over-development coming to radnor on dodo hamilton’s property?

218 Strafford Ave

A Radnor Township friend called this morning about this:

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton
By Linda Stein lstein@21st-centurymedia.com @lsteinreporter on Twitter Jan 13, 2020 Updated Jan 13, 2020

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton

RADNOR — Although no plans have been filed with the township, word is getting around that a developer has set his sights on the Wayne property of the late Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, who was one of the Main Line’s iconic grande dames….Hamilton, a billionaire who grew up in New York and Newport, R.I., where she also kept a home, was a generous philanthropist who gave millions to various institutions in the Philadelphia area….Radnor Township Board of Commissioners President Jack Larkin, who represents Ward 1, has written about the pending development at Eagle and Strafford roads in his newsletters to residents. When asked to comment, Larkin referred a reporter to those missives.

“The developer has shown me two concept sketches for the lots; the first is purportedly a by-right plan, and includes approximately 40 homes,” Larkin wrote in his newsletter. “This is, to me, an unattractive plan: Because the units are, by right, single family dwellings, cramming 40 homes onto the two lots means filling them with houses without space for buffers, open space, or stormwater recharge areas.”

Larkin continued, “The second plan would require a conditional use approval by the township, and would put approximately 50 homes into the two lots —41 town homes on the western lot, and nine single-family dwellings onto the eastern lot. Because the homes on the western lot are town homes, they leave a lot of space for the things that are absent in the by-right plan: Stormwater management, sidewalks, buffers, and open space. The density is problematic for me, but with that in mind, it is a good plan.”…Meanwhile, about 40 nearby neighbors sent this statement to Larkin: “We understand and appreciate the developer’s rights to develop the property, and our goal as a neighborhood is not to squash any development, but to mitigate any negative changes to the neighborhood and keep its current character. For those of us who have lived here many years, we have seen the negative effects of cutting down trees on the Hamilton’s property and the building of just four homes on the corner of Strafford and Eagle Road. Despite the assurances of the engineers, developers, and other experts, our neighborhood has been substantially damaged and our lives negatively affected by ‘tiny’ changes to the Hamilton’s property. There are approximately 40 neighbors on Strafford, Hedgerow, Grant, Forrest, Fairfield, and Old Eagle School who will attest to being harmed financially by the improper regulation of storm water runoff in the past.

“The character of the neighborhood will be drastically changed by the proposed development. Haverford Properties is seeking to double the number of homes within our small community. Our current neighborhood contains 35 acres and 64 homes, approximately two homes per acre. The developers plan to build 50 homes will result in 114 homes, for over three homes per acre….Meanwhile, the developer, Charles Houder, with Haverford Properties Inc., declined comment, saying that he wants to meet with the neighbors first.

Is dear Dodo turning in her grave yet? Do we think the esteemed and philanthropic Dodo would have wanted this for her beloved home?  I mean isn’t the family raking in the cash already? They made what, like $9 million off of the sale of the Newport, Rhode Island property in 2018 according to Town & Country Magazine:

“Judge Judy” Scheindlin and husband Jerry have made the move to Newport, Rhode Island, with the purchase of a $9 million mansion. The iconic home, known as the ‘Bird House” and previously owned by Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, sits atop one of the highest points in all of Newport

And then there were the auctions of antiques and stuff, right? There was one at Bunch in Chadds Ford I remember. And the millions from the auctions held by Freeman’s right? (One was written up in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Freeman’s also auctioned off some of her very spectacular jewelry, didn’t they? (Forbes even mentioned the jewelry, and Philadelphia Magazine had an article too at the time.)

In 2008 Philadelphia Magazine wrote an article on Mrs. Hamilton:

The Last Great Lady
Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton has enjoyed a life of wealth and glamour: a debutante coming-out splashed in the “New York Times”, summers in Newport, and years as the face (and hat!) of the Main Line. In the waning days of Philly high society, we need “Mrs. H.” more than ever.

by AMY KORMAN· 10/21/2008, 10:02 a.m.

