old paoli at risk in tredyffrin and what’s up in mt. pleasant?

Sadly, these are the four “Seven Sisters” houses on Chestnut Road slated for demolition to make way for a multi-story apartment building. ~Pattye Benson Community Matters Photo

Sadly, these are the four “Seven Sisters” houses on Chestnut Road in Paoli slated for demolition to make way for a multi-story apartment building. ~Pattye Benson Community Matters Photo

My friend Pattye ended her post today with a sentence I would have led with:

Please do not misunderstand; I support economic redevelopment if thoughtful and well-planned.

 

I concur, but the sad truth is we rarely see thoughtful and well-planned redevelopment or infill development (are you listening or hearing anyone yet Brian O’Leary and Chester County Planning Commission???)

So the other day I wrote a post about more bad development planned for Tredyffrin Township. My main focus was Benson’s plan for Howellville (he’s the guy who said he would restore Linden Hall in East Whiteland if he was allowed to build townhomes, but all he did was sell his approved plans to Pulte who is still cramming them in on Lancaster Ave in Frazer ….And yes everything is Malvern now much like everything further west is Chester Springs even if it isn’t, but I digress.)

Anyway, there were a couple of other things on Tredyffrin Planning, including a cram plan for shoehorning in an apartment building on Chestnut Road in Paoli.

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Wonder where this is?  Here is a Google aerial view to help:

chestnut-aerial

Paoli, as a village, was larger but similar to places like Ardmore with residential neighborhoods which were planned and existed off Lancaster Pike (Lancaster Ave).  People still live in them today, and on Chestnut there are quite a few restored houses.

Tredyffrin like East Whiteland has no historic preservation ordinance in place and in spite of near losses like that of the Covered Wagon Inn (which if it wasn’t for my friend Pattye would be a pile of rubble), there seems to be no discernible forward movement in this area.

I wonder, is Murph Wysocki listening?  I seem to remember what he said when running for supervisor around 2013:

…My vision for the future of TredyffrinTownship is to preserve again what we have here that’s all good –our neighborhoods, our open spaces….

Chestnut Road in Paoli is still a neighborhood even if you also find mixed use and commercial in and around it. So what about these neighborhoods? Not fancy enough to save? What happens when all the inventory of starter homes and downsizing homes are gone?

This is why I have several philosophical differences with those who run and govern Tredyffrin and neighboring townships like East Whiteland.  The zeal for development and ratables combined with a lack of real community planning that communities actually want mixed with a disregard for historic preservation is just a big problem.

Paoli’s orginal roots were 18th century and Joshua Evans’ Inn – General Paoli’s Tavern – named after a Corsican General Pasquale Paoli. General Paoli also inspired the American Sons of Liberty.  Paoli is also famous for the Battle of Paoli/Paoli Massacre  (battlefields stretch into Malvern as we all know).

Where we are talking about is not 18th century Paoli, but 19th century Paoli.  19th century Paoli grew out of the railroad. First the village grew with the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, which became the Pennsylvania Railroad and their famous “Main Line” which ended at Paoli….you know why we still say the Main Line ENDS at Paoli? Paoli was the western terminus.

Paoli has quite a few small neighborhoods like this and it terrifies me that they could all just cease to exist through a lack of historic preservation and proper planning.

And the most terrifying thing of all?  THESE PROPERTIES ARE ALREADY UNDER ONE OWNER which means unless stopped, this plan could move FAST!

This is where I let Pattye’s post take over, and I will join you for a last word about continuing issues in Tredyffrin’s panhandle adjacent to Radnor Township.

Trading in four 19th century houses in Paoli for a new multi-story apartment building … is this progress?

The four houses to be demolished are individually included in the 2003 Tredyffrin Township Historic Resource Survey book.  For the township’s survey, the houses were surveyed and photographed. The historic consultant described their architectural style as “gable-end Colonial Revival cottage” and dated the properties to 1895.

Through local history, the neighborhood of the seven 19th century homes on the east side of Chestnut Road was known as Paoli’s “Seven Sisters”.  Now one hundred and twenty-two years later and four of the ‘sisters’ are on the brink of demolition. Single family homes of the 19th century to be replaced by 21st century multi-family apartment building. Destruction of local history in the name of progress …?

Although the four 19th century homes are included in the township’s historic resource book, the identification is meaningless as Tredyffrin remains a municipality without a historic preservation ordinance of protection.  Without historic protection and the property’s inclusion in the Town Center zoning district, the proposed apartments are a permitted use. Chestnut Road Apartments will join the other new apartment plan in Paoli – Station Square on the corner of N. Valley and West Central.

Close-up of Colonial Revival cottage, c.1895 house on Chestnut Road that will come down for the proposed new apartment building.

Close-up of Colonial Revival cottage, c.1895 house on Chestnut Road in Paoli that will come down for the proposed new apartment building.

