when a community needs to get back to basics. and save itself.

When West Vincent Supervisor Ken Miller’s wife, Sue of Birchrun Hills Farm got up at a recent meeting to speak her peace in West Vincent, I watched it as an outsider and counted my lucky stars I did not live in West Vincent Township.  Which truthfully, I hate to say because it is a wonderful community and has a lot of beauty….or it will until the developers all have their way, but I digress.

I received something from Chickenman that has given me pause for thought (you can read it HERE.) As did a letter that was directed towards West Vincent in March.

So this letter from March seems to have something to do with some property that West Vincent used to own?  That has now a commercial use with few or no restrictions?  If this is true and they are so big on preservation, why didn’t they at least sell this land with some sort of conservation stuff to go with? Something about an old township building and whether it is in or out of compliance with use, as in was it too long ago and should prior uses be considered abandoned? And why does anyone need another “office park”?  (I hate that phrase “office park”.) Is there enough business to sustain this?  And something about waivers?  (Maybe it is just me, but as I have watched development in 3 counties in PA I always love when developers come in asking for waivers when sometimes it seems the hardship is not on them, but the community left questioning their own property rights when it comes to saying no to development.)

So back to Sue Miller, the Farmer-Supervisor’s wife.  She spoke up at this meeting, which is cool, don’t have a problem with that, it’s just the bully pulpit of it all and the irony of her words that continue to stick in people’s craw.

Sue Miller has issue with Chickenman, claims the fearless fowl is trying to put her and her hubby out of business.  Seems to me, all he is asking for is for a level playing field and honesty.   That Clare Quinn who used to work for The French and Pickering Conservation Trust while she voted for eminent domain for private gain (because nothing says conservation/preservation like eminent domain) doesn’t like Chickenman, either?  (Clare seems to live off the fat of the community in so many ways, doesn’t she?)

But why is it that any resident or other who speaks up a liar?  There seems to be a lot of residents speaking up, which generally speaking could be a divining rod to major issues, yes?

I am going to have to agree with Chickenman when he said in his e-mail June 6th that like it or not, Ken Miller is not just a private citizen but an elected official.  And as such, indeed subject to the same public scrutiny as a public official, elected or appointed.

The irony of Mrs. Miller claiming all the good people are trying to put her out of business in her township doesn’t escape me.  Since I started to pay attention to this area (they did it themselves with eminent domain), all I hear about is what is done dirty to residents, so what is she talking about?   And she speaks of Chickenman and Chickenman “Posse” (have you heard anything so stupid and paranoid?) retaliating?  Who is actually retaliating?

Mrs. Miller stood on her soapbox for quite a while, and then there were comments from the peanut gallery and this guy in the meeting who seemed like he was threatening another resident in the meeting and no one did anything? This same person also used profanity, and nothing was done?

No I don’t understand.  But I do know that there is too much nastiness in this bucolic community.

What is community?  Defined it is:

noun, plural com·mu·ni·ties.

1.a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
2.a locality inhabited by such a group.
3.a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the ): the business community; the community of scholars.
4.a group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage: the community of Western Europe.
5.Ecclesiastical . a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.

Some people would describe West Vincent as merely rural.  The more I read, the more meeting tapes I see and hear about, I think it is positively feudal.

Ahhh yess, feudalism:

Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.

Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief),[1] then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the medieval period. In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944),[2]feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility, revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals, and fiefs.[2]

There is also a broader definition, as described by Marc Bloch (1939), that includes not only warrior nobility but all three estates of the realm: the nobility, the clerics, and the peasantry bonds of manorialism; this is sometimes referred to as a “feudal society“.

