is the billboard baron trying to return to lower merion for a do-over?

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I am stepping out of Chester County to write about something I still hate: BILLBOARDS.

I grew to truly hate billboards while living in Lower Merion Township. (You can read all the old Main Line Media News articles by hitting up their search archives.)

I received a phone call in 2008 I think it was: “How do you feel about billboards because there is an imminent threat to Bryn Mawr?” When I heard the location, I was astounded. When I heard the proposed size of the billboards, I was also dumbfounded because I was told there were to be two proposed, with sizes of approximately 672 square feet each. That’s I-95 huge on  the equivalent Main Street.

Back then one day I was sitting in a neighbor’s garden and  I thought about those billboards. You see, gardens no matter how small are one of life’s great gifts. But what if billboards became the view? Because for a few small neighborhoods on the Main Line I felt that would be just awful.

We fought those billboards for years between Lower Merion and Haverford Townships.  The billboard cases are STILL pending for Haverford Township I was told a few months ago, but I thought the issue was dead for Lower Merion Township until this afternoon when someone sent me this:

billboard groundhog day 2billboard groundhog day in lmt

It doesn’t take a bloodhound led by Sherlock Holmes to figure out sadly who appears to be back:

catalyst 3catalyst 4catalyst 5catalyst 6

Oy vey, it must be billboard groundhog day right?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When you’re talking about beautifying our communities, how are the billboards beautiful except to the guy fattening his wallet with them?

When these billboard issues are challenged it always seems as if the billboard companies think their First Amendment rights are being denied which I never get. Did our Founding Fathers help create the First Amendment so billboard-company owners could erect billboards in our communities? I believe this is an issue of public health, safety and welfare, yet here we are stuck on “need” versus “want” parading around in a constitutional-rights costume?

And can we all admit light pollution is real and digital billboards have the potential to be EXTRA distracting to drivers?

This same company has billboard nonsense still pending in Tredyffrin for Paoli where they wish to plunk their GIANT digital billboard down at 252 and Route 30 where the Okie Clockworks building is at present. My friend Pattye wrote this summer on her blog about it:

A “Community Not Divided” – The Fate of the Digital Billboard Rests With Zoning Hearing Board – Final Decision October 24
July 26, 2019

Thank you to the many residents who filled the seats of the township building or stood in the back of Keene Hall last night for the Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Thank you to the many residents who last night (and at the two previous Zoning Hearing Board meetings) eloquently delivered their message of “Just Say No” to a digital billboard at the intersection of Rt. 252 and Lancaster Avenue in Paoli.

As the last resident to speak in opposition to the digital billboard last night my words were simple, “we are not a community divided”! For eleven months, since Catalyst Outdoor Advertising first came to the township with their proposal to demolish the Clockworks building and install two large digital billboards and a reflecting pool, the community has stood in complete solidarity in its opposition. We do not want the digital billboard. Period….

So where do we go from here?  After much discussion between the Zoning Hearing Board members, its solicitor and attorneys from the township and Catalyst Outdoor Advertising, a timeline for legal responses from both sides was established. Much of this discussion was difficult to follow but at the end, I asked two questions for clarification; (1) when would the residents who sought ‘party status’ know if it was granted and (2) when would the Zoning Hearing Board make their final determination.

There will be a special meeting of the Zoning Hearing Board on Thursday, October 24 (presumably at 7 PM but not announced). At that meeting, the public will learn which residents receive party status and we will know the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board.

As I said last night to the members of the Zoning Hearing Board, the final decision rests with them– the township heard the public and denied the application for the digital billboard and it’s now up to them to uphold and support.  The public has spoken … this is not a community divided!

Even State Senator Andy Dinniman dislikes the idea of billboards in our communities:

But we are talking about Lower Merion again here.  I am somewhat gobsmacked that they are trying again given the last time they challenged Lower Merion Township on billboards. See article from December 2012:

State Court rejects Bryn Mawr billboard appeal
By Cheryl Allison
callison@mainlinemedianews.com

That space on a wall facing Bryn Mawr’s Five Points intersection will remain blank, following a state court’s rejection of a billboard company’s appeal of a violation order in Lower Merion Township.

On Wednesday, a three-judge Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel upheld an Oct. 14, 2010, decision by the township’s zoning hearing board that an 8 ½-by-34-foot vinyl-wrapped sign on a building at 762-766 Old Railroad Avenue was illegal.

AdSmart Outdoor Advertising Inc. had appealed the zoning board’s decision to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, which in February affirmed the township order. The company immediately took the matter to the higher court, but in March removed the billboard while the appeal was pending…..

The court found that AdSmart had not demonstrated good faith “in failing to seek any type of zoning approval” before erecting the sign, and rejected its request for the award of costs and fees.

Citing case law, Simpson wrote, “A person who completely disregards the requirement of securing a building permit cannot acquire any vested right in the structure.”