…The proposed Howellville Road townhouse plan returned to the Planning Commission. No Tredyffrin resident spoke in favor of the project and several in the audience voiced opposition……Neighbors spoke about the existing traffic issues on Howellville Road and the negative impact of this proposed townhouse on the community. Others, including myself, spoke of the historic significance of the village (and the old winding country road) and the changes the project will mean to the character of the area…..These proposed townhouses should not be marketed as a downsizing option – we were told each unit is 3,000 sq. ft.!  (READ MORE BY CLICKING HERE)

A reminder, this is the way Howellville could look:

howellville-road-townhome-plans
This is what it looks like now:
Pattye Benson photo

Howellville today. Pattye Benson photo

Tredyffrin, like neighboring East Whiteland needs to slow their development roll.  George Washington sure wouldn’t want to sleep there today, would he?

Now the last word.  Historic Mount Pleasant.

Mt. Pleasant is a historically important part of Tredyffrin adjacent to Radnor Township in Tredyffrin’s “pan handle”.

Because Tredyffrin also did not deal with student rentals for so long, this is also where student housing slumlords have set up quite the slumlord student rental shop, and well suffice it to say, the college students who rent there have historically treated an entire historic area like animal house.

I have a friend who lives there and the stories over the years have been appalling.  Things like urinating on children’s toys in some someone’s yard. Beer cans and party debris littering the streets. Out of control parties. Residents being shall we say, intimidated?

As my friend said around 2009:

I would like Tredyffrin to take a look at the historic value of Mount Pleasant.

The Carr House on the corner of Upper Gulph and Radnor Street Road was built c. 1774. The Carr School was built in 1833. My house, according to the deed was built around 1789. 961 Mt. Pleasant Avenue was built around 1810. 941 Mt. Pleasant was built around 1860.

And what about the significance of Mount Pleasant over the past 100 years as a historically african-american neighborhood?

As was said in 2010:

The Mount Pleasant neighborhood is located on the north side of Upper Gulph Road, across from St. Davids Golf Club…. several unsettling changes taking place in their neighborhood – the influx of investors converting family homes into student housing, and developers buying and razing properties to build new housing…..

Another issue troubling many in Mount Pleasant is the amount of land that has been snatched up in the past few years by developers. The demolition of homes and clear-cutting of land are viewed as detracting from the history and character of this predominately African-American community.

One developer reportedly clear-cut trees and shrubs despite a development plan that spared mature trees. In the process, some private property was cleared without the homeowners’ permission. Another developer demolished a house at 958 Mount Pleasant Rd., leaving the lot debris, trash and weed-filled, attracting rodents. This mess has sat unattended for over a year.

Maisie B Hall house 210 – Photo courtesy http://www.ttdems.com

The property under development at the foot of Henry Avenue appeared recently tidied and covered with erosion-control netting. However, at least three homes marked for demolition at this site continue to sit abandoned and a danger to neighborhood children. One is the century-old home (shown left) of revered community leader and civil rights activist, Mazie B. Hall.

 

Now this where I have always been puzzled about Tredyffrin.  They have bragging rights to Mazie Hall since she lived in Mt. Pleasant. I think they named a park after her. So why not honor her 103 years on this earth by trying to preserve the community she fought for and called home? Every time I hear anything about Mt. Pleasant I feel like they are trying to erase it.

Here is what Ryan Richards, who used to write for the Suburban, wrote about Mazie Hall upon her death in 2005:

Obituary: Civil-rights activist and educator Mazie Hall dies at 103 Date: 2005
Suburban and Wayne Times

By Ryan Richards

Mazie B. Hall – educator, mentor, civil-rights activist, community leader and friend to many – passed away Sunday evening at age 103.

She was affectionately known simply as “Miss Mazie,” and until only recently she called the Mt. Pleasant section of Tredyffrin her home since her birth in 1902. According to those who knew her, Miss Hall left a legacy of caring and compassion.

“She lived her life and she lived it greatly,” remarked Kevin Stroman, a native of Mt. Pleasant and close friend of Miss Hall. “She was just a living legend; her legacy was how many lives that she touched, not just through education but personally.”

“She was an inspiration and beacon to us all through educational, civic, horticultural contributions to the Main Line community, and especially her beloved Wayne,” said Mrs. Arnelia Hollinger, a Wayne resident of nearly 35 years and former chair of Radnor Township’s Community Awareness Committee…..Yet, according to Rector, she was humble, not “stuffy,” and modestly talked about her life. She fondly recalled her luncheon visits to her Mt. Pleasant home, where Miss Hall was a genteel host. She baked a special dessert, Sally Lunn cake, a slightly sweetened teacake, reminisced Rector, serving it with the proper silverware and glasses. The gracious host also took her guest on a tour of the grounds.

“She showed me trees that her father had planted,” she remembered.

Miss Hall graduated from the former Tredyffrin-Easttown High School and then graduated from West Chester Normal School (West Chester University). Until her death, she was the university’s oldest graduate. The school maintains a scholarship fund in her honor.

