name that park!!! (on bacton hill road)

I love parks.  And a park naming contest is just good fun!  East Whiteland Township is having a park naming contest through March 8th.  And two of the finalist names involve parts of Chester County history right in East Whiteland that I feel very strongly about.

The suggestions to name the East Whiteland Township’s next park are in and the finalists are Bacton Hill Park, Woodyard Park and Patriot Park. You can vote on the next name until March 8.

Finalist Name Number  1: Bacton Hill Park

Bacton Hill is a region in East Whiteland that was an early village (and one of the largest early settlements in Chester County for African Americans. The Ebenezer AME Church and cemetery is a sacred space where at least three Civil War soldiers are buried. (Blogger Note: the ruins of Ebenezer and graveyard are currently in a somewhat precarious position due to proposed development)

To vote on the new name, please email info@eastwhiteland.org with a selection from the three finalists by March 8, 2018.

Finalist Name Number 2: Woodyard Park

Hiram Woodyard was a Township resident and former slave who served in the Union Army as a teamster. He was a leader in the African American community and is buried at the Ebenezer AME Church. His home still stands on Congestoga Road. Other homes he built still stand. (Blogger Note: the ruins of Ebenezer and graveyard are currently in a somewhat precarious position due to proposed development)

To vote on the new name, please email info@eastwhiteland.org with a selection from the three finalists by March 8, 2018.

Finalist Name Number 3: Patriot Park

This name reflects the historical significance of the Township, region and members of the East Whiteland community.

To vote on the new name, please email info@eastwhiteland.org with a selection from the three finalists by March 8, 2018.

My opinion? Please e-mail East Whiteland for either Woodyard Park or Bacton Hill Park.  It is the most fitting due to the physical location of the park, and it is a VERY important piece of Chester County History, as well as East Whiteland history.  Some of the dearly departed who lay in the Ebenezer graveyard have descendants who still live in and around East Whiteland, Malvern Borough, and Chester County today.

As a matter of fact, a slight segue but related to the importance of this particular area is in neighboring Charlestown on Bodine and Valley Hill Roads are the ruins of a little school for slaves and/or the children of the African Americans that settled in this area (like Bacton Hill).  It is the Longwood School and the school was built in 1857 as a one-room schoolhouse for African-American children. Charlestown Township secured the ruin and stabilized it – something I wish for Ebenzer.

Junior Girl Scout Troop 1773 adopted Longwood School. There is an essay written by a girl named Caroline. She speaks about the history of the school which was founded in 1857. It is fascinating.  Here is a long excerpt off of Charlestown Township’s website:

On March 27, 1858, the “colored” school was opened for business. It was the place where the School Board sent their “colored” children. All the “colored” children had to pay $0.04 to go to school everyday. This marked the beginning of the Longwood School.
In December of 1858 the school board agreed to add a stove, and a month to the school year now making it five months. Although the school year was increased, the schoolmaster’s salary went down.
In 1859, vast changes occurred for Charlestown Township Schools. For example, they required each student to purchase a textbook for every subject. This was a hassle for many parents. The board also demanded that the pupils were to bring absent notices, and be given an exam at the end of the year. These changes were attempts to make the schools more high quality learning systems. Exams were given at every school EXCEPT Longwood School.
During the next five years, the School Board dropped the term “colored” school and started to call it “Longwood School”. Even though this act may have seemed more respectful, it would take a lot more for Longwood to be noticed as a school.
The summer school session stopped, and the Board changed the school year to nine months. That is, in every school EXCEPT Longwood School, where it was still only five months.
By 1873, all of the “regular” schools had funding for new facilities and had been completed by this time, EXCEPT Longwood School, where no funding was made.
In 1879, Mary Lloyd was to be the teacher, but she didn’t remain long. After trying to get a new teacher, they gave up, and the children at Longwood School had no teacher for that term.
In 1887, a new teacher, Linda McPherson began taking attendance records to the public’s attention. She noted that nearly 50% of all the students had perfect attendance or missed only one day of school. This was a step to show others what a great school this was. To show that it was just like all the others, and they didn’t slack off. They worked as hard as any other school.
Finally in 1889 the Board decided to equalize the Longwood school term to the other schools, as well as the teacher’s salary. The board finally started to realize that Longwood School was a regular school.
Acceptance of the school grew when a 94-1/2 foot well was built for the school in 1895. On March 18, 1895, the Pride of Pickering Council gave the Longwood School a flag and flagpole. At last, the students were beginning to feel like a respected part of the community.
On April 26, 1885, a celebration was held for attendance of the pupils. They sang songs, read poems, and planted an oak tree. They named the oak tree “Bryant” in honor of a poem’s author, William Cullen Bryant. Under “Bryant” a glass bottle with the names of people who attended, as well as the pupil’s names was buried.
In 1901, the final teacher was reassigned, and after serving 44 years of educational services, the Longwood School was closed.
On June 1, 1902 Longwood School was sold for $2,000 dollars.

