sigh…..more drama in the hinterlands

On the news today they announced that the FBI has a new toll-free government corruption hotline.  The toll-free hotline number is 855-FBI-TIPS (855-324-8477). They did it for Philadelphia, but will accept tips for any municipalities and see where they lead.  File under food for thought. Not saying anything, not accusing anyone of anything, it is public information released today and I found it interesting.

Now onto other curiosities du jour:  quizzle me this: how does a property owner in Chester County not get notified at a potential zoning change they describe as “40 feet” from their front door?

Calling West Vincent, your slip is showing again.

The long and short of it is some chef wants to open a BYOB.  Not only is there residential to be considered, but it is in a school zone too, apparently? Funny thing is people love quaint country BYOBs, but hey proper notification is key, correct?

Now I have a resident’s permission to post this drama in a country beat, but I am afraid they will be retaliated against for speaking up, let alone speaking to a blogger. And well this blogger hopes that West Vincent shows some style here and just tidies up their mess in a legitimate, above board, sunshine-friendly fashion, ok?

So this nice guy named Kevin Miller is a little upset.  Mostly because he says he never received a written notice of this proposed use and how is that possible?  Was it just an innocent oops that they skipped notifying this property owner? Wasn’t anything posted at the property in question for people to see?  Are there innocent oopsie daisies in West Vincent?  If only a couple of properties within this little stretch were being zoned commercial is that spot zoning?  (I am not a planner or land use specialist or zoning guru, so I am just asking.)

Here is the e-mail this nice man sent to his supervisors:

————————-email to claire quinn and kenneth miller—–

I am the property owner next to Elaine’s flower shop ([HOUSE NUMBER REDACTED] Conestoga rd.).  Last week a neighbor informed me that there was a planning commission meeting in which a proposed change to the zoning map was being considered that included my property.   Apparently Elaine Horton is attempting to sell her barn to a person who wishes to open a BYOB restaurant 40 feet from my house.

I must say that when I attended this meeting to express deep concern over this, I was even more shocked that apparently, this was pretty much mapped out and set to be approved by the planning commission.  Maybe I am naïve in not randomly checking the West Vincent website to see if someone’s trying to rezone my house, but I’m beyond shocked that no one from the township made any effort whatsoever to communicate this to me, in any form.

The concerns I expressed to the planning commission were as follows:

  1.  You’re basically approving to open a BYOB restaurant in a school zone – directly across the street from an elementary school.
  2. I assume this restaurant will be open at night?  Which mean I and my family with 3 small children will have to deals with parking lot lights, noise…etc at night now?
  3. The proposed map was basically spot zoning by skipping over the property at 2735 and its frontage
  4. Concern over the viability of a restaurant in a less-than-optimal retail location given the amount of construction work it would take to get the building up to code.

Fortunately, it appears the planning commission at least paused on approving this until November.  I and a number of neighbors in the immediate area think the idea of a restaurant at this location is bad in many ways.  I’ve communicated my concern over a BYOB restaurant, which will be open during school hours, to the West Vincent PTA and the initial reaction from them was what I would classify as quit negative.

I did not email you today to complain about a proposed restaurant next to my house because frankly, the notion of changing that bat-ridden barn in a place where is food is served is laughable.  What I am taking issue with is the simple fact that the township knowingly made zero effort to communicate with me that you were you going to re-zone my house.

Thankfully, and unlike  elected officials, my neighbors cared enough to bring this to my attention.

I would like an explanation as to why the township made no effort to communicate with  me on  this.   I received multiple communications about the proposed sidewalk from Jim Wendleglass and that’s not even close to happening from what I understand.  My house was basically mapped out with Elaine’s to be spot zoned commercial!  The fact that I didn’t know about this is nuts.

Here is the e-mail that Kevin Miller sent to me that his wife got from the real estate agent when she inquired about the property:

Hi – Unfortunately, there was no attachment indicating which listing you are referring to but it might be the florist business located on RT. 401 called “Elaine’s Flowers”. It has a commercial variance for a gift shop relating to the floral business. There are many uses under the current zoning. Currently, an offer is on the table regarding an organic restaurant. West Vincent is discussing change a “block” of parcels into a commercial district. We are currently involved in those meetings. Please call me at (610) 952-3600.

Barb Kondrath

So this involves Elaine’s Flowers.  Now interestingly enough I found a Prudential Page about this address.

Seems to me that West Vincent has done everyone a disservice here and put backs up all the way around, yes? These things are ALWAYS 100% worse when municipalities don’t take the little steps to ensure comfort, yes?

See PDFs of WVT documents: 001, 2, 3 (incidentally these were NOT sent to me by the potentially affected resident.) I guess they are applicable here?

