malvern borough…

  I understand The probably there was no way to save the 19 century storefront given the decrepit buildings it was attached to. But this is the kind of waste that makes me crazy because someone has sat on this land for the better part of what? A decade or better?

  This is a clear case of demolition by neglect because the buildings were just pretty much left to rot.

  I am told this was Malvern Borough’s last 19th century storefront.

Oh well. 


show the humble chicken some love, malvern borough

cluck 1Apparently in Malvern they have room for developments no one wants but not chickens.  Not roosters, but laying hens.

I happen to like chickens.  I don’t have any real ones myself, just the milk glass variety, but my friends and family will tell you how I have to stop and look at them and take their picture if I see them.

As a matter of fact more than one of my old neighbors in Lower Merion Township, in the heart of the Main Line kept chickens.  Never roosters, but laying hens.  Just a couple, not a Perdue Farm’s worth. They caused no problems and all had beautifully constructed pens that were basically fancy-schmancy chicken condos. They were even heated in the winter.

Yet here we are in Chester County and as per the Daily Local, Malvern Borough will contemplate oodles of condos no one wants built ghetto close to everything and everyone, but if you don’t have three acres in the borough you can’t have a chicken?  How does that work exactly?  Are you telling me that in a county where you need two acres per horse you need in Malvern Borough 3 acres for a bird that weighs less than a horse’s tail?

Chickens are cool and there is nothing better than literally farm fresh eggs, so I think this is silly.  Heck I have neighbors now who have chickens.  I never hear them, never see them, never smell them.  Chickens are and should be a non-issue.

cluck2Come on Malvern Borough, if you can let developers into your cute town, why not a couple of chickens? And incidentally, Radnor Township is afraid of chickens too apparently. (Read Radnor Board of Health mulls fowl problem )

Anyway, here’s hoping those new borough people and the mayor can become friends of fowls.  I can see not having them in places like condo developments or trailer parks where people have no yards, but a limited number of chickens well cared for in a back yard? Where is the harm?

Here’s the article:

Don’t be chicken, residents urge Malvern

By   Kendal Gapinski, Daily Local News

Posted:  01/24/14, 4:09 PM EST

MALVERN – A small group of residents are looking to change the borough’s ordinance to allow for families to raise a limited number of chickens for eggs.

Ken Neeld and his family have been working to rewrite the borough’s ordinance to allow for families to own “backyard chickens” to collect eggs. Neeld said after looking at other urban and suburban ordinances that allow for chickens, he and his wife worked to draft an ordinance that would please neighbors while allowing residents to raise the animals.

Neeld said his family first became interested in raising their own chickens for eggs around 2012 after visiting the Malvern Farmers Market and learning more about the benefits of eating local foods. He said that his daughters approached him about possibly raising their own chickens to get eggs instead of relying on mass produced ones.

“We don’t want to promote anything that is not good for the animals or for us,” Neeld said. “We wanted to give it a try.”

According to Borough Manager Sandra Kelley, the zoning ordinance classifies chickens and poultry as livestock. Under that zoning ordinance, there must be three acres for the first chicken, and then 0.1 acres for each additional one. Kelley said she was not aware of any movement to allow chickens to be raised in backyards in the borough.

Neeld said that while some residents may be concerned about noise, the ordinance he is proposing limits the number of chickens, follows the borough’s noise ordinance and does not allow for roosters, which can be loud…..He also noted that chickens eat fleas, ticks and leftover food scraps that can lower the amount of waste in households.

“There’s very little downside to it,” Neeld said.

malvern train station….from the way back time machine


I have some amazing readers who will send me really cool tidbits of Chester County history. Today one of them sent me this amazing pen and ink drawing of Malvern train station from January 1899 if I am reading the signature and whatnot at the bottom of the drawing correctly.

So Malvernites this one is for you!

I would love to share the note which accompanied it:

It took a while, but we finally uncovered the pen and ink drawing of the ‘Old’ Malvern Train Station.

I had mentioned my Grandfather was Freight and Ticket Agent for the Malvern and the Paoli Stations. I was born in Malvern so this has a special meaning to me.