She taught school for many years in New Jersey’s Camden School District. Her career as an educator also included serving one year as principal at the former Mt. Pleasant School in Tredyffrin in the 1930s. When schools in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District became segregated, she was involved in the movement for desegregation.

She teamed up with long-time friend Margaret Collins to crusade for fair-housing practices on the Main Line during the 1950s. Their efforts influenced the formation of the Pennsylvania Fair Housing Act, the basis for federal fair-housing laws.

READ THE REST HERE

Now I knew Miss Collins as I called her. I used to wait on her when I worked at Bryn Mawr Feed & Seed a million years ago. She loved to garden.  She would show up in her crazy beat up old station wagon and I was the one who would wait on her.  I worked there at that nursery after I stopped working in New York. I was totally disenchanted at that time by the financial services industry and decided to explore my passion for gardening professionally. (Suffice it to say working for the widow who inherited and eventually shuttered the business almost killed my joy of gardening for a while, but that is a story for another day.)

Miss Collins, by the time I met her was a very old lady like her friend Mazie Hall.  But what a career they had.   Read about some of what they did on the website Housing Equality Center of PA.  Also the papers of Mazie Hall are curated and archived by Temple University, while her friend Margaret Collins’ papers are at Swarthmore College.

So sorry for going off on a tangent, but when I think of Mazie Hall and all that she accomplished, I think of Miss Collins.  And when I think of Mt. Pleasant, I think of Mazie Hall.

Back to Mt. Pleasant.  It still suffers from off campus student housing and now it also apparently suffers from developers who get away with crazy stuff.  Like this photo I am about to show you:

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Mt. Pleasant has been photographed in the past HERE and HERE. I am wondering if it needs to be photographed again? (Residents can feel free to message the blog’s Facebook page with any photos they care to share)

If you lived in a neighborhood of small homes, would you want this thing next to you? And how is that garage a basement?

Tredyffrin has zoning and development issues.  They are hardly alone in Chester County with this as I have mentioned before. Developer driven zoning and zoning overlays eats communities one road at a time like an army of Pac-Men.  Community input should actually be taken into consideration, not just paid lip service to.  And these smaller neighborhoods like you see in Paoli being threatened are often representative of a community’s more affordable housing.

I am sorry but not sorry in my thought that people do not move to Chester County to live crammed in like lemmings in overpriced squished together townhouses and apartments.

Here’s hoping townships like Tredyffrin and East Whiteland which share borders, history, and apparently developers learn to hit the pause button before what makes each of these municipalities special is eradicated one bad plan at a time.

#SlowDownChesterCountyPADevelopment

“stakeholder” meetings should be centrally located and convenient for “stakeholders” right?

dsc_8099A reporter asked me what happened to the link for the Chester County Planning Commission’s survey in advance of the soon to be new and glorious Landscapes3, an Exercise in Resident Futility.

Why?

Because the original link does NOT work anymore.  Great planning: they send out a link ask all their contacts to distribute within their communities and then they change it. Or make it go away. Of course I have no answer what happened to all of the answers of people who already completed the survey, do you?

So now go to this page Public Participation Opportunities , go partway down the page and see:

Topical Surveys

Developed to gather stakeholder opinions on specific topical areas, these surveys are also being made available to the public. Targeted to representatives of organizations active in the topical areas, interested individuals are welcome to complete these surveys as they become available.

  • Preservation

  • Agriculture

  • Housing

  • Utilities and Infrastructure (available October 26)

  • Transportation (available November 2)

  • Economic Development (available November 16)

  • Community Health (available December 6)

 

Also of note, the top part of the page:

The development of Landscapes3 will be an open and collaborative experience. The public is invited to participate throughout. The process includes:

Photo Contest

Participants can submit their favorite Chester County place in this photo contest, which is aimed at taking a different approach to identifying what is valued by residents. Prizes will be available. (coming soon)

Stakeholder Meetings

A series of stakeholder meetings will be held to identify issues and challenges facing Chester County over the next ten years. Experts will meet under the following topics: preservation, agriculture, housing, utilities and infrastructure, transportation, economic development, and community health. The public is invited to attend and observe these meetings. Click here to view meeting schedule.

 

How many of my photos of farms and historic houses would they like to see?

But then we come to the stakeholder meetings. Here is a screen shot of the schedule:

this-is-how-you-know

In the middle of the afternoon, in Coatesville? Seriously? Hello people work, pick kids up from school/sports, have farms and businesses to tend, and so on.

But no, Chester County’s idea of most opportune time to schedule these meetings is in a place not quite ideally located and at times inconvenient for the majority of people living int the real world.  Common sense would dictate if they were REALLY interested in what people who live here and pay taxes (as opposed to the carpetbagger Executive Director of Chester County Planning Department Brian O’Leary), they would have chosen a location like West Chester, or done a series of traveling meetings and maybe holding them in school auditoriums or something.