That school is so close to Bacton Hill.  The AME Church grew out of the Free African Society in the late 1700s, but the church became it’s own entity founded in Philadelphia around 1816.  So you can see given the age of Ebenezer AME in East Whiteland, Chester County, PA that it is truly part of the early days of a church and religion founded in Philadelphia.  Bishop Richard Allen died in 1831, just months before Ebenezer came to be after Joseph Malin deeded the land.

I will freely admit it, to see Ebenezer rise like a Phoenix from the ashes at 97 Bacton Hill Road and to have people from all over recognize how historically important Ebenezer and her departed souls are is what I would love to see.  I would also love to see a park named either Bacton Hill Park or Woodyard Park so the history (much of which we can no longer see) is remembered.

I learned more about Hiram Woodyard from someone who now lives in South Dakota

Photo is of  the grave of Hiram Woodyard at Ebenezer. He was a freed slave and Black Civil War Soldier who resided in the village of Bacton, “Bacton Hisotric District”, AKA “Bacton African American Community”.

In 1991, Jane Davidson, the then Chester County Historic Preservation Officer certified that one of the houses attributed to him on Conestoga Road as a “County Historic Resource”. She said “The events and activities that have occurred in and around the site form a chronological record of past knowledge that portrays a history of the area.”

See

https://www.scribd.com/document/359542104/The-House-That-Hiram-Built

https://www.scribd.com/document/326428817/Hiram-Woodyard-s-House

https://www.scribd.com/document/359632691/Hiram-Woodyard-Chester-County-Paperwork

The historical information listed in some of the paperwork states:

This resource is part of the Bacton Historic District which is a post-Civil War, Afro-American community. This resource is also connected with Hiram Woodyard who was a prominent member of this community….Due to previous development there is an eminent potential to widen Rte. 401,this threat would negatively impact the integrity of this resource.

In other paperwork, the same author continues:

Hiram Woodyard, one of two leaders in the Bacton African-American community, has become a local folk hero in recent years. While part of the timber industry as a fence maker, he also commanded a great deal of respect for his leadership ability, not only in the community, but also in the Union army.

This history is all interconnected. Naming a park to reflect the history that took place right there, and to remember the people of Bacton Hill just seems right.

Anyway, the name for the new park, a 16-acre property off Bacton Hill Road that is currently known as the Swanenburg Property, will be announced at the March 14th, 2018 East Whiteland Board of Supervisors meeting.

To vote on the new name, please email info@eastwhiteland.org with a selection from the three finalists by March 8, 2018.

Find where East Whiteland posted the naming request on their website BY CLICKING HERE. ***Also note that in the screenshot below the information, historical information is different than what I have written or which the historic commission will provide. That is because (I guess) of whomever does the East Whiteland website is very, very busy because this is one of many historical fact errors I have found in the past couple of weeks alone. The devil is in the details as they say….. ****

will 2018 mark the year of history at risk at the ruins of ebenezer on bacton hill road, frazer in east whiteland?

Veterans at Ebenezer on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer PA in November, 2016

It has already been a year since my friend Al Terrell left this earthly plane. And almost two years sine Ann (A.V.) Christie has died. I am glad both of them are not around to find out what I discovered this morning.

I have been home with the flu, so I have been playing catch-up with municipalities. I started with East Whiteland.  They have a Supervisors’ Meeting this Wednesday, January 10.  

One of the things there of note, is a couple of more resignations from within the township building.  One resignation is the guy who has only been there a short amount of time but came to East Whiteland from the Montgomery County Mall Township known as Upper Merion.  Scott Greenly is leaving.  He was/is East Whiteland’s Planning & Development Director. But I digress.

BACK to the reason for this post, only it actually what worries me was from RIGHT before Christmas (always have to pay attention before major holidays or in the dead of summer or stuff sneaks on it, right?) as in the  Planning Commission December 20, 2017:

Sketch Plans
1. HP Flanagan, Inc.: Sketch plan proposing a 6 lot subdivision and associated improvements. The property is located at 100 N. Bacton Hill Road, is zoned R-1 Single Family Residential and is approximately 6.6 acres in size.

 

(Deep breath)

This is proposed for right on top of and across the road from….wait for it….the ruins of historic Ebenezer AME Church and Cemetery.  When I last wrote about Ebenezer, it was late November, 2017 and it was about an oral history.  Before that, you know all of the posts about the history and the various articles from 2016 (click HERE and click HERE for two of them.)

Well shame on me for not paying closer attention in December 2017.  Here is what it looks like (100 Bacton Hill Road Sketch Plan):

Here is a close-up so you can see (right or wrong) why I am alarmed:

These houses are right on top of Ebenezer on one side.  A  concern I have is a lot of us have always wondered if there were more graves on each side of the fences (See blue arrows). A new development right on top of this site of ANY size puts this historic site at risk, in my humble opinion. Which is why a lot of the conversations concerning this development have to also include protecting this historic site, right?

