is it possible to STOP toll brothers from destroying crebilly farm in westtown? sadly, probably not.

Crebilly Farm, June 2014 (my photo)

Crebilly Farm, June 2014 (my photo)

I know people get tired of hearing me talk about development and the OVER-development of Chester County. So if you don’t want to hear how I feel, turn away now.

ASB stallion Sensation Rex was owned by Crebilly Farms in Pennsylvania during the 1940's (from Pinterest)

ASB stallion Sensation Rex was owned by Crebilly Farms in Pennsylvania during the 1940’s (from Pinterest)

About a week ago I heard Crebilly Farm on 926 in Westtown was possibly going the entire kit and kaboodle to a developer.  I put it out of my head as life was, well, life. It was filed under Tomorrow is Another Day, Miss Scarlett. Until just a little while ago.

Then today thanks to a friend posting an article written by someone else we both know, well here we are: we know Crebilly’s suitor, the ultimate destroyer of farmland and open space everywhere, TOLL BROTHERS.

Toll Brothers has not even sold out the mass annihilation of what was once Foxcatcher Farm the DuPont Estate in Newtown Square (They call it Liseter.)…or the Reserve at Chester Springs or Creekside at Byers Station, or any of the multitude of other crap they have spread over Pennsylvania.  I am always believe they create a false and not actual need. It isn’t about growing our communities, it is about lining Toll Brothers pockets.

I don’t know what it is about farms in particular that draws Toll Brothers in, but Crebilly is another one on the hit list as we now know.  A third (?)  generation astoundingly gorgeous farm, that is so amazing to drive past on 926.

I shudder to think of how it will look like covered in “Toll”. Maybe like this:

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Or this:

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And if the “little people” are really good, some townhouses (see what happens when I go up in balloons? I take development horror show photos):

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YUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So who can stop Toll Brothers? Is it possible to neuter them? Can they go build plastic houses in Afghanistan or something?

What happens to McGregor Stables which I believe to still be on Crebilly?

Crebilly Farm by Richard McFarland http://richardmcfarland.us/

Crebilly Farm by Richard McFarland
http://richardmcfarland.us/

Ok so you get the picture? That this is GORGEOUS and this is a NIGHTMARE?

Who is protecting the beauty and land heritage of Chester County? Certainly not Brian O’Leary and the Chester County Planning Commission. (But I never expect much from “planners” out of Lower Merion Township which is one hot development mess on it’s own.)

The Chester County Planning Commission has a unique mission statement they don’t exactly live up to:

Mission Statement
The mission of the Chester County Planning Commission is to provide future growth and preservation plans to citizens, so that they can enjoy a Chester County that is historic, green, mobile and prosperous.

 

Green we are losing by the acre by the day it feels like. Same with the history, which includes agricultural history.

Crebilly Farm aerial shot courtesy of Crebilly Farm

Crebilly Farm aerial shot courtesy of Crebilly Farm

Two years ago there was a Change.org petition to stop development on Crebilly. In 1987 Crebilly was mentioned in this Inquirer article:

Keeping Developers At Bay When Heart Is On The Farm

POSTED: January 04, 1987

Marshall Jones 2d drives across the brown, stubbled hayfield and up a steep ridge, surveying his beloved Maple Shade Farm in Westtown.

From this vantage point, he sees his hayfields and his cornfields. He sees his weathered gray barn, like a great prairie schooner, giving shelter to the herd of black and white Holsteins. And he sees the stone farmhouse that his father covered with white plaster so many years ago.

He sees, too, Shiloh Road that separates two different worlds: On one side are Jones’ 190 acres of rolling farmland; on the other is the Plumly Farm development.

Jones, 77, owns one of the three farms of more than 100 acres that are left in Westtown. Although developers are offering him large sums for his property, he hopes that either the township or the Brandywine Conservancy will someday

purchase his land and keep it as open space.

Township officials say Crebilly Farms has 400 acres, and The Westtown School has 600 acres, although less than half of its property is farmed.

“I get two calls a week from people wanting to buy the place,” Jones said. “The developers want it. They want it bad. But they’re not going to get (all of it) as long as I’m alive.”

Now Marshall Jones was a heck of an interesting gent.  My friend Catherine Quillman actually profiled him in 1992 for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

But back to Crebilly.  It’s what? Still close to 400 acres?

Farms are expensive and developers have lots and lots of money. But we have to do something to preserve some of this land.  I would say that given the noises made by Westtown Township in the article I am about to post that this is pretty much a done deal.   And it doesn’t surprise me that Westtown will do this given the way they rolled over and showed their municipal belly to to Bartkowski The Billboard Baron a few years ago.  You know that thing that is like the size of a 24 hour dirve in movie screen? That was once described as  “a 14-foot-tall, 48-foot-wide digital sign…. gateway for southbound drivers on Route 202 entering the township from West Goshen and the West Chester Bypass.”

When I was little Westtown was this most amazing place of rolling farmland and gorgeous, spacious properties.  No more.  Yet another for whom the bell “Tolls”, right? What happens when Bryn Coed falls to development in West Vincent?  With Bryn Coed I still believe it is not a question of IF but a question of WHEN.