Mind you after Superior Court, this went to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court and even THEY said no:

PA Supreme Court: Five Points Billboard Will Stay Down
The court rejected (another) appeal last week.
By Tom Sunnergren, Patch Staff
Jun 4, 2013 10:51 pm ET | Updated Jun 5, 2013 8:10 pm ET

The Five Points Intersection billboard will stay down.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied Adsmart Outdoor Advertising‘s petition for an allowance of appeal, putting what looks to be an end to the longstanding controversy over the billboard that was removed last spring.

“It’s the final nail in the coffin for the Bryn Mawr billboard,” Lower Merion’s Ward 10 Commissioner Scott Zelov told his constituents in an email. “This is another victory against unwanted billboards that don’t belong in our suburban community.”

 

So OMG it IS  LITERALLY groundhog day at least in Bryn Mawr and the other location? WHY?????

Appeal No. 4473
Applicant: 766 W. Railroad Outdoor, LLC
Property: 762, 764, & 766 West Railroad Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
known as tax map parcel nos. 40-00-48496-00-1; 40-00-48500-00-6; and
40-00-48504-00-2
a.k.a. 762, 764, & 766 Old Railroad Avenue West, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
(Election District #10) C 2 Commercial District

The Applicant proposes to install a billboard sign on the exposed party wall between 762 and 764 West Railroad Avenue and is challenging the substantive validity of the Zoning Ordinance, in accordance with the PA Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) sections 909.1(a)(1) & 916.1(a)(1).
The Applicant contends that the Lower Merion Township Zoning Ordinance improperly restricts the development and use of land in the Township for billboards (i.e. off-site premises signage); specifically that 1) §155-93.3 E of the Zoning Ordinance limits the placement of billboards to properties only within the Manufacturing and Industrial zoning district, along with the dimensional requirements for billboards are a) unreasonable, arbitrary, unduly restrictive, exclusionary, and
not a valid exercise of the Township’s police powers, and b) unreasonably infringe upon an affected landowner’s constitutionally protected right to freely use and enjoy the landowner’s property for a billboard, 2) the provisions of §155-93.3 E, when taken together, make it such that there is no area within the Township where a billboard sign would be permitted, 3) §155-93.3 E is illusory in that it gives the impression that billboards are permitted but takes that ability away
with the imposition of the restrictions found in its provisions, and 4) §155-93.3 E is contrary to the MPC and PA case law as to billboard signage. The Applicant also challenges the ability of the Township to require the Applicant to fund an escrow account that reimburses the Township consultants and its legal counsel to provide services in opposition to this challenge application.

The Applicant requests that the Zoning Hearing Board find that §155-93.3 E of the Zoning Ordinance is invalid.  Anyone interested in reviewing the application and plans may review this information in the Building Regulations Division at the Township Building, between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday
through Friday. Anyone requiring special accommodations for the Meeting or the Hearing should contact this office at least three days prior to the hearing (610-645-6172 or  mwylie@lowermerion.org).

It’s that location again years later? WHY????

And who owns the building now? (I never knew back then.)   Once again, everything old is new again…sigh. I no longer live in Lower Merion, but this is craziness in my humble opinion and I had to point it out. I will also note that not only is there the billboard issue in Tredyffrin I pointed out earlier in this post, there is whatever happened to the billboard issue in West Whiteland  for Route 100 that would be next to where there was that fire recently and where does THAT stand?

Billboards are still blight upon our communities.  We have enough screen time every day as it is that we don’t need them supersized and along our roads and in our communities, do we? Yet….

Buckle up Lower Merion and get out the popcorn.

4473 – application – Validty challenge Billboard W Railroad Ave Bryn Mawr

4473 – 766 W. Railroad Outdoor, LLC 762-764-766 West Railroad Ave Bryn Mawr memo 9-19-2019

ZHB notice 9-19-2019

pizap

flooding on schuykill in gladwyne

From Gladwyne Civic Association (including photos):

River Road is closed-it will be closed all day! Coast Guard reports that River will not truly crest until 10:30am, so the worst is yet to come. Photos below are from this morning. DO NOT DRIVE INTO ANY WATER!

THIS IS FLAT ROCK PARK AND RIVER ROAD!

I have friends who live on BOTH sides of the river here – Gladwyne and Philadelphia side.

I think municipalities in South Eastern PA need to redefine “hundred year storms” and so on. This is climate change in action. We used to only get these storms and downpours once in a while and now it’s like they are becoming a far too common occurrence.

meanwhile back at lloyd farm in caln

Readers keep sending me photos of Lloyd Farm and I am grateful. A little dose of vertigo has kept me grounded.

Lloyd Farm. What can I say that hasn’t been said already? This is insanity that this farm house is coming down. Much like La Ronda in Bryn Mawr around 2009, it is a place that doesn’t have to come down, it’s a choice isn’t it?