It is indeed a shame that it appears that West Vincent has screwed a lot of stuff up for a lot of people? I mean don’t you also feel sorry for this woman trying to sell her florist shop?

the bell “tolls” for thee, chester county

With apologies to John Donne, the poem reference just popped into my head.

I find it somewhat ironic that I just posted within the past few days a post cautioning about allowing Chester County to be swallowed by rampant development . And well here we are, with a story in The Daily Local about one of the kings of plastic houses, Toll Brothers.

The long and short of it is, now I know what that itty bitty zoning notice was about on Little Connestoga Road that I saw within the past few months.

How saddened am I by this news?  A lot, actually.  Among other things, although I don’t know Chester County really well yet, I think this is proposed rather close to the Byers Station Historic District. This is all being proposed in Upper Uwchlan, a municipality I know nothing about.

I am pretty sure when the hot air balloons landed on 9/11, they landed within a Toll Development – maybe even Byers Station.  It was a very Welcome to Stepford feeling with rows and rows of houses exactly the same.  From the air, they looked like Lego buildings.  The field we landed on had something to do with the development’s septic.  I don’t know much about this stuff, but that was what I was told when I asked why everything had a wafting odor of rotten eggs – you know that icky sulphur smell?

Anyway, I am very troubled by all this development.  Not just because once open space and agricultural-use land is gone, it’s gone, but also because Chester County is so very beautiful.

I don’t like plastic houses.  I don’t think developers should be allowed to continue to contort Chester County into a series of homogeneous plastic communities with no spirit, no soul, zero individuality.

Here’s the article I found today.  Below it is a very interesting one from the Inquirer in 1987 which talks about the Frame property now in play….when it was a cattle farm and they were worried about then proposed plastic house developments causing the farm to flood.

Again, this is all happening in Upper Uwchlan Township.  I guess Upper Uwchlan sees its future as being composed of 100% recycled plastic material?  Will they be substituting grass for Astroturf too?

When is enough development enough in Chester County? Where do communities draw the line?  What do you think about development in Chester County, especially in this economy?

What happens here is bog turtles are discovered? (And by all means, if you have seen bog turtles around here, by all means speak up!)

And based upon the article I found in the archives of the Philadelphia Inquirer, when did this Frame family go from their position back then of concern about development, to becoming part of the problem?

Toll Bros. wants to build 67 new homes

Sara Mosqueda-Fernandez

09/21/2012 – 11:55 AM EDT  Updated 09/21/2012 – 7:28 AM EDT

UPPER UWCHLAN – The Toll Brothers company is currently seeking a conditional use approval from township supervisors in their attempt to construct 67 new single-family homes on the Frame Property.

The conditional use would include use of the Flexible Open Space Design Option, and placing improvements within steep slopes to construct the dwellings.  The proposed site for the construction is located along Little Conestoga Road.

The hearings, which have occupied three supervisor meetings and remain ongoing, have addressed wastewater treatment, traffic planning and design, recreational space.

With the proposed houses within service area of the Route 100 wastewater treatment plant, Toll has proposed use of the plant and disposal in their existing field sites at the Reserve at Eagle, Byers Station, and Ewing subdivisions….

John Snook, a professional land planner at the Brandywine Conservancy, was hired to consult for the township regarding Toll’s proposed plans.

Snook said that there are a few significant concerns that he hopes will be addressed through conditions that the township might impose on the developers, such as replanting vegetation in some areas to strengthen riparian buffers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously requested a study to determine whether bog turtles inhabit the area, which has yet to be accomplished.  Snook said that wetlands in the northern and eastern tracts of the property were characteristic of habitats that typically harbor bog turtles, which are protected under the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act.  Should bog turtles be found, the commonwealth would institute greater constraints on the development project.

Plan For 183 Townhouse Units Is Presented To Commissioners

March 15, 1987|By Wendy Walker, Special to The Inquirer

Developer Phil Davies of Kimberton has presented a plan for Eagle Falls, a proposed 183-townhouse subdivision, to the Upper Uwchlan Planning Commission.

The 31-acre tract borders Little Conestoga Road and Route 100 and is zoned for townhouse development. At Thursday night’s meeting, Davies said the townhouses would be built in clusters of four, five and six units and would be divided into three “villages,” each with its own residents association.

The developer said that the main entrance to the tract would be on Little Conestoga Road opposite Buckingham Drive. A road would run through the site to a shopping center planned for property owned by Frances Funderwhite on Park Road, Davies said…..

In other business, farmer Robert Frame Sr. and his son, Robert Frame Jr., told planners that a 49-house development proposed by Bernard Hankin Builders of Exton would flood Frame’s 103-acre cattle farm on Little Conestoga Road.

“I know every inch of that land. I’ve farmed it for years and years, and it’s a bad situation,” the elder Frame said.

“Pop’s right,” said his son, who is a lawyer and a member of the Planning Commission.

