linden hall 2019

I have taken Linden Hall’s picture at least once a year since I moved here.

Finally, at long last, the house doesn’t look like it’s in imminent danger of being demolished. But I still wonder what the future holds for this beautiful old house.

First it was going to be offices, and then there was that whole discussion of breaking it up into apartments. But now? No clue.

cheap construction

A friend sent me some of the photos and some are mine. This is a brand new townhouse development. And it’s horrible looking.

Whatever happened to true quality of design and construction?

And people wonder why I have issue with a lot of this development? Look at it.

Linden Hall in East Whiteland- they call it Malvern but it’s Frazer. Surely the developer could have spent a minute more on them? Front end loaded lack of architecture and rickety rears is all they could accomplish?

This is the crap the developers are telling our townships we need. Shall we start the bets now on when they will fall apart? Look at the decks. So cheap.

Be sure to check out the “driveways”. If you noodle around in the development when people are home, you may notice what we did: they seem a little shallow don’t they? Would you want to have your car hanging out into the road when you were trying to park in your driveway? That is so urban back alley.

Even the downspouts seem short, but hey what’s a little water in your foundation over time?

The irony is these townhouses look cheap but they’re not cheap. They are not top-of-the-line expensive, but they’re not inexpensive, either. And they add how many to the school district?

And as I wondered what would happen when they were proposed, everyone is crammed in like lemmings. So you better like all of your neighbors because they are practically sitting in your lap.

Can all emergency vehicles truly navigate this development from all sides and angles?

Welcome to the modern tenement. And here we are in beautiful Chester County and there is also barely a blade or two of grass.

Ugh.

bishop tube plan met with a packed east whiteland zoning boardroom

plan-2

The developers did not show up with very many copies of site plans.  I do not think they were expecting a completely packed room which included people standing for the East Whiteland Zoning Hearing Board meeting on February 27th.

zhb-feb-notice

It was so amazing to see all the people turn out.  General Warren Village and General Warren Village supporters did an AMAZING job.

17078041_1462119317134348_485323212_nAnd they had a powerful and unexpected ally in the room: Maya K. van Rossum, The Delaware Riverkeeper.

The role of the Delaware Riverkeeper is to give the Delaware River, and the communities that depend upon it and appreciate it, a voice at every decision-making table that could provide help or do harm. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network that van Rossum leads is the only citizen action organization that works the entire length and breadth of the Delaware River and its watershed, speaking and working for both its protection and its restoration. Delaware Riverkeeper Network has its main office in Bristol, PA and can be found on the web at www.delawareriverkeeper.org. van Rossum’s blog can be found at http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/blog/ – they have a Water Watch hotline and well, in an era of David vs. Goliath, they give “David” an edge.

Maya was an incredible addition  to last night, and I will get to that later. (she is FIERCE!)

16998854_1462074723805474_8464149577059753216_n

We did have one of the three supervisors in attendance last evening, which I found heartening.

East Whiteland also sent a solicitor to represent at the zoning meeting on Bishop Tube.

Here are some notes taken on the fly – so feel free to add to them or correct:

  • Board of Supervisors responded last evening via attorney to concerns. Township is closely monitoring remediation, impact of remediation, standards and monitoring of remediation etc etc.
  • Township wants safer environment. Township right now in opposition of variance according to lawyer unless certain conditions met with Township.
  • DEP has approved conditions*  BUT township reviewing. BOS is reviewing with EAC and then they will decide whether to object to variance request.
  • March 15 special meeting being asked for by Zoning. The meeting (hearing) was ultimately continued to March 15, 2017 at 7:15 PM  
  • * “Conditions” referred to above Developer expert is talking about conditions discussed with DEP- didn’t catch all – witness for developer was speed speaking:
    ~ Establish a separate environmental escrow associated with development $20 k
    ~ Non refundable deposit to future HOA
    ~ Applicant will remediate 3 major hotspots in accordance with scope of work submitted to DEP – digging out soil as per Act 2. But it isn’t Act 2
    ~No disturbance in 3 soil hot spots until remediation complete (New construction?)
    ~ Applicant will install vapor mitigation systems. Most stringent available designed by engineer. Review said systems, maintain?
    ~ Developer would obtain stormwater permit – county/state – did not catch acronym
    ~developer will provide access to DEP etc
    ~ utilities will be developed to prohibit vapor migration/ groundwater migration
    ~environmental covenant
    ~ developer will comply with local zoning
    ~ developer will document remediation
    ~ until 3 hot spots remediated no construction of residential units.
    ~ developer would submit demolition plans to township and DEP

(NOTE: very abridged version of above – expert was speaking so very quickly and I don’t take dictation professionally so I did my best – I know I missed one of the conditions – feel free to add or clarify in comments.  It would be helpful if media had covered meeting, but I did not see any media there at all.)

