happy days farm under contract to a developer?

Months ago I wrote that Vanguard was selling Happy Days Farm. I had expressed my opinion that they waited for Mr. Bogle to die.

Happy Days Farm was once home to the Supplee Family in modern times (I think from some point in the 1940s.)  Mildred and Warren Supplee were well-loved by their community and were married for 75 years.

Happy Days Farm is STILL actively farmed by tenant farmers who are WONDERFUL people.

Just now I learned Happy Days Farms is under contract to a developer? And that means that if they don’t buy it for some reason there are undoubtedly other developers right behind them, correct?

Vista Today has the story and allow me to quote (and note they republish things from other sources in this case the Philadelphia Business Journal.)

Here is an excerpt of what Vista Today said:

Happy Days Farm, a 246-acre property in Exton that is currently owned by Vanguard, has been put under contract by Audubon Land Development, writes Natalie Kostelni for the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The property near the Downingtown Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was put up for sale by Vanguard in March after the investment giant kept it for two decades as a possible expansion site.

Thanks to its excellent location that can attract traffic from a large demographic area, the property was expected to receive significant interest from developers.

For the love of all that’s holy, IT IS STILL A WORKING FARM!

Now Audubon Land Development, who are they? From their “about” section of their website:

ABOUT US

Audubon Land Development Corporation is a family owned and operated business with over 50 years of development, building and management experience. Audubon Land affiliates have built over 3,000 homes in eastern Pennsylvania, as well as many commercial facilities including apartment complexes, the Audubon Square Shopping Center, The Hilton Homewood Suites in Audubon, the 422 Business Center, The Hilton Garden Inn at Oaks, the Marketplace at Oaks, including Target, Lowe’s and Regal Cinemas and the Greater Philadelphia Expo in Oaks. Audubon also has under development, the 2,500 unit Shannondell Retirement Community, with 1,000 units completed.

Oaks. That hideous complex that always seems dirty? The Philadelphia Expo Center? Have you been there? It’s part of the long stretch of 422 development hell, isn’t it?

I have no issue with Shannondell as their rehab center does a lot of good but don’t we already have a lot of warehouses for seniors out here? And let’s be honest, is a place like Shannondell affordable for your average senior citizen?

Maybe a lot of you aren’t familiar with the whole other side of Montgomery County that is Audubon and Oaks and up Egypt Road and 422? I actually am because our son went to a charter school that pulls from these areas and a lot of friends lived over in this direction.

If you think King of Prussia is bad you have not seen anything until you’ve experienced this area. When you travel along places like Egypt Road and other areas back here in Audubon and Oaks you see strip mall after strip mall and development after development and in between you have these tiny pockets of humanity trying to survive in the midst of it.

This area actually reminds me of King of Prussia as the mall grew. And I say that because I am just old enough to remember when you were along 202 near the King of Prussia Mall years ago, there were still these cute little houses along 202 that people lived in.…until they gave up.

Is this the fate of Happy Days Farm?

I will note that Philadelphia Architects and Buildings  dates the farm as circa 1730 to 1780. They also have a 1995 site plan. I also discovered it is part of some Watershed H (Brandywine Creek, East Brandywine creek?) and there is an archeological and historical survey report.  And this abstract document from 1998 would also be of interest.

Also a few months ago, it took some digging but I did indeed find a 1998 PA Historic Resouces Survey Form. You can click HERE and I am uploading it here: H067961_67867_D. It’s fascinating and what did this survey lead me to? Oh yes, another Penn Land Grant and possibly part of Native American Hunting Grounds:

The origins of Happy Days Farm can be traced to two early land grants from William Penn, Proprietor of the Province of Pennsylvania. One tract of 1,000 acres was granted to James Claypoole in 1682. James Claypoole was an English investor who purchased several land grants in Pennsylvania, but never lived there. The other tract of 1,666 2/3 acres was granted to David Lloyd in 1703. David Lloyd was a land investor who owned a considerable portion of what became Uwchlan Township in 1712. In 1713, the heirs of James Claypoole sold 800 acres in Uwchlan to David Lloyd. In 1714, Lloyd sold to Joseph Phipps an 800 acre plantation that included parts of the two Penn grants.