This is a historic site that East Whiteland has never seemingly wanted to deal with (except for the historic commission as they have wanted it better preserved only how do we get there?), and the AME Church always seemingly wants to pretend it never exists. (I mean remember that promise Bishop Ingram made the Inquirer reporter Kristen Holmes to check this all out? And what do you bet he never, ever did? (Sorry I don’t see slick city bishop walking through the mud at Ebenezer, do you?)

Do we need to worry that if the AME Church finds out about development they will try to sell these old souls to the highest bidder to make a buck or two? (It’s a valid concern, I think.)

Here is a close up of general notes on the plans so the players and potential need for a variance are made plain:

Doug Buettner still owns the land now.  I have met him.  A nice guy. He actually helped with Al’s clean-up of Ebenezer in 2016. I have also been told that owns Malvern Court the mobile home park on the other side of Ebenezer.  The developer is listed above at HP Flanagan in Malvern.  They are an unknown to me.

I have been told that Mr. Buettner has wanted to develop some of this land for years.  I seem to remember he mentioned it to me in conversation the day I met him cleaning up at Ebenezer.

My largest concern is how close this all is to the ruins of Ebenezer. This is not a big plan being proposed, mind you, and it would have escaped my radar except for the fact it is next door to our beloved Ebenezer. And well a development could detrimentally impact this historic site as I feel the site is fragile to begin with. I have fears that once construction vehicles move in to start construction if this plan is approved that it will cause the remains of the church to crumble from vibrations.  When Al Terrell was alive we had wanted to try to get the AME Church to give permission for funds to be raised to stabilize the ruins.

A development of a 6 lot subdivision like this adjacent to a historic resource and a mobile home park is one of the ways Chester County Zoning is so strange to me.  None of the things go together.

I still feel the pace of development is staggering in East Whiteland .

When does it stop? I have to ask if Mr. Buettner owns clear to the corner as I was told, would it be possible to shift those houses down? Or eliminate one from the plans to create a buffer zone next to the old souls of Ebenezer?  After all, it is not generally considered good karma to disturb a burial ground is it?  Freed slaves, member of a once vibrant early black community and black Civil War Soldiers matter, don’t they? Shouldn’t they?

And you see on the plans they also want setback variances? Bacton Hill Road is a speedy road.  So no new development anything should be perched right on the edge of the road in my humble opinion.

Look, I wish this proposed plan, this sketch plan, wasn’t on top of Ebenezer, but it is.  And Hiram Woodyard, Joshua Johnson, the Reasons and the other dear old souls here deserve respect. (See Daily Local article November 2016)

Bacton Hill is the location of some of the richest black history in Chester County.  It was an early settlement of freed blacks among other things.  This history here just keeps getting erased. I don’t think that is right.

Here is my wish list:

  1. NO development (which I doubt will happen as it is East Whiteland, after all.)
  2. More realistically, REDUCED development to protect the cemetery with a good buffer.
  3. As a condition of approval the developer gets permission to stabilize the church ruin and put up a better and more proper fence with a gate and a couple of pebbled (drainage is a problem over there already, right?) parking spaces in the buffer zone so people can visit Ebenezer.
  4. And developer also helps with maintaining the grass and weeds going forward

Here is hoping if something comes of this, the dead are respected, right? Ebenezer has been around since what? 1831 into 1832?

Ok signing off now.  My thoughts are simple: Ebenezer should be and needs to be preserved.  It is history that matters.  And more people need to care. (For more on East Whiteland history click HERE.) People, this is a sketch plan, but it is under active review.  If you have an opinion, please voice it to East Whiteland (politely.)

Ebenezer AME and her ruins are just something which should be saved, right?

the delaware riverkeeper opines on bishop tube to east whiteland zoning hearing board

In advance of the East Whiteland Zoning Hearing Board hearing continuation which will occur on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 7:15 PM at East Whiteland Township 209 Conestoga Road, Frazer, PA 19355 unless it gets rescheduled due to weather please see letter sent to the Zoning Hearing Board – YES that is a year typo in the letter, it happens. (Also read about Bishop Tube on Delaware Riverkeeper website HERE)

East Whiteland residents are so incredibly fortunate that Maya the Delaware Riverkeeper has taken an interest here (letter uploaded here to this website Delaware Riverkeeper Network ZHB letter 3.15.17 DRN comment with Attachments ).

Don’t just take my word, or the word of in many cases ill former Bishop Tube workers or General Warren Village residents, take the word of EXPERTS.

Bishop Tube is a site that could be redeveloped, but in my personal opinion with much less density AND after serious not minimal remediation, but again why not check with experts who are obviously concerned with this? Read what the expert says in the letter above…

Hey media, what are you waiting for?  Maybe you all can get the DEP to come out of the shadows here? I still do not understand what it is they have actually done and what they are supposed to do? And why hasn’t more clean up been done since they announced they were watching it? Isn’t that like the DEP is looking the either way?

