The photo I am opening this post with speaks volumes. The first thought is aren’t we all lucky to have such great first responders in this area? But it’s the second thought that bothers me and makes me ponder. The location is on the photo. Route 30 and Route 100 in Exton, West Whiteland Township.
If there was LESS development would perhaps there be LESS flooding when a big storm rolls in?
It’s kind of what came first the chicken or the egg kind of a conversation, but Chester County, we need to have it. Yesterday is a clear indication we need to have it.
A disclaimer: I am using flooding photos sourced off of Facebook. Some from the Classic Diner folks, a friend, and just photos that have been publicly posted. People captured in the moment storm flooding images yesterday and I want you all to look at the photos and think.
Think about our communities.
Think about our safety, the safety of our first responders during storms like this.
Think about the pace of development out here.
Think about the need for better stormwater management and less density.
A friend of mine took the photo above yesterday. This water is insane. I haven’t lived here long enough to know if it ever flooded like this before. They also took the next photo. It sure looks like those boats were ready to launch, right?
However, it still renews my suggestion that East Whiteland Township is but one of many municipalities which needs to look at their stormwater management codes/rules and reevaluate immediately due to the constant development around here. I also think that East Whiteland and her neighbors to the east and west (West Whiteland, Easttown, Tredyffrin for starters) need to revisit the pace of development, period.
And there needs to be a conversation with the Chester County Planning Commission and their Landscapes quagmire which has this part of Chester County becoming the next King of Prussia. Come on now, I am not exaggerating see this screenshot from Landscapes:
This man has always been development first oriented and he lives in Lower Merion Township in a densely populated area. Don’t misunderstand me, he lives in a lovely area, but it is extremely unlike out here. And as per bios of him I have read, he grew up in an area even more densely populated than where he currently lives. So how can Brian O’Leary really get Chester County? Sure he works out here, but he doesn’t live out here so how can he get our day to day 24/7/365 experience? So when I see the density the Chester County Planning Commission says in hunky dory for certain parts of Chester County, it literally makes me queasy. Brian O’Leary is captain mixed use, high density. There already is one King of Prussia. There already is one Bensalem.
So Brian, what do you have to say today for the flooding in some places? Can you kindly put your planning brain to use over stormwater management and perhaps a density slow down? Yesterday’s flooding shows we desperately need another plan. A better plan. The more development which occurs, the fewer places for water to go. Common sense.
So many people are without power. So many people lost so much due to flood waters. People also lost homes due to falling trees. Yesterday was a very bad storm. But as temperature and weather patterns change due to climate change, we have to adapt. And we have to change. We can’t keep doing what we have been doing. Or more specifically, we can’t keep allowing the same patterns of development to continue.
Change won’t be easy. Change won’t happen overnight. There are a lot of politics involved to say the least. But I am tired of politicians also driving how we should want to live in our communities. We need more open space, less development. We need less high density development and some real/better stormwater management plans. Municipalities can’t just play lip service to this any longer. They also need to put existing residents first and quit drooling over the quick fix one-time hit of ratables when a new development occurs.
Critics of my thought process will undoubtedly say I can’t tie this storm and over-development together. But I can and I have. Because if there was MORE open space, LESS development, BETTER stormwater management plans, and LESS high density development would some areas have potentially had LESS flooding yesterday? Now I know that doesn’t mean everywhere that flooded yesterday, but in some places I believe people might have fared better.
But until we try as communities to do things better, we will never know if we can do better, will we? So how about it residents of Chester County? Can you ask your elected officials for change?
📌”Dec 27, 2019 · Bentley Homes heads back to the Main Line, buys land from Valley Forge Military Foundation. Valley Forge Military Academy Foundation has sold five properties adjacent to its Wayne campus to Bentley Homes for $1.65 million.”📌
I realized where it was yesterday on my way home from a skin cancer procedure at Penn Medicine in Radnor. That corner where Upper Gulph Road meets Radnor Road (Radnor Street Road when down the road a piece in Radnor Township, Delaware County.)
This location is Tredyffrin Township, Chester County.
Now Valley Forge has been selling and or leasing land since 2010 according to an old article I found in the Delco Times. So it shouldn’t be a surprise. Except in 2010 this deal was with a neighboring academic institution, Eastern University.
Valley Forge is one of the academic institutions that people wonder if they will survive COVID19. There are a lot of schools across the country that may or may not. This global pandemic affects enrollment (see Forbesarticle from April, 2020 and Deloitte.com for example.) Schools were already rocked by student visa issues given the current isolationist tenor of this country which is affecting the ability to host foreign students. Coronavirus just puts them more into uncertain times, financially.
But a development on this corner? High up on a hill? Will everyone around them be their storm water management program? And why does another Main Line McMansion project need to occur?
