided rezoning that would ruin it.

But now? They are all short-sighted. Changing the zoning to add cluster development is a mistake. Not just my opinion apparently given the turn out last night would be my guess. What they want to do isn’t visionary. It’s stupid and greedy.

It adds more traffic, it will crush the infrastructure, it could very well affect the school district, and what about those of us on wells and stuff as all this development affects us too?

What about nature in the equation? These parcels support a lot of magnificent wildlife and more so what about that?

In my opinion, the majority of developers don’t care. It’s all about their profit and the more they can do high density housing no matter how a property sits the more profits they make. Because face it they are clustering the houses because they can’t use all of the land. Another example would be the hideousness going on over on Church Road in Malvern. Or even within the same school district East Goshen sits in. What about Greystone Hall in West Goshen?

It’s all about the money, honey. These municipalities do not care about the existing residents. Neither do the developers. It’s about profit margins. Ratables. Nothing about reality. Nothing about us.

The reality is more meetings throughout Chester County need to be packed. If we don’t stand up a lot more often and demand our open space and farms be saved and respected the pace of development will never slow.

We also need to elect better local politicians. And better state level politicians. The Municipalities Planning Code needs to be updated with better protections.

We need more land conservation and fewer plastic mushroom house farms. We need more real farms.

And we need a county planning commission run by someone from Chester County, not Lower Merion which is a land of infill development. I asked at least 15 years ago what was actually smart about “smart growth” and I am still waiting.

If we all don’t get more active in our communities we are going to look like parts of Bucks County, Montgomery County, and outside Harrisburg where it used to be open space and rolling farm land. Now it’s development after development punctuated by some version of a strip mall.

Thank you to all of the residents who went last night. Everyone can watch a replay by following this link.

I will note at the end an East Goshen supervisor took a jab at neighboring municipality East Whiteland for not letting residents know this was happening. O.k. not wrong but hey East Goshen did you really go out of your way to get this issue out there? Come on now, wouldn’t you have been just as happy with stealth mode?

Here are the names of the East Goshen Supervisors:

Here is a link to their page on the East Goshen website. It’s time to start contacting them (politely). If the public does NOT keep up the pressure, this zoning will become reality. Even if you live in a neighboring municipality, if you are against this, you should contact them. And contact your own supervisors in your municipality.

Be vocal. Be present. And East Goshen residents? If you don’t like the decisions change the faces of who governs you. Be a stakeholder where you live. Not a sheeple.

East Goshen Township meeting 10/25/2018. Residents from multiple municipalities packed the board room. Inside and outside the room.