Here is an excerpt from Kathleen Brady Shea’s article (you will want to read every last word):

Chadds Ford Live: Toll Brothers making plans for Crebilly Farm

Ok read the article. All of it. It is the Liseter formula:

  • 300 two-story homes
  • 145 single-family
  • 165 carriage-style dwellings, all with basements.

Or a mix of 143 single-family and 204 carriage-style homes. If you all are good little subjects they will save a barn or something as a party space.

It’s the same thing every time. Gross. Just gross.

Buh byes open space.  Sigh.

My photo . June, 2014

My photo . June, 2014

Time to add a postscript. I received this comment:

comment

Unfortunately the Robinson family (who are the owners I am told), have chosen the potential of a cash cow over land conservation.  They need to live with that.  I think that they are doing this is crappy BUT Toll Brothers or ANY developer could choose to do things differently and they never do (just like property owners who are selling these giant tracts of land/open space to the highest bidder.).

As for Westtown Township Officials? My opinion is simple: if this goes through, every supervisor and possibly their manager needs to go. If any Supervisors can be voted out this coming November, start there.  I have no idea about how they spend their open space funds or what they have. I am not a resident of Westtown Township.

Here is their board:

westtown

Everyone should contact them – supervisors@westtown.org

Here is the manager- rpingar@westtown.org

Of special note is the Chair, Carol R. De Wolf.  How ironic is it that she works for Natural Lands Trust as the director of the Schuylkill Highlands???? Maybe residents should be asking her some tough questions?  Has she tried to get any of the land that is Crebilly conserved?

nat lands

Anyway, that is the end of the post script.

foxcatcher farm now



The ugliness of it is astounding. It’s like looking at overpriced tyvek wrapped tenanment housing.

This is the former Foxcatcher Farm today. There are all these houses crammed together and on the tops of some hills there are giant McMansions in progress crammed close together. So many of the trees are gone it’s staggering.

This is why people fight Toll Brothers and their ilk from coming into their communities.

I am a realist and I no longer expect large parcels of land like this to stay as intact estates as the years go by, but if this isn’t a reason that screams for more control on developers  and development within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania I don’t know what does.

And it’s funny as you go past this debacle in Newtown Township, Delaware County, and you go into Radnor Hunt you notice every year how much more of the land is being developed within the Radnor Hunt  area, don’t you? I wonder how many years longer the actual fox hunts near Radnor Hunt will be able to  take place?

Change is inevitable, but this is a case of where change is kind of sad.



this is progress?

DSC_0042Once again I turn to why we need to stand up for the land.  We do not need so much development.  We have a lot to consider and once open space is gone, it is gone for good.

Moderation is the word that should be used when it comes to development, only that never happens.  There are way too many giant developments.  Let’s hit the pause button and see what our infrastructure and natural water sources and so on and so forth can actually tolerate for a while.

But that never happens, does it?

Case in point is the great mistake of Delaware County.  Newtown Township approved the giant Toll Brothers plan now in progress on the old DuPont Estate formerly known as Foxcatcher farm on Goshen Road and Route 252 in Newtown Square.

DSC_0054An entire little Stepford City, composed of around 450 homes and amenities (i.e. other structures) will rise from where there was the gentle rise of hills, fields, forest. Of course I wonder about all the natural water sources on the property and will they be preserved and cared for?  Will they have a septic system like Byers Station where the septic fields smell a good part of the year?

Most of the old and historic buildings and houses on the estate were bulldozed for this “progress”.   They will now build Tyvec McMansions with preposterously pretentious names like “Liseter- The Bryn Mawr Collection”.

Newtown Square is also facing development from that “Ellis Preserve” site which was formerly the Ellis School and ARCO Chemical and other things. I think all in all Newtown Township officials haven’t a clue as to what they have done and in 20 years there will be regrets, and lots and lots of unmanageable traffic and other issues.

Of course no one realistically expected the DuPont Estate to survive intact.  After all, once crazy John went to prison for shooting Dave Shultz how much interest did the family have in dealing with all this? There were three challenges to the will of John DuPont, but never a mention I could find of preserving part of the estate in any way.

So now we are where we are today.  I think Newtown Township Officials DSC_0055should have fought for a less dense plan, but hey they will learn.

Look at the photos.  Look at the savagery of development. Look at all the clear cutting of practically every standing tree and blade of grass and for what?  For plastic houses that will not survive the test of time?  I have said it before and I will say it again: this land looks raped.

I am so glad this isn’t too close to where I live.  But this is the case in point as to why the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania needs to update the Municipalities Planning Code and give municipalities the power to legally hit the pause button on development —- a temporary moratorium as it were.

A few years ago a bill known as HB 904 was proposed in 2007 and 2009 – it was even discussed in an Inquirer article. Lobbyists from the building industry and developers and other  groups killed this bill.