Enjoy the day and we wish you a Happy New Year.

Kindest regards,

This photo seen here below is one I took. Just thought it went with the post. It is this photo that was blown up and a version of it hangs in someone’s board room at their Chester County office.

Today and yesterday, local history is important. Thanks Bob for sharing!


ha! political upset sweeps malvern borough (but t.o.d still on the table)

malvern 2

I would be remiss if I did not congratulate the residents of Malvern Borough for taking the first steps to take back their town from developers and council people who have forgotten why they serve in the first place.

***And before I get into more, let me remind Borough Residents that somewhat hidden on the Malvern Borough website is the flyer for the next Transit Oriented Development or TOD meeting (ToDflyer11-19-13 ).*** 

Anyway…while some will coo over political party nonsense of it all, that wasn’t what the write in was about.  It was about standing up for where you live and pay taxes and giving yourselves permission to say “NO”. This is democracy at its best.

Congratulations to David Bramwell, Todd Lexer and Matt Radano.  They are new councilmen-elect.  They crushed their competition on a write-in campaign that the existing regime obviously did not take seriously.  And of course next election you can replace the rest of them too. My top pick for replacement next would be Mr. Woody VanSciver.  The write-in three will have a real job ahead of them and I thank them in advance for taking on a largely thankless job.

Congratulations to the new mayor-elect David Burton.  He won by a huge margin for a small town.  He is a Democrat, but that is not what got him elected.  What got him elected was the desire for change.

And that is what is so truly cool about this latest Malvern political tale.  Much like when Betty Burke rallied the troops in the past, these people did it this time.  It remains to be seen how things progress, but Malvern Borough residents can help by going to public meetings and participating in their future. But much like  “back in the day”, this is a cautionary tale because Malvern Borough residents this journey is just starting.  As they say, you have won a major battle but not the war.

Winning the war means showing some developers the door and sending T.O.D. packing. I mean how can they even talk about T.O.D. now when no one knows what SEPTA is doing? SEPTA stopped service at Paoli before, and they can do it again.  And until that is all ironed out, why not just stop the emperor’s new clothes of it all?

I took a lot of flak as a borough outsider for expressing an opinion about Malvern Borough, but I think Malvern is a cool little town and I really hope it is preserved and not super-sized.

And I am really looking forward to my first Malvern Victorian Christmas as a Chester County resident this year – I have had conflicts on that Friday the past few years.  Malvern Victorian Christmas is Friday December 6th from 6 – 9 PM, and Saturday December 7th from 10 AM – 3 PM.

I will also note again that Malvern Borough pulled a lazy-sneaky and did NOT add a NEW post for the upcoming Transit Oriented Development Meeting but they have it listed as Tuesday, November 19th, 6 PM at Borough Hall.  Borough residents should join their new Mayor-elect and councilmen-elect there.  An old political trick is always to try to shove things in or set them up to get in as one administration prepares to partially or totally turn over. (Why do you think Washington DC is such a perpetual mess?)


Here is some recent media attention on Malvern Borough – note I am only posting excerpts. Please go to Main Line Media News to read both articles in their entirety:

Main Line Suburban Life: Henry Briggs: Nov. 5, 2013: The day Malvern rebelled

Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2013

By Henry Briggs
Columnist, The Scribbler

Democracy can be messy. It can be inspiring. It can be dividing or uniting.

Many people distrust their elected officials. It’s very American, in a way. But usually, the distrust is localized around, as the old saying goes, those whose ox is gored.  If politicians can keep ox owners separate, they get away with it. If not, well…

Over the last few years, a number of ox in the little town of Malvern were being gored, but at first, residents on focused only on their own…..On election day, with T-shirts proclaiming “Do the ‘WRITE-IN’ thing,” Dave Burton and the ‘write-in’ candidates worked the polls all day. On a normal non-presidential election,  about 320 Malvern voters show up. For this election, 799 showed up.

Dave Burton, Dave Bramwell, Todd Lexer, and Matt Radano won by a landslide.

