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.
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:
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):
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?
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:
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.
Two years ago there was a Change.org petition to stop development on Crebilly. In 1987 Crebilly was mentioned in this Inquirer article:
By Shelly Phillips, Special to The Inquirer
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):
A revered Chester County vista – replete with rolling hills, waterways and expansive pastureland – has been endangered for more than a decade.
Bounded by Routes 926 and 202, South New Street, and West Pleasant Grove Road in Westtown Township, Crebilly Farm is no stranger to the threat of development. The third-generation property is owned by the Robinson family, descendants of the founder of a grocery store that evolved into the Acme chain.
Proposals ranging from a 2003 assisted living community to a 2012 apartment complex have failed to pass muster; however, township officials suggested that a massive housing development, discussed for the first time on Thursday, June 30, is much more likely to happen.
During a special public meeting, an audience of about 60 listened as representatives of Toll Brothers presented what Andrew J. Semon, a division president for the developer, described as “a very, very preliminary, conceptual discussion….
Westtown Township Supervisor Mike T. Di Domenico said the township learned on Tuesday, June 28, that Toll had an agreement of sale to purchase the property. Supervisors’ Chairwoman Carol R. De Wolf explained that the township invited Toll to share its plans for the nearly 330-acre tract, prior to submitting any applications, so that the township could get initial insight into the developer’s intentions.
Township solicitor Patrick McKenna pointed out that unlike the Bozzuto Development apartment proposal, which required a zoning change and was withdrawn in 2015, the Toll Brothers project involves a use that is already permitted by the township…..The purchase is contingent upon getting conditional-use approval from the township…
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.
Time to add a postscript. I received this 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.
Everyone should contact them – firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the manager- email@example.com
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?
Anyway, that is the end of the post script.
So in the fall of 2009, before I lived in Chester County, I got lost on a country road as a passenger in a car and snapped a photo. I just recently found out I actually know the people who live there now. I thought that was pretty cool and love the way the folks who live there now described living there as being the happy new stewards of the property, not just an owner.
This my friends, is living historic preservation. And it is very, very cool and we need more of it in Chester County, PA and elsewhere. A developer building new plastic Lego developments and calling them “carriage house homes” and other cutesy names doesn’t make them other than plastic Lego boxes.
This barn? The real deal. And rapidly disappearing from our landscape out here.