La Ronda was in Lower Merion Township, which like Caln is a First Class Township. A big distinction is however, that Lower Merion agreed with residents that La Ronda should have been saved. Can we just say plainly that it seems like Caln doesn’t give a crap?

Other things about this site I wonder about is have they checked for graves? I have also heard people say that given the 200 + years of people living on the property there may be burial grounds and is this true?

I think it’s the wrong choice to tear down Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse. I am a defender of private property rights but this is NOT just about private property and somebody exercising their rights. This is about development superseding history.

And I’m sure that Caln’s commissioners and lovely solicitor really would prefer none of us were talking about Lloyd Farm, but how can we not? The Lloyd family gave and did much where they called home didn’t they?

How can we not wonder what it will take to slow the pace of development in Chester County?

Our county is being destroyed. Not all developments are bad but when is the last time we saw one that was thoughtful? They mostly seem like they are all about just cramming as many structures on the property as humanly possible and developers wherever moving onto their next projects.

And this property which as I’ve written before is part of a Penn land grant, has an 18th-century farmhouse that’s historically important with an equally important 1910 addition completed and designed by a noted Philadelphia architect also with ties to Chester County. The history is undeniable.

In 1982 it could have become historically recognized but it never happened. Why?

Lloyd Farm via the familial history is linked to yet another local treasure, Glen Isle.

I am told this developer whom I do not know and was never really aware of before is a local guy. I don’t understand why as a local guy he can’t see what a good thing it would be to save the farmhouse and a little bit of the land around it? I will go back to my point that even Toll Brothers saves the occasional farmhouse in their developments.

Now let’s talk about Caln Township for a hot minute. Time for the residents to change the faces of who govern them every election until they are gone. I don’t know who those commissioners in Caln are working for but it’s certainly not the residents is it? And what about the appointed officials there? Who are they working for? Maybe it’s time to change them up as well, huh? But you have to flip the board of commissioners in order to be able to do that don’t you?

Anyway these are photos that have been sent to me over the past couple of days which are in this post.

I urge residents to keep cool heads. You have every right to be angry about what is happening in Caln. Keep the faith, Caln residents.

I keep saying it but will say it again: our history should not always belong to the wrecking ball and bulldozer.

#SaveLloydFarm

#ThisPlaceMatters

light a candle for the missing

As 2018 draws to a close, light a candle for the missing. I have lit two bay candles.

One candle is lit for Geoff Partridge of Villanova.

One candle is lit for Anna Maciejewska Gould of Malvern.

They have people who love them and the families deserve the answers they seek. My wish as I lit the candles are for the missing to find their way home.

I know neither of these missing people personally, but this could happen to any family.

Here’s hoping the new year brings answers and the missing do indeed find their way home.

Thanks for stopping by.

this is community.

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John Appleby courtesy photo

This is what community looks like. This is what it truly looks like when people come together for a greater good, and to support friends and neighbors.

Geoff Partridge is still missing.

Last evening it was bitter cold down on the Schuylkill, and still they came one by one to Flat Rock Park in Gladwyne for the Candlelight Vigil for Geoff Partridge. People who could not be there lit candles in their own home and posted photos on the event page.

A candle in Phoenix, AZ burned brightly last night during the Gladwyne, PA vigil. Courtesy photo from candlelight vigil for Geoff Partridge event page.

Last night you saw an example of the best kind of humanity. It’s the week before Christmas, and I don’t know about you but I’m praying for a Christmas miracle.

If you know anything concerning the whereabouts of Geoff Partridge please contact police.

And Philadelphia area media? Especially the television stations? Would it kill you to keep showing Geoff’s face on TV? I have seen what you have done with other missing persons, so please help his family out.

img_1440Lower Merion Township? I realize you all are not happy with this publicly but this is someone’s friend, son, husband, family member, neighbor and so on. And you know what? If this was someone beloved in your families these people would do the same for you. That is the thing about this community. I have seen it over the years.

True community like this is magical. Seeing these photos made tears well up in my eyes.

Again, Geoff is still missing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Philly.com Neighbors in Main Line town band together to search for missing man

by Vinny Vella, Updated: December 14, 2018 – 3:40 PM

missing at christmastime: geoff partridge from Lower Merion Township

Main Line Media News: Police, family continue asking for help in finding missing man: car pulled from river in Gladwyne

By Pete Bannan and Rich Ilgenfritz pbannan@21st-centurymedia.com Richard Ilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com Dec 11, 2018

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John Appleby courtesy photo

missing at christmastime: geoff partridge from lower merion township

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This is being posted on Facebook and other social media outlets. Geoff Partridge has been missing for days.  His family and friends are frantic.