  • Something about collecting storm water and capture and release to stream? Not sure if I heard that right . ZHB has concerns about retaining wall and safety- 20+ storm water “systems” – all release to stream. What environmental impact does that have considering existing toxicity of site? How is water cleaned? Whose job will it be to stay on top of that?
  • Final stormwater discharge into / near emergency access so does that mean General Warren gets water?
  • GWV residents are pointing out a shallow stream expected to take developer’s stormwater. Is GWV in part going to be part of stormwater management plan? They say no construction vehicles on village way (developer)?
  • Maya (Delaware Riverkeeper) asking about volume reduction and other things relating to creeks. Asking about correspondence on sampling between developer and DEP. Asking about TCE staying in place?
  • Residents questioning stormwater retention basin(s) and retaining wall.
  • More questions on stormwater runoff into stream and does stream have capacity to handle it?
  • Vapor intrusion being discussed by older gentleman- potential cancer cluster – people with cancer in General Warren Village? (couldn’t hear all of it clearly)
  • ZHB kept quizzing on removing top soil, Remediation , etc
  • Elevation from General Warren Village to retention walls eye level according to developer witness? Residents asking what they would see from Village Way? Someone from General Warren remarked about being able to see from “bathroom windows”
  • Maya the Delaware Riverkeeper talked about the planting of trees and trees they were removing – good point as developers tend to remove and replace NOT with the same size plantings.  And they spoke of riparian buffers, but not what they consisted of or if they would be substantial.
  • Keith Hartman who worked at Bishop Tube is asking questions. He is extremely knowledgeable about site. He spoke about how they used to “dispose” of the toxic chemicals in one part of site in the old days (sounded like they just dumped stuff kind of wherever?)
  • Mr Hartman pointing out toxic hotspots – see dark grey areas – and asking about mineral salts.16997882_1656917767655212_7768959074626449609_n

 

 

  • Mr. Hartman asking about sampling near old parking lots that were near spill. Not sure but it might have been that 1981 incident?

1981-bishop-tube-acid-spill

  • A gentleman (I guess investigator?) from PA DEP   visited Mr. Hartman recently – Marinelli or Martinelli? (Not sure but found a Martinelli listed HERE.)

16996122_1656917777655211_6973859171944418389_nHere are  articles where Mr. Hartman was in the paper – he knows the site SO well:

For Bishop Tube workers, danger lurked for decades

 By Anne Pickering Daily Local

 

Bishop Tube site possibly up for development

POSTED: 07/26/15, 6:47 PM EDT

“Don’t let them blow smoke up your tailpipe,” said Keith Hartman, “those mineral salts must be cleaned up.”

Hartman worked for Bishop Tube when the plant was still in operation. He, like many neighbors who attended the meeting, are concerned of possible health risks to potential residents if the site is not cleaned up properly.

 

In January there was a follow up article in Daily Local about Bishop Tube:

Plans to develop contaminated East Whiteland site resubmitted

POSTED: 01/25/17, 2:09 PM EST

…..When asked what kind of remediation the site needs to undergo before construction can begin, Virginia Cain, a DEP spokeswoman, wrote in an email that the former tubing plant will need soil and groundwater remediation in accordance with cleanup standards set forth in Act 2.

Act 2, also known as the Land Recycling Program encourages “the voluntary cleanup and reuse of contaminated commercial and industrial sites,” according to the DEP.

Cain wrote that the standards in Act 2 can include both statewide health standards and site-specific standards.

When asked if the site is considered a “Superfund” site, Cain wrote that “Superfund” sites refer to a federal program, but that the Bishop Tube site “is currently on the Pennsylvania Priority List and under the authority of the DEP’s HSCA (Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act) program, which is similar to the federal Superfund program.”