The description on the 1714 deed of a “messuage, tenement plantation tract” indicates that there was already an established farm and dwelling house. Joseph Phipps was among the early Quaker settlers who requested the formation of their own meeting in Uwchlan Township in 1712. At the time, most of these Quakers were living on land owned by David Lloyd, so Joseph Phipps was probably living on the land he later purchased. Between 1712 and 1715, most of David Lloyd’s holdings in Uwchlan Township were deeded to early residents such as Phipps. The first tax records for Uwchlan Township occurred in 1715. Joseph Phipps was one of eighteen names recorded on that list and one of the greatest landowners. 280 years later, descendants of Joseph continue to live in Uwchlan Township.….For much of the eighteenth century, the Phipps family prospered. As Joseph’s children grew and married several houses were built on the family lands. Some farmland was divided, but the  “home farm” and approximately 400 acres remained intact through the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century witnessed the growth of a new agricultural industry – the dairy farm. Chester County became known for its dairy farms. By the 1880’s, 85 individually owned dairy farms prospered in Uwchlan Township. The Phipps families owned several. 

Happy Days Farm is the only farm property that remained in the Phipps family for more than two centuries. Members of the Phipps family were active in several area churches including Uwchlan Society of Friends and Windsor Baptist Church. Phipps participated in the organizing and prosperity of the Uwchlan Grange. Residents of this early farm accomplished their goals. They may not have been famous, but they were excellent examples of nineteenth century Pennsylvania farmers.

This is Uwchlan Township for Happy Days Farm, I believe. But what happens here doesn’t just affect the tenant farmers and the residents of Uwchlan Township, it affects all of us in Chester County.

It’s like we don’t matter anymore. Existing residents don’t matter anymore. It’s just all about the crazy race for development.

Like Lloyd Farm in Caln, Happy Days is part of an original Penn Land Grant, correct?

Why doesn’t that mean something anymore?

Chester County wasn’t founded for fields of Tyvek boxes and strip malls and apartment buildings.

And look at the stresses on our infrastructure now. And someone else said to me recently that people talk about the stresses on the roads and the first responders and the school districts but they don’t talk about things like the stress on the hospitals. They said:

….the strain is here and growing. I work in an ER and this week we have gone on pre-divert and divert status 3x. The hospital is full and people are being admitted but have to stay in the ER since we have no beds upstairs….several patients ask …why the wait is so long and I discuss with them the issue of the exponential population growth due to poor planning of high density housing all around the area. When I start listing the neighborhoods then they suddenly understand why we are facing a crisis.

Again, also look at the school districts. Isn’t Great Valley looking to expand and build more schools? And what of Downingtown School District? Isn’t there a whisper of eminent domain floating around as they also need land to expand and build more schools? And hasn’t the West Chester Area School District got plans in place for yet another elementary school over near or in that Greystone development? And what about Tredyffrin? How long before they need more schools or need to expand?

Chester County, now more than ever, the agricultural and equine heritage and open space HAS to matter! Residents have to matter! The future has to matter!

We are literally in the midst of a development glut, right? So what happens when this developmental gold rush is over?

No one ever talks about that. I do not believe it is everyone will settle in and get along nicely. I think we are setting ourselves up as communities for decades of problems going forward because there is no balance or sane pace to development.

And this is why I don’t like development. And why I am not a fan of organizations like the Chester County Planning Commission and their Landscapes plans. In my humble opinion, which I am allowed, this “build it and they will come” attitude is problematic. What happens when all of “they” come? It looks pretty on schematics and diagrams and plans to be shown at municipal meetings, but what is the reality? My opinion is in reality we’re not going to be able to handle it because we can’t handle it now and how is that progress?

I don’t know what else to say other than if we can’t stop the madness, we need to stem the tide. This is getting crazy. And happy days farm just makes me sad. Especially because it is still a working farm and farmers matter.

I’m getting off my soapbox now. I really didn’t intend for this to be such a long post and there’s nothing I can do personally to stop this from happening but I can express how I feel about it. At least the First Amendment still gives me that right.

To Happy Days Farm and the generations and families who have farmed you, including the current family, I say my heart broke a little more over this news. I am so terribly sorry that as human beings we can’t do better to preserve what our founding fathers fought and bled for out here.

Chester County we have to do better.

dear developer, if you are going to preserve lloyd farm’s historic farmhouse…actually DO IT

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Reader submitted photo. Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse. 2019

I received a message overnight:

I am hearing from  neighbors (across from Lloyd house) the developer isn’t tearing the circa 1795 house down. I hope that’s true! A bunch of us walked the house. Teens have vandalized it yet the house is solid. Something like 9 bedrooms!!

I met a lady in town whose mother grew up there. Her mother’s mother died when she was young so the father took a job at Lloyd farm taking care of the stables and horses and they lived in the house with the Lloyd family! (We assume based on dates it was the Lloyd family)

Sending photos I took. It’s such a huge old house.

Abandoned Steve photography documents old Chester county houses before they’re torn down. He took photos as well. His are better than mine.

Lloyd Farm. Sigh.

