A reader named Eric wrote to us this morning (and sent these two photos):
905 Westtown Rd. in West Goshen is a wonderful historic home built in 1818. This beautiful estate is about to be demolished to build 12 new houses…..Sadly it seems like its time is up. It’s been abandoned for 15 years and had been up for Sheriff’s sale, though these have been cancelled and demolition is now scheduled.
Again, the photos have graciously been provided by Eric for our use here.
It seems like every day brings us a tale of another demolition in another township in Chester County.￼
Soon we will be very urban in even more places and that’s very disturbing as we are very urban in many places already in this county because of development.
And all these new developments load up our school districts to the point of overcrowding. And then the students pay for that because the situation changes from lovely high schools to overcrowded high schools were students are packed in like lemmings without the proper attention from educators. As taxpayers this overcrowding will be eventually reflected in our taxes, if they aren’t already.
All of this development puts undue stress on our infrastructure. And developers never pay enough towards the infrastructure. You’re lucky if you get a traffic signal out of them.
And this is the architectural history of our county that will never be replaced once it is demolished. This is why I believe the Chester County Planning Commission should not be run by someone who does not live in the county and has no intention of living in the county. That carpetbagger should go back to Lower Merion Township where he lives.
And speaking of issues with overcrowding in the schools, look at the result of all the recent past years of infill development in Lower Merion Township and the effect it has had on the Lower Merion School District. ￼
Lower Merion School District is eyeballing several choice private properties for eminent domain to expand their footprint. And one of the properties they have particular interest in as reported by local media a couple weeks ago, is Natural Lands acquisition Stoneleigh in Villanova. That property which spans I believe 42 acres and it was donated by the Haas family so it would be protected. This is the terrifying reality of over development and communities. This is the terrifying reality that no municipality, no elected officials, no developers want you to know about.
These developers do not give a crap about where we call home. We are just an area to make a quick development buck off of. They aren’t invested in our communities it’s all about what they can make and what the municipalities can get for the short term high of what they call “ratables.”
Between pipeline and developments Chester County is getting gobbled up. Soon there will be limited open space and limited farmland. Soon we will not recognize where we call home.
I have to ask all of you, is that the future you want for this spectacular county in Pennsylvania? If the answer is no, you need to get busy where you live. We need to toss out of office anyone who does not care about where we call home. Pro-development is a bad thing at this point because there is no moderation.
If you want to see another hideous plan or to check out the rape of the land on Pottstown Pike spitting distance from Upper Uwchlan’s municipal building right there on the edge what is left of the Village of Eagle. Toll Brothers.
For yet another hideous plan drive along Church Road in Malvern. Another Toll Brothers plan. Or should we say Toll Smothers? Because that’s what they do: they smother every square inch of space with McBoxes.
When is enough development enough?
Way to go, East Whiteland….
Yo so maybe the Chester County Commissioners and the Chester County Planning Commission should put all of us out of our misery now and just rename the county Toll Brothers County?
At 945 Tigue Road, West Chester, PA just below the Stadium at West Chester University -between the stadium and Route 52 – actually the other side of the stadium- is this gorgeous farm you see in courtesy photos from my friend Robin Ashby.
And it’s yet another farm which will soon be plowed under for yet another development of plastic houses. I am told the actual farm is on the northeast portion of the parcel. The open land is Tigue Road and Route 52 looking north.
According to information found on the Internet at RealtyTrac.com:
945 Tigue Rd is a farm, crops located in West Chester, PA 19382. Built in 1750, this property features 7 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 58 acres lot, and 3,999 sq ft of living space.
This is East Bradford Township. And oh yeah, it’s Toll Brothers….again:
TOLL BROTHERS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
During their Regular Meeting on December 12, 2017, the Board of Supervisors approved a settlement agreement with Toll PA VI, L.P. for the development of the Tigue Farm (Tigue Road and Lenape Road) to be known as “Darlington Ridge at West Chester.” Minutes from this meeting are available on the Board and Commissions page. The next phase of the development will involve submission of land development plans and Township review during 2018. This application may be prominent on the Township Planning Commission agenda during 2018.