The irony is in a time when people are starting to question whether or not they want to live on top of one and other as we are still experiencing a global pandemic , development is not slowing down. It seems to be at a fever pitch. And this development will also impact the Tredyffrin Easttown School District which seems to be rather crowded already?
Now someone will snap these homes up I suppose, except it all depends on the economy in general which has been rocked by COVID19 if we’re honest.
📌”Valley Forge Military Academy Foundation has sold five undeveloped lots along Radnor Road at Upper Gulph Road to Bentley Homes for $1.65 million, writes Natalie Kostelni for Philadelphia Business Journal.…“I was building on the Main Line for years and the market died,” Tom Bentley said. “Now, we’re coming back to the Main Line. We return.”
During the Great Recession, Bentley built smaller homes, townhouses and multifamily properties further west in Kennett Square, Chadds Ford and Exton…..Bentley has also accumulated three lots on the east side of Radnor-Chester Road not far from Lancaster Avenue in Radnor and a dozen lots off Newtown Road in Easttown.”📌
Development keeps on rolling doesn’t it ? Are there really people to fill all these developments from single family to townhouse to apartments?
Pay attention to Tredyffrin’s neighbor Easttown. They also have development looming. Which will also feed into Tredyffrin Easttown School District. And then head west. More and more development.
Policy Committee Agenda February 4, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. Room 200, T/E Administration Offices 1. Approval of Minutes of the January 21, 2020 Policy Committee Meeting 2. Public Comment 3. Review of Policies for 2nd Reading Policy and Regulation 1120: Communications with the School Board Policy 4350: Health and Safety in the Workplace Policy 5223: Promotion Policy and Regulation 5405: Student Substance Abuse Policy and Regulation 8040: Emergency Preparedness 4. Information None 5. Follow Up from Previous Policy Committee Meeting Policy and Regulation 5401: Student Discipline Policy and Regulation 6151: Staffing the Educational Program (Class Size) 6. Policies and Regulations for Review and Discussion Regulation 3233: Federal Fiscal Compliance – Procurement Regulation 3323: Procurement Regulation 3380: Travel Reimbursement Policy and Regulation 5001: Enrollment and Registration Requirements and Verification of Student Residency 7. Policy Committee Goals 8. Future Meetings Policy meetings for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year will be on March 3, April 1,and May 5. Unless advertised otherwise, all meetings are held at the Tredyffrin/Easttown Administration Offices, 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1700, in Room 200 at 7:00 p.m.
My friend and fellow bloggeress, Patty Benson has written about this today as well.
I learned of a troubling situation from the January 21 meeting of TESD Policy Committee. Although I was not in attendance at the meeting, I reviewed the video of the meeting and would encourage all reading this post to do likewise (click here for video).
According to Maggie and Mark Gaines, their 6-year-old kindergarten daughter (who has Down Syndrome) now has a record with the Tredyffrin Township Police Department.
Oh yeah… the video
Start paying attention RIGHT at the beginning. Mrs. Gaines comes on around 1 minute 32 seconds (or there abouts)
Here is a long excerpt from the statement I uploaded earlier in the post:
My name is Maggie Gaines. I’m here with my husband Mark and our six-year old daughter Margot. We live in Wayne. I am speaking tonight to make the School board aware of how its “threat assessment” policy is being implemented in the elementary schools of T/E to the detriment of students.
Our daughter Margot is a kindergartener at Valley Forge Elementary School. And she now has a record with the Tredyffrin police department, because the district alleged she had made a threat to her teacher.
On November 19, Margot, who has Down syndrome and often struggles transitioning between activities, was asked by her teacher to do something she did not want to do. At one point in her refusal she pointed her finger at her teacher and said, “I shoot you.”
I imagine the utterance was not unlike the instances when I’ve told her it’s time for bed and she says, “I hate bed. I hate mommy.” As most parents can attest, I have learned not to take offense. For I know that a short time later she is usually cuddled up to me, while we read bedtime stories and exchange kisses and cuddles before saying good-night.
At any rate, the teacher claimed this response was a “threat” and brought Margot to the principal, who talked to my daughter and quickly determined that she neither understood what she was saying nor meant any harm to her teacher or any of her classmates.
The principal then followed district policy and convened a “threat assessment” team.
The threat assessment team met and determined Margot had made a “transient” threat, which is simply an expression of anger or frustration with no intent to harm anyone. The threat assessment team recommended no disciplinary action. Also, there was no recommendation from the principal, Margot’s teachers nor any other members of Margot’s IEP team to address the “problem” behavior in her IEP since it appeared to be an “isolated” event.
I think most people would agree that this is where the issue should have ended. And yet it did not.
Hours after the threat assessment team met, the principal informed me by phone that the school was still required under the district’s policy to call the police regarding the incident.
I disagreed and argued it was absurd to involve the police for an episode involving a kindergartner who pointed her finger, not in malice, but in protest to a request to change classrooms. The principal agreed to discuss the issue further with me the next day.