In December 2018 I had posted about Lloyd farm in Caln being at risk. Sources tell me that they had quite the crown turn out the other evening who turned out to protest this?

Things that people are worried about include will that historic farmhouse be torn down no matter what? Is it true that farmhouse does indeed have a fairly new roof and if this land was part of a William Penn Land Grant as in the guy who settled PA, how can this even happen? And what about the component of the big pipeline easement? How should that affect density of any development plan?

Things also being wondered about is this developer just looking for plan approvals to flip the parcel with approvals to yet another developer? And is this developer the guy who owns Suburban Propane?

Is it true that Caln’s solicitor was snippy with residents? And isn’t she the same gal who USED to hold or holds a similar position in West Goshen? East Goshen? Does something in Easttown and more places? Why does she seem so pro-development? Is she going to be mad I ask these questions? Aren’t we allowed to ask these questions? Will she try to stop me from asking these very reasonable questions?

And as for the category of “in the audience” who was the mystery attorney who seemed to object to some community flyer? Who was he there for? Apparently they also objected to residents concerned about development jacking up traffic?

So the meeting was paused until January, 2019, correct? And then there was this update January 5th that a reader posted:

Update on the Lloyd Farm. There is no public hearing being rescheduled. The people have spoken and the Commissioners have heard you!  While this plan isn’t going to get through, REGAL WILL BE BACK. As quickly as they can. Yes they have a right to develop land the own and paid $4.6M dollars for. But they need to do it in a manner that is acceptable to the Caln Twp residents. We will be watching and reporting so keep a look out for news here and on www.calnwatch.info

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I was driving by Lloyd Avenue while in Downingtown on Saturday with a friend, so is this part of that parcel?  See below:

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Is this part of “Lloyd Farm”?

So a recap is in order before I press on, ok?

Super historic. Known as the “Lloyd Farm”, “Valley Brook Farm” has a fire I would call mysterious a few years ago?  Seriously.

Then I hit Google and oh the things I found including this amazing history compiled by someone named Edward G. Lendrat on the West Chester University Old Caln Historical Society CollectionCaln Township has this buried on their website.

Pretty crazy historic, and I understand there was a fire, but  is super-sized developement all Caln Township can think is right for this property??? I am told the developer who has bought the “Lloyd Farm” was proposing 5 story apartment buildings, and commercial where there is NO zoning for it? So now what?

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So if I read the history of the property correctly, it dates back to the late 1600s and a Penn Land Grant? And by 1996 it was owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia? (Now I make no secret of my disdain of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and their pedophile priest problems of recent past. Sorry, I digress again…)

Ironically something I wasn’t looking for with regard to this property but seemed to have stumbled upon is a 2015 pipeline easement between the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Columbia Gas. So umm, high density development being proposed and a pipeline? NICE, right?

(See my prior post for links to the history I found and some document on the easement.)

Again I will tell you I have never been on this property. But people near it have, which is how I was sent the photos I am sharing.

Do I have the answers as to what to do with this property? Sadly, no.  Don’t know that area well enough.  But if there is a pipeline easement, maybe the developer should go light on the development?

Again, how many cram plan developments does one county need? Who is driving this?

Chester County, we can’t just keep sitting idly by as chuck after chunk of land gets carved up.  Once open space is gone, it’s gone.  Once history is gone, it’s gone.

They had me with part of a Penn Land Grant.  That is older than the American Revolution and is so the literal founding and early settlers.

Here is a snippet off of Wikipedia – sorry – it saves me time:

The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in English North America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II. The name Pennsylvania, which translates roughly as “Penn’s Woods”,[1] was created by combining the Penn surname (in honor of William’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn) with the Latin word sylvania, meaning “forest land”. The Province of Pennsylvania was one of the two major Restoration colonies, the other being the Province of Carolina. The proprietary colony‘s charter remained in the hands of the Penn family until the American Revolution, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was created and became one of the original thirteen states. “The lower counties on Delaware”, a separate colony within the province, would breakaway during the American Revolution as “the Delaware State” and also be one of the original thirteen states.

Also check out places like the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s website. Land that was part of any Penn Land Grant is extraordinarily historically significant.  Residents near and far and hsitorians should take note and attend meetings.  Media local and regional might not find history and land development sexy, but they also need to get on the stick here. One  blip on this important topic was in the Daily Local in early December.

According to the Caln Watch Website there is a meeting Tuesday, February 12 at the Thorndale Fire Hall 3611 Lincoln Hwy, Thorndale, PA 19372 – 6pm to 8pm (Parking located in school lot):

meeting

Soooo…among the questions that should be asked and that Caln Township and this developer needs to address is are they SAVING the historic farmhouse for real? If so enough with the demolition by neglect, right? If people are sending me interior photos, then the building is not properly secured and while safe for now the longer it is exposed to punk ass vandals and the elements is not good, correct?