17022164_1656917744321881_1116283631204593680_nNow one of the most interesting parts of the meeting occurred between Maya The Delaware Riverkeeper and one of the developer witnesses (some sort of engineer I thought).  It was at the end of the meeting before they called it to continue March 15th.

I was taking notes like crazy and this one exchange was so interesting – I did my best to be accurate but again I do not take dictation and I am not a court reporter, although there was one there:

Maya: “I would have you speak to what in fact what is left for DEP to to review and decide upon and what process is still left?

Two – There also seems to be this suggestion that anytime additional contaminants are found that they are going to be cleaned up, and so this site is going to be cleaned up…and so  I would like you to speak to this issue of whether or not in fact when you are done at this site that all of the TCE and toxic contaminants will be removed, so people don’t have to be concerned about it, or in fact is that not true and you have specifically and carefully with all your  communications with DEP actually limited the scope of your remediation including not going to uhhh saturated soils for example, 12 feet below ground surface, etc?”

 

Witness for developer: “That’s absolutely correct.”

 

Maya cuts back in “You are not? You are limiting, you are capping how much work you will do and you will intentionally leave contaminants on the site and people need to know that.”

 

Witness “That is correct.  Allow me to explain in a way that is no way nefarious…”

 

He (witness)  goes on to explain liability and  an old consent order (??is that right???)  with DEP and state version of hazardous clean up – PRPs – potentially responsible parties.  He goes on into known contamination beyond the scope of their legal responsibility – about how they will clean up so much and then it seems it will be up to DEP to enforce clean up by PRP potentially responsible parties that I guess are former manufacturing occupiers of site?

 

Witness acknowledges issues, discusses how developer will be doing more beyond satisfying their part of old (?) consent order (?) and will excavate three known soil contamination issues of the site above water table, excavate, clean up according to most stringent PA standard, residential statewide heath standard…acknowledges caused contamination of groundwater on site that migrates off site, affects tributaries of Little Valley Creek.  They believe their  soil excavations will have a beneficial effect towards clean up.

 

I do not think enough monies being set aside by developer to pay for experts East Whiteland may need to hire are much because experts are expensive – environmental lawyers and environmental engineers. Monies quoted could disappear quite quickly – those experts bill expensively, right? And what about any monies for future HOA? How does East Whiteland know if THAT is sufficient?

Other questions that  I have include the fire department – as the plans are currently drawn up are there any indications from East Whiteland Fire Department about cartways and whatever you call them? Will all fire apparatus be able to navigate site?  I feel that this  is VERY important – it is not just abut emergency access from General Warren, but will ALL of their apparatus safely navigate the plans as currently available? Those big rigs need room!

A related aside – here are the LLCs on the developer side:

16991694_1656361451044177_7467780664617090460_o 17038963_1656361521044170_6151837136672422606_o16998658_1656361344377521_3476224322423310321_n

As I said previously, O’Neill knows how to do brownfield developments, but what about Benson Companies? I can only find Benson on Houzzz, no current website.  No mention of Bishop Tube on O’Neill’s website so that is somewhat concerning and want to know why? Two words: Linden Hall. Remember when Benson was thought to have been the savior of old Linden Hall? If they received their approvals for townhouses at Linden Hall, how they were going to restore Linden Hall itself as a new office for them? What did we see instead?  Wasn’t it selling approved plans to Pulte and no rehabilitation thus far only minimum maintenance?

And then there is the issue brewing in Tredyffrin Pattye Benson alerted everyone to. Historic Howelleville being their location for yet a total community destroying cram plan? And what of how Radnor residents feel about Benson?  I have to ask can Benson actually be trusted here? Or will residents go through all the heartache and meetings to have these plans sold off to someone else?

I do not recall last evening that the developer’s attorney got into the whys of it all concerning WHY the developer is seeking zoning variances, so will it be the battle cry of “economic hardship”? Or, they can’t build without a variance which would increase density in an already dense plan? And why is any developer’s potential economic hardship a burden a community getting a plan inflicted upon them not by their desire in the first place?

