Well last evening’s West Whiteland Planning Commission regarding the Weston Tract was a revelation for sure. And sometimes being at one of these meetings you feel like a squirrel up in the tree watching. In this case, watching so as a resident you can get your comments in. Which is not as easy as you think if you are an affected resident of a neighboring township.
First were the planning commission members who were essentially saying that they should just be able to decide things not the supervisors, and the supervisors were essentially idiots for not approving the zoning changes for HIGH density housing on the Weston property just up W. King Road which would detrimentally many. That was astounding to me and out of line. The Planning Commission also acts as an advisory body, not end-game decision maker.
What surprised me even more is that they were not checked on this running commentary by the supervisor who was present, Raj Kumbhardare because although merely a conversation, they should have been at least corrected as to their role that they signed up for. But in fairness to Raj Kumbhardare, it could have been a pick your battles thing, but to me the comments also smacked of arrogance and ego and that’s not why you supposedly sign up for these committees.
Then there was Weston’s lawyer who was saying essentially high density is what the market wants blah blah blah and that of course just makes you wonder because he is representing Weston the seller not the developer buyer?
I wasn’t rude but this is what I said:
My statement and sentiments are simple. I know nothing is being decided tonight and this is a discussion, but I am also not naïve as to how things work.
The Weston Tract being developed is inevitable. I wish it was otherwise, but I am being realistic.
This development won’t just affect West Whiteland residents, it will affect East Whiteland residents, and given the connectivity of roads off of West King, will also affect East Goshen residents and perhaps even West Goshen residents.
Municipalities do not exist as independent island nations. We are interconnected.
This development will need a traffic signal at West King and Weston Way no matter what.
Also just so you get an idea of just a regular few days of traffic, I asked East Whiteland if they could do an informal study next time they had the you’re- speed up on West King near my road. The time frame was between October 25th and October 30th and for that time frame specifically and most simplistically they counted 31,000 cars in total over 6 days which is about 5000 cars per day, fairly evenly split at 2500 in east direction.
That is not insignificant traffic and it can be and has been heavier. We know, we live here.
Please say NO to high density housing. This is not the location for it.
And you also all probably know that in West Whiteland there is a developer who was doing something like perc testing maybe behind houses on Old Phoenixville Pike and correct me if I am wrong but isn’t it the guy who is the reason thee is the mess on Ship at 30 adjacent to the new couplet which is also a mess? All that one does is high density, correct? And you don’t want data centers or hydrogen hubs.
If this gets developed, it would be great if it was a school because that would mean a use that wouldn’t harm the area as much. But if it is residential how about single family, 1 acre and ½ acre lots? As in both. They do sell although developers prefer cram plans because they care about only their bottom lines, not the communities they disrupt.
You are a municipality who is getting the short end of the development stick and like everywhere else it’s all too dense and looks the same. Apartments and townhouses contribute to a more transient society as they are more likely to either be all rentals or have a lot of rentals.
You have the chance to guide a developer to do something better. And if this area gets zoned Residential with 1 acre and ½ acre single family, that would be beneficial to across King where Johnson Matthey has that chuck of land for sale, and possibly it could better protect your residents on Old Phoenixville Pike because in my humble opinion if that went high density, you would be potentially looking at another Meadowbrook Manor situation.
The planning commission member who could indeed inspire the public to be rude because he is so unctuous is Mark Gordon. Mark Gordon WAS also the paid zoning / codes guy in East Goshen and well I think he was asleep there half of the time there but he sure likes to be king of his anthill on the West Whiteland Planning Commission. Ironically he lives close to Weston, so one would think he would care more about how this affects people. I remember him from when East Goshen was trying to take part of the Hicks Farm via eminent domain for private gain for the trail to nowhere. And another planning guy who gives me pause? Raymond McKeeman who for years worked for West Goshen as a facilities manager/zoning officer. He also lives close to Weston so what’s his horse in the race that he’s pretty non-supportive of the residents near Weston?