West Vincent residents, you need to be involved where you live.  Even you the McMansion dwellers.  I  can’t believe you aren’t bothered (for example) when the agendas for the meeting aren’t posted or easily found and it is the Friday before a meeting.  I mean LOOK at the website.  Agendas are public documents to be provided in a timely manner prior to a meeting.  When is the last time they posted an agenda and since I don’t live there I can’t say it was timely, but it appears by their own website to have been 4/23/2012:

04/23/12 7:30 PM:  Board of Supervisor Meeting

Written by Tammy Swavely. Posted in Event Dates – Township Meetings

05/14/12 7:30 PM:  Board of Supervisor Meeting

Written by Tammy Swavely. Posted in Event Dates – Township Meetings

Board of Supervisor Meeting at the Township Building

05/29/12 7:30 PM:  Board of Supervisor Meeting

Written by Tammy Swavely. Posted in Event Dates – Township Meetings

Board of Supervisor Meeting at the Township Building

06/04/12 Special Board of Supervisor Meeting

Written by Tammy Swavely. Posted in Event Dates – Township Meetings

06/04/12 Special Board of Supervisor Meeting

One of the oldest dumbing down tricks in the book: don’t post things in a timely fashion and keep taxpayers and residents ignorant and in the dark.  But does that violate Sunshine Laws in PA?  Or will I open a discussion on the letter of the law versus the spirit?  (If you think I do not like eminent domain, I dislike sunshine slayers as well.)

Did you know Pennsylvania has an Open Records website?  With the Right to Know Law and a handy Citizen’s Guide and FAQs?

I also can’t believe you think it’s ok when anyone threatens or bullies a resident in public at a meeting.

None of this is o.k.

It’s not my community, people, I am but a observor.  I am grateful for the community I call home (even if there has been a bit of a reach at me from there to here for my opinions), glad I got out of a community that was a political cesspool on a much larger stage that West Vincent.  (So I have indeed been there and I do get it.)

I would think you all wanted better for yourselves.  I understand how many of you are fearful or intimidation and retaliation, but the truth is these yokels only have as much power as you allow them.  Go above them on a state and federal level if you have to.

Who is your Congressman? Is it Jim Gerlach?  Show up at his town hall meetings or his freaking campaign office and ask for equal time in the community.  No incumbent is completely immune to elections, no outcome is guaranteed.  Gerlach used to be my Congressman, and I found him very easy and fair to deal with.  From a practical standpoint, his elections have also been squeakers.  He was redistricted again, so that might help, but you never know.  Those who write his campaign donation checks are not the only people an elected official will listen to in an election cycle, trust me.  And I say that as someone who does not as a matter of choice, donate to political campaigns.

Who is your state rep?  Your state senator? Get busy with them.

Community is what you make of it.  I can’t do this for you, nor can others.  A community must rally to save itself.  And it is a lot of hard work.  I know it can be frustrating, but if you are not happy with the way things are, you need to change it.

I have said it before,  and I will say it again: you live in a beautiful area.  Please fight to save it, and change the faces of who govern you.  Shine a little sunshine.  Do supervisors have term limits?  Maybe West Vincent is an example of why they should.

And to the person on the meeting tape who referred to Facebook?  I am sorry, will there be a blog burning and banning of Facebook in West Vincent?  Kindly remember what this country is founded on – you know, that little thing called the First Amendment? Just saying.

meanwhile, back in west vincent township

It seems that in West Vincent Township, it’s still a cloudy day?  I have this e-mail from ChickenMan which also contains part of an interesting update from the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Folks which I also received.  Wow talk about murky and no sunshine.

Are these people for real? And how come they can’t produce a lease for the taxpayers to review if this Township Supervisor Ken Miller (who makes that cheese I no longer buy from Birchrun Hills Farm) rents land from the township? Doesn’t that make in some sense the residents/taxpayers of West Vincent his landlord? And he does this (rents this land from in essence the taxpayers), yet he thought it was a good idea to seize Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds via eminent domain for private gain?  And if West Vincent owns all this land and is so hot to trot on a “plan”, why not use the land they already own before looking to seize privately owned land?

And who is this Pam Brown, other than she seems to be part of French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust?  Call me crazy, but damn that non-profit seems to have issues or am I imagining that?

And what’s up with this zoning issue?   Shouldn’t residents be able to discuss any potential changes in full sunshine even  typos?  That seems to be the norm for other municipalities in Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery Counties doesn’t it?

Also, why is it again this Clare Quinn can’t get benefits on COBRA from her former employer and it is such a good idea for the taxpayers of West Vincent to pay for her health benefits?  I would love for someone to pay my health benefits, but I live in the real world and pay my own. Just sayin’.

