ha! political upset sweeps malvern borough (but t.o.d still on the table)

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I would be remiss if I did not congratulate the residents of Malvern Borough for taking the first steps to take back their town from developers and council people who have forgotten why they serve in the first place.

***And before I get into more, let me remind Borough Residents that somewhat hidden on the Malvern Borough website is the flyer for the next Transit Oriented Development or TOD meeting (ToDflyer11-19-13 ).*** 

Anyway…while some will coo over political party nonsense of it all, that wasn’t what the write in was about.  It was about standing up for where you live and pay taxes and giving yourselves permission to say “NO”. This is democracy at its best.

Congratulations to David Bramwell, Todd Lexer and Matt Radano.  They are new councilmen-elect.  They crushed their competition on a write-in campaign that the existing regime obviously did not take seriously.  And of course next election you can replace the rest of them too. My top pick for replacement next would be Mr. Woody VanSciver.  The write-in three will have a real job ahead of them and I thank them in advance for taking on a largely thankless job.

Congratulations to the new mayor-elect David Burton.  He won by a huge margin for a small town.  He is a Democrat, but that is not what got him elected.  What got him elected was the desire for change.

And that is what is so truly cool about this latest Malvern political tale.  Much like when Betty Burke rallied the troops in the past, these people did it this time.  It remains to be seen how things progress, but Malvern Borough residents can help by going to public meetings and participating in their future. But much like  “back in the day”, this is a cautionary tale because Malvern Borough residents this journey is just starting.  As they say, you have won a major battle but not the war.

Winning the war means showing some developers the door and sending T.O.D. packing. I mean how can they even talk about T.O.D. now when no one knows what SEPTA is doing? SEPTA stopped service at Paoli before, and they can do it again.  And until that is all ironed out, why not just stop the emperor’s new clothes of it all?

I took a lot of flak as a borough outsider for expressing an opinion about Malvern Borough, but I think Malvern is a cool little town and I really hope it is preserved and not super-sized.

And I am really looking forward to my first Malvern Victorian Christmas as a Chester County resident this year – I have had conflicts on that Friday the past few years.  Malvern Victorian Christmas is Friday December 6th from 6 – 9 PM, and Saturday December 7th from 10 AM – 3 PM.

I will also note again that Malvern Borough pulled a lazy-sneaky and did NOT add a NEW post for the upcoming Transit Oriented Development Meeting but they have it listed as Tuesday, November 19th, 6 PM at Borough Hall.  Borough residents should join their new Mayor-elect and councilmen-elect there.  An old political trick is always to try to shove things in or set them up to get in as one administration prepares to partially or totally turn over. (Why do you think Washington DC is such a perpetual mess?)

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Here is some recent media attention on Malvern Borough – note I am only posting excerpts. Please go to Main Line Media News to read both articles in their entirety:

Main Line Suburban Life: Henry Briggs: Nov. 5, 2013: The day Malvern rebelled

Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2013

By Henry Briggs
Columnist, The Scribbler

Democracy can be messy. It can be inspiring. It can be dividing or uniting.

Many people distrust their elected officials. It’s very American, in a way. But usually, the distrust is localized around, as the old saying goes, those whose ox is gored.  If politicians can keep ox owners separate, they get away with it. If not, well…

Over the last few years, a number of ox in the little town of Malvern were being gored, but at first, residents on focused only on their own…..On election day, with T-shirts proclaiming “Do the ‘WRITE-IN’ thing,” Dave Burton and the ‘write-in’ candidates worked the polls all day. On a normal non-presidential election,  about 320 Malvern voters show up. For this election, 799 showed up.

Dave Burton, Dave Bramwell, Todd Lexer, and Matt Radano won by a landslide.

Democracy can be messy. It can be inspiring. It can be dividing or uniting. Or it can be all of the above

Meet Malvern’s new councilmen, mayor

Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

By Linda Stein
lstein@mainlinemedianews.com

In an example of democracy in action the voters in Malvern turned out in record numbers in the Nov. 5 to sweep out the incumbent mayor and three councilmen.

The pace and character of development in the borough was evidently the issue that brought voters to the polls, resulting in the successful write-in candidacy of three residents for seats on the council.

David Burton, a Democrat who won the mayoral race 509 to 266 against long-time incumbent Gerald J. McGlone Jr., said development was the issue on people’s minds as he knocked on doors this fall…..A challenge to a large group of residents who opposed more development was issued at the July 16 meeting by council members, who told them to run for election if they did not believe that Malvern Council represented the will of the people. That brought a write-in campaign, said long-time resident Danny Fruchter.

David Bramwell, Todd Lexer and Matt Radano, who took 68 percent of the vote, according to unofficial totals from Chester County. Incumbents William Macaleer, Robert Coughlin and Zeyn Uzman received about 10 percent each…“They were all swept out of office in a landslide,” said Fruchter, who said that officials who had gotten cozy with developers and were ignoring the borough’s comprehensive plan.

file under malvern borough does damage control?

malvernHow funny! This blog has “arrived” I suppose in Malvern Borough given the very amusing comment under the article I am about to post.

The article is about Malvern Borough and I presume the Malvern Business Association and borough is doing damage control in light of growing community discussion (including on this blog) on development in Malvern Borough. The article is authored by a writer whom I deeply respect, but I still find the article to be a little obvious on the part of the borough.

MalvernResident Comment1

“Certain blogs”? How funny! I suppose that must be yours truly? Well the reality is I have been at this a long time and I do not deal in “misinformation”. And in the same vein, they want you to believe opinion is bad and opinion is misinformation. Which of course we all know as intelligent and rational human beings is simply not true.

I have never pretended to live in Malvern Borough. Truthfully, I would never live in the borough given the local government issues, which while they ebb and flow always seem to be a problem. And it is highly insulting to say to people in neighboring communities in essence “all we care about is you coming to town and spending money. ” The reality is, none of us have to shop in Malvern Borough. There are some local merchants I try to support but if traffic and parking and development increase, I will go elsewhere. Life is too short.

As for developers? Can we put on the big kid pants for a moment? Developers develop to enhance their profit margins, not because they are secretly altruistic and love everybody to the moon and back. They build, take their profit, and move on. They aren’t “partners” in the community. However, not all developers are bad. I have some that I like. But I do not like what Eli Kahn has done. East Side is too big, too hulking and someone left a comment on my last post about fire trucks? Here (and I quote):

Mary Crawford on October 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm said:

It is my understanding that the fire department in Malvern is unable to service the building in the back as the trucks do not have access. Now the behemoth is in danger of burning faster due to lack of planning. Wasn’t Eli Kahn on the planning Commission? How can you not plan on a fire at some point? All hoses must come in through the front door or through the roof.

Now I know nothing of Eli Kahn and the planning commission, I thought he was part of the business association or something?

The horse is out of the barn on East Side flats and yes I think they are huge and hulking and lacking human scale. And yes I am saying that as a neighbor but not resident of Malvern Borough.

I think Malvern Borough sells itself short by allowing density and development that does not mesh with the small town character of low and old Main Street buildings and Victorian and other older homes on the side and connecting streets to King.

Yes it is my opinion that Malvern Borough should hit a pause button and see how East Side flats fare for a few years before committing to additional large-scale development. And yes I think they need to be more selective about infill development in general.

My opinions are based on research and what I have seen happen in other communities where local government wouldn’t listen to residents and where development has not only torn the communities asunder, it has not delivered the promised pathways of gold.

Azar Habib

The comment above is amusing too. This is the guy who decided on my last post that this little woman was going to see it his way or else. Towns and boroughs should not be hard to drive through. It hardly means that people want to go there, it only means that they can’t get through there….and no we don’t need another sprawl mall or series of big box stores, but what do you think goes hand in hand with those development-wise? And there is still no lack of blight in Malvern Borough. Parts of King around the Flying Pig are prime examples. And just building new buildings is not going to make pre-existing blight go away. But incentives aimed at business property owners might help. State grants for facades and sidewalks and whatever. Not much of that money is around but why not have State Reps and the State Senator seek things like that out?gables

There is this whole build it and they will come mentality. But what is it they are building and who is it who is coming and will they stay? Malvern is a SMALL town. How many apartments does it need, and will apartment dwellers really add to the long term tax base or will they just be more transients passing through?