Democracy can be messy. It can be inspiring. It can be dividing or uniting. Or it can be all of the above

Meet Malvern’s new councilmen, mayor

Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

By Linda Stein

In an example of democracy in action the voters in Malvern turned out in record numbers in the Nov. 5 to sweep out the incumbent mayor and three councilmen.

The pace and character of development in the borough was evidently the issue that brought voters to the polls, resulting in the successful write-in candidacy of three residents for seats on the council.

David Burton, a Democrat who won the mayoral race 509 to 266 against long-time incumbent Gerald J. McGlone Jr., said development was the issue on people’s minds as he knocked on doors this fall…..A challenge to a large group of residents who opposed more development was issued at the July 16 meeting by council members, who told them to run for election if they did not believe that Malvern Council represented the will of the people. That brought a write-in campaign, said long-time resident Danny Fruchter.

David Bramwell, Todd Lexer and Matt Radano, who took 68 percent of the vote, according to unofficial totals from Chester County. Incumbents William Macaleer, Robert Coughlin and Zeyn Uzman received about 10 percent each…“They were all swept out of office in a landslide,” said Fruchter, who said that officials who had gotten cozy with developers and were ignoring the borough’s comprehensive plan.

….and then like magic, the robo calls stopped

DSC_0014Election 2013, which was pretty much a local affair for us save some of the judicial retention that I never heard much about but was the flip side of yesterday’s ballot, is over.

The people have spoken.  And even the chairs of the respective political parties in Chester County should listen.

Let us start with Tredyffrin.  I am pleased to report the upset my friend Pattye Benson over at Community Matters is reporting this morning:

In a surprising upset, two Democratic at-large candidates Murph Wysocki and Mark Freed, beat incumbent Michelle Kichline (R) who currently serves as the chair of the Board of Supervisors and Trip Lukens (R), chair of the township’s Planning Commission.    In the middle District supervisor race, EJ Richter (R) beat Laurie Elliot (D).  Prior to this election, only 2 Democrats (Paul Drucker and Mark DiFeliciantonio) have ever served on Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors.  As of Election Day 2013, that number has now doubled.

I am leaving her tea party commentary out of this because that isn’t what the local election results are about.  The local results are about dissatisfaction and enough people from BOTH parties wanting people OUT of office.  I do not vote in Tredyffrin but if I had to guess as far as Kichline goes, her playing possum when Pattye was targeted by another supervisor had something to do with this vote and as far as Mr. Lukens it is a basic matter of development and what people want for their communities.  My hypothesis is simple: he did not listen well enough.

I volunteered at the polls for the first time yesterday in Chester County.  I enjoyed it and was fascinated by how different it was.  What I noticed yesterday as a newbie were the snap judgments I saw given out to people like me by some of the older volunteers because I am open with my opinion.  But if they had been targeted the way I was targeted as a new resident by a county party chair how would they feel about the way politics are done out here? And also what I discovered yesterday is to an extent political volunteers are to be seen and not heard and where are we in the political process without our individual opinions?  Are we all Stepford on this bus?

Part of yesterday I volunteered with some really nice union guys out of IBEW Local 654.  Apparently they were at many polls in Chester County volunteering for the Democratic Party of Chester County.  Honestly, these guys were nicer than a great deal of opposing party volunteers I have hung out with over the years.  They were so nice and made volunteer hours at a sleepy poll pass more quickly. These guys are Delaware County based for their union.

Here they are:

iew654 2

Malvern Borough had an upset yesterday and I am still waiting to hear what happened “officially”, but Malvern Patch shared some exciting news:

The county’s numbers have Democratic candidate for Mayor, Dave Burton, beating incumbent Gerard McGlone (R). Burton received 65 percent of the vote, 509 votes in all, nearly doubling the 266 votes received in favor of McGlone.

The three open seats on the Malvern Borough Council, however, are a little less cut-and-dry.

