the dance around eminent domain and other tales from the king road/route 352 meeting

The residents of East Whiteland, East Goshen, and elsewhere should be proud. You guys showed up for your communities and neighbors.

In spite of other committee meetings at East Whiteland and East Goshen (zoning and planning I think? Not sure which meeting where), Immaculata’s Great Hall was literally bursting at the seams for the King Rd and Route 352 meeting last night. (Thank you to Immaculata by the way, what an awesome space!)

It was a contentious meeting at times. East Whiteland Supervisors Chair Sue Drummond set the tone by her opening remarks and attitude. Dear readers, she might not like my opinion because she knows I do not care for her but it happens to be the truth. She opened the meeting with snippy acerbic comments about what residents were going to be allowed to say and not say do and not do and that’s kind of the Cliff Notes version but she was well...obnoxious. She seems to have forgotten for whom she works…the residents! And oh by the way? Me thinks the lady supervisor doth protesteth too much. (Just sayin’)  Also at ends of meeting shouldn’t a politician make sure no offending residents are left within ear shot? I was standing there with another resident and “the PennDOT guy.”

I know the video is not the best quality and the township also recorded it, but I felt it was important, very important to get it out there.  State level elected officials sent representatives although they did not stay for the entire meeting. This YouTube is a recording of the 3 hours we Facebooked live last night. I will try to get the rest of it loaded. Some media was present as well.

I am completely against a traffic circle, roundabout, or whatever clever marketing term you prefer.  It will mean eminent domain.  Eminent domain is ugly and your home is your castle in this country until some government entity wants to take your land. ANY ELECTED OFFICIAL WHO CHOSES EMINENT DOMAIN NEEDS TO BE PUT OUT OF OFFICE WHENVER THEIR TERM OF OFFICE IS UP.

Last night residents asked over and over again for elected officials to say NO to the use of eminent domain.  East Goshen remained eerily silent but East Whiteland politicians sort of danced a dance.  So did the gentleman from McMahon associates who go quite the grilling from potentially affected residents. He got very defensive at times.

Listening to resident after resident it became abundantly clear that the consensus is NO EMINENT DOMAIN.  And for THREE hours those leading the meeting would do anything other that say the words EMINENT DOMAIN.  They referred to “slivers”, you know like they were sneak slicing bits of pound cake or a pie or something? If you can’t say the words “EMINENT DOMAIN” then obviously on some level it bothers you so East Whiteland and East Goshen Supervisors why not just take a pledge to NOT use eminent domain?

[Follow this link (as in click on it) for everything residents have obtained via Right to Know requests thus far.]

Things I find perplexing from the meeting includes how for 95% of the meeting East Whiteland Supervisor Chair Sue Drummond kept announcing how while she was not sure of East Goshen’s timeline, the East Whiteland Supervisors would decide next week —the East Whiteland Board of Supervisors meets NEXT Wednesday, June 12 at 7 PM and if you are concerned about this project you need to attend this meeting as well.  Public comment still belongs to the residents.

OK that is cray cray right? Except for those of us who have been dogging this topic, how many people knew about this? And to send residents a letter within the last two weeks which one would presume mentions slivers…err eminent domain as a potential, what the hell is up with that?

By the end of the meeting East Whiteland Supervisor Sue Drummond was saying she had conferred with her colleagues and well maybe they would wait for the July to vote?

Again what the hell is up with that? Does July mean when people are on vacation? After all doesn’t everyone know that a favorite trick of government and traffic counters is to do what they do at weird times of the year and/or holidays?

They have been tossing this idea around of at least intersection improvements for years, so what is a few more months of study with residents fully and openly engaged? And how can they use traffic issues on Carol Lane and Summit as justification for the potential of a traffic circle? How do they NOT understand that would cause MORE cut through traffic over there?

And if the politicians  say they don’t really want a traffic circle then why didn’t they say last night “there we showed you a circle, but we aren’t going to do that”? The cannot be a little bit pregnant here. They need to be definitive, which of course some politicians have a difficult time with because it affects talking out of both sides of their mouths, right?

And the presentation was flawed. Residents pointed out things on what was presented like how some wouldn’t literally be able to get out of their driveways.  Some people speaking were heartbreaking.  All they wanted to know is why these supervisors hadn’t let them know in some cases sooner this was a possibility and what would happen to their homes they worked so hard for?

I will note again that East Goshen was oddly silent through a lot of the meeting.  I will also note that residents pointed out how the land taking would basically occur in East Whiteland if it occurred.

As they spoke of traffic counts and studies last night, I could once again hear the wise words of one of my favorite Commissioners once upon a time in Lower Merion Township.  He quipped in comments at one meeting where some members of township staff and certain commissioners were trying to justify the results of a traffic study that was done either around a holiday or in the dog days of August before school started “When it comes to traffic studies, you get what you pay for.”

He wasn’t saying that in a flattering way.

East Whiteland wants to hurry up and slam this through and my honest opinion is affected residents might wish to consider legal counsel to make sure their interests are properly protected.  Or they should at least consult with legal counsel.

Our homes are our castles.  And these are our neighbors and friends.  I thank everyone who came out last night and hope they keep on showing up. And remember the unintended consequences of all the freaking development in Chester County are truly to blame here. Or at least in my humble opinion.

These thoughts were bought to you in part by the First Amendment.

 

 

leveling the playing field over lights.

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I am prefacing ALL comments with I have NOTHING against baseball or any local little league organizations. That is NOT what this is about. What this is about is LIGHT POLLUTION. And the right residents have to not have where they live lit up at night like noontime sun for extended periods of time.