After reviewing Policy 5401, my husband and I did not see anywhere in the text that required the school to call the police for a transient threat. That evening I sent an email recapping my concerns regarding the policy to Becky Wills, the principal, Ellen Turk, the district safety officer, Chris Groppe director of individualized student services, and Mark Cataldi, director of Assessment and Accountability.
More than 24-hours after the incident occurred, I received another phone call from Becky Wills and Ellen Turk, who told me they had conferred with the district’s administration and concluded the policy required them to “consult with law enforcement.”
Ellen Turk admitted during our discussion that the purpose of the so-called “consultation” with police was not applicable in Margot’s case. But she said that because this was the district’s policy, she had to follow it without exception for every student, in every situation. There was no room for anyone in the district to use common sense to interpret the policy any differently.
My husband, Mark, and I insisted on being on the phone when the call was made to the Tredyffrin Police Dept. The information that was relayed was the same as what would be given to law enforcement when filing a police report.
They recorded my daughter’s name, birthdate, and address. They asked for the names and birthdates of myself and my husband. And they took details of what had happened.
When I asked Officer Garns, who took the call, if he viewed this as a consultation. He answered “no.” He said he was merely recording what had happened.
I also asked how long the information would be held by the Tredyffrin police department. He said it was entered into the department’s database and would not be deleted or expunged after any reasonable time period. I asked who could access this information, and he said it was publicly available.
I am well aware that we live in a time when parents are concerned for their children’s safety in school. When I think of incidents at Parkland High School or Sandy Hook Elementary School, I too am haunted and disgusted.
But I also think our society and our schools across the country have overreacted with respect to perceived threats, resulting in even finger guns wielded by kindergartners being viewed as cause to alert authorities.
I am chilled to the bone. One reason is I have heard other tales of misuse of this policy in this district. I have heard of parents (don’t know any but have heard they exist) afraid to come forward because they fear being targeted and what exactly is this school district building here?
What would the ACLU or a savvy Americans With Disabilities Act lawyer say to this? This is a child. A small child in kindergarten with Down’s syndrome. Why are Becky Wills, Chris Groppe, Ellen Turk, and Mark Cataldi (whomever they all are ) are working for this district? To instill fear and loathing? I think they have achieved those objectives and should be on their way now, don’t you? Yes.. FIRE their asses.
And while I am loathe to criticize a local police department, don’t they have any leeway here? Why do they want parents and little special needs kids treated this way? And if this school district cries wolf enough, would they even be able to recognize (God forbid) a REAL and credible threat and evaluate it? Where is the actual focus here? It’s too broad a brush of a policy isn’t it? (Read TESD Policy 5401 here)
Why does the Tredyffrin Easttown School District have so many messed up problems? Do they need a new Superintendent of Schools and a school board too? Remember this:
Nora Nissenbaum thought the boy in her sixth-grade class was cute, so they casually texted for about a month. But she didn’t like it when the boy insulted her friends at a school dance — and told him so.
The relationship soured. The boy sent anti-Semitic memes and text messages. A caption for one meme reads, “Orange Jews: 100% Concentrated,” under an orange-tinted photo of concentration camp prisoners standing behind barbed wire….All the while, parents say, school officials kept the trouble quiet and didn’t alert families in the district to a threat that many consider a public safety issue that should have been dealt with swiftly and transparently. And in the absence of a statement from the district, parents found out about what happened through the rumor mill.
So if this mom had not come forward would it be the good old rumor mill again? As I sit and continue to listen to this last meeting on You Tube, I am shocked, uncomfortable, outraged and fearful. A whole lot of CYA going on with that school district and few answers.
There is a problem here and what is the solution??
One thing I would like to know is how many OTHER parents are out there dealing with this other than Maggie and Mark Gaines? Maybe Tredyffrin Easttown School District and the Tredyffrin Police Department should let the public know?
I know policies need to be in place as we live in a crazy world, but when the people who are supposed to be educating and protecting our kids and families seem to have lost touch with reality and file police reports on kindergartners with Down’s Syndrome, maybe there needs to be a closer look, policy adjustment, and an investigation into the people at this elementary school? I don’t get how the police department even went through with this report do you?
I mean do they seriously think parents will continue to volunteer at the school or have their kids involved in this school and others in the Tredyffrin Easttown School District? If I had a child in this district I would be pulling them out of this district. When public school districts piss and moan as to why kids get pulled out of their school districts and put in private and other schools like charters, look no further than something like this.
People, this is OUTRAGEOUS. Who is going to keep the kids safe from their own school district? Is Tredyffrin Easttown School District inspiring the future or fear?
In 2009, lots of people (myself included) started going to billboard hearings in Haverford Township. And in Lower Merion Township. Sometimes we numbered in the 150+ per meeting.
We all also used to protest regularly. The two townships and their solicitors and commissioners were solidly with the community too. They didn’t want these billboards anymore than the residents in these locations.
My friends in small Haverford Township neighborhoods were the most imminently threatened, like my pals on Penn Street, Dayton Road, Lee Avenue, San Marino and more (there are multiple locations in Haverford Township, these were just the streets near me.)
However, my own neighborhood which stretched out behind Our Mother of Good Counsel Church in Lower Merion was potentially affected. And even worse? Where I lived was in a HISTORIC DISTRICT! (Which is why The Lower Merion Conservancy is alerting people to the court hearings beginning today in Media! It’s STILL a historic district!)
Then after a few years of attending meetings which seemed monthly if not more, my life changed. First breast cancer, followed by a move to Chester County, and I thought well at least I don’t have to worry about those ugly billboards anymore, right?
Phoenixville, Charlestown Township, West Whiteland, Tredyffrin now headed for county court, and a lot of them planned for East Whiteland Township.
I get that the billboard company owner wants to sit in traffic and look at his signs￼, but they are his signs. They don’t belong to the community at all. Which is why you see elected officials in Lower Merion and Haverford Townships still fighting for the residents and starting today, if y’all want you can join them in Media:
Also this week? The billboard company is doing a presentation at the Desmond in Malvern on what they want to do in East Whiteland. See this flyer (which I personally did not create but I am sharing):
‼️Is this Chester County or Las Vegas? Good question. ‼️
It’s no secret how I feel about these billboards. I think they’re simply awful. I don’t think they have a place in our communities. I don’t think they do anything positive for our communities. It’s all about somebody else’s sense of capitalism. And while on a certain level I begrudgingly respect their desire to make a buck, they shouldn’t do it at the expense of people in communities everywhere should they?￼￼
The media has not really picked up on billboards in East Whiteland. They should as it is just another in a long long line or list of communities facing the same company.
And why is it that these billboards have to be everywhere? Or anywhere? Let us not forget there are FOUR states in this country that do not have billboards and they seem to live just beautifully.￼ Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine—have prohibited billboards.
The protest photos you are seeing were taken by friends in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania yesterday. This morning I wish my friends who are headed or in court already in Media best of luck￼￼.
As communities near and far we are #StrongerTogether. #NoBillboards
RADNOR — Although no plans have been filed with the township, word is getting around that a developer has set his sights on the Wayne property of the late Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, who was one of the Main Line’s iconic grande dames….Hamilton, a billionaire who grew up in New York and Newport, R.I., where she also kept a home, was a generous philanthropist who gave millions to various institutions in the Philadelphia area….Radnor Township Board of Commissioners President Jack Larkin, who represents Ward 1, has written about the pending development at Eagle and Strafford roads in his newsletters to residents. When asked to comment, Larkin referred a reporter to those missives.
“The developer has shown me two concept sketches for the lots; the first is purportedly a by-right plan, and includes approximately 40 homes,” Larkin wrote in his newsletter. “This is, to me, an unattractive plan: Because the units are, by right, single family dwellings, cramming 40 homes onto the two lots means filling them with houses without space for buffers, open space, or stormwater recharge areas.”
Larkin continued, “The second plan would require a conditional use approval by the township, and would put approximately 50 homes into the two lots —41 town homes on the western lot, and nine single-family dwellings onto the eastern lot. Because the homes on the western lot are town homes, they leave a lot of space for the things that are absent in the by-right plan: Stormwater management, sidewalks, buffers, and open space. The density is problematic for me, but with that in mind, it is a good plan.”…Meanwhile, about 40 nearby neighbors sent this statement to Larkin: “We understand and appreciate the developer’s rights to develop the property, and our goal as a neighborhood is not to squash any development, but to mitigate any negative changes to the neighborhood and keep its current character. For those of us who have lived here many years, we have seen the negative effects of cutting down trees on the Hamilton’s property and the building of just four homes on the corner of Strafford and Eagle Road. Despite the assurances of the engineers, developers, and other experts, our neighborhood has been substantially damaged and our lives negatively affected by ‘tiny’ changes to the Hamilton’s property. There are approximately 40 neighbors on Strafford, Hedgerow, Grant, Forrest, Fairfield, and Old Eagle School who will attest to being harmed financially by the improper regulation of storm water runoff in the past.
“The character of the neighborhood will be drastically changed by the proposed development. Haverford Properties is seeking to double the number of homes within our small community. Our current neighborhood contains 35 acres and 64 homes, approximately two homes per acre. The developers plan to build 50 homes will result in 114 homes, for over three homes per acre….Meanwhile, the developer, Charles Houder, with Haverford Properties Inc., declined comment, saying that he wants to meet with the neighbors first.