Matt Hamilton already knew that his mother was one of your more independent billionaire heiresses…. (When you’re a billionairess, people call you “Mrs.”) With her elegant suits and trademark wide-brimmed hats, she might look the part of the classic old-school socialite, but Dorrance Hill Hamilton (“Dodo” was a nickname inherited from her mother) puts her own stamp on everything she does. This past summer, her clan joined her in Newport, Rhode Island, to celebrate her 80th birthday at a full-on ball at the Newport Country Club — just around the corner from her summer estate, a splendid 1901 mansion called Wildacre — that featured, among other things, face-painting and an ice sculpture in the shape of a dodo bird. Along with her blue satin dress and emeralds, the guest of honor wore a tiny red hat in the shape of a birthday cake….Dorrance Hamilton was born to the role of socialite, of course — she is, famously, the granddaughter of Dr. John T. Dorrance, who invented the condensing process for soup and became the president of the Campbell Soup company in 1914. But while she has led a rarefied life, she is much more invested in carefully distributing her wealth, making sure that the money she bestows so generously is working properly. Recent gifts include $25 million to Thomas Jefferson Hospital; $5 million to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; $5 million to the Kimmel Center; $1 million to the costume collection at the Art Museum’s Perelman Building; and quietly dispersed millions to education causes all over the city, including several parochial schools in West Philly. In essence, she is CEO of what might be called Dorrance Hamilton, Inc., juggling businesses, charities, real estate projects and foundations.

So given what the late Mrs. Hamilton was about, would she be about having a cram plan of her estate whose driveway is on Strafford Avenue in Wayne, adjacent to the Eagle Village Shops ? You know where The Little House Shop and Valley Forge Flowers and more are?

This is the furthermost edge of Radnor Township and will also IMHO drastically affect Tredyffrin Residents won’t it? Traffic is already a nightmare there regularly, and what of Radnor Township School District?  This morning I had parents with kids in Radnor schools express serious concerns off the record.  Apparently the schools like many other schools and school districts are bursting at the seams.  More development doesn’t alleviate this issue. Also back there is a mess when it really rains, so what about storm water management?

Here is what Delaware County has about the real estate parcels. The commercial parcel is Eagle Village and all those stores:

 

Whether it’s the by right plan or the one which would require zoning approvals, why is this what they want to do with the property? I get that the heirs probably have their own ideas about what should happen, but is this what Mrs. Hamilton would have wanted?

For example, Mrs. Hamilton was an avid gardener. I have a Clivia plant that I bought decades ago at St. David’s Fair. It had been grown in Mrs. Hamilton’s greenhouses.  I almost lost this plant a few years ago when I accidentally left it out in too much sun.

And do people know here how she restored the famous Frederick Law Olmstead Jr’s Blue Garden in Newport, RI??  She was a fixture literally at the Philadelphia Flower Show for decades.

Does anyone here much know that she founded the Swiss Village Foundation also up in Newport, Rhode Island. SVF is a nonprofit that along with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine  is dedicated to preserving heritage breeds of livestock. One of the animals they study and protect are the Dutch Belted Cattle which many in Chester County recognize as the “Oreo” cows. Mrs. Hamilton was mourned throughout New England when she died  for all she did.

She gave millions away to charity and seriously, are her heirs suddenly destitute or something? I mean I could get not wanting to be responsible for all of the land but why overly dense development?  Why not have at least part of the property become something like an arboretum like Jenkins, or even go under the umbrella of PHS (you know like  Meadowbrook Farm?)

I find this all to be incredibly sad. And it’s truly so disappointing that her family is considering this. I mean do they need the money that badly? I wish they would consider something else.  But in the end, will they care enough? Who knows. This sad saga is just beginning.  And I predict the surrounding residents will not just go quietly into the night over this. Nor should they.

218 Straf

meeting decorum of elected officials

Radnor Township is NOT in Chester County. But I am venturing there this morning because of behavior of a sitting elected official at a public meeting last night. It was wholly unacceptable. (If you have FiOs you can catch Radnor’s meetings on Channel 30 FYI.)

When an elected official goes from serving the public to being a consistent self-serving obstructionist, they really should resign.

I actually used to honestly respect this elected official. He was for many years a crusader for right.  But then it seems he began to believe his own press releases or something? His wife sits on the school board. That has also always given me pause when certain issues have come before the board, and isn’t that also understandable?

Someone on social media remarked last evening after the latest tirade/outburst that they were channeling their inner Yosemite Sam. That’s not who we want representing us in office even on the most local of levels anywhere. The behavior was bad enough last evening, that the board actually took a five minute recess so everyone could regain their composure.

One of the temper tantrum’s last night was over who the Public Information Officer reports to. Everyone knows that public information officer’s report to the township, and the Township manager. They don’t report to elected officials because they are neutral and all they must always fairly disseminate information to the public.