The only way to decide this is to not grow all at once, but in stages. Which is why Malvern should try living with the hulking behemoth that is Eastside Flats and not rush to approve a 600+ unit Transit Oriented Development (“TOD”) project and other high density infill development.

And one other thing about this Malvern Business Association? Don’t they encompass OUTSIDE the borough too? Into Frazer? What are they thinking about the Route 30 business corridor in Frazer? With the landscape that is dotted with dangerously blighted and crumbling buildings? You know like the former Malvern Meetinghouse that is SO bad that East Whiteland is thinking of condemning it and there is speculation of homeless living in it? Or all the odd rental properties that house a lot of transient immigrant workers that look like they are ready to cave in on themselves the properties are so ill-kempt? Do they know about that sinkhole in the parking lot that appears and disappears where the Frazer Post Office and Nudy’s Café is?

I find it amusing that a couple of columns by Henry Briggs and a couple of blog posts and some limited public discussion has the PR machines revving up in Malvern Borough. Apparently a nerve has been struck I guess?

Anyway, I will keep on offering my opinion when and if the spirit moves me. My opinion is Malvern Borough is one hot mess now and all this development won’t improve it. And that is a shame. I still feel they should embrace their inner small town and work on improving what is already there. Especially since no one knows what Septa is doing. They could cut service past Paoli again, they have done it before.

But the mentality of everyone has to be OK with this is wrong. Everyone shouldn’t be ok with this. There needs to be meaningful community input and there hasn’t been. Just deals made between the Mayor, Borough Council and Developers. The only positive I see in this hot mess thus far is the addition of Kimberton Whole Foods and Christopher’s to the business district. Here’s hoping we’ll all be able to park and patronize them when they open.

At the end of the day I can’t see this from my window. Thank goodness. But I have seen what happens elsewhere, so I can tell you that if this all steamrolls ahead without thought and planning, Malvern Borough will end up hating what they created but will merely leave it for future generations to fix.

What happens in Malvern Borough will also affect OUTSIDE of the borough in neighboring municipalities.

Here is the article:

Malvern warming up to Eastside Flats

Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013

By Caroline O’Halloran
cohalloran@mainlinemedianews.com
@carolineohallo

Now that it’s finally taken shape, Malvern appears to be warming up to Eastside Flats, the mammoth mixed-use project on East King Street that has radically changed the face of the borough.

“The majority of people are excited, especially for the new retail coming to town,” said Malvern Mayor Jerry McGlone.

Public concerns about the $48 million, five-acre complex have mostly focused on traffic and parking, but “we worked with the developer to get that right,” McGlone said, “and the concerns seem to have disappeared.”

One level of a bi-level 330-space parking garage has been set aside for shoppers and a surface lot will hold 84 cars.

“Parking won’t be an issue,” promised David Della Porta, president of Cornerstone Communities, the project’s developer in partnership with Eli Kahn and Gary Toll….“It’s big; there’s no question about it,” said McGlone. “But they’ve done a nice job with the façade. And people forget how blighted the area was. To have a residential/retail complex like this is such a big improvement.”

Della Porta said he hasn’t heard any complaints. “If people don’t like what they’re seeing, they’re being polite and keeping it to themselves,” he said. “We’ve gotten more notes, calls and accolades on this project than for any other one we’ve been involved with.”

Pat Reeser, president of the Malvern Business and Professional Association, admits that local opinion has been mixed

Sigh….it’s all alrighty in Spin City….

more thoughts on malvern borough

malvernWho has the most to gain from development in Malvern Borough? Who will get the most out of TOD or Transit Oriented Development? Some have suggested that I narrow my question scope to what will Woody Van Sciver, Malvern Borough Council President gain from all this proposed development in Malvern Borough? (And I was reminded that Woody is a developer too at some place called Monument Management Corp.)  I think after some thought, the answer to this question in as far as who will GAIN from cram plan developments is not the residents or neighbors of Malvern Borough, but Borough officials and developers, and can’t you agree?