And again…..just so we are clear – I am not adverse to the site being developed with following caveats: (1) much less density and preferably a different and non-residential use (2) AFTER a lot more remediation than has been discussed – as in not just the soil being removed and replaced but dealing with the groundwater issues, right?

Also, for once the residents of General Warren should be taken into consideration, shouldn’t they? And the potential health, safety, and welfare of potential future residents?

One General Warren resident said the other day:

Just hiked the stream between Bishop Tube and General Warren Village. Our township officials need to go back and seriously look at what they are considering before approving.
All the promises by the township that Village Way will be nothing more than “emergency access” are likely alternative facts. Not like a bed of stone will be laid to provide this access. They will build a bridge. I really do not believe that type of investment will be made and not used.  Maybe the township needs to consider access coming off of Three Tun Rd and coming in behind the oil company. The train bridge going into BT is posted 12’10” built in 1915 and visually crumbling. I can’t imaging how they will get in the equipment to tear down BT under that bridge or any other large construction equipment. Sure 2 vehicles can pass under this bridge but what about the 500/600 people who end up living back in there, how will they walk to the Giant? I didn’t measure but I can’t imaging a sidewalk under the bridge. Build your development and keep the Village out of it. Stop the bridge into Village Way.

Someone responded to that resident with:

What also cracks me up, because you know this won’t be in the brochure, I read in some document they are planning to put some type of vapor chimney in the units. Not for our common Radon issue, but for any other vapor release from the chemicals left in the ground at Bishop Tube. WTH???

Another resident said elsewhere:

We need it cleaned up right before building starts and that includes the groundwater below where the TCE now is !

There has also been a lot of chatter about the developer leaving if they do not get zoning variance but does zoning variance get groundwater remediation, etc???  I think the developer will get the variance in the end.  I see it getting set up for a softball in the meeting replay of the recent supervisors’ meeting.  But when Bill Holmes said it isn’t the end of it, he is right BUT residents with standing (General Warren) have to keep going to meetings because that is HOW you will get the site cleaned and get DEP to move.

I have to be honest that while I have issues with the developer and serious issues with the density of the development plan (even if it wasn’t being built on a toxic waste dump of a land parcel), where the issues never abate and concerns continue to grow is with the Pennsylvania DEP.  They are the constant from day 1 with Bishop Tube. So that being said, residents need to go to meetings and call the DEP (717) 783-2300 is the main number in Harrisburg.    (484) 250-5900 is the number to the Southeast regional office in Norristown.  And keep calling State Senator Dinniman’s and State Rep Duane Milne’s offices too.

WATCH THE EAST WHITELAND MEETING – [CLICK HERE]  Start watching somewhere around 20 minutes in. Are supervisors prepared to cave no matter what the risks to current and future residents? And DEP? Where is the DEP…..thank goodness for Environmental Action Committee because they at least seem to be in the residents’ corner, right? Seriously, does East Whiteland need Erin Brocavitch?

The PA DEP seems to say a lot about what they will not do, but I ask about what they should have been doing all along?  Anderson Hartzell is the acting director of PA DEP in our area now, but no one has ever clarified the rather mysterious and abrupt departure of Cosmo Servidio in the fall?  And remember how Limerick residents complained about the PA DEP being slow to act in 2010?

Limerick residents blast DEP for slow action against pollution (Video)

By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 05/17/10, 12:01 AM EDT|UPD

LIMERICK – Residents of more than 45 homes whose wells have been polluted by twin underground plumes of pollution packed the township meeting room to hear how the state is handling the crisis.

Residents complained about the slow pace of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in dealing with the pollution problem that was detected as early as the 1980s and more recently in 2002.

To date, wells tested at 47 homes have been found to have chemical contamination. The homes are in the vicinity of South Limerick Road, Springford Road and West Linfield-Trappe Road….

Last week, The Mercury reported that another groundwater contamination site has been identified by the DEP. Called the Landis Creek Site, the contamination has been found in eight wells near the intersections of Country Club Road and Ridge Pike and Township Line Road and Graterford Road.

The contaminant at the Landis Creek Site is trichloroethylene, or TCE, which is recognized as a carcinogen in California and considered a potential carcinogen by several federal agencies, including the EPA.

Now in Missouri in 2016 a company was awarded $20 million “for exposing a 27-year-old woman to a toxic chemical that has left her with permanent disabilities, according to online court records….At age 14 in 2002, Kirk was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis. Testimony at the trial revealed that the disease was caused by trichlorethylene, also known as TCE. The chemical, a known carcinogen, was used by the manufacturer of ball bearings to clean metal parts.”

TCE is what everyone is talking about at Bishop Tube.  As per a lawyer in Nebraska’s website:

People who have worked in degreasing operations have the highest risk of exposure to TCE. Exposure to the chemical can happen by breathing, touching, or drinking/eating. People who use TCE as a solvent may breathe significant amounts of the compound. Since TCE evaporates quickly, people who shower or bath in contaminated water may breathe the vapors, as well. TCE can be absorbed through the skin. Individuals who don’t use solvent-resistant gloves while using the compound may face exposure. Groundwater can be contaminated once TCE is released into the soil, thus anybody who drinks from a well may be exposed.