Does everyone realize that acre by acre, what made Chester County Chester County will literally cease to exist at some point in the not too distant future?
How is this crazed thirst for development sustainable? How many times can we expand our schools and/or redistrict until we’re out of room?
It’s time for the residents of Chester County to have their eyes on the prize that is our home county and not just the developers.
Our agricultural and equine heritage are about to be lost forever along with the architectural heritage of Chester County farm houses, outbuildings, and barns. Once the farms are gone, they are gone forever.￼
Also don’t forget, that a lot of these farms were also proven or potential battle sites during the Revolutionary War. So in a lot of cases our nation’s very history is getting plowed under. And well Tigue Farm dates to the 18th century, doesn’t it?
Are we all to have “green roofs” and grow our food and put animals out to pasture that way? I find that doubtful since all these developments come with homeowners association’s and lots of rules don’t you?
Farming is often a brutally hard life. When did we stop caring about our farmers in this country? We must’ve stopped caring because they’re all selling to developers, right?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers other than restating the obvious which I keep saying, and that is the pace of development must slow down.
Chester County has been overrun by greedy developers. For perspective remember that size-wise Bryn Coed is like a giant super-sized Chesterbrook.
If not for those who care, like Natural Lands Trust, you would be seeing “coming soon” signs for developers like Toll Brothers.
These screen shots are from the Natural Lands Trust Bryn Coed Farms website.
Imagine living in an expansive, conserved landscape with a thriving nature preserve and miles of trails just next door. That is the unique opportunity available at Bryn Coed Farms.
In order to preserve as much of Bryn Coed Farms as possible, a number of large conservation properties will be made available to individual buyers. Each property will be placed under a conservation easement to be held and monitored by Natural Lands Trust, ensuring that the land is protected in perpetuity.
Seems like a revolutionary idea, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s how parts of Ardrossan are staying intact in Radnor Township and it is how large swaths of countryside and history in places like England remain intact.
It is a viable solution to developing every square inch. It’s a compromise point.
Now critics will say more land should be saved with these plans and maybe they aren’t necessarily wrong , but this IS a viable compromise in my opinion.
Imagine if the Robinson Family did this at Crebilly, for example?
Or imagine if say developers who want to develop the Bishop Tube site chose a plan like this versus doing things like picking on me for wanting the best clean-up possible?
The Natural Lands Trust has once again proven, there is another way.
And speaking of Bishop Tube it is a big story in the Philadelphia Inquirer today:
by Michaelle Bond, Staff Writer @MichaelleBond | firstname.lastname@example.org
Asleep after a long day at her social-work job, Peggy Miros was jolted awake by a booming voice through a loudspeaker urging her and her neighbors to evacuate their homes.
A cloud of toxic gas had formed when chemicals accidentally combined at the steel tube manufacturer next to her housing development in East Whiteland Township, Chester County, in the early morning hours of June 9, 1981. In the sultry air, a steady southwest breeze exported the chemical mist toward General Warren Village, 500 yards away, before the cloud dissipated. Some of Miros’ neighbors went to the hospital with nausea and skin irritation…The EPA later found trichloroethylene (TCE), a degreasing agent linked to cancer, in the property’s groundwater. The former Bishop Tube Co. site, which produced stainless steel tubes from the 1950s until 1999, now is host to graffitied and dilapidated buildings, shattered windows, cracked concrete, and overgrown vegetation, one of more than 450,000 contaminated “brownfields” across the nation.
…Given the site’s history, residents are wary of plans for the property. Neighbors say they fear their families and any new residents could be harmed if workers disturb the polluted soil without removing every bit of contamination.
Last month, 40 people gathered for the first time in the home of one of their neighbors to plan a coordinated effort to oppose the project.
“These people know what they’re talking about and they have a right to be concerned,” said Maya K. van Rossum, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, who became involved after residents asked her for help.
Read the entire article. Read where the chair of the supervisors in East Whiteland says he expects the developer will get the zoning variance. That is East Whiteland’s compromise point? Gambling with people’s health and safety? (Notice you hear little to nothing out of state officials and why are these people in office again?)