But Brian O’Leary and the Chester County Planning must not really be terribly interested in citizen participation if they choose times that are NOT convenient for average folk, even farm folk and choose a location like this one in Coatesville, that is not really even convenient to anyone.  (Which is why I think they should have had travelling meetings to capture different quadrants of the county more effectively.)

This is not an auspicious beginning to a long process that is supposed to matter, Chester County.

And no, Brian O’Leary I am not going to stop mentioning you are not a Chester County resident and come from a uniquely pro-development township (Lower Merion Township) where I don’t think you listened much at all to residents while on the Planning Commission there, arranged for political pasty “planning” awards be given to politicians who weren’t planners except in the landscape sense of the word, and were employed by Montgomery County which as a whole has been decimated by development in part.

Our chief planner should be one of us.  I find it hard to believe that no such qualified planners exist in Chester County.

Carpe Diem, Chester County Residents.  I know many of you care. Speak up. Please…before all the open space, farmland, and history is gone. This county has a unique history, and it is very much at risk.

hardly fine dining in a fake general warren village

general warren

Sometimes imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes it is just imitation or borrowing a name to play on the history they don’t care about anyway.  Such is the case of  developer to the masses Eli Kahn and his “The Village at General Warren”  in the “Charlestown Retail Center”  on “General Warren Blvd” in Malvern off 29 in or near that behemoth of ugliness known as Atwater. You know Atwater, where there is a giant quarry and insufficient fencing? And lots and lots of development?

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It makes me recall a recent blog comment which in part said:

The “Suburban Landscape” County planning category promotes infill and appropriate density. County buzzwords for “put all the crap in this part of the County so we can keep some parts of the County green.”  East Whiteland is already written off as far as controlling development….the more here, the better in the County’s eyes. The prior issue of County Plan had existing homes obliterated by corporate park….so their intent has been clear for a long time. All very sad.

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So that says to me no one really cares, and we have to wonder if everything is a fait accompli? How sad, indeed.

So what got me thinking about this today?  An article in Patch which doesn’t exactly represent actual journalism at this point. They regurgitate the hard work of actual reporters and they post press releases in their entirety as articles. Journalism, Patch style. Here is is with typos (you’re welcome):

pj 1pj 2

Three screenshots as they appeared in Malvern Patch August 31, 2016

Three screenshots as they appeared in Malvern Patch August 31, 2016

Ah yes another chain pub style restaurant…because there are not enough of them locally, correct? Is this the finest of fine dining they think we should have in Chester County? And much like name brand car dealerships, they all look the same. They all have the same menu. Pick a Whelihan’s, they are all the same and there is one in Downingtown, there is one coming to Oaks, there is one in West Chester, Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, Reading, Blue Bell, and Leighton and that is just PA. There is also Cherry Hill, Haddon Twp, Maple Shade, Medford Lakes, and Washington Township.

After all, nothing says date night or family dinner out like a modern day Houlihan’s, right?  You can never have too much of the same thing everywhere, right?

I am sorry not sorry but why do we have to be both a development wasteland and a dining wasteland too?

And then there is the whole “Village at General Warren” of it all. Apparently the whole thing is brought to you by a company called Bernardon.  Look at their website and you will find little individuality.  It’s all formula “architecture”  (they also “designed” that thing Easttown residents are fighting called Devon Yard.)

Perhaps Mr. Kahn is getting older and forgets there already is a General Warren Village.  Part of it is located within the view shed of CubeSmart which he built and caused neighbors great distress over, right?

Now granted, General Warren Village as a development. Post WWII.

general-warren-1

But it was a planned development with decent sized lots which did not eat every tree in sight. The kind of development they don’t do today because today it is all about developers getting in and out with as much money as possible, which means what you get are cheaply constructed cram plans of same-y saminess.

The General Warren Inne, for which the real Village is named after is a country inn constructed in 1745. This 250 plus-year-old inn, once owned by the grandson of William Penn, is surrounded by woods on a few acres, and is an 18th century survivor (just think if anyone really gave a crap about Linden Hall, Linden Hall could be just as charming!)

I love the General Warren Inne.  I have seconded wedding photographers there and it is just lovely.  And it is still a bed and breakfast, and provides a wonderful alternative to chain hotels. So you have a developer borrowing the name after a fashion, but I bet they don’t really know the history.  Here is the history compiled by the General Warren Inne on itself:

Since 1745, the historic General Warren has been center stage for American history and a premier carriage stop for hungry travelers.

During The French & Indian War The story of the General Warren can be followed through its name changes. The Inne was first named in 1745 as The Admiral Vernon Inne, in honor of the naval commander Admiral Edward Vernon. He led the 1739 attack and capture of Portobello, Panama. In 1758, the name was changed to the Admiral Warren after the famed Admiral Peter Warren, a hero in defense of the American colony that year at Louisburg, (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) during the French and Indian War.