Unfortunately many industrial companies use and have used Trichloroethylene for decades without properly supplying their employees with proper education about the chemical or proper safety training or protective measures to prevent all the devastating problems associated with Trichloroethylene exposure.

Potential Health Effects of TCE

Some health effects may occur immediately or shortly after inhaling air that contains more than 50,000 parts per billion by volume of Trichloroethylene. These include:

  • Heart problems including cardiac arrhythmias;
  • Serious liver injury;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation.
  • Dizziness, headache, neurological problems; and

Although TCE has not been specifically linked to certain effects in humans, studies have shown that animals exposed to high levels of the compound may develop problems such as:

  • Cancer (including liver, kidney, lung, brain, soft tissue, testicular tumors, and leukemia)
  • Heart defects in offspring when mother was exposed to TCE
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease (six times greater than that of non-exposed subject)

Read an old article from 1989 from the Washington Post called Forging a Covenant of Silence . Here is an excerpt:

WEBSTER, N.Y. — There are three vacant houses on the 600 block of Salt Road in this community east of Rochester, and those who live on the street wonder why their neighbors moved out and no one else has moved in. “All of a sudden I saw a moving van moving one family out,” said Ray Gerber, who lives several hundred feet north of the cluster of empty houses, now owned by Xerox Corp. “I worry about it.” “We’re in the dark,” said Grace Krasucki, another Salt Road resident. The empty houses — the result of a secret and costly legal battle — stand as a testament to the growing use of secrecy procedures in the nation’s civil courts and how that secrecy is hampering efforts by scientists and health officials to learn more about hazardous chemicals and their effects….In the fall of 1984, construction workers at the Xerox complex discovered discolored water during excavation. Xerox later learned that 63 pounds of trichloroethylene (known as TCE), a solvent used in cleaning and lubricating machinery, had leaked over a period of years from four underground storage tanks…. In addition to faulting Xerox for the TCE contamination, attorneys for the families alleged that their clients’ health had been affected by airborne emissions from the plant. According to sources familiar with the case, tests in the houses showed traces of a TCE derivative in the basements and the sump pumps. They also showed residues of two other toxic chemicals, styrene and selenium, in the soot that coated lawn furniture, the walls of their homes and their car windows.

 

I would be curious if the builder on this (Benson) actually has brownfield development experience? And wow check out the Google reviews.  Not positive but then again these are the people who said let us build townhouses behind Linden Hall and we will restore Linden Hall, right? And what happened?  Sold the land with approved plans and Linden Hall just sits and continues to rot, right? And then there is that whole thing brewing in Tredyffrin about Howellville, right? And the whole Kimberton Meadows saga which seems to persist?

Here – Kimberton Meadows saga worth reading about if they are slated to be builders of Bishop Tube’s new lemming village:

East Pikeland Township Board of Supervisors Meeting February 3, 2015

East Pikeland Township Board of Supervisors Meeting March 1, 2016

East Pikeland Township Board of Supervisors Meeting April 5, 2016

Kimberton Meadows Residents Go Before Board Again

The group of homeowners says the development is not moving forward.

By September 13, 2011 1:22 pm ET

Residents are begging the  East Whiteland supervisors for help.  But why is a steep slopes variance for a cram plan the only solution? The groundwater. How will the development address that? How does East Whiteland know for sure what TCE will do?  The answer is they do not. East Whiteland your obligation is to your residents FIRST.  

Here is an excerpt from the letter sent by the Delaware Riverkeeper that stands out:

….As you know, the intent of the sleep slope protections identified in § 200-57 “is to protect hillsides and their related soil and vegetative resources, thereby minimizing adverse environmental effects” including providing protection from “inappropriate development, such as excessive grading, landform alteration, and extensive vegetation removal”, “[a]voidance of potential hazards to life and property and the disruption of ecological balance that may be caused by increased runoff, flooding, soil, erosion and sedimentation, blasting and ripping of rock, and landslide and soil failure,” “[p]rotection of the entire Township from uses of land that may result in subsequent expenditures for public works and disaster relief and adversely affect the economic well-being of the Township,” “[e]ncouragement of the use of steep and very steep slopes for open space and other uses that are compatible with the conservation and protection of natural resources.”

Granting a variance to Constitution Drive Partners from the steep slow variance would undermine all of these goals. The site is significantly contaminated and borders Little Valley Creek, tributary to Valley Creek, an exceptional value stream. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is concerned that the level of land disturbance proposed, including on the steep slopes for which variance is sought, on this site given the high level of continuing contamination, poses both health risks and will result in ecological damage, including to the Little Valley Creek, will result in future costs to the township to respond to the degradation, and is not otherwise compatible with conservation.