So a reminder that the next Crebilly meeting is Wednesday, March 29th, 6-10PM Rustin High School and it will be the second Conditional Use hearing. Here is the link to a printable flyer my pal Mindy Rhodes made with additional dates we all encourage you to share with others:
But what is really and truly exciting to me is something I have wished a school district out here in Chester County would do – take a stand on wanton development, and that is exactly what West Chester Area School District has done. Here is hoping more districts follow suit because it gets a bit much when taxpayers watch school districts behave like ostriches with their heads in the sand. Chief ostrich in my opinion is Great Valley School District, but I digress.
Anyway, Mindy Rhodes wrote to all of us this morning not only about the meeting tomorrow but also about this:
Party Status will be determined for a number of groups and then testimony continues. I had a dream last night only five people came to the hearing and the auditorium was empty with the exception of a full stage that included the BOS and Toll Brothers. There are 850 seats in Rustin Auditorium. Please do what you can to attend any part of the hearing. Every bit helps… and don’t forget to bring water:)
Last evening, Dr. Scanlon, Superintendent of the West Chester Area School District, issued a letter to the community that included a resolution from WCASD and the impact the Crebilly development by Toll will have on the schools in the district:
Dear Community Members,
The West Chester Area School District has passed a resolution at its March 27 board meeting to allow the Superintendent to request an annual impact fee of $645,000 from Toll Brothers developers for the added expenses the district will incur from the proposed Crebilly Farms housing development.
Crebilly Resolution.docx – REVISED 3-21-17.pdf
Currently Toll Brothers is seeking approval from Westtown Township to build more than 300 homes on the Crebilly Farms tract of land at the corner of Routes 202 and 926. Working with an experienced demographer, we have determined that this development will generate at least 172 students who would attend our school district. (This estimate already excludes the number of students we believe would attend private schools, based on our previous experience.)
It is common practice for school districts to request impact fees from developers when a large development is proposed. Simply put, a public school district cannot fairly shoulder the entire cost of a huge surge of students at one time. We will need to find additional space in our schools with modular units or additions, we will need to hire additional teachers and other staff, and we will need to provide additional transportation. (In addition, we are bound by law to also provide transportation for any students who choose private schools located within 10 miles of our borders.). We anticipate approximately 56 private and/or parochial school students from this proposed development.
Final approval of this development rests with Westtown Township. We consider it our duty to keep you informed as this matter relates to our school district. Public hearings are continuing, and we welcome your voice in this matter.
Dr. Jim Scanlon, Superintendent
I am so thrilled by this letter and resolution. I have often been impressed with Dr. Scanlon’s writings in the past; in my opinion, a thoughtful and very sensible voice of reason. This creates yet another hurdle for Toll Brothers to comply with. It is my hope others in similar positions will stand up to this company and hold this developer accountable in every way possible.
If not you, then who?
I have been critical of the WCASD school district in the past, but today I admire them. I admire their chutzpah in being real and saying to a developer “Hey this is not OK.”
Municipalities and School Districts are separate entities they are autonomous of one another, so basically neither consults the other ever about anything that in the end affects taxpayers and residents….and kids in a school district. Development looks really great on paper to politicians. They can say they brought in ratables end it helps them build the legacy to themselves that they all seem to crave. And no, I am not saying that is the case here with Westtown, it’s just what I think about a lot of municipalities.
Municipalities tend to look at new development like a fresh and shiny toy, but sometimes they need to have more thought as to what that toy will cost taxpayers and residents and members of school districts down the road.
Finally, a school district in Chester County is standing up and saying not no to developers per se, but who is going to pay for the side effects of development after developments are built. This school district is being responsible to residents, children, the taxpayers. And might I add this is something the Chester County Planning Commission should be doing with every development proposed in Chester County? As well as State Senator Andy Dinniman? After all it is not just about land and historic preservation, it’s about the other long term impacts of development, isn’t it? Why do residents always seem to have to do the heavy lifting ?
Here is what WCASD said: