if this is progress, we soon will be living in stepford

DSC_7852

99 Church Road, Malvern, East Whiteland ,Chester County a few weeks ago

A few years ago in 2013 I asked rather tongue in cheek if a Toll Brothers development was what Stepford might look like. Now Toll Brothers might not like my opinion but since the whole Crebilly scenario erupted, I daresay my opinions are mild when Image result for stepford wives outsidecompared to some. (Had to get that whole opinion/First Amendment thing out of the way.)

Sadly I am only half kidding about the Stepford of it all.

We are becoming a place where people no longer say what town they are from.  They reference where they live by development. Not by road, town, township, borough, or city. By development.

Ok, so that is how you identify? That is your entire self-image? Your development or subdivision defines who you are?

Every time someone does that, I pause.  I can’t keep track of ALL of the developments, especially in Chester County, can you?

As I said in 2013,   Can you imagine what that next  Appledumb, Mountainfake, Potters Field, and Byers Remorse will look like? (Can’t keep track of all the municipalities and doofy names of developments or developers so pardon the comedic license.)

99 Church Road in Malvern was sold off to become “Great Valley Crossing” a Toll Brothers Community.  Here is the Toll site: Great Valley Crossing.

DSC_7853.JPG

Welcome to Naked Acres, err…Great Valley Crossing

Once before the plans were approved this property at 99 Church Road came up in an East Whiteland meeting.  They showed up in subsequent meeting minutes which have disappeared from public view on East Whiteland’s website, but I saved a screenshot:

5-14-14-ew-supervisors-meeting

The date title of this screenshot was 5/14/14, so I don’t know if that is 100% accurate or the date I saved the screen shot.  What I do know is this screen shot was from Supervisors’ Meeting Minutes before Mott stepped down.

I read with some amusement the description of this now christened Great Valley Crossing.  Here is a screen shot:

Heaven starts at $649K++. Choose from four models with jumped up, preposterous names.

Oh the “model” names. It’s like you are buying a car.  So not only will you be identified only by the development you buy into, but will be known by your house model.  Where is the “Tara” model???

Related image

Oh Mr. Developer Rhett, I would like to live in the “Tara” Model. “Twelve Oaks” is so 1863!  (FYI: Tara & Twelve Oaks were mythical plantations featured in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.)

Relaxed atmosphere of “country living”? Oh.Come.On. Have these marketing geniuses sat in traffic in Chester County lately?? Sadly, it’s less like country living and often more like King of Prussia mall traffic at rush hour. You can’t even garden the way you want to in a lot of these new developments. It’s all controlled and maybe soon the husbands can rejoice that out here in New Stepford, the developments will define wifely attire too?

(Hold me back, New Stepford is a comin’ ! Individuality is BAAAAAD!)

And as THIS development goes up and others are in the pipeline, for how many years will the Great Valley School District remain “award-winning”? Hows about we try “over-crowded” on for size?

Here are the plans for this development I found on East Whiteland’s website. Follow the link.  All developments are magical through marketing until ALL OF THE PEOPLE WITH ALL OF THEIR CARS move in.  Then everyone complains. “Too much traffic” “I thought our taxes were supposed to go down?” “Where is the open space?”

And speaking of marketing, East Whiteland is marketing itself as “The Heart of The Great Valley”.  How much of the ACTUAL Great Valley is still left? Great Valley has gone from having fascinating and important history with regard to this great nation to being a series of corporate centers, strip malls, and developments.

Speaking of history, I discovered this really cool report on the PA Historical and Museum Commission website. It is called The Great Valley Historical Agricultural Region, 1750-1960.

Completely fascinating. Have also uploaded here: great_valley

Here are some shots from 99 Church Road circa 2012:

99 Church Nov 201299 church Nov 2012 b

Also found this aerial shot on Google:

99 Church Rd

This is another 41.50 acres of open space/farmland that will never, ever come back.  And as per a comment on a blog post from 2016, the  development’s “open space” is actually unusable flood plain land, apparently? So these houses are clustered on what land can actually be developed?  And what will the “roads” of this development look like? Will they be wide enough?

And let us not forget in just this part of Chester County, there is OTHER development happening the Great Valley School District…not just East Whiteland, although East Whiteland has the lion’s share. (Refer to this post from early August, 2018)

I will ask again, and keep asking: Chester County residents, do you want the entire county to look like this?  Didn’t some of you move out here to escape this in the first place?

Signing off from Happy Dell Acres (no, not a real place that I know of but I feel like I have to give the area where I live it’s official dumb development name.)

 

this is living?

Snapped these two photos as a passenger on Route 202.  These developments are perched right on the highway.  As a matter of fact the second photo shows an additional phase of one of these developments where you could literally open your front door if you lived here and spit on cars going by on Route 202.