As discussed by Dr. Tom Myers in the attached report:

“Developing this site would expose the existing contamination to wind and rain which would cause it to erode and pass downstream or downwind where it would contaminate additional areas. Also, much of the contamination would remain in place, especially in groundwater and soils outside of the targeted excavation zone. Other than the additional contamination caused by water and wind erosion, this residential development and remediation will expose substantial amounts of contamination that would be left in place to increased erosion. The development would not contribute substantially to the necessary remediation of downstream and downgradient resources.”

Constitution Drive Partners wants to do a partial cleanup so it can develop the property, make lots of money, and walk away. Leaving dangerous amounts of contamination still at the site to contaminate groundwater, Little Valley Creek, Valley Creek, and any communities that are on the receiving end of that contamination as it makes its way to soil, air and water.

Constitution Driver Partner’s responses to DEP questions and concerns regarding their proposal demonstrates a disregard for the environment that is troubling, to say the least.

 

toxic nightmare site bishop tube goes back to zoning…

This photo was taken in 2010, long before I lived in Chester County. It was taken by d.coleman in June of 2010. I found it on Flickr. This is a screen shot of photo with attribution and description as found in yellow. Photographers have been photographing Bishop Tube for years and I hear that high school kids find their way onto the site as well?

This photo was taken in 2010, long before I lived in Chester County. It was taken by d.coleman in June of 2010. I found it on Flickr. This is a screen shot of photo with attribution and description as found in yellow.  Photographers have been photographing Bishop Tube for years and I hear that high school kids find their way onto the site as well? I will note I have only ever taken photos from OUTSIDE the chain link fence.

Bishop Tube is a toxic site. It has been through remediation to a point, but I can’t find anything for 2015 in as far as a public accounting of where the clean-up is. Now maybe an update exists, but is it posted publicly anywhere that is easily accessible?  I am including a letter from Chester County Planning Commission from 2014 I do not think I shared before ( chester-county-planning-on-bishop-tube-march-2014 ).

Something that jumped out at me from said letter:

RECOMMENDATION:    While  the  County  Planning  Commission  supports  single-family  attached and multi-family residential development in the Suburban Landscape where infrastructure capacity can support such development, along with the implementation of adaptive reuse and infill strategies to redevelop abandoned industrial brownfield sites for moderate to high density multi- family housing designation, it does not appear that this location can support the density being proposed due to its existing physical and environmental characteristics.  Additionally, the amendment petition does not appear to be consistent with the Township’s Comprehensive Plan and its vision for Community Mixed Use.  The Commission recommends that East Whiteland Township deny the applicant’s zoning ordinance and zoning map amendment petition.

 

So that was 2014.  We are now in 2017.  East Whiteland has had Bishop Tube as a guest star topic at many meetings since then.  So truthfully, I don’t know which iteration of Constitution Drive Partners LP anyone is looking at.  Constitution Drive Partners = Brian O’Neill, remember?

Well, this plan is up in front of East Whiteland Zoning NEXT week January 23:

bishop-tube-zoningHERE in case you can’t see all of the fine print:

LEGAL NOTICES

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the East Whiteland Township Zoning Hearing Board conduct a continued public hearing at 7:15 p.m. on Monday, January 23, 2017, at the East Whiteland Township Municipal Building, 209 Conestoga Road, Frazer, Pennsylvania, to consider Appeal No. 2016-24 Application of Constitution Drive Partners, L.P. and 9 Malin Road Development, LLC (collectively, “Applicant”) for a variance from Section 200-57.C.(6) of the East Whiteland Township Zoning Ordinance to permit single-family attached dwellings and townhouses in rows of more than six units, with associated driveways and grading to be located in both steep slope and very steep slope areas of the property formerly the site of the Bishop Tube complex (which is currently a brownfield site improved with dilapidated industrial buildings), located at 9 South Malin Road, 10 South Malin Road, and 1 South Malin Road (Tax Parcels 42-4-321, 42-4-321.1 and 42-4-321.2) (collectively, “Property”). The Property is located in an RRD (Residential Revitalization District) Zoning District. The public hearing was opened at the Zoning Hearing Board’s November 28, 2016 meeting. The Applicant has subsequently amended its Application to request a variance from Section 200-93.B of the Zoning Ordinance to permit the proposed retaining walls to exceed the permitted six (6) feet in height. On the above date, the Zoning Hearing Board will continue the public hearing and may render a decision on Appeal No. 2016-24. Anyone with a disability requiring a special accommodation to attend should notify Joseph T. Leis, Zoning Officer, at 610-648-0600 x 268. The Township will make every effort to provide a reasonable accommodation. Riley Riper Hollin & Colagreco Attorney for Constitution Drive Partners, L.P. DL-Jan 10, 16-1a

Steep slope and very steep slope.Still the key here. They want to increase site density if they want relief from steep and very steep slopes, right? How many hundred units do they want?  Last count was what, 264? And before that over 300?

Bishop Tube is what they call in crass terms a potential flipper baby site still, correct? Will super high amounts of residential density built on slabs with no basements solve all problems? Or is another use better for the site?