American Revolution During the revolution, the inn was owned by John Penn of Philadelphia, loyalist and grandson of William Penn. Its key location on the main highway between Philadelphia and Lancaster had helped the Admiral Warren become a popular stage stop and a Tory stronghold. It was here that the Loyalists met, drew maps and plotted against the revolutionaries. Howe and Cornwallis use these maps to negotiate the great valley, the route to capture Philadelphia.

Paoli Massacre The infamous Paoli Massacre, was planned and launched from The Admiral Warren Inne. Local folklore has it that on the night of September 20, 1777, the British, led by Lord Grey, captured the local blacksmith and tortured him on the third floor of the inn. Upon receiving the information that General “Mad Anthony” Wayne was camped one mile South of the Inne, the British attacked with bayonettes after midnight.

The Lancaster Turnpike Era In 1786, John Penn sold the property to Casper Fahnestock, a German Seventh Day Adventist from Ephrata. During Fahnestock’s long ownership, the Inne once again thrived, attracting many Lancaster County Germans and other travelers along The Lancaster Turnpike because of its reputation for clean lodging and excellent food.

The Early 19th Century In 1825 an effort was made to make amends with the new nation, the Admiral Warren was renamed the General Warren, to honor the American hero of Bunker Hill. During the 1820’s, the height of turnpike travel was reached, and the General Warren became a relay stop for mail stages and a post office. Then in April of 1831, the Philadelphia and Columbia Railway opened for travel, and in May of 1834, the last regular stage went through. The new, faster and cheaper means of travel via the rails doomed the inn as traffic by-passed the property.

The Inn’s Dormant Period In the 1830’s the great grandson of the first Fahnestock turned the Inne into a Temperance Hotel, cutting down his apple orchard to prevent cider from being made. The lack of spirits doomed the hotel, and it closed within a few years. From that point into the early 20th Century, The General Warren changed hands often, occasionally becoming a private residence. In the 1920’s, the inn reopened as a restaurant, with limited success over the next 60 years.

The Modern Era As area population and business grew in the mid 1980’s, the current owners made great strides to return the inn to its 18th Century elegance. The upper floors were renovated into 8 suites, the addition of a private dining room and all-weather heated patio for cocktail parties, outdoor dining and weddings. In 2005, the latest improvements included the new Admiral Vernon Dining Room and the return of The Warren Tavern, a spacious bar for dining and spirits, relocated to the original spot of the old tavern from the 19th Century.

Today at the General Warren Today’s guest at General Warren will find the perfect blend of old world charm, excellence in continental cuisine, fine wines and delightful overnight accommodations.

So the history of the General Warren and the eighteenth century architecture is captured how exactly by this “The Village at General Warren” in the Charlestown Retail Center?

The answer of course, is it is not.  It is just another example of a developer using aspects of our communities to sell their projects.  And another chain restaurant brings mostly minimum wage jobs with it, and well how many people do you know who can support a home and a family on a minimum wage job?

I don’t know who development like this is for, but certainly not truly our communities. Maybe if these developers actually tried to do something better with their commercial spaces or tried to being actual fine dining and not just chain pub food I wouldn’t be so cynical. But I am.

Apparently chain pub food is becoming as plentiful as WaWas. Say here’s an idea: why not merge the two and add a chain drug store with a drive thru. All smushed together – save time!!! No one has ever done that before.

Eyes rolling in Lego Land. It’s a big box world out there.

The General Warren Inne for which the real General Warren Village was named

The General Warren Inne for which the real General Warren Village was named

warren and second, malvern borough (sad)

 This was Gables Greenhouse that is now owned by TAG and will be four MASSIVE houses...photo courtesy of Alicia Marziani

This was Gables Greenhouse that is now owned by TAG and will be four MASSIVE houses…photo courtesy of Alicia Marziani

More photos which occurred during demolition and note they barely left a blade of grass or even a humble weed intact:

 

photo courtesy of Alicia Marziani

photo courtesy of Alicia Marziani

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is it possible to STOP toll brothers from destroying crebilly farm in westtown? sadly, probably not.

Crebilly Farm, June 2014 (my photo)

Crebilly Farm, June 2014 (my photo)

I know people get tired of hearing me talk about development and the OVER-development of Chester County. So if you don’t want to hear how I feel, turn away now.

ASB stallion Sensation Rex was owned by Crebilly Farms in Pennsylvania during the 1940's (from Pinterest)

ASB stallion Sensation Rex was owned by Crebilly Farms in Pennsylvania during the 1940’s (from Pinterest)

About a week ago I heard Crebilly Farm on 926 in Westtown was possibly going the entire kit and kaboodle to a developer.  I put it out of my head as life was, well, life. It was filed under Tomorrow is Another Day, Miss Scarlett. Until just a little while ago.

Then today thanks to a friend posting an article written by someone else we both know, well here we are: we know Crebilly’s suitor, the ultimate destroyer of farmland and open space everywhere, TOLL BROTHERS.