“Judge Judy” Scheindlin and husband Jerry have made the move to Newport, Rhode Island, with the purchase of a $9 million mansion. The iconic home, known as the ‘Bird House” and previously owned by Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, sits atop one of the highest points in all of Newport
Matt Hamilton already knew that his mother was one of your more independent billionaire heiresses…. (When you’re a billionairess, people call you “Mrs.”) With her elegant suits and trademark wide-brimmed hats, she might look the part of the classic old-school socialite, but Dorrance Hill Hamilton (“Dodo” was a nickname inherited from her mother) puts her own stamp on everything she does. This past summer, her clan joined her in Newport, Rhode Island, to celebrate her 80th birthday at a full-on ball at the Newport Country Club — just around the corner from her summer estate, a splendid 1901 mansion called Wildacre — that featured, among other things, face-painting and an ice sculpture in the shape of a dodo bird. Along with her blue satin dress and emeralds, the guest of honor wore a tiny red hat in the shape of a birthday cake….Dorrance Hamilton was born to the role of socialite, of course — she is, famously, the granddaughter of Dr. John T. Dorrance, who invented the condensing process for soup and became the president of the Campbell Soup company in 1914. But while she has led a rarefied life, she is much more invested in carefully distributing her wealth, making sure that the money she bestows so generously is working properly. Recent gifts include $25 million to Thomas Jefferson Hospital; $5 million to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; $5 million to the Kimmel Center; $1 million to the costume collection at the Art Museum’s Perelman Building; and quietly dispersed millions to education causes all over the city, including several parochial schools in West Philly. In essence, she is CEO of what might be called Dorrance Hamilton, Inc., juggling businesses, charities, real estate projects and foundations.
So given what the late Mrs. Hamilton was about, would she be about having a cram plan of her estate whose driveway is on Strafford Avenue in Wayne, adjacent to the Eagle Village Shops ? You know where The Little House Shop and Valley Forge Flowers and more are?
This is the furthermost edge of Radnor Township and will also IMHO drastically affect Tredyffrin Residents won’t it? Traffic is already a nightmare there regularly, and what of Radnor Township School District? This morning I had parents with kids in Radnor schools express serious concerns off the record. Apparently the schools like many other schools and school districts are bursting at the seams. More developmentdoesn’t alleviate this issue. Also back there is a mess when it really rains, so what about storm water management?
Here is what Delaware County has about the real estate parcels. The commercial parcel is Eagle Village and all those stores:
Whether it’s the by right plan or the one which would require zoning approvals, why is this what they want to do with the property? I get that the heirs probably have their own ideas about what should happen, but is this what Mrs. Hamilton would have wanted?
For example, Mrs. Hamilton was an avid gardener. I have a Clivia plant that I bought decades ago at St. David’s Fair. It had been grown in Mrs. Hamilton’s greenhouses. I almost lost this plant a few years ago when I accidentally left it out in too much sun.
Does anyone here much know that she founded the Swiss Village Foundation also up in Newport, Rhode Island. SVF is a nonprofit that along with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is dedicated to preserving heritage breeds of livestock. One of the animals they study and protect are the Dutch Belted Cattle which many in Chester County recognize as the “Oreo” cows. Mrs. Hamilton was mourned throughout New England when she died for all she did.
She gave millions away to charity and seriously, are her heirs suddenly destitute or something? I mean I could get not wanting to be responsible for all of the land but why overly dense development? Why not have at least part of the property become something like an arboretum like Jenkins, or even go under the umbrella of PHS (you know like Meadowbrook Farm?)
I find this all to be incredibly sad. And it’s truly so disappointingthat her family is considering this. I mean do they need the money that badly? I wish they would consider something else. But in the end, will they care enough? Who knows. This sad saga is just beginning. And I predict the surrounding residents will not just go quietly into the night over this. Nor should they.
Back to billboards. Happy Holidays affected residents, the issue that never seems to go away is back again.
May, 2009. That was the first billboard hearing about billboards in Haverford Township.
This includes the two ginormous billboards proposed for Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr across from the Bryn Mawr ACME and Our Mother of Good Counsel Church. Two ginormous billboards that would cast a ginormous shadow on lovely small neighborhoods in the vicinity.
Now mind you this was only one site proposed for Haverford Township, there were multiple sites. All in the shadow of churches, schools, small businesses, neighborhoods. And don’t forget the issue at five points in Bryn Mawr, which while technically in Lower Merion, also affects Radnor and Haverford Townships as this is the literal point where two counties and three townships meet. (To see articles about this topic, go to Main Line Media News and search “billboards, Bryn Mawr“.)
Well here we are at the end of 2019 and billboards are back as you can see above. This letter was sent out by Haverford Township 5th Ward commissioner Andy Lewis￼￼.
📌As per the attached letter, the hearing on the application of the Bartkowski Investment Group to install billboards in four locations in Haverford Township, including two along Lancaster Avenue at Old Lancaster and Penn Street, is scheduled to commence on Tuesday, January 21st and continue for three days. Please save the dates📌
I never know what the media is going to cover or not cover, and they have been quite devoted over the years to the residents potentially affected by these billboards. However, I have a lot of friends that still live near these billboards sites so I am posting this because how could I not? Back in the day I went to every billboard hearing until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2011￼.