Anyway, read on from ChickenMan:

Hi
This came in to me from the Friends of the Horse Show and I am copying it here for you. 

West Vincent Township BOS meeting update
Dear Friend,
Once again interested residents of West Vincent Township packed the township building anxiously awaiting the zoning hearing that was postponed in December. Once again, the residents of the township were turned away, as the zoning hearing was postponed yet again.  The hearing is now set for January 23, 2012.   Explanation:  They sent the “insignificant changes” (one change and a few typo’s)  back to the County, because the County could determine that they were “significant changes”.  That’s right folks, I couldn’t make this stuff up, it’s double talk at its best!
To refresh your memory, the zoning hearing is to approve major changes to the township zoning ordinance.  The changes to this ordinance are vast, and will certainly change the look and feel of West Vincent Township in the future.   Even more important than the depth and breath of the changes, is the fact that the changes proposed will attempt to right the zoning violation that occurred when Pam Brown was permitted to built her accessory dwelling on her deed restricted property.
Frustration levels were high as the residents of the township voiced their displeasure in the manner in which the zoning changes are being handled.   They are complicated, difficult to read, and cumbersome, yet the supervisors and township manager along with solicitor do not intend to hold a town meeting or provide a plain language document for residents to better understand the future effects of the changes.
Since the township website makes it difficult to locate documents referred to at the meeting,  I have provided you with the links to follow along.  Get cozy and read along.

Click here to see the changes to the amendments.

Fast Facts taken from the meeting:
  • The meeting once again required two attorneys working on behalf the supervisors.  During the budget approval meeting of December 27, 2011, the supervisors said they were going to control the expenses of the attorneys in 2012,  I wonder when they will start?  My guess Monday night cost the township a minimum of  $1710 and possibly much more, might I remind you….nothing was accomplished!  The supervisors knew the hearing was not going to take place, yet they kept 2 attorneys at the table…..Good Job watching that budget!
  •  When questioned about the decision to pay 100% of Clare Quinn’s benefits, the board said they would determine the percentage in March when Clare will go on the policy.  Keep your eyes on this one, how will the supervisors spend your money?
  •  Remember when the Horse Show supporters showed up at the meeting, and mysteriously chairs were missing from the meeting room, forcing people to stand or sit on the ground?  The chairs have returned! Personally I want to thank my township for treating their residents with such care that they actually removed chairs from the meeting room when the supporters of the horse show attended meetings.

BUDGET REVIEW UPDATE

As promised, I have been inspecting records at  the township building over the last two weeks.  This is a slow process, however I will keep you updated as things of importance are revealed.  The 2012 budget did not include rental income for the farmland and farmhouse leased by the township.  After I pointed this out, Jim Wendlegas was not able to determine why they were missing.  During my review and on Monday evening, Jim took responsibility for “missing” the income from the farm land in the budget. The supervisors decided to vote to amend the budget to make this change at the next meeting. As part of my review, I have asked for copies of the leases on the farm land along with the farmhouse lease.  What I was provided was an expired lease (lease expired 9/30/08) on the Farmhouse and an expired lease for the farmland that Ken Miller leases from the township (expired 12/31/10). When asked for lease renewals, extensions or addendums to the leases, Jim looked surprised, and said he would have to “look” for them.  Jim did not have them available at the next meeting even though I stressed the importance of seeing them.  Just to be clear, the leases do not have an automatic renewal, and do require renewals in writing…Stay tuned more to follow….

Thank you for staying interested in what is going on in West Vincent Township.  Please feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone who may have an interest in what’s happening in West Vincent Township.  If the e-mail has been forwarded to you, and you would like to receive future mailings, please click on the link below!

Sincerely,

Maria Jacobs

Friend of the Horse Show

“Be the change you wish the world to see” – Ghandi

 To join the Friends of the Horse Show Mailing list click here
To see my previous mailings please click on http://tinyurl.com/westvincentinfos    As usual, if you want to be on or off my list, or have some comments or suggestions, or know someone who would like to be on the list, please let me know.  Feel free to forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested.   Especially though, if you don’t want to continue to receive my mails, please tell me. I’ll take you off the list immediately.   Just hit reply to this email or write to chestercountynews@gmail.com
Best wishes
Chickenman