The three republican candidates, William Macaleer, Robert Coughlin and Zeyn Uzman all received about 210 votes, or 11 roughly 11 percent of the vote. The remaining 68 percent of the vote went to write-in candidates, 1,351 votes in all. This is no doubt due to the write-in campaigning done by candidates Todd Lexer, David Barmwell and Matt Radano


Now as far as I know this blog was the only one who actually reported on these three write in candidates before Election Day (please correct me if I am wrong but I kept looking and looking for coverage of what these ordinary residents were doing), and I hope they ALL prevail in the end when Chester County is finished certifying everything.

Why the Malvern write-in upset is so important is these are regular people who did this without the backing of the two main political parties.  Their actions are based on their desire to step up and be counted.  Their actions occurred because they want to save Malvern Borough from an ugly, overdeveloped future.  These three guys Todd Lexer ,Matt Radano  and David Bramwell decided that the residents of Malvern needed an equal voice in their own existence and future and they stood up to be counted.

I completely believe that the actions of the write-in candidates also swept the new mayor-elect into office.

What has happened in Malvern is really cool.  Instead of just complaining, these folks did something.  And truthfully, they proved local politics are truly local and neither political party can take credit.  They did this themselves.

Over in East Whiteland I expect there will be a recount.  I am told that  Vanguard employee Bill Holmes has retained his seat by NINE or TEN votes over my friend Maureen Martinez.

Maureen should be commended for running a clean and independent campaign.  Maureen didn’t run around with a sidewalk petition for a sidewalk to nowhere that probably will never happen and was just an election gimmick, nor did she have the multi-minute robo-calls bashing her opponent that you could not disconnect. She did her own door knocking and listened to what people had to say and answered questions.  I think she is a rising political star to watch.

With reluctant congratulations, I hope Bill Holmes gets the message that voters have sent him in East Whiteland.  The message is simple and clear and it is that  they want things done differently.  I listened to what people from both parties had to say yesterday at the polls and this is what I learned people want:

  • They want televised meetings and a website that is not 30 years behind the times. 
  • They want current and comprehensive meeting notes that are readily and easily available because I am told the majority of residents in East Whiteland don’t have a clue about a lot that happens.
  • They want abandoned houses and properties dealt with and some better historic preservation
  • They want the route 30 business corridor to not look so embarrassing.
  • They want all the sites with problematic environmental issues cleaned up and dealt with.
  • They want a say in development. East Whiteland might be more commercial than residential, but residents matter.
  • They want fewer conflicts.

Nine or ten votes is not a landslide victory even in a sleepy off-year election.  It’s a message.

In West Chester the upset on the school board is nothing save historic.  Congratulations to Joyce Chester and the rest of her slate. Here is the Daily Local on that race:

WEST CHESTER — The self-styled “better direction” slate of challengers for West Chester Area School Board defeated three incumbents and one other candidate in voting Tuesday.

Using the Democratic Party label, the four challengers defeated Republican Party candidates, including three incumbents.

Joyce Chester, Robin Kaliner, Chris McCune and Ricky Swalm are the four Democratic candidates who unseated incumbent board members Sean Carpenter, Ed Coyle and Maria Pimley and defeated newcomer Pam LaTorre.


In the Court of Common Pleas, the Daily Local is calling the race in favor   Republicans Patrick Carmody and Jeffrey Sommer.

Troubled Coatesville has two new school board members, too bad they couldn’t have tossed the entire old board out.

west vincentWest Vincent I reported on last night and congratulations to John Jacobs and the others!  These candidates had a tough road to get here and they worked hard.  Will next up be to retire Ken Miller?

Congratulations also to my favorite purveyor of local honey.  Carmen  Battavio was re-elected in East Goshen. Congrats also go out to a favorite local farmer.  Farmer Bob a/k/a Robert Lange was re-elected in Willistown. These two should teach other supervisors how it’s done.

Yesterday I was reminded again of how local politics should stay local.

I am happy that robo-call season is over and it is nice that life less political can resume!  Truthfully I do not have the stomach or tolerance for politics that I used to.





trick or treat, malvern borough has write-in candidates!


Just heard the most interesting thing:

Malvern Borough has THREE Borough Council write in candidates for Election Day next week!

Their names are Todd Lexer ~ Matt Radano ~ David Bramwell.

The spirit of Betty Burke is alive and well on Halloween!

