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?

yes this is a rant.

Development should be a four letter word. Nothing has architectural style and human scale is non-existent.

Nothing being proposed on the Main Line or into Chester County and further out even complements the surrounding areas developers want to build in.

Everything is about maximizing density for developer profit.

The problem with that is there are a lot of moving parts and why is it residents can see the holes in the planning process and the zoning process and the development process and the political part of the process yet no one else seems to be willing to?

Everyone always thinks I am 100% against development. I’m actually not, but I cannot stand what is being shoved into our communities today.

The municipalities get all hot and bothered over the short term high of ratables but are incredibly short sighted as to the future. They don’t even look to protect the basics like stress on infrastructure, stress on first responders, stress on school districts which are all getting SO big.

It’s always QUANTITY instead of QUALITY.

And don’t forget the conditions of approval that they could ask for and sometimes they don’t even try. If these developers want to be in our communities then they can build the roads that will support their development. They can help pay for the schools that their future residents will put children into. They can finish the parks the townships don’t ever seem to have the money to either start or complete yet they have the land. And occasionally, these municipalities could learn to say “no give us a better plan.”

And in some municipalities you have to wonder for whom the township staff actually works? For whose benefit do the politicians work?

Years ago several members of the Pennsylvania legislature put forth an idea for a law. That law was simple it would’ve provided a short term moratorium on development. Just enough for Pennsylvania municipalities to hit the pause button to try to get better plans – like 90 or 120 days or something. The lobbyists for parties who objected to this being put forward killed this thing at least twice.

Also the Municipalities Planning Code of Pennsylvania? When was the last time that was comprehensively updated? Wasn’t it either the late 1960s or 1970s?

And here in Chester County why is it everyone thinks the Chester County Planning Commission’s Landscapes is so fabulous? All I see is a blueprint for over-development. We live in Chester County and we don’t live here so we can feel like we live in Bensalem or King of Prussia correct?

And while on the topic of our Chester County Planning Commission why is it our county level planning is being driven by an executive director who does not live in our county? To me that is just nuts and the worst kind of politics. That in my humble opinion is a person not truly invested in our communities and how can he be, he doesn’t live here does he?

We need change or we are going to continue to lose what makes where we live special. I don’t know about you but every time I look at a plan it is homogenous, boring, uninteresting and not community minded in the least for where ever it is proposed. It’s mall architecture. Bleck.

Once open space is gone it doesn’t come back. From Lower Merion in Montgomery County through to Caln in Chester County and everywhere in between, something has got to give.

And the history and historic preservation also doesn’t seem to matter. And it should.

I have never believed in “build it and they will come” as a reason to develop. And I’m not saying there aren’t areas that are in need of sprucing up. There are. Only the planning and vision that is realistic doesn’t seem to exist does it?

And the zoning? Why is everything high density? And all these special zoning overlay districts? Who benefits besides developers?

But everything is the same: ugly apartment buildings, cheap townhouse communities, fake carriage house communities. Density, density, and more density.

And in a lot of areas people are asking about low income and affordable housing. And we’re not talking section 8 here we’re talking about where do the single mothers go if they want to live in a safe community and raise their children? Where do our seniors go who can’t afford ritzy retirement communities? Where do regular people go who can’t afford McMansions?

And is there the economy to support this development? I was talking to somebody last week who remarked about not being able to work close to home. So are the jobs really here locally that will support the development? In my opinion, no.

Yes this is a RANT. And developers aren’t going to like this post, but none of you were being singled out. I am disgusted with all of it.

We deserve better. We need to demand better.

Development is an epidemic and we need a solution.

are traffic accidents a symptom of over-development?

68991805_503929393715141_500563706610974720_n

August 14, 2019 PM accident at Route 30 and 352/Sproul Rd in East Whiteland.

WARNING: RANT AHEAD. TURN AWAY NOW IF YOU AREN’T INTERESTED.

There was ANOTHER accident at Route 352/ Sproul Road and Route 30/Lancaster Avenue in East Whiteland Township again earlier this evening. Right after I came through the intersection basically.

There was an accident at a similar time LAST evening. Same location.

Are traffic accidents a symptom of over-development due to stressed overcrowded roadways?

This intersection in East Whiteland is much like a couple of problematic intersections in West Whiteland.  Take for example the West Whiteland intersection at Whitford Road from the train station side and Route 30/ Lancaster Ave/Lincoln Highway. Maybe there should be NO right turn on red and whatever else can happen to ensure better safety on the roads? I go through that particular West Whiteland intersection at least twice a week and people run that light there and just dive into the intersection.  This afternoon at a little past noon as a matter of fact, a BIG truck was what dove onto Route 30 West towards Downingtown from Whitford Road.  The light had changed. It was red for Whitford on all sides, but it didn’t matter people were diving left and right. 

But I digress, back to East Whiteland.

68701117_1142716112582399_1486288705684504576_n

From the people in Linden Hall  (which sits at 30 and 352) I have learned there are at least 25 kids in that development. Ages are infant though high school. Plus all of the adult residents.  Are there lives to spare, East Whiteland? I don’t think so.  (And don’t get me started on the sloppy ugly construction site left by Linden Hall as in the historic structure. Has anyone from East Whiteland bother to swing by to see the “parking lot”? Would you be happy as residents to see that site?)

Now BACK to the traffic at the intersection of Route 30/Lancaster Ave and Route 352/Sproul Road in East Whiteland. Can we talk about the people turning LEFT from Lancaster (westbound direction) onto Route 352/Sproul Road sit in CENTER of intersection even through signal changes effectively blocking ability of Linden Hall residents to safely exit their development— this development which East Whiteland approved and allowed to be built. And someone keeps denying them a left turn signal  they have requested of the township (or PennDOT?) so they can exit  more safely.  They are crammed in like lemmings in that development so why aren’t there enough people to justify it?