Toll Brothers has not even sold out the mass annihilation of what was once Foxcatcher Farm the DuPont Estate in Newtown Square (They call it Liseter.)…or the Reserve at Chester Springs or Creekside at Byers Station, or any of the multitude of other crap they have spread over Pennsylvania.  I am always believe they create a false and not actual need. It isn’t about growing our communities, it is about lining Toll Brothers pockets.

I don’t know what it is about farms in particular that draws Toll Brothers in, but Crebilly is another one on the hit list as we now know.  A third (?)  generation astoundingly gorgeous farm, that is so amazing to drive past on 926.

I shudder to think of how it will look like covered in “Toll”. Maybe like this:

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Or this:

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And if the “little people” are really good, some townhouses (see what happens when I go up in balloons? I take development horror show photos):

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YUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So who can stop Toll Brothers? Is it possible to neuter them? Can they go build plastic houses in Afghanistan or something?

What happens to McGregor Stables which I believe to still be on Crebilly?

Crebilly Farm by Richard McFarland http://richardmcfarland.us/

Crebilly Farm by Richard McFarland
http://richardmcfarland.us/

Ok so you get the picture? That this is GORGEOUS and this is a NIGHTMARE?

Who is protecting the beauty and land heritage of Chester County? Certainly not Brian O’Leary and the Chester County Planning Commission. (But I never expect much from “planners” out of Lower Merion Township which is one hot development mess on it’s own.)

The Chester County Planning Commission has a unique mission statement they don’t exactly live up to:

Mission Statement
The mission of the Chester County Planning Commission is to provide future growth and preservation plans to citizens, so that they can enjoy a Chester County that is historic, green, mobile and prosperous.

 

Green we are losing by the acre by the day it feels like. Same with the history, which includes agricultural history.

Crebilly Farm aerial shot courtesy of Crebilly Farm

Crebilly Farm aerial shot courtesy of Crebilly Farm

Two years ago there was a Change.org petition to stop development on Crebilly. In 1987 Crebilly was mentioned in this Inquirer article:

Keeping Developers At Bay When Heart Is On The Farm

POSTED: January 04, 1987

Marshall Jones 2d drives across the brown, stubbled hayfield and up a steep ridge, surveying his beloved Maple Shade Farm in Westtown.

From this vantage point, he sees his hayfields and his cornfields. He sees his weathered gray barn, like a great prairie schooner, giving shelter to the herd of black and white Holsteins. And he sees the stone farmhouse that his father covered with white plaster so many years ago.

He sees, too, Shiloh Road that separates two different worlds: On one side are Jones’ 190 acres of rolling farmland; on the other is the Plumly Farm development.

Jones, 77, owns one of the three farms of more than 100 acres that are left in Westtown. Although developers are offering him large sums for his property, he hopes that either the township or the Brandywine Conservancy will someday

purchase his land and keep it as open space.

Township officials say Crebilly Farms has 400 acres, and The Westtown School has 600 acres, although less than half of its property is farmed.

“I get two calls a week from people wanting to buy the place,” Jones said. “The developers want it. They want it bad. But they’re not going to get (all of it) as long as I’m alive.”

Now Marshall Jones was a heck of an interesting gent.  My friend Catherine Quillman actually profiled him in 1992 for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

But back to Crebilly.  It’s what? Still close to 400 acres?

Farms are expensive and developers have lots and lots of money. But we have to do something to preserve some of this land.  I would say that given the noises made by Westtown Township in the article I am about to post that this is pretty much a done deal.   And it doesn’t surprise me that Westtown will do this given the way they rolled over and showed their municipal belly to to Bartkowski The Billboard Baron a few years ago.  You know that thing that is like the size of a 24 hour dirve in movie screen? That was once described as  “a 14-foot-tall, 48-foot-wide digital sign…. gateway for southbound drivers on Route 202 entering the township from West Goshen and the West Chester Bypass.”

When I was little Westtown was this most amazing place of rolling farmland and gorgeous, spacious properties.  No more.  Yet another for whom the bell “Tolls”, right? What happens when Bryn Coed falls to development in West Vincent?  With Bryn Coed I still believe it is not a question of IF but a question of WHEN.

Here is an excerpt from Kathleen Brady Shea’s article (you will want to read every last word):

Chadds Ford Live: Toll Brothers making plans for Crebilly Farm

Ok read the article. All of it. It is the Liseter formula:

  • 300 two-story homes
  • 145 single-family
  • 165 carriage-style dwellings, all with basements.

Or a mix of 143 single-family and 204 carriage-style homes. If you all are good little subjects they will save a barn or something as a party space.

It’s the same thing every time. Gross. Just gross.

Buh byes open space.  Sigh.

My photo . June, 2014

My photo . June, 2014

Time to add a postscript. I received this comment:

comment

Unfortunately the Robinson family (who are the owners I am told), have chosen the potential of a cash cow over land conservation.  They need to live with that.  I think that they are doing this is crappy BUT Toll Brothers or ANY developer could choose to do things differently and they never do (just like property owners who are selling these giant tracts of land/open space to the highest bidder.).