This site is going to be developed, I am not arguing that.  I have never argued that.  But it is a very toxic site because of the TCE and whatever else was left behind and is lodged in the land, the aquifer. How the site gets developed has always concerned me and I ask again, is this the best use for the property?

What of impact on the school district?  How are a few more hundred to potentially few thousand kids from this plan combined with Atwater and any other development large or small going to affect the school district? Has the school district weighed in on this?

Traffic lights proposed?  Who is paying for that if variance is waived? The previous zoning is in place to help preserve open space or farms or industrial from being over developed.

And what kinds of complementary businesses will be added to the surrounding area to support these new homes? Will that zoning need to be changed too?  What is it costing East Whiteland residents in legal fees for all of this now (let alone the future)? Will this plan be one that is truly economically viable for East Whiteland or become another millstone around East Whiteland’s proverbial neck?

Why always townhouses instead of single family homes?  Lighting and noise? How will this development affect General Warren Village with regard to those issues?

I do believe that the Zoning Hearing Board is weighing this all carefully, but I would say that residents MUST keep up the pressure.  Packing the boardroom last evening was a great start.  But there is a while to go.

I have done my best to relay my meeting notes accurately.  Others may add to them.  Of course it would be helpful if the media took an interest. And it would be helpful to hear what development happy Brian O’Leary of the Chester County Planning Commission thinks? Does he have an opinion?  He was around serving in Lower Merion when ROHO and O’Neill’s now defunct Rock Hill Road project came about, so realistically he knows a similarly dense plan THERE was horribly unpopular as was the B.S. developer driven zoning overlay that allowed it, doesn’t he?

And what of the PA DEP? Don’t they have an obligation to make the PRP (Potentially Responsible Parties) freaking clean up the Bishop Tube site???  After all the developer will not be responsible for all that should be done so why when discussion of clean up started here so long ago, it has never happened? Remember that Law360 article from 2014 in addition? Or the memorandum from the case that was in Federal Court over this site most recently? How is it a Federal judge did not get the gravity of Bishop Tube?

There you have it in conclusion – the worst part about Bishop Tube is the longer this goes on the more we have to ask ourselves how we got here and what exactly is the PA DEP going to do about it, let alone the EPA on a Federal Level?  Or what about state elected officials? Duane Milne and Andy Dinniman? Duane Milne was all Mr. Press Release in 2007 but what has he done for anyone lately?

Where is Erin Brocovitch and Tom Girardi when you need him? Call me crazy but I think General Warren Village and neighboring Malvern Borough residents deserve the best thing possible with regard to this plan, don’t you?

Sigh…to be continued….feel free to leave comments anyone who was in that packed room last night.

plan-1

linden hall and the developer(s)

Nightmare traffic. Pretty much daily.  
Does anyone see any actual restoration of Linden Hall? 

NOPE.

Supposedly the developer has an “obligation” to restore the old historic structure, as I presume that was part of the application and conditions of approval, right? But does the developer have to restore the actual Linden Hall?

  I still assert no, because there is nothing in East Whiteland that would make the developer do the restoration, you only have their word. And well, can it be said developers can promise a lot of things at times when they are trying to get projects approved?

All I see is demolition by neglect, don’t you? They haven’t even mothballed the historic structure in an effort to preserve it during construction of the butt ugly townhouses. And quite frankly I am still not sure that the foundations on one side are properly filled in. There is only so long that foundation walls that are a couple of centuries old are going to survive if they are just dug out around and exposed without anything to ensure their survival.

That historic structure which should have been protected years ago is totally at risk. The property is only seen by developers as the money the plastic (and fairly expensive) townhouses will generate. To a municipality, new development = some ratables but that is never as much as you think it will be and a one off, correct?

 

What do residents get out of the whole proposition? In my opinion, not much. 
None of us move to Chester County for plastic mushroom Tyvek wrapped housing, we move for the beauty , history, and the open space. The farmland, a better way of life. But how is our life better if acre by acre Chester County is been gobbled up by developments?

Has anyone seen how close that one development is to St. Peter’s in the Great Valley? Does anyone care?

Developers don’t care about what makes life special to those of us who live here, if they cared about cornfields and old houses and forests and fields they wouldn’t buy so many and plow them under for plastic mushroom Tyvek wrapped townhouses and McMansions. 