Forget about the problems with the site in the DEP and EPA categories and let us talk traffic, infrastructure, schools, basic township services.  Why does East Whiteland want to be King of Prussia or Bensalem? Is that what the majority of the residents want? Or do residents actually want thought and carefully planned growth versus one construction explosion after another?

How many 1000s of living units are planned, approved, or are in various stages of approval in East Whiteland at this point? That also affects neighboring municipalities and anyone in the Great Valley School District.

And do not forget this interesting developer O’Neill article from December:

Former O’Neill site on Rock Hill Road goes up for sale; was to be part of area’s transformation

Former O’Neill site for sale; was to be part of ‘gateway’ to Lower Merion By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Dec 2, 2016

Bala Cynwyd>> A long awaited building project that was supposed to be part of the transformation of an old rock quarry along Rock Hill Road in Bala Cynwyd has officially gone back on the market. Except for a groundbreaking and some preliminary work a couple of years ago, the approved project never moved forward.

 

The site was to become a mixed-use development proposed by Brian O’Neill, owner of O’Neill Properties.

Monday, Kevin Flynn Sr. of The Flynn Company confirmed that his company has the property at 131 Rock Hill Road up for sale.

According to Flynn, the 8.2-acre site was approved for four buildings of four-stories each with parking decks underneath. There would also be a surface lot and numerous other amenities.

 

O’Neill owned the site since 2004, when it was purchased for $3.5 million, according to online Montgomery County records. In 2014, the site was sold to an LLC called Alexander Street, for $11.122 million as the preliminary work was being done. They were to be the financing arm of the project.

 

Another site across the street on Rock Hill Road had also been owned by O’Neill and had been sold in 2010.

 

It’s not clear why O’Neill is apparently divesting himself in his holdings in that area. Calls to the company this week were not returned.

In Lower Merion Township people went through YEARS of awful meetings over steep slopes and a developer driven zoning overlay known as ROHO.  Has anyone asked Brian O’Leary of the Chester County Planning Commission about this as he would be very familiar with this plan given his time on Lower Merion Township’s Planning Commission?

I can’t see Bishop Tube from my window.  But if I could I sure as heck would turn up at this meeting.  Or if I lived at the edge of Malvern Borough where traffic here would become an issue. If I was a neighbor or affected by Bishop Tube, I would see that board room was packed.

Here are some of the old articles on Bishop Tube:

more litterbug shaming 

Dumped on Three Tun Road in Frazer, East Whiteland Twp., including into the creek that runs under the roadway. My friend who took the photos reported to the property owner, yet it still sits.

#LitterbugShaming #SlumlordShaming

sometimes….it takes a really BIG and extended village

Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road has been my passion project the past few years as most of my friends and family  and readers know. 

 If my sweet man hadn’t stopped that winter’s day so I could take photos, I wouldn’t have found my USCT soldier Joshua.
I wrote about this  for three years straight  here until things started to click. I am grateful for the help of so many, especially Al Terrell and those amazing Willistown Troop 78 scouts.


We went from a crazy overgrown site that no one loved to today at Ebenezer in Frazer! 
Look at this and be happy – this is what it means to be an American. This is what it means to honor your history and the dead. This is what it means to honor some of our older veterans – as in from the Civil War.


A shout out to today’s guest star volunteers: WCU Student Veterans Group, WCU Men’s Rugby Club, and two WCU Fraternities, Sigma Epsilon (I don’t know if this should be Sigma Phi Epsilon?)  and FIJI. About 50 students total. Kelby Hershey is apparently the super hero at WCU who brought these folks together today for us—and a new grave was discovered!


It’s a shame that The Daily Local News hasn’t covered this yet. And once again, I have to say thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer for giving us not one but two articles in 2016.


If any media out there can find it in their hearts to cover Ebenezer, kindly contact me. If there are those out there who want to volunteer, connect with Al Terrell. 

Thank you everyone for your interest. This is 184 years of history, amazing vibrant and important history, and we are all so thankful that so many are starting to realize it. 

Enjoy the photos!

I am closing with a quote that is a favorite of my friend Sara:

”Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Walk humbly with your God .”[Micah 6:8]

leveling the playing field over lights.

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I am prefacing ALL comments with I have NOTHING against baseball or any local little league organizations. That is NOT what this is about. What this is about is LIGHT POLLUTION. And the right residents have to not have where they live lit up at night like noontime sun for extended periods of time.

In August, the Great Valley Little League was coming before East Whiteland Zoning for a variance:

****Appeal No. 2016-17 Application of Great Valley Little League for a variance from the 35-foot height limitation for all outdoor illumination fixtures for recreational and sports lighting, in order to construct and utilize four illumination fixtures (two poles at 70 feet in height, and two poles at 60 feet in height) in order to illuminate a little league baseball field on its property located at 1300 West King Road (UPI 42-6-40.1-E) in an R- 1 Residential Zoning District of the Township.*****

I will admit I found it distinctly ODD at the time that the neighbors around there said nothing.  And well they got their variance but under not institutional lighting, not residential lighting, but I was told under commercial lighting like they are on Route 30 or Rout 100 in a business district and NOT where they actually are….a residential area.