Anyway, the photos speak volumes, don’t they?

final bell “tolls” for foxcatcher farm

Main Line Media News: Historic DuPont mansion goes under the wreckers ball

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013

By Pete Bannan
Pbannan@Mainlinemedianews.com

tollMotorists along Goshen Road in Newtown Square may have seen the final act of the John DuPont saga, as it appears his family home Liseter Hall is being demolished to make way for over 400 homes in the new Toll Bros. development of Liseter Estates.

The house was built by his grandfather for his parents wedding and DuPont grew up in the mansion. When his mother died in 1988 he turned the property into an amateur sports training mecca called Foxcatcher Farms….DuPont died in prison in December 2010 at Laurel Highlands in Somerset County, Pa.

A movie is in the works called “Foxcatcher” starring Steve  Carell as John DuPont.

 

Boom, crash, bang, groan, squeal,thud.  Those are among the sounds structures make when they are being demolished.

John DuPont’s former Foxcatcher Farm on Goshen Road and 252 is basically a big pile of rubble now.

Thanks to Toll Brothers coming in to essentially takeover whatever the last development plan was and “improve” the area with a plan more grotesque than Byers Station or Applebrook Meadows, nothing shall stand in the way now of a Stepford wife development of plastic Tyvec wrapped Barbie’s dream carriage homes, right?

Do I sound harsh? Sorry, am feeling harsh, because although it is not a surprise that this land would be developed, one would have thought that Newtown Township would have had a couple of brain cells left to better manage a plan that is not what this is, which is a total cram plan. But then again, isn’t this the municipality that used to let crazy John DuPont run around and play cop years ago?

I am somewhat irritated by the lack of land stewardship on the part of the DuPont family when it came to Foxcatcher Farm.  All that land stewardship and historic preservation from Winterthur to Longwood Gardens to Fair Hill there is this giant legacy of preservation in the DuPont family.  But not with this property.  Of course, that deal which leads to today’s development seems to have started when John DuPont was in prison.  I think it’s a shame the family couldn’t have stopped it then..  It wasn’t like it wasn’t a known fact that he was crazy as a hoot owl, right?  (However what is happening here should be a lesson to those in Radnor Township with regard to The Willows  and Ardrossan – but heck maybe they will just rename the township Holloway Township, right?)

Anyway, sign me disgusted on this one.  And hope Newtown holds them to good stormwater management, right?  And good septic if they aren’t on public sewer (Byers station reeks sometimes, doesn’t it?)  And did I hear right that Toll is sniffing around some giant land parcel in West Vincent or someplace around there?  Is that true? Lock up what is left of the open space people. That’s all I am saying.

Once the land is gone, it is gone. Once historic homes are gone, they are but salvage and rubble.

 development glory in chester county pa

 

 

there goes the neighborhood

dupontWell, as some may or may not recall I have wanted to photograph the existing structures on Foxcatcher Farm (AKA John DuPont’s old estate) but could never get the people whose name was currently on the gate to call me back (Rouse Group and they were calling it Ashford).

I guess we might want to just call this estate Sybil because it is receiving a name change and developer change.  It’s a four letter word: TOLL.

Sigh…there goes the neighborhood.  There goes that corner.  There goes Goshen Road. There goes all the fabulous old structures on the property.  The developer with the soul of plastic Lego building is the new developer as per Patch449 housing units, can you imagine?

Toll Brothers To Develop 449 Luxury Homes in Newtown Square

Formerly known as the Ashford site, Liseter luxury homes is scheduled to open home sales in January 2013.

By Jennifer Kim  Email the author December 4, 2012

NEWTOWN SQUARE–The estate on the corner of Rt. 252/Newtown Street Road and Goshen Road in Newtown Square–owned by The Rouse Group–will soon be redeveloped into luxury homes by luxury home builder Toll Brothers.

“We were just informed…that Toll Brothers has partnered up with Rouse development to construct Ashford, which will be renamed to Liseter–Liseter is the farm that the du Pont family originally called the property,” announced Newtown Township Manager Mike Trio at a supervisors meeting on Nov. 26.

According to Trio, Toll Brothers has “strictly committed” to the township’s development standards….The township was scheduled to have a meeting with Toll Brothers during the last week of November to go through a permit schedule and fee breakdown. Toll Brothers is expected to start construction by the end of the year. Trio said demolition permits have already been approved and demolition on the site is already taking place…

  • Seven collections of luxurious carriage and single-family homes

  • There will be 449 units in total

Good to know Newtown Township has “strict” development standards.  Given what had been planned for the old Ellis School site, it has been a little hard to tell.

I will tell you what, given what I have seen of Toll Brother developments here in Chester County I really think this is going to be a cram plan of cookie cutter plastic houses to satisfy the urges of the masses to say they live “in the country” and in a “carriage home”, don’t you?

Can we say Byers Station-like? Jean Austin DuPont must be turning in her grave.

How much development is enough?

Realistically I knew there would be a development here once there were no more DuPonts interested in the estate, but this is quite simple too dense a plan close onto an already densely populated area.

Sigh….buh bye open space…