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When I wrote about Malvern’s growing pains last week it unleashed a flurry of comments. I was accused of writing a post with racist undertones and all sorts of stuff.  I had people say I was being hysterical, which most easily translated is women shouldn’t have strong opinions on anything and should leave all the big decisions to the men folk. Well I am not exactly a women’s libber but I feel passionately about local governments who give away communities and their ingrained character and history and charm for the nearest buck.  I find it to be like a political lap dance.

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I will keep writing about Malvern Borough’s foolishness.  Because it is foolishness.  I believe small town politicians are corruptible and forget who and why they serve.  In this case they see the Emperor’s New Clothes and can’t see the forest for the trees on what the intrinsic value and charm is of Malvern remaining a small town.  These elected and appointed officials driving the development bus to nowhere don’t even *get* that developers all over the country try to recreate small towns like Malvern Borough.

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Henry Briggs has written another column on this.  I am  looking forward to his column next week, too.  That one is about why Malvern residents are NOT being heard about their own future.

8457330900_c69d4fa589_cLook, please don’t waste your breath leaving me comments that I should basically have no opinion here.  With all due respect, I have a brain and I am not afraid to use it. I am not against growth.  What I am against are these giant one size fits all plans that are the proverbial square peg in the round hole.  This is a small town, emphasis on small.  And Malvern is often quite precarious financially, and the current economy in which we find ourselves in all across this country should cause local governments to exercise caution, not throw caution to the wind.

If Malvern Borough wants to grow, do it responsibly. Allowing developers to shove in developments on small parcels and in a small area so everyone is crammed in like lemmings is IRRESPONSIBLE.  Planning needs to be a partnership between community and government, not government and developers.

Enjoy Henry’s column.

Henry Briggs: Say hello to Malvern Transit Oriented Development

Main Line Suburban Life > Opinion

Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013

Malvern, Pa., once a storybook small town like many around the country, is being beefed up like cows in a holding pen by three different special interests: developers, business people, and governments.

It started at a breakfast in 2008 hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce where Barry Seymore of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission was holding forth.

Woody Van Sciver, Borough Council president, really liked what he was hearing. The subject: TOD – Transit Oriented Development – adding density to areas within half a mile of transit hubs….Around the same time, Eli Kahn, a developer in West Chester, started courting The Malvern Business Association….Kahn’s plan for the biggest development Malvern had ever seen was like free beer at a frat party….Van Sciver, a developer himself, had headed the Malvern Planning Commission  before joining the council and had been heavily involved in drafting Malvern’s Comprehensive Plan, a multi-year effort to define where and how future building and development was to occur…..Because of this background, and the fact that he was Council President, the council decided Van Sciver should lead the negotiations with Kahn.

One developer negotiating with another.

…Malvern is now home to a four story, 45-foot-high behemoth of 190 apartments and a number of stores and restaurants. It stretches nearly a fifth of a mile along the eastern approach to Malvern. When you walk by it, you feel like you’re in Philadelphia…..One recommendation from a recent market study financed by the borough and TOD interests calls for a 12-story, 600 “dwelling unit” high-rise near the SEPTA station….The council has approved plans of another developer for five big houses on a one-acre lot. Still other developers are working on “infill projects,” cramming large, money-making houses and townhouses into whatever bits of land they can find.

Malvern, once a Norman Rockwell small town, has lost it’s magic, irrevocably, at the hands of its own business community, its own government, and developers.

 

 

do you live in zip code 19355? read this.

malvern

Ahh yes, another post about Malvern Borough. I could post more photos of the tiny small town that it is, but I will stick with a photo of the town mural and a couple of photos containing well worded graffiti on overpasses from elsewhere in Chester County.

Malvern Borough is a small town.  It is surrounded, by rural, industrial, commercial and residential in the genre of exubrbia. Malvern is not and never will be the Main Line.  Malvern shouldn’t want to be the Main Line, either.  If Malvern wants to be like anyone, how about St. Peter’s Village or Narberth? Those are cute places who aren’t afraid to be the little home towns that they are.

danger photo

Malvern historically has always had an identity crisis. Settled originally by Welsh immigrants in the 17th century, it was the site of the Paoli Massacre in 1777, it was a tiny little area that never had a name until 1873 and wasn’t even incorporated as a borough until 1889. It has always been small with King as the main road off the beaten path.