I saved lots of photos from these old Haverford Township hearings and I’m posting a few of￼ them here. I want people to see things like when the firetruck shot their ladder up in Haverford Township above houses to show how tall the billboards would be￼. Or when residents in Haverford Township made a mock-up using big blue tarps of the actual size of a billboard screen being proposed.￼ and photos of residents taking to the streets over this issue.
I no longer live in or near the areas of Haverford Township being threatened, nor do I live close by to the proposed site in Tredyffrin in Paoli. But as a citizen of this country until they revoke it, I still have my First Amendment Rights… which interestingly enough has always seem to be one of the arguments for why these billboards should be allowed and I’ve never understood that and can you understand that?
#NoBillboardsInTheBurbs pass it on. Please support the residents of Haverford Township, Lower Merion Township, Tredyffrin Township, and any other township who objects to these monstrosities in their communities.
I will also note that four states—Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine—have prohibited billboards. Yes, they banned them. So why can’t we say no?
I wonder would the folks from the billboard company want BIG digital billboards on their front lawns? Probably not and I doubt their neighbors would either, right? So why shouldn’t these communities be able to say “no thank you”?
A little closer to home for us in Chester County, in addition to whatever happened or hasn’t happened or will happen in West Whiteland, Tredyffrin is now tag you are in in the municipal game of billboards.
…..With the annual historic house tour in the rear view window, I turned on the township’s Board of Supervisors meeting last night to watch a presentation by Catalyst Outdoor Advertising. Catalyst is proposing the installation of a monument billboard in Paoli to ‘welcome’ people to the township. This proposed large electronic sign (similar to the digital billboard on Rt. 202 in East Goshen) is planned for the corner of the busy intersection at Lancaster Avenue and Rt. 252…..one resident brought up exactly what I was thinking as I watched the presentation – safety concernswith the proposed digital sign at one of the busiest intersections in the township!
Although safety concerns were quickly dismissed by the Catalyst representative as not a problem, there are many available accident studies about driver distraction as a result of digital billboards that would counter his position. These digital billboards are extremely bright and are designed to be visible in bright sunlight. With images rotating every few seconds, this type of signage is designed to be eye-catching (read distracting), and they are….
Aside from my strong aversion to these large computer generated billboards, I have saved the best for last. To accommodate the installation of this large 20 ft. high billboard, Catalyst will need to demolish the historic Clockworks building that is located on the proposed site.
The Clockworks building was chosen as worthy of protection and was included in Tredyffrin Township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey. The building dates to 1900 and is built in the Colonial Revival architectural style. Although it is not an 18th century toll house, it was built to replicate a toll house which was originally located on the site. The best part of the story is that the building’s design was by none other than famous American architect R. Brognard Okie. The Clockworks building is a complete Okie house (versus an Okie restoration or addition) and is a prized building by many and meaningful in the architectural development of the township
So this is the little Clockworks Building:
I love this place! It and this place not too far away (next photo below) have always captured my imagination:
These little bits of our history are little architectural gems that dot our landscape. And Clockworks is an Okie! (Iknow nothing about the other little building and how it came to be.)
Ok so this isn’t my circus in Tredyffrin, I don’t live in Tredyffrin, but I don’t care if the billboards are digital or SMD (surface mount diodes) or platinum encased Lincoln Logs, at what point are there enough? This is at a crazy intersection of a densely populated area. WHY?????
If you listen to the Tredyffrin township meeting recording (and who knows how long this stays on line) it sounds like this presentation occured as part of some litigation settlement agreement? Something like Tredyffrin was threatened with litigation over the way they treat billboards by the billboard company?
So yo Tredyffrin, even Phoenixville fought the billboards. And they WON:
WEST CHESTER – A Chester County Court judge dismissed a Philadelphia-area billboard baron’s challenge to the Phoenixville zoning ordinance that he claimed improperly excluded such signs from the borough.
In a May 20 ruling, Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Tunnell upheld the ruling by the borough’s zoning hearing board, finding that the zoning ordinance did allow for billboards and other large outdoor signs to be erected, just not in the location that Thaddeus Bartkowski III and his company, Chester County Outdoor, wanted to erect them.
Bartkowski had filed a substantive validity challenge to the ordinance in 2011, claiming that it unconstitutionally prohibited a type of business from the borough. In 2012, the zoning board ruled against Bartkowski, finding that the types of signs he wanted to erect were a permitted use, even if they were not specifically identified.
It makes you wonder sometimes in these situations whose rights are valued more, doesn’t it? But if Phoenixville could prevail, I am thinking so could Tredyffrin’s solicitor if challenged?