The Frames said that they also were concerned that future residents could use chemicals on their lawns, which could pollute the farm’s water and poison the cattle.

“What’s going to happen when we have animals that are all four legs in the air?” the younger Frame asked the planners. “Who’s going to take the responsibility?”

it’s not nice to criticize, but…

……It took that reporter from the Daily Local/Mercury almost a month to report on skeet shooting leaving Ludwig’s Corner.  I think that’s a bit ridiculous.

By SARA MOSQUEDA-FERNANDEZ smfernandez@journalregister.com

Posted: 03/05/12 12:57 pm

WEST VINCENT – Ludwigs Corner Horse Show Grounds will no longer be home to the Chester Springs Skeet Shooting Club.

The gun club, which had been established on the grounds for about 60 years, disbanded on Monday, Feb. 6….According to Jacobs, the contract for the gun club’s use of the property as a shooting range allows for a 12 month notice to end the lease, giving them until February 2013 to stop using the site for skeet shooting.

“It’s just amazing that they were thinking of us instead of themselves,” said Jacobs…….Most of the complaints related to the noise [WERE] caused by the sport, however, according to Jacobs, when the neighboring houses are sold, the contracts inform new owners that they will be living next to a gun club.

  Jacobs also said that the club, which was founded primarily by World War II veterans, was not only renter of a portion of the property, but also gave the association significant donations, and provided several volunteers for the events held at the grounds, most notably the Ludwigs Corner Horse Show.

Oh and here’s a lil’ update from the Sainted Chicken (think maybe The Daily Local can check this out?):

Hi
People have asked what happened at the township hearing (Feb 13, 2012) for the Pam Brown Corrective ordinance. The video is on the Township website. In a quick synopsis, there was a resident that asked what the changes were and would the changes be explained. He was told that “the ordinance had been on the website for months and that he should have read it” (paraphrased). Shortly thereafter, several people (Patty Kozac, Michelle Thomas, unidentified others) pointed out that there was change towards INCREASE in density, not reduction. The Supervisors denied the claim for several minutes stating that is was a decrease. It was realized that the wording did INCREASE density. The Supervisors took almost a ONE HOUR executive session while the crowd waited and now will perform further review. Apparently, the Supervisors did not read the ordinance either.Nor do they follow the law, once again. To meet in Executive Session, the subject must meet certain criteria.

http://www.lgc.state.pa.us/deskbook06/Issues_Citizens_Rights_02_Pa_Sunshine_Act.pdf     See page #42

For the density discussion Meeting February 13, Video Part 1, 24.24 minutes to 32.30 minutes. The rest of the hearing is gone. Poof! Disappeared. I understand that the hearing went from 7:30 pm to about 11:00 pm. Only 30 minutes of the hearing is available. Why? ANOTHER video missing. Most likely to prevent the viewer from hearing the Pam Brown discussion. Just like the missing December 16 video which most likely is to keep the viewer from catching Clare Quinn calling a resident a “bitch”, (which Clare Quinn denies).

The hearing has been continued to April 2 for the Pam Brown Corrective Ordinance and will continue to field questions and figure out what has been changed and why. I recommend people be there. I understand the last hearing was well attended.

By the way. In today’s Pottstown Mercury, a sad article on the demise of the Skeet Club in Ludwig’s Corner.
http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120305/NEWS01/120309793/ludwigs-corner-skeet-shooting-club-disbands&pager=full_story
It is my belief this is the strategy of the township to erode finances from the Horse Show to push them towards a sale of the property to the township. Support the Horse Show. Become a member. Attend the event. Remember those that are still attempting to take it away, albeit subversively.

To see my previous mailings please click on http://tinyurl.com/westvincentinfos  As usual, if you want to be on or off my list, or have some comments or suggestions, or know someone who would like to be on the list, please let me know.  Feel free to forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested.   Especially though, if you don’t want to continue to receive my mails, please tell me, it will be done.  Just hit reply to this email or write to chestercountynews@gmail.com
Best wishes
Chickenman

Disappearing public meeting tapes?  Wow that is so Good Government for West Vincent, isn’t it? I mean good lord, I criticize Lower Merion but they make the meeting tapes available and run them on public access television. Radnor is even easier access to things of a sunshiney nature.  Look at West Vincent and their “minutes may be available” of it all.  Seriously?  Aren’t they required to make things like this available, not lose meeting tapes, minutes, etc?  Who are the state reps and state senators that serve in and near West Vincent? I am also curious to know is West Vincent this bass ackwards because they seceded from the rest of the Commonwealth of PA and possibly the U.S.?    Seriously, the more I hear about West Vincent the more I wonder how the State hasn’t looked closely at them and the way they do business at a minimum.  Mayberry politics at their worst. West Vincent needs sunshine and a good broom.