Kudos to these people for standing up and realizing that to slow down development stupidity in the borough of Malvern that they need to change the faces of who governs this tiny hamlet. And fast.

If you live in the borough of Malvern please show your support for these people on election day and what they are trying to do which is save your town. Write these people in!

The power of your vote next week is your best immediate voice in Malvern. If I lived in the borough I would vote for everyone who was not the current status quo in office and write in these three. Don’t know any of them, never met them, but God bless them for doing this

Election Day just got more interesting.

Trick-or-treat Malvern.

file under malvern borough does damage control?

malvernHow funny! This blog has “arrived” I suppose in Malvern Borough given the very amusing comment under the article I am about to post.

The article is about Malvern Borough and I presume the Malvern Business Association and borough is doing damage control in light of growing community discussion (including on this blog) on development in Malvern Borough. The article is authored by a writer whom I deeply respect, but I still find the article to be a little obvious on the part of the borough.

MalvernResident Comment1

“Certain blogs”? How funny! I suppose that must be yours truly? Well the reality is I have been at this a long time and I do not deal in “misinformation”. And in the same vein, they want you to believe opinion is bad and opinion is misinformation. Which of course we all know as intelligent and rational human beings is simply not true.

I have never pretended to live in Malvern Borough. Truthfully, I would never live in the borough given the local government issues, which while they ebb and flow always seem to be a problem. And it is highly insulting to say to people in neighboring communities in essence “all we care about is you coming to town and spending money. ” The reality is, none of us have to shop in Malvern Borough. There are some local merchants I try to support but if traffic and parking and development increase, I will go elsewhere. Life is too short.

As for developers? Can we put on the big kid pants for a moment? Developers develop to enhance their profit margins, not because they are secretly altruistic and love everybody to the moon and back. They build, take their profit, and move on. They aren’t “partners” in the community. However, not all developers are bad. I have some that I like. But I do not like what Eli Kahn has done. East Side is too big, too hulking and someone left a comment on my last post about fire trucks? Here (and I quote):

Mary Crawford on October 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm said:

It is my understanding that the fire department in Malvern is unable to service the building in the back as the trucks do not have access. Now the behemoth is in danger of burning faster due to lack of planning. Wasn’t Eli Kahn on the planning Commission? How can you not plan on a fire at some point? All hoses must come in through the front door or through the roof.

Now I know nothing of Eli Kahn and the planning commission, I thought he was part of the business association or something?

The horse is out of the barn on East Side flats and yes I think they are huge and hulking and lacking human scale. And yes I am saying that as a neighbor but not resident of Malvern Borough.

I think Malvern Borough sells itself short by allowing density and development that does not mesh with the small town character of low and old Main Street buildings and Victorian and other older homes on the side and connecting streets to King.

Yes it is my opinion that Malvern Borough should hit a pause button and see how East Side flats fare for a few years before committing to additional large-scale development. And yes I think they need to be more selective about infill development in general.

My opinions are based on research and what I have seen happen in other communities where local government wouldn’t listen to residents and where development has not only torn the communities asunder, it has not delivered the promised pathways of gold.

Azar Habib

The comment above is amusing too. This is the guy who decided on my last post that this little woman was going to see it his way or else. Towns and boroughs should not be hard to drive through. It hardly means that people want to go there, it only means that they can’t get through there….and no we don’t need another sprawl mall or series of big box stores, but what do you think goes hand in hand with those development-wise? And there is still no lack of blight in Malvern Borough. Parts of King around the Flying Pig are prime examples. And just building new buildings is not going to make pre-existing blight go away. But incentives aimed at business property owners might help. State grants for facades and sidewalks and whatever. Not much of that money is around but why not have State Reps and the State Senator seek things like that out?gables

There is this whole build it and they will come mentality. But what is it they are building and who is it who is coming and will they stay? Malvern is a SMALL town. How many apartments does it need, and will apartment dwellers really add to the long term tax base or will they just be more transients passing through?

The only way to decide this is to not grow all at once, but in stages. Which is why Malvern should try living with the hulking behemoth that is Eastside Flats and not rush to approve a 600+ unit Transit Oriented Development (“TOD”) project and other high density infill development.