Malvern should be fine with who it is, but it seems part of the history of Malvern is a history of government issues.  You might say it is one of Malvern’s long-standing traditions.

Malvern said yes to a relationship with Eli Kahn and gave birth to the yet unoccupied behemoth of a mixed use building.  You know, because Malvern needs to be so urban.  That building is perched unattractively right on the road with no care or thought to human scale let alone a design compatible to the SMALL TOWN surroundings.  You can’t unring the bell on that project.

But Malvern and people around Malvern need to wake up to what is coming down the pike if they are not careful. T.O.D. or transit oriented development.  Clever speak for cram those units in developers!

I have written about T.O.D. twice in 2013:

the emperor may have no clothes on when it comes to t.o.d. in Malvern

if septa is considering cutting service past paoli, why does malvern need T.O.D.?

T.O.D. is no joke and at the most simplest of explanations won’t fit in Malvern Borough.  We’re talking at least 600 residential units. I used to say that T.O.D. stood for Total Of Dumbasses. I still do.  If Malvern Borough, as in the Mayor and Borough council are not stopped, it is not just the residents of the borough who will be impacted.  Any other municipality that has borders will be impacted.  I think East Whiteland will be impacted the most.  And her residents will have no choice in the matter as this is Malvern Borough’s proposed stupidity.

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What has provoked me to write again about this?  Henry Brigg’s brilliant and ever so sad column in Main Line Media news today.  It should be required reading it is that good.

He mentions a lady named Betty Burke who staged an uprising via a sit in on Christmas Eve in the 1970s to get rid of a corrupt local government.  Well that fascinated me so I did a little research.  Betty Burke died in 2011.  I just read two things about her and it brought tears to my eyes. Now there was a woman I would have liked to have known.

Here, refresh your memories:

betty burkeRemembering Betty Burke By Henry Briggs

Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011

M. Elizabeth Burke, 91, a Malvern activist

By Sally A. Downey, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: March 17, 2011

Burke Park is named for Betty and her husband Sam. A lot of what has made Malvern a cool place in the past 3 or 4 decades is because of this woman’s persistence.

So are there enough people who knew Betty and her husband Sam still around that they might stop and think about what is lurking for Malvern “is this what Betty would have wanted?” Or would Betty have told people to toss the elected officials out again?

Again, I never knew Betty. But wow, what I have read about her is amazing so I think she would be very sad for Malvern right now if she was alive.

Of course it is not too late if people wake up now.  And don’t depend on local media to keep you abreast of things. Residents are going to have to do it the old-fashioned/old school way: pay attention and go to meetings. Use your power of the vote and change the faces of who govern you.

Stop the craziness in Malvern.  Read Henry Briggs column:

Main Line Suburban Life > Opinion

Henry Briggs: Say goodbye to Malvern, RFD

Published: Wednesday, October 02, 2013

This is a story about a storybook small town, one that could exist anywhere in the country, one that is being left open to attack by the very people who should be defending it.

It is 1.3 square miles with tree-lined streets…..lying between bucolic expanses of gentleman horse farms in Willistown and the corporate parks and exurban sprawl of East Whiteland.

Originally, when the whole area was working farm land, Malvern was a commercial hub, a place to buy supplies and sell the fruit of their labors…….Malvern has one traffic light, three little league fields, five churches, and, until a couple of years ago, one bar. The administrative office and police department are in the repurposed school house…..Traditionally, residents of small towns are quick to defend them.

When the town council turned corrupt in the early ’70s, Betty Burke, a nurse, mother, and political novice, led a bunch of other mothers in a Christmas Eve sit-in and coup that threw the bums out. Frank Capra would have loved it.

Traditionally, residents of small towns understand and cherish their unique qualities…..Malvern is at the bottom of a hefty political pyramid.

In recent years, special interests from that pyramid – with cooperation from leaders of the Malvern Council – decided that Malvern is just too small for the 21st century. They have been joined by developers who, like hawks in a summer sky, spot vulnerabilities that those on the ground never suspect.

Henry Briggs has written many a column that was like a love letter to Malvern.  This is one of those letters. Except it is so achingly sad because it is like he is saying good-bye to an old, dear friend.