So the Daily Local seems to indicate that Caln Township is not really particularly chatty on the topic of Penn Land Grant becomes development and why is that?

They did post a teensy 2/1/2019 update on this issue:

2 1 update

Sooooo…my suggestion? Contact these folks. Make your opinions known. Flood meetings with bodies. Reach out to  public officials and those who want to be in office or ummm have aspirations for higher office who are in local office now. Reach out to any historic preservation or media contacts you have.

Caln officials:

Jennifer Breton jbreton@calntownship.org

George Chambers gchambers@calntownship.org

Josh Young jyoung@calntownship.org

John Contento jcontento@calntownship.org

Lorraine Tindaro ltindaro@calntownship.org

Always cc ​info@calntownship.org

It borders Downingtown, right?

Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell would be on my list and he wishes to be a Chester County Commissioner. Jmaxwell@Downingtown.org

Downingtown Borough Council:

Borough Council

Anthony Gazzerro, President
Ward: West
Term Expires: 2021
Contact: agazzerro@downingtown.org

Alex Rakoff, Vice President
Ward: East
Term Expires: 2019
Contact: arakoff@downingtown.org

Phil Dague – Councilperson
Ward: East
Term Expires: 2019
Contact: pdague@downingtown.org

Jeff Thomas, Councilperson
Ward: West
Term Expires: 2019
Contact: jthomas@downingtown.org

Ann Feldman, Councilperson
Ward: East
Term Expires: 2021
Contact: 610-518-5615
afeldman@downingtown.org

Patricia McGlone, Councilperson
Ward: West
Term Expires: 2021
Contact: pmcglone@downingtown.org

The Chester County Planning Commission:

Brian N. O’Leary, AICP,
Executive Director

boleary@chesco.org

Carol Stauffer, AICP,
Assistant Director

cstauffer@chesco.org

(P) 610-344-6285
(F) 610-344-6515

CLICK HERE FOR ENTIRE STAFF DIRECTORY.  You never know who you may know, right?

Like Crebilly (in Westtown and still at risk) this is a call to arms. (See Crebilly Farm Friends and Neighbors for Crebilly  for more on that issue.)

Also at issue and not in Caln and not Lloyd Farm but I must mention given the shared solicitor?

Development in East Goshen.

Those misguided supervisors are voting on higher density B.S. zoning thing I never thought I would see in that township on Tuesday February 5th. I heard and was not surprised to hear they refused a resident petition against this? The East Goshen  meeting starts at 7 PM.  The agenda is posted and can be read HERE. People and media should attend that as well and read the packet linked here. (Also on Tuesday in East Goshen? A chicken ordinance.  I find it ironic that chickens have such issues in a township that was once also a lot of farms. Yes, I am pro-chicken although I personally keep none.)

Why is this a call for arms? Simple. Chester County is groaning and suffering under the weight of over development and it needs to slow down or even stop for a good long while.  Just this weekend I was in Glenmoore for example.  They seem to suffer from lots and lots of power outages.  Locals speculate part of the cause is the infrastructure can’t keep up with the pace of development.

Moderation is the key to true and actual smart growth.  Only we don’t see that any longer. There is limited respect for the past and the architectural heritage of Chester County.  Just like there is lip service paid to open space and agricultural preservation at times.  It’s great when small parcels are preserved and handed down to the next generation, but what about these big parcels? Parcels like Crebilly and Lloyd farm are what a lot of our county was like for a very long time.

Now I actually do believe progress has a place but it’s the vision of progress I take issue with.  Progress doesn’t have to hurt and wanton development hurts.  We can’t support it long-term and by the time a lot of folks figure that out, the developers and current elected and appointed officials will be long gone, correct?  As a county we have to look past the damn ratables that elected and appointed officials salivate over.  They are a short-term financial gain if a gain at all since is it not true sometimes the ratables are not what people thought they would be?

Maybe some do not like my opinions, but I am entitled to them. Not every square inch should be developed. Not every square inch needs to be developed.  Y’all aren’t going to get your veggies off the roof of places like Whole Foods are you?

Farms, open space, history need to be respected and preserved.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  What do you as a resident want the future to look like? Lots of Tyvec wrapped plastic beige boxes? More stucco McMansion horror show stories?  Human warehouses for seniors and others? More ugly strip malls? The end of Main Street? Constipated bits of “open space” which is usually land that is not able to be developed?

Tick tock Chester County, tick tock.

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Reader submitted photo Lloyd Farm 2019