And one other thing about this Malvern Business Association? Don’t they encompass OUTSIDE the borough too? Into Frazer? What are they thinking about the Route 30 business corridor in Frazer? With the landscape that is dotted with dangerously blighted and crumbling buildings? You know like the former Malvern Meetinghouse that is SO bad that East Whiteland is thinking of condemning it and there is speculation of homeless living in it? Or all the odd rental properties that house a lot of transient immigrant workers that look like they are ready to cave in on themselves the properties are so ill-kempt? Do they know about that sinkhole in the parking lot that appears and disappears where the Frazer Post Office and Nudy’s Café is?

I find it amusing that a couple of columns by Henry Briggs and a couple of blog posts and some limited public discussion has the PR machines revving up in Malvern Borough. Apparently a nerve has been struck I guess?

Anyway, I will keep on offering my opinion when and if the spirit moves me. My opinion is Malvern Borough is one hot mess now and all this development won’t improve it. And that is a shame. I still feel they should embrace their inner small town and work on improving what is already there. Especially since no one knows what Septa is doing. They could cut service past Paoli again, they have done it before.

But the mentality of everyone has to be OK with this is wrong. Everyone shouldn’t be ok with this. There needs to be meaningful community input and there hasn’t been. Just deals made between the Mayor, Borough Council and Developers. The only positive I see in this hot mess thus far is the addition of Kimberton Whole Foods and Christopher’s to the business district. Here’s hoping we’ll all be able to park and patronize them when they open.

At the end of the day I can’t see this from my window. Thank goodness. But I have seen what happens elsewhere, so I can tell you that if this all steamrolls ahead without thought and planning, Malvern Borough will end up hating what they created but will merely leave it for future generations to fix.

What happens in Malvern Borough will also affect OUTSIDE of the borough in neighboring municipalities.

Here is the article:

Malvern warming up to Eastside Flats

Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013

By Caroline O’Halloran

Now that it’s finally taken shape, Malvern appears to be warming up to Eastside Flats, the mammoth mixed-use project on East King Street that has radically changed the face of the borough.

“The majority of people are excited, especially for the new retail coming to town,” said Malvern Mayor Jerry McGlone.

Public concerns about the $48 million, five-acre complex have mostly focused on traffic and parking, but “we worked with the developer to get that right,” McGlone said, “and the concerns seem to have disappeared.”

One level of a bi-level 330-space parking garage has been set aside for shoppers and a surface lot will hold 84 cars.

“Parking won’t be an issue,” promised David Della Porta, president of Cornerstone Communities, the project’s developer in partnership with Eli Kahn and Gary Toll….“It’s big; there’s no question about it,” said McGlone. “But they’ve done a nice job with the façade. And people forget how blighted the area was. To have a residential/retail complex like this is such a big improvement.”

Della Porta said he hasn’t heard any complaints. “If people don’t like what they’re seeing, they’re being polite and keeping it to themselves,” he said. “We’ve gotten more notes, calls and accolades on this project than for any other one we’ve been involved with.”

Pat Reeser, president of the Malvern Business and Professional Association, admits that local opinion has been mixed

Sigh….it’s all alrighty in Spin City….

more thoughts on malvern borough

malvernWho has the most to gain from development in Malvern Borough? Who will get the most out of TOD or Transit Oriented Development? Some have suggested that I narrow my question scope to what will Woody Van Sciver, Malvern Borough Council President gain from all this proposed development in Malvern Borough? (And I was reminded that Woody is a developer too at some place called Monument Management Corp.)  I think after some thought, the answer to this question in as far as who will GAIN from cram plan developments is not the residents or neighbors of Malvern Borough, but Borough officials and developers, and can’t you agree?


When I wrote about Malvern’s growing pains last week it unleashed a flurry of comments. I was accused of writing a post with racist undertones and all sorts of stuff.  I had people say I was being hysterical, which most easily translated is women shouldn’t have strong opinions on anything and should leave all the big decisions to the men folk. Well I am not exactly a women’s libber but I feel passionately about local governments who give away communities and their ingrained character and history and charm for the nearest buck.  I find it to be like a political lap dance.