I have to ask: this is living?  Seems kind of gross and very sad to me.  I don’t get the whole move-out-to-the-country-and-hear-the-highway thing…

DSC_0011

DSC_0012

this is progress?

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

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

But that never happens, does it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

love of the land

DSC_0004Last night I went back to the Main Line for a fundraiser for a friend. As much as I love the area I spent a lot of my growing up years in, I discovered last night I truly no longer miss it.

I miss some of my friends, but you see like it or not to Main Line and city people, I might as well be living in Iowa – Chester County is that foreign to them and seemingly so far away.

But in Chester County I am happy.  And one of the things that makes me happy out here is the sheer beauty of a great deal of the surroundings. (And meeting so many nice people doesn’t hurt either!)

The fuzzy and grainy photo I still like was taken last evening.  It is one of our iconic settings out here I think- The Radnor Hunt Club.  The club is always a thing of beauty to me, sitting on her hill surrounded by those fields.

But last night I was reminded again of how the beauty can change and grow ugly when we reached a certain part of Goshen Road (Delaware County portion). As soon as you hit the boundaries of Foxcatcher Farms, the old DuPont Estate it changes.   On Foxcatcher Farms, the old DuPont Estate. Toll Brothers has all but stripped the land bare.

I have never quite seen the raw effect of development as clearly as I did last night in the twilight.  The land that was once so beautiful and dotted with majestic trees and quite a few old farmhouses is essentially stripped.  It looks like what it is: a victim of apocalypse by a developer.  It is so incredibly jarring and sad.

We all know Toll Brothers gobbles up land in Chester County with their insatiable appetite.  You want a first hand view is worth a 1000 words?  Drive down Goshen Road to see what was the DuPont Estate.

DSC_0008I think it is important, and in that vein will mention something no other media has thought to cover other than Malvern Patch.  It concerns Toll Brothers and their desire to expand Applebrook Meadows into its second phase.

I am sorry, but Applebrook Meadows is ugly.  Unless of course you want to live in a development of samey-same homogeneity.  It is truly like Barbie’s dream house gave birth. Over and over and over again.  Just like Byers Station is ugly (and their sewer fields stink there – but it is all Stepford and la la, or is it?)

Anyway, Malvern Patch is reporting that  Toll apparently did not meet some condition of land development:

Back in October, Willistown granted a land development request to Toll Brothers for the second phase of its Applebrook Meadows development, contingent on eight conditions.

The one condition tacked on at the last minute—a third-party perc test—proved to be a sticking point for the developer.

At its Feb. 11 meeting, Toll Brothers representatives were back before the Board of Supervisors with an upgraded, costlier water management plan, again seeking land development approval for Phase II, which would add 53 new houses on the way to a total of 138.

Instead, they got a pop quiz and were told their request would be tabled pending review by the township solicitor.

Alyson Zarro, who represented Toll Brothers at the meeting, said the new plan would upsize basins to accomodate future needs of neighboring Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital.

Board Chairman Robert Lange called the incorporation of the hospital a “good move for PR,” but said he was suspicious of why Toll Brothers abandoned its original proposal less than 48 hours after the independent perc test was required.

“Why do you have to change plans if it’s going to work? I don’t know why that happened, I have my suspicions.  I think you thought you could do it a cheaper way, a more economical way. And if it did fail down the road, we would have a problem on a PNDI site. Toll Brothers would have sold their units and moved on,” Lange said, before laying out a possible chain of events.

“Water may or may not perc. If it didn’t perc, it overflows, it goes onto a PNDI site, it goes onto the barrons. The homeowners association is going to be very upset. They’re going to come back to the supervisors, saying we did not do a very good job. And, it’s a mess.”

 

I am a realist, you can’t stop development unless you get really, really lucky, but it needs to slow down. It has to slow down.

So in my round about way, I am spinning another cautionary tale of how the beauty of the land will in the end be fleeting if we all don’t collectively wake up and have better stewardship.

 

if stepford were a real place, is this is what it would look like?

Chester County residents, do you want the entire county to look like this?  Didn’t some of you move out here to escape this in the first place? Can you now shudder at what that old DuPont Estate will look like?  Can you imagine what that next  Appledumb, Mountainfake, Potters Field, and Byers Remorse will look like? (Can’t keep track of all the municipalities and doofy names of developments or developers so pardon the comedic license.)

DSC_0076

DSC_0075

there goes the neighborhood

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

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

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

Toll Brothers To Develop 449 Luxury Homes in Newtown Square

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

By Jennifer Kim  Email the author December 4, 2012

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

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

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

  • Seven collections of luxurious carriage and single-family homes

  • There will be 449 units in total

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

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

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

How much development is enough?

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

Sigh….buh bye open space…