In August, the Great Valley Little League was coming before East Whiteland Zoning for a variance:

****Appeal No. 2016-17 Application of Great Valley Little League for a variance from the 35-foot height limitation for all outdoor illumination fixtures for recreational and sports lighting, in order to construct and utilize four illumination fixtures (two poles at 70 feet in height, and two poles at 60 feet in height) in order to illuminate a little league baseball field on its property located at 1300 West King Road (UPI 42-6-40.1-E) in an R- 1 Residential Zoning District of the Township.*****

I will admit I found it distinctly ODD at the time that the neighbors around there said nothing.  And well they got their variance but under not institutional lighting, not residential lighting, but I was told under commercial lighting like they are on Route 30 or Rout 100 in a business district and NOT where they actually are….a residential area.

So, given the zoning hearing was in the dead of summer, and the notice was kind of posted last minute on the actual field, it doesn’t surprise me that the Zoning Hearing Board just approved the poles with not much of a thought to residents within the legal notice zone and those who are not but are still affected by BIG LIGHTS that cause that thing called LIGHT POLLUTION.

So the Little League strategy obviously was to go first to Zoning for the relief they sought and then to go to Planning for conditional approval, do I have that right? They thought no one would be bothered?

Some neighbors showed up at the East Whiteland September Planning Meeting and Planning delayed any action on the conditional use because they (GVLL/Great Valley Little League) apparently had not engaged the immediate neighbors.  It was reported to me that neighbors said they followed the advice of the Township? What does that mean and who advised them in particular? Zoning? Supervisor? Staff? Apparently, then the guy in charge of the GVLL (or whomever was at the meeting) stated that he can build lights in the parking lot by right or something to that affect. (Of course, he was granted a sweetheart variance, correct?)

Ok regardless of whether or not it is BY RIGHT or NOT, they have neighbors, including people RIGHT across King who also get inconvenienced by their storm water runoff at times, or I am told. And given the runoff I have driven through over there, I believe it.

Also notable: some East Whiteland ordinance I am told allows lights like this to be on 40 nights over 365 nights (1 year), which has people concerned that GVLL might try to say they are entitled to use the lights 40 Nights over their 90 Day Season, or essentially continually Memorial Day to Labor Day?? Ummm shouldn’t the interpretation be based upon a pro-rated or perhaps 9.86 nights? If they go for a broad interpretation is that FAIR to those of us who live within the light area that basically there will basically be a Northern Lights effect ALL summer long?

How can we trust the Great Valley Little League will buy lights with the best possible shielding and so on? The answer is you can’t. Who will babysit them for compliance in operating the lights and address the non-compliance? I can tell you from past experience municipalities push that off on residents (just ask the Radnor Township residents who deal with Villanova stadium and field lights.)

No one living near that field moved there so they could live next door to the little league version of Citizen’s Bank Park.

AGAIN, I am NOT anti-Little League. What I object to is residents NOT really being part of the process FAIRLY. We live here and like it or not, the Little League folks come and go. I doubt they would want bright lights shining in their windows at night. Acting in good faith is a big deal, kind of like good sportsmanship.

So that being said OCTOBER 19th at East Whiteland’s Township Building at 7 PM  located at 209 Conestoga Rd, Frazer, PA 19355 there will be a meeting with neighbors.  GVLL has apparently sent out a mass e-mail to their membership instructing parents to show up with kids in uniform.  It is their right, but they are trying to unduly influence East Whiteland and discourage neighbors from speaking up.

That is not right.  And this is not an issue of health of the young, this is a reasonable expectation of quiet enjoyment issue that is a tangible right of homeowners. And the issues caused by light pollution are real and well documented.

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I will add to the e-mails on this flyer, the Chair of the Supervisors Bill Holmes bholmes@eastwhiteland.org and the Township Manager John Nagel jnagel@eastwhiteland.org .

The issues with the little league where the lights are concerned include:

  • The number of nights per week that games can be played (currently not limited)
  • The hours of operation (Currently 10 pm weeknights and 11 pm weekends)
  • The use of the PA system including the VOLUME level and how late into the evening it can be used (currently 8 pm)
  • Light spillage
  • The future need to light the parking lot
  • Extended season, tournament play, increased traffic and non-league use of playing fields (OR RENTING OUT THE FIELDS TO WHOMEVER FOR WHATEVER)

This October 19th meeting is really important so if you can show up to support the neighbors that would be awesome.

NO ONE IS ANTI-CHILD SPORTS or ANTI-LITTLE LEAGUE.  These neighbors got dealt a poor hand and no one is sticking up for them and they have rights TOO.  These people leave the little league fields on King Road and go home. They won’t be having stadium lights shining in their windows at night.   Truthfully, they do not care. They just want their lights.

Interestingly I was told but can’t prove the numbers are down on little league membership with Great Valley Little League? If this is true, is this a wise financial decision?

Now as the GVLL/Great Valley Little League is asking for things, how will they address pre-existing issues? These issues include:

  • Traffic.  The way people pull in and out of that field can be a problem, so why is it they do not have police being paid to direct traffic, or are out there safely directing people in and out? It is King Road, it’s BUSY.
  • Storm water runoff. Even a small cloud burst causes GIANT puddles. A normal rain event causes flooding on King Road in front of their fields.  When it is a heavy rain event, the water accumulation can be significant.

Anyway, that is the scoop.  Not anti-baseball. Not anti-kids. Not anti-little league.  But what on earth did Great Valley Little League think was going to happen if they tried to sneak/shove this through? These people are supposed to be teaching kids good sportsmanship and fair play among other things, right?

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