same old song, different day

Toll Townne on Route 100

Oh, I know people are tired of my posts about development. I don’t really care because in my opinion, all of this infill development combined with other elements like climate change are a recipe for disaster in Chester County.

I was speaking to someone recently, who had served on a planning commission in the region about all of the development in Chester County recently. They interpreted what I was trying to articulate as I was against new residents in Chester County. And no that couldn’t be further from the case, it’s about the number of residences.

Our communities are on overload. Our infrastructure can’t handle the current pace of development, and neither can things like our hospitals and schools and that’s not fiction. That is a fact.

Infrastructure would be not just the roads. Infrastructure includes things like our first responders and other municipal personnel. A lot of municipalities don’t have rental inspection ordinances, and a lot of these developments are purely rental. The increasing number of rental properties is also creating a more transient community and it is also driving the real estate to the point where people can’t stay in their own communities.

The people getting priced out of their communities are various business service workers, for example. Individuals getting priced out are also like the people that serve on our police forces, in our fire companies, and who teach our kids. In addition there are the elderly who raise their families here and wanted to end their days in their community. Or the younger folks, who may be newly married, and are looking to start and raise their families and put down roots where they were raised.

We have seen what this has done to the Main Line. And frankly, these are just the same developers moving west. They don’t care about our communities and they will pay lip service to whatever, and a lot of municipalities are dumb enough to think that ratables will get them by. And possibly Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome, yes?

From township to township they march. Gobbling up acre after acre. And as acre after acre are gobbled up, in addition to the aforementioned issues I have pointed out about infrastructure stresses and overcrowding the school districts, look at today’s thunderstorms and flooding. Yes, climate change.

Flooding today

All of these townships, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pay lip service to the environmental issues we are seeing increasing day by day. If they really cared they would not only do something about pipelines in Chester County and across the state, they would update the Municipalities Planning Code of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to protect our communities environmentally. But they don’t.

Until then, people from municipality to municipality in Chester County need to go to their local meetings. You can go to the meetings via Zoom, or you can go in person, but you can’t just complain on social media or expect your friendly neighborhood blogger to carry all of your water.

Downingtown PA today

And even if you can’t go to every meeting, that’s fine, we all have lives. Just take a stand and be counted. It’s your right as a resident. Even more important, is to have a basic awareness of what is going on in your municipality and so many people do not.

Ship Road Development

Recently I was somewhat floored when someone asked in a social media forum what was going on around Ship Road and Route 30 in West Whiteland. It was almost incomprehensible that people and even residents of West Whiteland have no idea what has been going on there and what has been planned there for almost 10 years at this point! Even if you don’t go to meetings, that’s a really big development issue that’s been covered in local media.

Ship Road Development

Something else that is cropping up all over are “rain taxes.” Essentially, it’s a direct result of other development and municipalities. It’s been raised as an issue in West Goshen and West Chester Borough, and other places. Well this showed up as also as a current hot topic in Tredyffrin:

Development has consequences. And the fact that we pay for those consequences comes down to simple economics as well because the developers take the profits from their projects and they simply move on to the next municipality leaving all the residents and taxpayers holding the bag. Bag men one and all is ok with all of you?

Ship Road and Route 30: Ground Zero in West Whiteland including development all around this development

Adaptive reuse and preservation is possible. Even with the rampant overdevelopment occurring in West Whiteland Township for example, you have bright, shiny gems of preservation in places like the Benjamin Jacobs house and the Benjamin Pennypacker House as but two examples.

People do love our old structures. They love our open space we need to do more to preserve that. We need to do more to preserve our communities as well as foster a sense of real community.

This development is not sustainable anywhere long-term. You can’t just continue to say build it and they will come because what do we do with all of the people what happens as we are replacing our farm fields with plastic townhouses or apartment buildings?

People on planning commissions and elected officials have drunk the KoolAid to a degree in so many municipalities. And the officials who haven’t drunk the KoolAid are then often outnumbered by those who have. And then the good guys get blamed along with everyone else. It’s a vicious cycle and problems are precipitated by other factors including a lot of people simply do not understand how the planning and zoning processes works and don’t seem to wish to learn.

People love to talk about what they don’t like. But people don’t tell their elected officials and local leaders and they have never attended a meeting. And now there are ways to attend meetings virtually as well as in person. Even I Zoom meetings. If you don’t want to speak in public you can often submit a written comment.

The more land that is gobbled up and the less open space there is and the increase of impervious surface coverage also is important because whether you subscribe to climate change or not, our environment is changing and water, flood waters in particular, will seek their own level. And voila, flooding. All this development means the water simply has no place to go.

So pick your poison people. Take a stand. We live here. We should have greater rights to help decide how our communities are preserved and shaped for the future. Real rights. And until we can get the bozos in Harrisburg to update the Municipalities Planning Code we can and should ask for every other protection we can legally get.

Our elected officials CAN implement conditions of approval that help our communities.

Our elected officials CAN enact rental ordinances.

Our elected officials CAN badger Harrisburg and Washington DC for more meaningful historic and land preservation…including protection for our farmers.

Our elected officials CAN say no to rezoning a property from commercial to residential. (Hey East Whiteland Township are you listening? You CAN say no to rezoning Clews & Strawbridge on Route 30 so there are fewer rental apartments including on Route 30, can’t you? But will you? )

The entirety of Chester County needs protection from overdevelopment. People, find your voices. Hold elected officials and municipalities accountable, but learn how to do it properly.

And above all else don’t become political pawns of political parties. Why do I say that? Simple. These issues are actually non-partisan. Make the politicians endorse all of you and your positions/issues out there. Stop endorsing them because all that accomplishes is you get them elected and then they dump you once they have gotten what they wanted: your vote. Your vote should be earned by them.

Have a good evening.

Please wake up Chester County. Before it’s too late.