Malvern Borough residents old and new, will you save your town? Please?

Post Script: Thanks to local columnist and former Malvern Borough Council President Henry Briggs, I have two more columns about Betty and Sam Burke to share…in the hopes that remembering these simple people who worked so hard will inspire Malvern residents to shake off the cobwebs and save their small town before it becomes another Eagle or some plastic coated Toll Brothers-esque mess wrapped in Tyvec.

The Scribbler Proud member of the Betty Burke Party

The Scribbler My Best To You

if septa is considering cutting service past paoli, why does malvern need T.O.D.?

malvern train stationI remember years ago as a college student without access to a car when I wanted to go visit friends at West Chester University, if I couldn’t get a ride I had to take a train to Paoli and then get one of those scuzzy cabs to West Chester. And Paoli train station on the side going towards Malvern felt just as creepy and isolated then as it does today.

I was happy when Malvern and beyond opened again on Septa.  And people ride the train.  When I was transitioning out to Chester County for a while I took the train out from the Main Line.  I was going through radiation treatment for breast cancer and a lot of the time towards the end of my treatment I was too tired to drive. This was when Malvern train station was under construction.  It was then I realized there was no handicap access at either Paoli or Malvern – quite frankly during that time I would have welcomed a ramp versus steep stairs – I was just that tired. At Malvern during the heat of that summer I was going through radiation was when you not only had to climb  steep stairs, the train station also had no place for you to sit to wait to be picked up and a car couldn’t get near enough to pick you up.  Instead you had to wind your way through a construction site and around through to the other side via the roads on a sidewalk that was not the best.

So now there is the tunnel and the station is rehabbed (but still isn’t truly handicap accessible) and during the summer Malvern Borough officials were putting on charettes or whatever for T.O.D.  Transit Oriented Development, otherwise known as borough officials see dollar signs and have no brain cells. I wrote about T.O.D. before.

I said then I used to say that TOD stood for Total Of Dumbasses. It is like Groundhog Day for me because I lived through a lot of these Emperor’s New Clothes scenarios when I lived on the Main Line.  It tore apart Lower Merion Township where I used to live and to this day divisiveness truly still exists. And Transit Oriented Development is still a myth of more fiction than fact.

To say that people in suburbs and exurbs and quasi rural areas will give up driving is just ludicrous.  These municipalities and developers should just be honest: they don’t have the ability to put sufficient parking in all this new age urban-like development.  They don’t care so much about the environment and being green, in my humble opinion it is all about the green they can bank in profits. And who suffers? People already living around these infill development targeted sites.

Malvern’s charm is in it’s history and size, much like the village portion of Berwyn and similarly scaled small towns and villages.  I could see making Malvern say sprucing up a little bit more like Narberth which has undeniable charm and popularity, but Narberth does things based on sound planning and well Malvern Borough seems to chase dollars like a hooker looking for money on top of the dresser.

TOD stands to add hundreds of living units. Hundreds as in someone told me in excess of 600.  Malvern is no way capable of handling that many additional living units and cars and people.  That has a trickle down effect to the schools too. And we aren’t talking real estate taxes, we’re talking overcrowding.

TOD in Malvern will also adversely affect their neighbors in East Whiteland.  Much the way Tredyffrin affected Radnor residents downstream along the Gulph Creek when they allowed Church of the Savior and some other things to super-size.  East Whiteland should stay on top of this from a municipal perspective.  No one needs trickle down issues.

So why am I writing this? Because of something that appeared in Malvern Patch that was copied from Plan Philly.

The long and short of it there is a very real chance SEPTA will cut stops off the R5 Paoli/Thorndale Line.  As in NO MORE train service. Stopping at Paoli again.

(See  septa-s-complete-service-realignment-plan-and-letter-to-state-secretary-of-transportation-barry-schoch.original )

eli kahn

So I have to wonder if Septa will even do the makeover planned for Paoli train station?  And if the service is truncated and stops at Paoli, how will Paoli even if their grand plans make it to completion handle the influx?