Below is a screen capture from the televised presentation and is this what you want people of Tredyffrin? I will leave you with that image. I put an arrow as to where Clockworks would be removed from. I vote for Clockworks but I don’t live in Tredyffrin, so that is just my opinion.
A friend of mine took this photo less than five minutes ago in Tredyffrin. Lancaster Avenue and that is Old Covered Wagon Inn to your right I believe.
Friends and other readers are alerting me to flooding photos, so here is a slideshow. From Lower Merion where stormwater management in the township needs a makeover to flooded out Little Chicago in North Wayne, to out around West Vincent and beyond the flooding is crazy. Highways are closed like parts the Schuylkill Expressway, turnpike, etc.
But of course, global warming is an urban legend…and all of the development never, ever causes any storm water runoff problems, right?
Willow Avenue at Radnor Street Road in “Little Chicago” in North Wayne, PA. (Radnor Township) Neighborhood was built at turn of 20th century over the Wayne Natatorium…which at the time was largest outside pool thanks to Gulph Creek and all those springs and water sources underground. These people are flooded horribly today. Feel sorry for them. Photo from Twitter this morning.
Howellville, one of Tredyffrin’s earliest villages, grew in an area convenient to the farms of the Great Valley. A tavern was often the start of a town, and the first one here was built about 1712. By the early 1700s, sawmills and gristmills had appeared. Nearest to the center of town was the sawmill on Crabby Creek. Several of the early farms had their own limestone kilns. The first school opened about 1720. A factory of some kind belonging to the Workizer family is listed on the 1798 Direct Tax. [Note 1] By the late 18th century, a shoemaker and a wheelwright had set up shop.
More industry developed in the 19th century, including a woolen mill owned by Samuel Wood. There was at least one blacksmith. By the middle of the century there was a store and the Chester Valley Railroad, and by the late 1800s Howellville was a thriving industrial town. The limestone quarries became big business and Italian immigrants arrived to work at them. Other nationalities followed, but were never as numerous or as prosperous as the Italians.
By the early part of the 20th century, Howellville had become a close-knit community-a bit naughty, with lots of drinking and gambling. Then came the Depression which dealt rather harshly with the village. Having lost their jobs, and with no place to go, the quarry workers lived hand-to-mouth. In 1934 Frances Ligget, later a member of the Tredyffrin Easttown History Club, marshalled the help of the Valley Forge Farm and Garden Club to clean up the town and help the unemployed workers and their families. Free seeds were given for gardens. The state provided medical assistance as well as sewing, knitting, and cooking classes, and a nursery school. Weaving was taught by Lettie Esherick, wife of the artist Wharton Esherick.
In 1681 land in the center of Tredyffrin Township that would eventually become most of Howellville belonged to William Mordaunt and John Hort Each owned 500 acres. They were Welsh Tract brokers-they bought the land from William Penn but never lived on it. In 1711 Mordaunt’s sons sold their 500 acres to John Evans, who had previously been Governor of Pennsylvania. Just to the east lay 1340 acres that David Meredith sold to William Powell in 1706. They were also Welsh Tract brokers.
Llewellyn David, a Welshman and one of the early settlers, bought 300 acres in 1708. The name David (later changed to Davis) was the biggest name in Howellville for the next two centuries.
The area sat at the bottom of a natural bowl where three hilly roads met to form a triangle. Swedesford Road, forming the north side of the triangle, came into existence about 1720, very early in the settlement of the Great Chester Valley. It led from the vicinity of Randall Malin’s house in East Whiteland to the Swede’s Ford at the Schuylkill River, near present day Norristown, and gave settlers in the interior access to Philadelphia.
Bear Hill Road, which formed the southeast side of the triangle, connected the Valley with the Black Bear Tavern at the top of the South Valley Hill near the Lancaster Road and today’s village of Paoli.
The southwest side of the triangle was Howellville Road, until a traffic light was installed at the corner about 1960. Then it became part of Swedesford Road and the north side of the triangle was made one-way. It was this way until most of Howellville’s buildings were torn down and Route 202 was completed and dedicated in 1971.
The triangle at the bottom of these roads was a convenient place for horses and wagons to stop and rest, and in 1745 a license was granted to establish the first tavern. When David Howell settled in the area and became the second innkeeper of the tavern, about 1765, it was called Howell’s Tavern. The village that grew up around it became Howellville. When the old inn was razed in 1921, the only house in the triangle was the little house described by Henry Darling later in this article.
The triangle disappeared in 1967 when Route 252 was widened and Route 202 was built.
The history of Howellville is fascinating and rich. Most people just think of Howellville Road today…not that it was a historically important crossroads village. It is an integral part of the history of Tredyffrin and was discussed in Tredyffrin’s 2009 Historic Preservation Plan.
Last time I was on Howellville Road was in the fall when I was noodling around and found myself on that road. It has long fascinated me and I lament the loss of one crossroads village after the other as time progresses.