 
Traffic is absolutely ridiculous on Route 30 anywhere near Route 352 and Linden Hall. 

And today it was downright dangerous because there were so many frustrated drivers who were just throwing themselves into reverse and doing U-turns in the oncoming lanes of traffic to escape the traffic. Headed west on Route 30 (Lancaster Ave.) you can’t make a left turn onto 352 at this point. That also makes for a lot of confusion and great inconvenience to motorists.

It is bad enough that most of this new development looks cheap and all crammed in, but what’s even worse is everyone has to put up with the pain of the development occurring.

And what will all this development that falls within the Great Valley School District do? How long before the school district is completely over crowded? Does the school district even have any contingency plans or projections for this? Because it’s not like all this development is for empty-nesters.

I had to go through this intersection of Route 352 and 30 twice today. Each time I spend a minimum of 35 minutes trying to just get through a very short distance. As residents of Chester County, our time is worth something. It would behoove East Whiteland to not only sit on the developer about the restoration of Linden Hall actually occurring instead of just the abuse to the structure, but actually sitting on them so people can get through the darn intersection and that stretch of road.

Linden Hall just sits there and looks more sad by the day. Traffic just gets worse by the day.

  

historic preservation in east whiteland?

DSC_3517If you noticed I phrased the title of this post with a question mark at the end. I have to as much as it pains me, because after almost five years I am still trying to figure out what the East Whiteland Historical Commission actually does and what historic preservation means in East Whiteland.

Yes they have a page on the East Whiteland Township website. But it says nothing. Except they meet once a month. There are no meeting agendas posted or archived on the township website that can be found and the same can be said for meeting minutes.  Yes they meet once a month but people have lives and it is a nice theory to attend their meetings every month of every year, but wouldn’t it be easier if they simply posted an agenda? And meeting minutes after the fact?

For years all I did was go to municipal meetings.  We live in the Internet age, we should be able to discover what is going on via each township website if it does not happen via local access television. And every other historical commission or whatever a municipality calls their historical preservation committee pretty much does that. They post information. They host events. They interact.  They are generally speaking, really cool people who really care about the history of where they live. Willistown, East Goshen, Radnor, and Lower Merion Townships come to mind immediately. You might not always agree with what the various independent hstorical societies or municipality based historical commissions do or don’t do, but you can find them. They don’t act like a social club meets secret society.

Look at Historic Sugartown and Historic Goshenville. That is preservation in action. Those were two things I checked very soon after I came to Chester County. And the Historic Village of Yellow Springs was a favorite before I moved to Chester County.

East Whiteland as a municipality is one a lot of people do not recognize.  It is a place people go through. There is no town center. It’s identity gets lost in the “Malvern” of it all. And Malvern is in how many municipalities? None of this is East Whiteland’s fault, it is just the way the township evolved with it’s place in Chester County.

25436243550_70dfd2181d_oEast Whiteland has more commercial “residents” than residential “residents”. But it is a cool place with a lot of interesting history. And the history is at risk, because much like a neighboring municipality (Tredyffrin) there really is not anything written down anywhere that can save historic assets.  Not that a lot of municipalities in Pennsylvania are truly protected when it comes to their historic assets.

There are a lot of people with good intentions in Pennsylvania but the truth is if you go through the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania there isn’t enough on historic preservation – there is guidance but the truth of the matter is Pennsylvania does not make it as enticing as some other states do with regards to rewarding people for historic preservation. A number of states offer a tidy bit of “encouragement” in the form of serious property tax abatements, credits for rehabilitation, including owner-occupied residential properties, and tax deductions for easement donations. (See preservationnation.org and truthfully historic tax credits in other states are a little shaky in a funky economy according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.)

I have watched as historic structures have fallen. Literally. I watched it happen with Addison Mizner’s La Ronda which stood until the fall of 2009.  And even the extremely well-heeled and politically connected Lower Merion Township could save that beauty. And they tried. It was one of those rare occasions in that politically over-active township when all residents and factions came together with the purpose of saving La Ronda. The sad thing there is the commissioners vowed after La Ronda fell to do better at historic preservation.  Residents, sadly, still wait for that as they fear every new development plan.