I’m also writing this post because Radnor Township after having a disastrous manager they fired was lucky to hire a man named Bob Zienkowski. He is one of the finest township managers I have ever seen. I actually think so highly of this gentleman that years ago before the current township secretary had her job, I interviewed for the job. The current township secretary actually got chosen over me as a candidate, and in retrospect life worked out just the way it was supposed to. She is also excellent at her job. And given the way Radnor Township has deteriorated and the crazy hours the meetings go to, I am VERY glad life chose differently for me in the end. I can’t sit through these meetings anymore… anywhere.

But last night I saw this one commissioner in particular be condescending, rude, and generally hateful and disrespectful to the Township Manager. With LOUD and SHOUTING OUTBURSTS.

If you watch the township meeting on YouTube you can see the meltdown beginning at the 14:59 minute mark. It goes to about 24:17. Mind you it’s not the first obstructionist disruption of the evening on the part of this commissioner. It’s not the first meeting this behavior has occurred, either. The Radnor meetings now have the reputation of being the most awful around again and with good reason.

I am sure this commissioner will have a problem with this post. But as a lover and defender of the First Amendment, surely he must realize I have a right to express my opinion, correct?

Commissioner Richard Booker, this post is for you. Suffice it to say, Radnor residents deserve better.  Hard working township staff deserves better. Your fellow commissioners deserve better.  At a minimum you should apologize publicly to all of the other commissioners and township staff. However, you also might wish to consider resigning or retiring as you seem to have lost your objectivity completely. Last night’s behavior shows you appear to be a really unhappy human being and why do you wish to project that upon residents, fellow commissioners, and Radnor Township staff? Is that really fair? Is that really the best use of public meeting time?

And yes, Commissioner Booker, the First Amendment does allow me my opinion. You are an elected official who among other things was hired to uphold the public trust and can you honestly say you are doing that at this point? And do you really work for Sunoco Logistics like it says on your LinkedIn page and elsewhere?

And my last word is elected officials everywhere demand proper decorum of residents at meetings.  Well shouldn’t residents be able to expect that of elected officials?

way to go radnor! keep setting the bar low on design standards!

Now granted, what was there before on the corner of Willow Ave and Plant Ave in the Little Chicago was known to many (myself included) as “the scary house.”

But I do not get why Radnor Township allows this kind of crap with zero design aesthetic to go up? The only thing this building is about is maximizing developer money making capability.

This is a prime example of how municipalities are dropping the ball. The trend of density and in this case serious infill density is ruining communities everywhere.

Directly opposite where this looming monstrosity is being built is relatively new construction. And what was built? Two pretty nice twin houses. This is an older neighborhood of what were historically smaller houses with neat back yards. Not the grand Victorians a couple of blocks over and it’s certainly not really urban.

Yet here’s this block house structure. And even worse in an area that redefines what it is to flood in even just a heavy downpour? They are totally built out on the footprint of the property. Where is the parking going to be?

Anyway this development gets an F. It truly is ugly. And is so out of place.

Bleck.

your health is NOT worth penn medicine radnor

Steve Smith can also be reached at Steven.Smith2@uphs.upenn.edu

When you complain about the parking and the unsafe parking lot this is the little strip of paper they hand you at Penn Medicine Radnor. (This is of course after the security guard shrugs their shoulders at you.)

Ever since I became an oncology patient 7 1/2 years ago I seem to have a lot of doctors appointments. Today I was supposed to see my oncologist and I almost turned around and went home the parking lot was that bad.

Today was the day I saw a man on a walker almost get hit by a car at a medical facility. And the driver of said vehicle as they sped by had the nerve to glare at the poor man on the walker.

I had two appointments this week at Penn Radnor. Thank the good Lord I don’t have to go back before the new year. I understand they are moving into a new facility, and I don’t want to jump on the anti-Penn in Radnor bandwagon but I’m sorely tempted at this point.

When I got there this morning if an ambulance had to come in and get someone they would not have been able to navigate through the parking lot because there was barely any space to get through. People were parked on shoulders, people were parked on the grass, people were parked in fire lanes, people were parked on curves. And this isn’t just passenger vehicles there were a couple of trucks too.

And I know it’s not any safer for the staff and medical professionals than it is for the patients. Penn Medicine has a lot of money. They need to throw some towards a parking solution. Telling patients who are upset when they walk in the door what does anyone expect them to do about it is not a solution. And I had not one but two security guards shrug their shoulders at me this week. This morning the security guard barely acknowledged me and handed me a little slip of paper with the name and phone number of the chief operating officer. He of course did not answer his phone.

Today was the day where I once again called Radnor Township about this parking lot. It’s private property, but when they block fire lanes and things like that it becomes a health safety and welfare issue in my opinion.