You may recall the abandoned Jimmy Duffy property on Lancaster Avenue in Berwyn and the subsequent construction of Daylesford Crossing, an assisted living facility on the site. The approval for Daylesford Crossing was a long, drawn out redevelopment process in 2012 that required a text amendment to permit senior living facilities as a by-right use in C-1 (commercial) zoning.
Some argued at the time that the zoning change to permit senior living in C-1 was ‘spot-zoning’ to accommodate this specific project and others questioned what this would mean for future C-1 development in Tredyffrin Township. In 2015, the township expanded the C-1 District zoning to also include townhouses as a by-right use.
During the last few years, developers have flocked to the township with their assisted living and townhouse, apartment and condominium plans. Assisted living projects currently under construction or in the review process include Erickson Living at Atwater Crossing in Malvern (250 beds) and Brightview Senior Living on E. Conestoga in Devon (196 beds).
On the townhouse-apartment side in the township, there are many projects in the planning stages or under construction….Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed. Top ranking school district, T/E brings an influx of people to the area which means an influx of students, and the growing problem of finding a place to put them….. a new proposed land development plan in the works that is extremely troubling – townhouses on Howellville Road. The proposal is to wedge a cluster of 20 townhouses, in four buildings, between the village of Howellville and the shadow of the Refuge Pentecostal Church.
….The proposed land development plan on Howellville Road is not compatible with the character and appearance of the area. Beyond the impact of traffic on Howellville Road, the proposed development plan creates serious safety concerns. The steep narrow winding nature of Howellville Road makes entry and exit from the proposed dense townhouse project a dangerous situation.
Benson Company’s proposed townhouse project on Howellville Road will change the look and character of this community as well as place a greater burden on the narrow, winding road – and again more students for the school district!
John Benson of Benson Company has enthusiastically offered that his proposed Howellville Road townhouses will look like his Grey’s Lane townhouses on Lancaster Ave. A couple of things – (1) Grey’s Lane is on Rt. 30, a commercial 4-lane road vs. Howellville Road, a rural country road and (2) he squeezed 12 townhouses in at Grey’s Lane in 3 buildings where as this proposal is for 4 buildings with 20 townhouses….Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed. Between the assisted living communities and the townhouses and apartments, should the objective in Tredyffrin Township be to approve any and all land development projects regardless of the impact?
And from an aesthetic point of view, every time I see a staged interior of a “fabulous” Benson new construction piece of new construction dreck I am struck with the fact that every interior looks the same. If you want Barbie’s dream house, you are pretty much there. No character, predictable, mass produced, plastic.
Residents of Tredyffrin are soooo right!! How much of this does any one township want or need? And much like neighboring East Whiteland it seems like people are hell bent on developing every square inch of the township! Who needs King of Prussia? Soon Tredyffrin and East Whiteland will definitely resemble King of Prussia meets Bensalem.
Oh yes, one more thing? Tredyffrin residents need to get to the Planning Commission TOMORROW February 16th when this next great godforsaken plan makes it’s debut along with “Westlakes Hotel” and “Chestnut Road Apartments”.
Again I ask where the hell the Chester County Planning Commission and Brian O’Leary are? Lord above, Chester County is drowning, yes drowning in development plans.
Yesterday I wrote about the wrecking ball of doom hanging over a very beloved and well-recognized landmark, the Old Covered Wagon Inn of Strafford PA. Once it was a tale of two counties, and apparently at some point the structure got plunked 100% in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County. (Say, has anyone asked Radnor Township how they feel about this?? It is right on the border and they are always taking care of than intersection aren’t they?)
Today thanks to Pattye Benson I have these great photos to share with you. And a new post:
There has been questions about the exact date of the Covered Wagon Inn. According to Tredyffrin Township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey, the construction date is attributed to circa 1780. A team of professionals from Preservation Design Partnership in Philadelphia conducted the municipal survey documentation project, which surveyed and documented over 350 historic resources in Tredyffrin Township.
Interestingly in 2004, the Historic Resource Survey was given the Government Award by Preservation Pennsylvania. The project was described as “providing a usable preservation planning tool for a suburban township currently under intense development and redevelopment (in the form of “tear-downs”) pressure.” The award description went on to say that, “Tredyffrin Township Historic Resources Survey represents a model for the use of technology to document and plan for the management, protection and preservation of historic buildings, sites and districts valued by a municipality.”
The township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey was funded with taxpayer dollars and was intended to aid the municipal officials and staff in the protection of Tredyffrin Township’s resources. The preservation of historic buildings like the Covered Wagon Inn is a one-way street. There is no chance to reuse or save the building, once it’s gone. Preservation and restoration is the ultimate form of recycling. What is historic, and worth saving, varies with the beholder.
How horribly and sadly true. Not everyone sees the value in our old and historic structures.