I put forward that Malvern Borough Council and Borough staff /administration need to be watched.  They want to shove, shove, shove through new development yet they have no substantive planning that I can see. I know what they see- they see ratables.  What is happening (for example) with the Gables Greenhouse property on Warren and Second Ave?  There were a couple of things in Malvern Patch which seem to have disappeared?  The comments indicate on the remaining article that like five houses are being considered for that property?

Malvern Borough has lost it’s way.  They don’t seem to listen to their residents.  They also can’t seem to get much money in the end for development projects.  Remember when people checked out what they were getting in ratables for East King Street/Eastside Flats? See:

During a discussion of the police services and budgeting at the  of Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:

“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.

“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said, citing a financial feasibility study done before the project was approved.

And oh yeah what exactly in the realm of new businesses is Eli Kahn actually bringing to Malvern? Besides Kimberton Whole Foods?

I feel I must say again that in addition to better planning by municipalities and boroughs throughout Pennsylvania, there also need to be updates made to the Municipalities Planning Code.  After all Zoning blames Planning and Supervisors/Commissioners.  Supervisors/Commissioners blame flaws in Municipalities Planning Code.

Want to see bad planning?  Look no further than Lower Merion Township and take Ardmore as an example.  There is a short film surfacing about development there and the fact that when it occurs a lot of businesses and residents will have ZERO parking for two years and reduced parking after that. Why?  Because Lower Merion is essentially giving away land to a developer. I think you can view the documentary short by following this link: https://vimeo.com/72950877

Getting off the soapbox now.  Just been chewing on this a few days.

the emperor may have no clothes on when it comes to t.o.d. in malvern

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UPDATE: I was just cruising through Malvern Patch to see if there was any resident feedback from Malvern’s TOD meeting (since the media can’t seem to cover life altering development) and my eyes about popped when I read this:

Sidne Baglini      July 24, 2013 at 09:34 pm   

The meeting was last night at Borough Hall.  The subject was the Transportation Oriented Development…Read More Plan presentation which is encouraging the Borough to change the zoning on the north side of the railroad tracks on Warren Ave.  so that 600 residential units can be constructed so that SEPTA can increase it’s ridership and surrounding communities can avoid suburban sprawl.  The plans presented showed several 12 story buildings; a plan with multiple 7 story buildings and a plan with even more multiple 4 or 5 story buildings.  Another meeting will be announced for late summer or early autumn as they are required to hold 3 public meetings and last night’s was the 2nd.  I don’t know if the 3 plans were left at the Borough Hall or if they are being held by the Delaware Valley Planning Commission.  In a nutshell, if you think East King Street Flats is your vision of what Malvern should be like, then this proposal is EKSF on steroids.

EARLIER:

I used to say that TOD stood for Total Of Dumbasses.  It really means Transit Oriented Development, and whoa Nellie I had no idea it was being planned for Malvern Borough.

It is like Groundhog Day for me because I lived through a lot of these Emperor’s New Clothes scenarios when I lived on the Main Line.  It tore apart Lower Merion Township where I used to live and to this day divisiveness truly still exists. And Transit Oriented Development is still a myth of more fiction than fact.

And oh my gosh golly here comes a meeting that may have been held TODAY in Malvern Borough that I only saw on Malvern Patch just now and it wasn’t posted until July 22 at almost 11 pm.  This is a meeting important enough that it should have had widely publicized notices for weeks and not been held in the dead of a hot, hot summer when a lot of people are away.  But the jaded person in me says that naturally that is when local governments sneak things through: around major holidays or in the dead of summer.

Future of Train Station up for Discussion

This is your second chance to see what could be coming for the Malvern train station.

 A meeting this Tuesday could shape how a major section of Malvern could look in the future.

The Malvern Transit-Oriented Development Plan (TOD) is holding a public meeting to discuss the future of the half-mile section of borough near the SEPTA train station on Tuesday, from 4 to 7 p.m….For more information on the meeting, contact borough manager Sandra Kelley at 610-644-2602 or check out the group’s flyer onthe borough website.

Malvern-workshop-2-flyer

malvern flyer july 2013

A meeting this important and they seem incapable of properly publicizing? it is a shame that Malvern Borough wants to turn themselves into Upper Darby or something isn’t it?  I have to ask is this “plan” actually a done deal and are these motions are just for show?