Geoff Partridge has been missing since about December 5th from what I can piece together.  And the only media that seems interested is Patch, Main Line Media News, and CBS Philly. Truthfully there is NOT much media on this and I can’t help but wonder why?

Geoff Partridge went missing in Lower Merion Township.  Is Lower Merion not excercising all options to locate a missing and potentially endangered person?  There is so little information available it’s kind of odd.

Does Geoff Partirdge have to be a missing teen or woman?  Or will this turn into one of these Lower Merion missing person mysteries? You know like Toni Lee Sharpless??? She went missing once upon a time in Lower Merion, correct? Or what about Anna Bronislawa Maciejewska from Chester County?  How do these people just vanish and it seems up to ordinary citizens to keep the missing persons cases alive?

When I first saw the missing blasts crossing social media I shared because he came from the township I essentially grew up in and spent a lot of my adult life living in.  He also just looked like a nice person. Kind of what motivated me to share about Anna Maciejewska when she first went missing. Life is short and precious and it costs nothing to pay it forward.

Then I read Geoff Partridge suffered from  bi-polar depression and  between Thanksgiving and the New Year can be really, really hard for anyone experiencing depression. It’s hard enough some years for any of us for any number of reasons.   All I kept thinking is his poor family, not realizing at first I actually know his mother as she and I share mutual close friends.

After I first shared the missing post my friends contacted me to say thank you and to tell me I did know his mom.  And as day after day goes by, I can’t help but wonder what is being said off of the record somewhere that this does NOT seem to be getting the media attention it should?

My friends from Gladwyne and many other residents are combing the area near where his car was found every day for hours.  I have friends with boats on the river who live down on River Road and close by who have been searching.  Even Philadelphia Search and Rescue has gotten into the act, so what gives in the Magic Kingdom that it just doesn’t feel like other than friends and neighbors have a sense of urgency?

Here is what TAPinto Lower Merion and Narberth has had to say:

Gladwyne, PA — Cadaver dogs from the Greater Philadelphia Search & Rescue Team joined the Gladwyne Fire Company Water Rescue Unit Sunday, December 9, searching for a missing Villanova, PA man.  The man’s car was found Wednesday at 1:47 PM partially submerged in the Schuylkill River.

Geoff Partridge, 37, of Villanova, PA, went missing on Wednesday, December 5 at around 12:15 pm.

The car was submerged but the rear end of the vehicle was still showing when it was noticed….The LMPD’s working theory is that the man was washed from the vehicle by the fast flowing river’s current after the car plunged into the frigid water.  The water temperature is low enough that a body could be submerged and unless found may not be spotted until the temperature rises in the spring….Roughly 27 persons, 3 dogs, and 5 rescue boats were employed for the search.  The local team from Gladwyne Fire Company used two boats, the Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue unit provided 3 boats.  Detective-Sergeant Michael Vice of the Lower Merion Police Department oversaw the entire operation.

Ok seriously. Not trying to be critical of law enforcement but Geoff Partridge is someone’s son and husband and friend and so on.  He matters.  Please pay it forward and share this post or the others on social media.

His family deserves answers.

#GeoffPartridgeismissing

geoff partridge

This was posted by someone I know on Facebook.

thanksgiving miracle: stoneleigh is finally safe

This afternoon we found out that Stoneleigh was safe. It’s like a Thanksgiving miracle of the very best kind. Finally, after months and months, the evil yes evil Lower Merion School District let go it’s death grip on the property they had no right to ever.

Here’s hoping that next time Dr. Melissa Gilbert is up for election people remember Stoneleigh when they go to the polls. Here’s hoping Dr. Robert Copeland will eventually be replaced.

Lower Merion School District has a crowding problem because of the infill development in Lower Merion Township. This is why more people wherever they live need to remember Stoneleigh and realize this is a cause and effect situation. The cause is development the effect is overcrowding. Maybe that’s just my opinion but I don’t think so.

(This is why we have to push our elected officials and our sorry excuse for a governor to do things like protect us from pipelines and while they’re at it update the municipalities planning code. The MPC as it goes by has not had a comprehensive update and decades! )

The MPC has to be updated for many things including how they view and guide municipalities regarding suburbs and exurbs. It needs to be updated with regard to open space and land conservation, historic preservation, and much more. The MPC is what guides municipalities, cities, boroughs in Pennsylvania and all of the planning and zoning and comprehensive plan processes.

What happened at Stoneleigh is going to continue to happen other places if the pace of development is not checked. Some may find me to be an alarmist, but it is in my opinion, the simple truth.

If it wasn’t for the heroic efforts of every day people who joined along with Natural Lands and Lower Merion Conservancy, we might not have had such an outcome.

What a wonderful thing for us to learn at Thanksgiving.

If you wish to support Natural Lands or Lower Merion Conservancy please visit their respective websites. We are so lucky to have them in our communities.