As for Westtown Township Officials? My opinion is simple: if this goes through, every supervisor and possibly their manager needs to go. If any Supervisors can be voted out this coming November, start there.  I have no idea about how they spend their open space funds or what they have. I am not a resident of Westtown Township.

Here is their board:

westtown

Everyone should contact them – supervisors@westtown.org

Here is the manager- rpingar@westtown.org

Of special note is the Chair, Carol R. De Wolf.  How ironic is it that she works for Natural Lands Trust as the director of the Schuylkill Highlands???? Maybe residents should be asking her some tough questions?  Has she tried to get any of the land that is Crebilly conserved?

nat lands

Anyway, that is the end of the post script.

embreeville back in the news again….

embreeville ughA while ago I screen shot a Legal Intellegencer article that came up on a Google Cache:

Embreeville 1 Embreeville 2

Read the article. It is a cautionary tale of land shark developers and politicians and local zoning and the Municipalities Planning Code or the MPC. You know that giant body of code that steers our local zoning in PA?

Embreeville was on my blog in 2013 because of the connection to the then Chester County SPCA.   I noted then that West Bradford has a page dedicated to the hot mess that is this development.

Well people are waking up about Embreeville again because it is in the news again.  A huge development which will directly impact schools, roads, and quality of life.

I last paid attention to this in 2014:

Embreeville developers argue against ordinance change

POSTED: 08/07/14, 6:52 PM EDT

West Bradford >> Developers with housing plans at the former Embreeville State Hospital property challenged a recent change to a township zoning ordinance, arguing the township is not meeting its “fair share obligations” for regional growth.

“Fair share obligations”? Wow who knew you HAD to have development? I guess the screen shot from the Legal Intellegencer above from March 2016 is the end result of this?

1546220_246864565489435_80306963_nSo I had heard there was supposed to be a hearing June 22, but then it was postponed.  The most incredulous thing to me is this will be a hearing where it sounds like the public can’t speak?

west bradford

Public hearing is Aug. 3 for plan to build 1,100 homes and apartments in Embreeville

POSTED: 06/04/16, 3:57 PM EDT

A public hearing for a development that could change the character of the Unionville area will take place Wednesday, Aug. 3 at the West Bradford Township Building.

At stake is an ambitious plan by Embreeville Redevelopment LP to build 1,100 townhomes and apartments, including stores and businesses on a 225-acre parcel known as the Embreeville property, over the next 25 years. Some local residents say the development plan is too much, too fast and will adversely affect the area with traffic congestion and a strain on the school system. The development is equal to about a quarter of the entire West Bradford housing supply.

A zoning hearing is needed because the land is zoned for a park, prison, or educational institution, not a housing development….Total tract size includes 222 acres in West Bradford and 22 acres in Newlin Township. Thirteen acres will be single-family residential; 52 acres will be resreved for multi-family residential and 18 acres will be reserved for mixed residential…The zoning hearing will be held at the township building, 1385 Campus Drive, Downingtown at 7 p.m.

The same article as above appeared in The Daily Local a couple of days ago.

In 2013 The Daily Local opined on the sad state of affairs that is the Embreeville debacle (it’s worse than a potential development, it’s a debacle) . They said it was inappropriate and would be a call for disaster:

For decades, the hundreds of acres of land that stretch between the villages of Embreeville and Romansville in West Bradford served the needs of Chester County citizens, as the location of a poorhouse, a state hospital for the developmentally disabled, and as the spot of a state police barracks.

Since the late 1980s, it has been less and less of a vibrant place, and now stands as a forlorn reminder of past uses.

But that is not to say that what is being proposed by a land developer at the Embreeville center would be a worthwhile way of rejuvenating the property. Rather, the idea that the land would be the perfect place for a housing project with more than 1,000 units would be a call for a disaster.

We urge the West Bradford supervisors, who have been asked to start looking at the development, to reject calls for this sort of reuse. We trust from their comments that they do have the best interests not only of the citizens of West Bradford, but for all central Chester County, in mind.

Yet like most tragically bad development plans it is back again.

It is too big and too dense.

Why does everything proposed in Chester County have to be an open space killer ?

And what would happen to where Indian Hannah is?

1280px-IndianHannah_ChesterCountyMarker

Indian Hannah (Mrs. Hannah Freeman) (1730–1802) was the last of the Lenni-Lenape Indians (or Delawares) in Chester County, Pennsylvania, USA.[1][2][3]

She was born around 1730 in southern Chester County. She moved about the region, at times living in New Jersey, perhaps having a common law Indian husband named Andrew Freeman. She was known throughout the region, wandering with her two dogs Elmun and Putmoe selling brooms and woven baskets. In her later years she lived in the newly constructed Chester County Poorhouse where she died and was the first to be buried in its graveyard.

A road is named after her (“Indian Hannah Road”) in Newlin Township, Pennsylvania, and there are two memorial markers for her in Chester County, near Embreeville, Pennsylvania.