So, given the zoning hearing was in the dead of summer, and the notice was kind of posted last minute on the actual field, it doesn’t surprise me that the Zoning Hearing Board just approved the poles with not much of a thought to residents within the legal notice zone and those who are not but are still affected by BIG LIGHTS that cause that thing called LIGHT POLLUTION.

So the Little League strategy obviously was to go first to Zoning for the relief they sought and then to go to Planning for conditional approval, do I have that right? They thought no one would be bothered?

Some neighbors showed up at the East Whiteland September Planning Meeting and Planning delayed any action on the conditional use because they (GVLL/Great Valley Little League) apparently had not engaged the immediate neighbors.  It was reported to me that neighbors said they followed the advice of the Township? What does that mean and who advised them in particular? Zoning? Supervisor? Staff? Apparently, then the guy in charge of the GVLL (or whomever was at the meeting) stated that he can build lights in the parking lot by right or something to that affect. (Of course, he was granted a sweetheart variance, correct?)

Ok regardless of whether or not it is BY RIGHT or NOT, they have neighbors, including people RIGHT across King who also get inconvenienced by their storm water runoff at times, or I am told. And given the runoff I have driven through over there, I believe it.

Also notable: some East Whiteland ordinance I am told allows lights like this to be on 40 nights over 365 nights (1 year), which has people concerned that GVLL might try to say they are entitled to use the lights 40 Nights over their 90 Day Season, or essentially continually Memorial Day to Labor Day?? Ummm shouldn’t the interpretation be based upon a pro-rated or perhaps 9.86 nights? If they go for a broad interpretation is that FAIR to those of us who live within the light area that basically there will basically be a Northern Lights effect ALL summer long?

How can we trust the Great Valley Little League will buy lights with the best possible shielding and so on? The answer is you can’t. Who will babysit them for compliance in operating the lights and address the non-compliance? I can tell you from past experience municipalities push that off on residents (just ask the Radnor Township residents who deal with Villanova stadium and field lights.)

No one living near that field moved there so they could live next door to the little league version of Citizen’s Bank Park.

AGAIN, I am NOT anti-Little League. What I object to is residents NOT really being part of the process FAIRLY. We live here and like it or not, the Little League folks come and go. I doubt they would want bright lights shining in their windows at night. Acting in good faith is a big deal, kind of like good sportsmanship.

So that being said OCTOBER 19th at East Whiteland’s Township Building at 7 PM  located at 209 Conestoga Rd, Frazer, PA 19355 there will be a meeting with neighbors.  GVLL has apparently sent out a mass e-mail to their membership instructing parents to show up with kids in uniform.  It is their right, but they are trying to unduly influence East Whiteland and discourage neighbors from speaking up.

That is not right.  And this is not an issue of health of the young, this is a reasonable expectation of quiet enjoyment issue that is a tangible right of homeowners. And the issues caused by light pollution are real and well documented.

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I will add to the e-mails on this flyer, the Chair of the Supervisors Bill Holmes bholmes@eastwhiteland.org and the Township Manager John Nagel jnagel@eastwhiteland.org .

The issues with the little league where the lights are concerned include:

  • The number of nights per week that games can be played (currently not limited)
  • The hours of operation (Currently 10 pm weeknights and 11 pm weekends)
  • The use of the PA system including the VOLUME level and how late into the evening it can be used (currently 8 pm)
  • Light spillage
  • The future need to light the parking lot
  • Extended season, tournament play, increased traffic and non-league use of playing fields (OR RENTING OUT THE FIELDS TO WHOMEVER FOR WHATEVER)

This October 19th meeting is really important so if you can show up to support the neighbors that would be awesome.

NO ONE IS ANTI-CHILD SPORTS or ANTI-LITTLE LEAGUE.  These neighbors got dealt a poor hand and no one is sticking up for them and they have rights TOO.  These people leave the little league fields on King Road and go home. They won’t be having stadium lights shining in their windows at night.   Truthfully, they do not care. They just want their lights.

Interestingly I was told but can’t prove the numbers are down on little league membership with Great Valley Little League? If this is true, is this a wise financial decision?

Now as the GVLL/Great Valley Little League is asking for things, how will they address pre-existing issues? These issues include:

  • Traffic.  The way people pull in and out of that field can be a problem, so why is it they do not have police being paid to direct traffic, or are out there safely directing people in and out? It is King Road, it’s BUSY.
  • Storm water runoff. Even a small cloud burst causes GIANT puddles. A normal rain event causes flooding on King Road in front of their fields.  When it is a heavy rain event, the water accumulation can be significant.

Anyway, that is the scoop.  Not anti-baseball. Not anti-kids. Not anti-little league.  But what on earth did Great Valley Little League think was going to happen if they tried to sneak/shove this through? These people are supposed to be teaching kids good sportsmanship and fair play among other things, right?

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