At a recent open house at Loch Aerie I encountered some woman from the East Whiteland Historical Commission.  Seriously, if she could have willed the ground to have opened up and swallowed me she would have. Her name escapes me. She mentioned that Loch Aerie was going to be discussed at an upcoming meeting. I asked what it was they were going to do to save the mansion, what could they do?  Blank stare. What did I mean? (Yes, really.)

So I asked about other historic preservation efforts namely Linden Hall also on Lancaster Ave at the foot of Route 352. She tells me it is saved. I asked if it really was since the only thing that had really occurred was the developer said they would save it during plan approval stage, but they in truth don’t have to save it as there was nothing to make them save it.

And Linden Hall just gets more and more sad by the day. The stick frame cheap looking townhouses are going up all around her and Linden Hall? Just sits there and continues to deteriorate.  If Linden Hall is being preserved and it was a condition of development approval from another developer different from the one now building the surrounding townhouses, when is preservation set to begin? Is there a date? A plan? A time line?

16860856838_1dcdf2a84c_oThere has been increasing media attention on the fate of Loch Aerie. That has not been generated by the East Whiteland Historical Commission. It has been generated by concerned Chester County and East Whiteland residents NOT part of the East Whiteland Historical Commission or having anything to do with the township at all. But East Whiteland residents and those in Chester County concerned with historic preservation would love it if the East Whiteland Historical Commission were more visible and consistently verbal. They had media at a recent meeting because residents told them when the meeting was, not because they were invited.

Look East Whiteland is not the only municipality that needs to be more active and consistent in historic preservation, but the needs are pressing in this particular township because of structures like Linden Hall and Loch Aerie.

Loch Aerie has been described by more than me as being Chester County’s La Ronda. Only there is a chance here if everyone pulls together of Loch Aerie NOT succumbing to the same fate as La Ronda, which ceased to exist on a brilliant fall day in 2009.

Here is the press thus far on Loch Aerie (and more is coming now that the Philadelphia Inquire put her on the front page of the Sunday paper):

Updated: APRIL 10, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
by Kristin E. Holmes, Staff Writer Philadelphia Inquirer

SavvyMainLine: Villa & Shipley alumna/author J. Knoll comes clean about the gang rape in Luckiest Girl Alive, plus other brave souls & a mansion worth saving

Philadelphia Magazine: Could Chester County Lose A Piece of Its History?

The historic Loch Aerie mansion goes up for auction next week. Local preservationists vow to save it. APRIL 12, 2016 AT 8:00 AM

Vista Today: A Diamond in the Sprawl, This Historic Chester County Mansion is Heading to the Auction Block Posted By: Lance KnickerbockerPosted date: April 11, 2016

the federal government is letting the kennedy-supplee mansion ROT

 

In case you’ve ever wondered why we can’t trust local government to protect historic assets or structures that should be historically protected  (like Loch Aerie and Linden Hall in East Whiteland Township, Chester County) look no further than the glorious example set by the Federal Government.

Witness demolition by neglect of the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion on the edge of Valley Forge Park as seen from Route 422.

  Yes, our government at work. This mansion is owned by the National Park Service. Apparently they are looking for a tenant:

National Park Service (NPS) at Valley Forge National Historical Park is accepting responses to the Kennedy Supplee Mansion Request for Proposals (RFP) until a responsive proposal is received or the RFP is cancelled. Please refer to the RFP for more information.
Site tours are now available. Please contact Patrick (Pat) Madden at pat_madden@nps.gov for more information.

How about that? Have they taken a good look at the mansion lately?

It is simply shocking.

The Daily Local had an article about the renting out of historic properties in Valley Forge in 2015.

  This mansion was once in the tiny town of Port Kennedy which was pretty much swallowed by Route 422. It has Route 23 on the other side. 

The Italianate style 19th century mansion was last used as a restaurant until they went belly up. Since then it has sat and rotted. It has it’s own Wikipedia page.

It is part of that same HABS study it seems that also wrote up Loch Aerie.

Summary from the Historic American Buildings Survey is found on the Wikepedia Page. It is very interesting.

But the moral of this story remains if our own Federal Government doesn’t maintain the historic structures or assets they own, how on earth can we ever be confident in historic preservation on a local and state level?

It’s just so damn pathetic.

#thisplacematters too.

Thanks for stopping by on spring snow Saturday.