 

Indian Hannah has been written about a great deal.  The Inquirer wrote about her in 1989. Her history is fascinating, how would this development affect her memory? If her grave-site is on Embreeville property, then what?  And have Indian and other artifacts been found here? Properly cared for? Documented?  And I am confused about whatever actually happened to that 20 acres the SPCA had? Or didn’t they actually ever get the land?

Ok look, everyone knows that kind of a chunk of land will not go undeveloped, but why should this proposed development be allowed to ruin a part of Chester County?

Here are a couple of comments I have seen on social media:

With thousands of additional cars each morning, you can certainly plan on seeing quaint Marshalton installing a few traffic lights soon. As it is now cars back up a half mile each morning at the intersection of Strasburg and Telegraph, these developments and the extra traffic will a nightmare. I’m going to post a video soon of what Broad Run Rd looks like each day as people try to bypass the traffic and rush up the dirt road one after another to try and avoid the line on Strasburg. If the police want to make some money with speeding tickets they could make a years quota in 2 or 3 days. And this is BEFORE the developments have gone in.

And:

This tract is very near the Natural Lands’ Cheslen preserve. I’m very disappointed in West Bradford….More suburbia in the last undeveloped area of Chester County, in West Bradford and parts north of Unionville?

Why is that they feel it’s acceptable to pack houses in a region just because its right next door to a preserve. Is this the vision of the Chester County comprehensive plan: create as many high density housing developments as possible but link them together with a few small open space areas, “passive” parks, recreational areas and exercise trails. So what if we no longer have working farms or authentic rural areas – we have a “planned” community of Chester County. You’ve heard of gentrification? Well this will be the organized suburbs.

Here is a great article on the area, written by a friend of mine for The Hunt Magazine: 

Chester County’s Poorhouse

A place to go for the poverty-stricken in the 19th century.

By Catherine Quillman |

As early as 1800, the poverty-stricken in Chester County had a place in the community. They lived at its Poorhouse, built on a 350–acre tract that was considered one of the most scenic regions of the county. In recent years, the grounds were known as the State Police Barracks at Embreeville and are now in the news for being part of a contested proposed high-density development.

The original building—a stately three-story brick structure with dormer windows—stood on a hilltop overlooking the West Branch of the Brandywine. From a distance, it resembled any other profitable farmstead of the region, with dairy cows and outbuildings. For the poor, this was no ordinary farm, of course. It served as an orphanage, a homeless shelter, a battered women’s refuge, a lying-in hospital, a nursing home and an asylum….For the most part, the Chester County Poorhouse was built in 1800 as a working farm. It was no Dickensian debtors’ prison. It had central heating and a steam laundry. Water was piped in from a nearby spring, and the kitchen was equipped with a professional-grade range and coffee boiler. Children of a certain age had their own dining room and, later, a school.

That first year, Hannah Freeman—aka “Indian Hannah”—appears on the books as one of only two nonwhite “inmates.” She and “Black Phyllis” were allowed to live, without segregation (that came later), among the other women in a dormitory-style room equipped with 27 cots but only 16 sets of sheets, as the “Visitors”—a group of men selected to tour the facilities—later reported.

On Nov. 12, 1800, when Freeman entered the Poorhouse at age 69, she was celebrated as a native Lenape Indian who lived alone with her two dogs in a series of “rude” huts. She had been under the care of a group of Quaker farmers, who signed a formal agreement for her financial support.

Freeman was later immortalized in the 1909 poem “The Last of Her Race.” In her lifetime, she became somewhat of a celebrity in Chester County. Yet only one other entry is found on the book—and that’s her 1802 death, the first in the institution, and her burial in the “almshouse graveyard.”

 

Anyway, I haven’t a clue as to how to stop this development any more than how people will stop whatever eventually happens at Bryn Coed in West Vincent and whichever other township has some of that estate in it but wow, we have to do something about development, right?

Chester County needs a citizen driven county-wide initiative to slow down, and in some cases stop development.  Chester County residents need to take back their county. When the open space is gone, it’s not coming back. When the farms are gone, they won’t be producing food. And all of these developments impact our way of life and our taxes and schools.  Municipalities get the quickie high of one time ratables and the burden goes to the taxpayers forever after, correct?

Every resident of Chester County needs to remember these horrible development plans every time there is the opportunity to vote in the most local of elections right through to Harrisburg. Use your power of your vote to enact change. But in the mean time, support the folks immediately impacted by a development on what was Embreeville State Hospital.

Contact Andy Dinniman’s office. He’s the state senator.  As for State Rep, contact your State Rep and tell them this is a BAD PLAN to enact on formerly(?) state owned land. And that is something I wonder: who owns the land? Is it the developer now? Or is it still the state pending the outcome of these hearings?

#ChesterCountyWakeUp

#SlowDownChesterCountyPADevelopment

http://www.marshalltonconservationtrust.org/news/embreeville/

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