I will keep writing about Malvern Borough’s foolishness.  Because it is foolishness.  I believe small town politicians are corruptible and forget who and why they serve.  In this case they see the Emperor’s New Clothes and can’t see the forest for the trees on what the intrinsic value and charm is of Malvern remaining a small town.  These elected and appointed officials driving the development bus to nowhere don’t even *get* that developers all over the country try to recreate small towns like Malvern Borough.


Henry Briggs has written another column on this.  I am  looking forward to his column next week, too.  That one is about why Malvern residents are NOT being heard about their own future.

8457330900_c69d4fa589_cLook, please don’t waste your breath leaving me comments that I should basically have no opinion here.  With all due respect, I have a brain and I am not afraid to use it. I am not against growth.  What I am against are these giant one size fits all plans that are the proverbial square peg in the round hole.  This is a small town, emphasis on small.  And Malvern is often quite precarious financially, and the current economy in which we find ourselves in all across this country should cause local governments to exercise caution, not throw caution to the wind.

If Malvern Borough wants to grow, do it responsibly. Allowing developers to shove in developments on small parcels and in a small area so everyone is crammed in like lemmings is IRRESPONSIBLE.  Planning needs to be a partnership between community and government, not government and developers.

Enjoy Henry’s column.

Henry Briggs: Say hello to Malvern Transit Oriented Development

Main Line Suburban Life > Opinion

Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013

Malvern, Pa., once a storybook small town like many around the country, is being beefed up like cows in a holding pen by three different special interests: developers, business people, and governments.

It started at a breakfast in 2008 hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce where Barry Seymore of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission was holding forth.

Woody Van Sciver, Borough Council president, really liked what he was hearing. The subject: TOD – Transit Oriented Development – adding density to areas within half a mile of transit hubs….Around the same time, Eli Kahn, a developer in West Chester, started courting The Malvern Business Association….Kahn’s plan for the biggest development Malvern had ever seen was like free beer at a frat party….Van Sciver, a developer himself, had headed the Malvern Planning Commission  before joining the council and had been heavily involved in drafting Malvern’s Comprehensive Plan, a multi-year effort to define where and how future building and development was to occur…..Because of this background, and the fact that he was Council President, the council decided Van Sciver should lead the negotiations with Kahn.

One developer negotiating with another.

…Malvern is now home to a four story, 45-foot-high behemoth of 190 apartments and a number of stores and restaurants. It stretches nearly a fifth of a mile along the eastern approach to Malvern. When you walk by it, you feel like you’re in Philadelphia…..One recommendation from a recent market study financed by the borough and TOD interests calls for a 12-story, 600 “dwelling unit” high-rise near the SEPTA station….The council has approved plans of another developer for five big houses on a one-acre lot. Still other developers are working on “infill projects,” cramming large, money-making houses and townhouses into whatever bits of land they can find.

Malvern, once a Norman Rockwell small town, has lost it’s magic, irrevocably, at the hands of its own business community, its own government, and developers.



if septa is considering cutting service past paoli, why does malvern need T.O.D.?

malvern train stationI remember years ago as a college student without access to a car when I wanted to go visit friends at West Chester University, if I couldn’t get a ride I had to take a train to Paoli and then get one of those scuzzy cabs to West Chester. And Paoli train station on the side going towards Malvern felt just as creepy and isolated then as it does today.

I was happy when Malvern and beyond opened again on Septa.  And people ride the train.  When I was transitioning out to Chester County for a while I took the train out from the Main Line.  I was going through radiation treatment for breast cancer and a lot of the time towards the end of my treatment I was too tired to drive. This was when Malvern train station was under construction.  It was then I realized there was no handicap access at either Paoli or Malvern – quite frankly during that time I would have welcomed a ramp versus steep stairs – I was just that tired. At Malvern during the heat of that summer I was going through radiation was when you not only had to climb  steep stairs, the train station also had no place for you to sit to wait to be picked up and a car couldn’t get near enough to pick you up.  Instead you had to wind your way through a construction site and around through to the other side via the roads on a sidewalk that was not the best.