Malvern’s charm is in it’s history and size, much like the village portion of Berwyn and similarly scaled small towns and villages.  I could see making Malvern say sprucing up a little bit more like Narberth which has undeniable charm and popularity, but Narberth does things based on sound planning and well Malvern Borough seems to chase dollars like a hooker looking for money on top of the dresser.

Some will find my words hard and hyper critical and for that I am sorry, but lordy have they learned nothing? Look at Eli Kahn’s hulking monstrosity would you? The photo below was taken in March and while the Tyvec and black paper may be covered up now by plaster and whatnot but it still does not disguise the fact that this project looms over the street, looms over houses across the train tracks and lacks human scale and the ridiculously low amount once quoted in the paper as what would be gained in ratables leaves me scratching my head.

And again, I am sorry to sound this way it is just so simply Groundhog Day and if I could spare anyone what others have gone through with these Emperor’s New Clothes fools’ errands of unattainable zoning overlays and infill development hair-brained plans that don’t EVER seem to take into account the scale of current buildings, architecture, history, human scale, design elements, the actual will of the people or parking and traffic I would.

I don’t live in Malvern Borough so I have no standing, just opinion.  But I have to say I am not anti-progress but I am against poor planning.  An article from September 2012 in Main Line Media News by Henry Briggs on this topic says that as per tax records Malvern Borough residents pay nearly FOUR TIMES the taxes paid by businesses and industrial property owners.

Here is that column of Henry Briggs’ from September 2012:

Main Line Suburban Life > Opinion

HENRY BRIGGS: How much should Malvern grow?

Published: Monday, September 24, 2012

On Tuesday, Sept 25, from 4pm to 7pm, Malvern Borough will offer its citizens a voice in a decision that will permanently effect the future of the town.

Woody Van Sciver, Borough Council President and Jeff Riegner a planning consultant, will ask for comments on “transit oriented development” in Malvern; specifically, putting additional people and buildings into a half-mile perimeter of the Malvern SEPTA station.

As Malvern is only 1.3 square miles, this will have enormous and permanent impact on the people who live and work there.

With the development of East King Street, the town is currently in the first stage of a 10% expansion….What triggered the study? A breakfast in 2008 hosted by the Philadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce and attended by assorted civic leaders, including Woody Van Sciver, Malvern Borough Council President.

The main speaker, Barry Seymour, from the DVRPC, spoke about the need to beef up density around transit centers – the SEPTA and AMTRAK stations – along the Main Line. His pitch echoed that of the “Landscapes Plan” which Chester County put together years ago.

I am with Henry Briggs and ex-Borough President Pat McGuigan: keep Malvern a traditional village.  Maybe spruce it up a little and get some of those derelict property owners near the Flying Pig to clean up and get tenants, but don’t supersize Malvern around a train station that isn’t even handicap accessible.  Fix up the existing downtown, get grants to repair sidewalks.  Look to ways of improving parking for visitors and residents. Come up with a viable village plan that looks at Malvern Borough as a whole so progress flows and doesn’t cause pain. Go to Media and Narberth and check them out – although downtown Media is much larger than either Narberth or Malvern like Malvern and Narberth it is off the beaten path (i.e. not right on a major road like Route 30)

Like many municipalities, Malvern Borough might benefit in term limits for elected officials because wow hearing this stuff makes one question why people serve doesn’t it? Maybe this Woody Van Sciver needs to retire, right?

Also see Should Malvern Grow by Joseph DiStefano at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Malvern Borough is 1.2 or 1.3 square miles and that will never change.  It is time for Malvrn Borough Towns Fathers to put away their huge insecurity issues and obvious inferiority complexes and accept Malvern for what it is: a VILLAGE.  Capitalize on THAT, don’t try to make Malvern what it is not.  And anyone who tells you that your community in exurbia (because out here we are past the traditional suburbs of the Main Line) will only thrive and prosper with tons of density and infill development should be run out of town on a rail and sent to live in the urban jungle they so greatly crave.  As a matter of fact, I hear there is a lot of room in Detroit these days.

Lecture over You all do what you want this is merely my opinion.