Can’t have it both ways. If East Whiteland Township (as well as neighboring townships) are going to cram every square inch with development they have a responsibility to ensure the safety of residents. For goodness sake, make these developers pay for sufficient road improvements and for installing township parks and stuff. It’s called conditions of plan approval, right????

But hey, we all know how traffic concerns in East Whiteland from Carol Lane and Summit residents got translated by certain East Whiteland supervisors the last time, remember?  All of a sudden, their traffic issues became the impetus for a traffic circle at Route 352/Sproul Road/North Chester Road and King, correct?

So…once again Carol Lane and Summit Road neighbors are attempting to have a meaningful conversation with East Whiteland to get what they feel are much needed traffic corrections to Summit, Carol, and those streets in THAT neighborhood.

WHAT THE RESIDENTS ARE TRYING TO MAKE EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP UNDERSTAND IS THAT THEY WANT IS TRAFFIC CALMING ON SUMMIT AND CAROL, PART OF SUMMIT FROM CAROL TO MADELINE AND SUMMIT BETWEEN CAROL AND WOODCREST.

I have born witness to the speeding on Carol and Summit myself as recently I drove through there to just see if I could get the idea of what goes on. What goes on is people cut through and speed. I had someone on my tail and for a couple of moments I actually thought they might pass me for doing speed limit. My friends over there tell me they have had cut through speeders pass them for going the speed limit.

This neighborhood has at least 20 children on Summit from Carol to 352, 10 on Carol, 8 or 9 on another connecting street and dog walkers, walkers, and joggers. Are there lives to spare here at this location, East Whiteland?

People living in East Whiteland and neighboring townships are really struggling to co-exist with the insane amount of development. Residents should matter more than the ratables and ill-advised development saturated comprehensive plans on a local or county level. But do residents matter?

After all residents in East Whiteland have expressed concern about the number of living units for what they call “Frazer Lanes Redevelopment“. Everyone agrees the site could stand to be improved BUT what will life be like when 227 units in 4 stories on 5 acres is built with 330 total parking spaces across from the Wawa at the corner of 30 and Planebrook?

What will life be like as you go west on 30 and hit the intersection of Ship Road if that development gets built?

Inquirer: Another Wawa may be coming to Chester County after town officials change zoning rules
by Katie Park, Updated: May 23, 2019

A Wawa may soon be built next to a centuries-old chapel and tavern in Chester County after officials approved a zoning change that cleared the way for the convenience-store giant.

The West Whiteland Township Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 on Wednesday to allow Wawa to move into a yet-to-be-built 5,600-square-foot building — complete with eight gas pumps — at 690 E. Lincoln Highway, once home to an Entenmann’s pastry factory and outlet store….As a result of the supervisors’ decision, developer Eli Kahn, the owner of eight acres at 690 E. Lincoln Highway, said he would likely not go forward with his original plans to build 130 apartments and a three-story office building there in favor of about 80 townhouses, the building he plans to lease to Wawa, and two other retail buildings that he could also rent out.

NVR Homes, which teamed up with Kahn, has also indicated it would not build more than 400 apartments and townhouses on 52 acres at 500 E. Lincoln Highway — the former home of the Laborers’ Training Facility — and instead opt for about 90 single-family homes and 65 townhouses, West Whiteland officials said.

Is it just me or is the Ship Road Couplet and development insanity…well, crazy?

Here is where you click to see most of what West Whiteland has going on development-wise: Spring 2019 Present & Proposed Developments Map

Here is where you click to see most of what East Whiteland has going on development-wise: Subdivision and Land Development Plans.

And we can’t leave East Goshen out of the equation given the Paoli Pike debacle can we? You see, the East Goshen Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss the proposal from The Hankin Group on further development of 1351 Paoli Pike on Tuesday, August 29, 2019 at 7:00 pm.

Image may contain: plant, tree, grass, sky, outdoor and nature

And don’t get me started on West Goshen and that hideous development at Greystone (I tell you what I sure wouldn’t be a bride paying for a pricey wedding at the Greystone Hall venue now.)

And there is what? Another elementary school being built over there? (But hey now development doesn’t add to the burdens of a school district, right? )

Back to East Whiteland (and anyone else in Great Valley School District).  I still think in my humble opinion it is not a question of IF but WHEN the Great Valley School District will be dealing with a Great Valley East and Great Valley West situation.  Whose land will they take to deal will the growing population and a need for larger if not additional schools?

Back to what inspired this post: stressed out infrastructure. In this case roads and intersections ill-equipped to effectively handle traffic. And it’s only getting worse.  In East Whiteland every which way you turn there is yet another development.  Much like West Whiteland. But the roads? The roads are essentially the same and how can they be?

Can I say planning in these townships and at the county level just sucks? It does. It just sucks.  Chester County Planning Commission has a NON-resident as it’s Executive Director and it shows. That guy is not invested in our communities. He is a non-resident carpetbagger the taxpayers are paying for.  Landscapes is a joke as well. The “vision” message is clear: development, development, development. Seriously. LOOK at the interactive development map.

Zoning in townships like East Whiteland and West Whiteland should benefit the residents. But can it be said zoning benefits special interests and developers mostly?

Oh I know, I know.  This is indeed a full-on rant but something has got to give.  And I say a side effect of development are accidents since I feel traffic accidents a symptom of over-development due to stressed and overcrowded roadways.

We as residents deserve better. We also need better representation in local government.  As residents, we need to take our power back collectively. After all did any of us move to Chester County so we could live in King of Prussia-lite or Bensalem-lite?

NOPE.

68548883_1088679144658410_8326621936767467520_n

August 13, 2019 PM accident at Route 30 and 352/Sproul Rd in East Whiteland.