Now somewhat say how can they predict how many people are going to be in the parking lot each day. Simple all the people that have appointments represent a vehicle. So they can track that in their computer system. That of course does not take into consideration patients coming in on an urgent basis or possibly without an appointment.

When you enter their property in Radnor you are entering a state of chaos. Every single day. And if the parking wasn’t bad enough the people who can’t wait and have to go drive unsafely around people waiting for a parking space cause additional hazards.

I am beginning to think that my life is not worth Penn Medicine at Radnor because if it was Penn Medicine would do something about their parking lot.

flooding. everywhere.

39099083_10216471930053471_1476057384915828736_o

A friend of mine took this photo less than five minutes ago in Tredyffrin. Lancaster Avenue and that is Old Covered Wagon Inn to your right I believe.

Friends and other readers are alerting me to flooding photos, so here is a slideshow. From Lower Merion where stormwater management in the township needs a makeover to flooded out Little Chicago in North Wayne, to out around West Vincent and beyond the flooding is crazy. Highways are closed like parts  the Schuylkill Expressway, turnpike, etc.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But of course, global warming is an urban legend…and all of the development never, ever causes any storm water runoff problems, right?

radnor street at willow

Willow Avenue at Radnor Street Road in “Little Chicago” in North Wayne, PA. (Radnor Township) Neighborhood was built at turn of 20th century over the Wayne Natatorium…which at the time was largest outside pool thanks to Gulph Creek and all those springs and water sources underground.  These people are flooded horribly today.  Feel sorry for them. Photo from Twitter this morning.

perversion

From Radnor Democrats Public Facebook Page. It had as a caption “Radnor Democrats
June 11, 2016 at 4:41pm · We always say that the Radnor Democrats have a big, diverse tent and to “join the Party.” Well, today, at the Wayne Music Festival, the Radnor Democrats LITERALLY have a big tent!”

Where to begin? Let’s start at the bitter end of September when news broke that there had been a not-local (as in NOT Radnor PD) law enforcement raid had occurred in Radnor Township.  The target? Phil Ahr, newly minted as of this summer President of the Radnor Board of Commissioners. 

News has swirled when he missed the regular meeting shortly after the raid and  then and this past Monday, some commissioners had wanted Ahr to resign. But the Democrat commissioners (Nagle, Higgins, Schaeffer) blocked the efforts.  I will admit that while they were speaking the truth about guilty until proven innocent, BUT this is the second scandal to rock Radnor Democrats with a Board of Commissioners president given the fact that in June former Commissioner and Board of Commissioners President Bill Spingler was found guilty by a Delaware County jury  of “indecent assault on a person with a mental disability.” (His 100+ year old former mother-in-law.) Ironically, Mr. Spingler is to be sentenced or something tomorrow a lot of newscasters in Philadelphia were stating today after Phil Ahr turned himself in to police.

See NBC10 Philadelphia’s reporter Deanna Durante’s 6PM report on Mr. Ahr goes to court. Also see a pretty comprehensive article by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Main Line Media News.

It’s child porn and lots of it.  It’s horrible. Truly horrible. Almost inconceivable.

Earlier this evening, Radnor Township itself held a press conference.  I contacted the township and they provided me with what they had handed out except for the PDF of the court docket – I found that myself. Today was the preliminary arraignment. 

Anyway, here it is and I will warn you it is truly disturbing:

 

 

So back to the three commissioners in Radnor who blocked a motion to have Ahr resign. Earlier this evening, they fell back behind the cloak of the Home Rule Charter of Radnor Township.  So while they perhaps could not have made Ahr resign as of Monday, given the scandal their township and political party has endured in recent months, shouldn’t they have convinced him to resign?  Or how about perhaps they should have NOT played politics at all and lived up to their oaths of office and convinced him to resign because they are supposed to look out for the best interests of the residents?

Once again, deeply troubling times for a township where I have many close friends….including those with children.

I am going to say, however, that no matter what your opinion is here, please allow law enforcement and those in the legal system do their jobs here.  Please respect the terribly difficult jobs they have, especially with this case.  Also respect the residents of Radnor Township who have to deal with this, especially the residents of Ward 7, Garrett Hill. Garrett Hill is a tight knit community that is suffering greatly.  And pray for Phil Ahr’s family.  He has now given them a terrible burden they will carry always.

Here’s a question for all of you: should local elected officials have to submit to comprehensive background checks including criminal in order to hold elected office?

Thanks for stopping by.