So now there is the tunnel and the station is rehabbed (but still isn’t truly handicap accessible) and during the summer Malvern Borough officials were putting on charettes or whatever for T.O.D.  Transit Oriented Development, otherwise known as borough officials see dollar signs and have no brain cells. I wrote about T.O.D. before.

I said then I used to say that TOD stood for Total Of Dumbasses. It is like Groundhog Day for me because I lived through a lot of these Emperor’s New Clothes scenarios when I lived on the Main Line.  It tore apart Lower Merion Township where I used to live and to this day divisiveness truly still exists. And Transit Oriented Development is still a myth of more fiction than fact.

To say that people in suburbs and exurbs and quasi rural areas will give up driving is just ludicrous.  These municipalities and developers should just be honest: they don’t have the ability to put sufficient parking in all this new age urban-like development.  They don’t care so much about the environment and being green, in my humble opinion it is all about the green they can bank in profits. And who suffers? People already living around these infill development targeted sites.

Malvern’s charm is in it’s history and size, much like the village portion of Berwyn and similarly scaled small towns and villages.  I could see making Malvern say sprucing up a little bit more like Narberth which has undeniable charm and popularity, but Narberth does things based on sound planning and well Malvern Borough seems to chase dollars like a hooker looking for money on top of the dresser.

TOD stands to add hundreds of living units. Hundreds as in someone told me in excess of 600.  Malvern is no way capable of handling that many additional living units and cars and people.  That has a trickle down effect to the schools too. And we aren’t talking real estate taxes, we’re talking overcrowding.

TOD in Malvern will also adversely affect their neighbors in East Whiteland.  Much the way Tredyffrin affected Radnor residents downstream along the Gulph Creek when they allowed Church of the Savior and some other things to super-size.  East Whiteland should stay on top of this from a municipal perspective.  No one needs trickle down issues.

So why am I writing this? Because of something that appeared in Malvern Patch that was copied from Plan Philly.

The long and short of it there is a very real chance SEPTA will cut stops off the R5 Paoli/Thorndale Line.  As in NO MORE train service. Stopping at Paoli again.

(See  septa-s-complete-service-realignment-plan-and-letter-to-state-secretary-of-transportation-barry-schoch.original )

eli kahn

So I have to wonder if Septa will even do the makeover planned for Paoli train station?  And if the service is truncated and stops at Paoli, how will Paoli even if their grand plans make it to completion handle the influx?

I put forward that Malvern Borough Council and Borough staff /administration need to be watched.  They want to shove, shove, shove through new development yet they have no substantive planning that I can see. I know what they see- they see ratables.  What is happening (for example) with the Gables Greenhouse property on Warren and Second Ave?  There were a couple of things in Malvern Patch which seem to have disappeared?  The comments indicate on the remaining article that like five houses are being considered for that property?

Malvern Borough has lost it’s way.  They don’t seem to listen to their residents.  They also can’t seem to get much money in the end for development projects.  Remember when people checked out what they were getting in ratables for East King Street/Eastside Flats? See:

During a discussion of the police services and budgeting at the  of Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:

“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.

“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said, citing a financial feasibility study done before the project was approved.

And oh yeah what exactly in the realm of new businesses is Eli Kahn actually bringing to Malvern? Besides Kimberton Whole Foods?

I feel I must say again that in addition to better planning by municipalities and boroughs throughout Pennsylvania, there also need to be updates made to the Municipalities Planning Code.  After all Zoning blames Planning and Supervisors/Commissioners.  Supervisors/Commissioners blame flaws in Municipalities Planning Code.

Want to see bad planning?  Look no further than Lower Merion Township and take Ardmore as an example.  There is a short film surfacing about development there and the fact that when it occurs a lot of businesses and residents will have ZERO parking for two years and reduced parking after that. Why?  Because Lower Merion is essentially giving away land to a developer. I think you can view the documentary short by following this link:

Getting off the soapbox now.  Just been chewing on this a few days.