I mean, I guess you could say one connection for both of these planning commission members is the law firm representing Weston also used to do the solicitor work for West Goshen and East Goshen and I think they’re back at West Goshen, so is it all just too cozy on this bus? Should these two planning commission members actually recuse themselves when this law firm has things before the planning commission? I’m neither inferring or stating any impropriety, but it’s often the appearance of things which are worse than the actuality isn’t that correct? And yes as an American under the Constitution I am allowed to ask these questions aren’t I? I’m allowed to question government and have opinions, correct?
Now I know this is the planning commission set in place by the dearly departed township manager, who is now in Montgomery County, correct? So are a lot of the current members of the West Whiteland planning commission shall we say strategic to whatever was going on before?
When it comes to politics and local government , I don’t necessarily believe in coincidence.
And something else I want to address that was brought up by Mark Gordon the planning commission guy in West Whiteland. He interjected the West Whiteland tax increase into the conversation about development. First of all the reason West Whiteland has a tax increase is because of things like all the development over the past multiple decades, as well as 30 years of prior administrations playing kick the can down the road with regard to taxes, correct? And he said something along the lines that the tax increase is 300%. It’s not, it’s actually more like 180% because no increases occurred in about 30 years. What that comes out to on average is about $150-$200 a year so it’s about $10-$12 a month. And for the record, nobody likes a tax increase, but sometimes you can’t avoid it, especially when prior administrations weren’t looking after residents the way they should have been, right? If you look at neighboring municipalities, all this increase does is bring this up to the level of neighboring municipalities.
Does Mr. Gordon of the Planning Commission in West Whiteland think development and the cost of development are free long term to municipalities and residents? If so, what’s he doing on the planning commission? Part of the reason they need to do a tax increase has to do with infrastructure, and a lot of that infrastructure is the human variety as in first responders, etc. so is Mr. Gordon saying they don’t need police and fire in West Whiteland?
Also, curious as to how Mr. Gordon thinks more than one ingress and egress out of this development onto W. King Rd. is going to work? Especially because he lives near there? The one good thing about the Weston property being developed is Weston Way the road in and out of Weston is wide. It needs a traffic light for sure, but they don’t need to open up the back of the property onto other little streets or add more ins and outs on W. King Rd.
I think the West Whiteland Planning Commission needs to remember that they are an advisory committee which means they are acting in an advisory capacity. They should be there to work in the best interest of the township and residents as a whole, not developers, right? They aren’t the decision makers and dealmakers. And last night as they were lamenting the fact that the board of supervisors didn’t agree with what they had suggested was very eye-opening to me. They don’t make the rules, but they want to make the rules? And given relationships on that board to other factors in this plan, I really think we should all be grateful that the supervisors actually are the ones who are the decision-makers.
There were many West Whiteland residents who spoke up last night. Among them are the residents over on Old Phoenixville Pike who are also trying to figure out exactly what a developer is doing back behind their neighborhood since he keeps doing perc tests or something. Some poor older gentleman spoke about getting his property torn up every time they send an excavator through, and I think that’s horrible. No plans have been filed and that’s what the John Weller from West Whiteland Township said last night, but obviously something is going on if a developer is doing testing.
John Weller also made a comment about Phoenixville Pike being narrow where those former helicopter warehouses are. The other side of West King, where those people in that small neighborhood on Old Phoenixville Pike also have a very narrow street, perhaps not even as wide as Phoenixville Pike across King. Another thing to note is neighbors are also concerned there about development happening because the land that’s being tested apparently also has 5 acres that are actually in East Goshen.
These people on Old Phoenixville Pike are worried and justifiably so. Car lights right in their windows where that never existed and traffic turning at the tangent point of their road close to driveways, more stormwater issues, etc. Right now they have a developer being inconsiderate dragging equipment in and out and tearing up their yards like the pipeline people have in other neighborhoods, so you know that doesn’t bode well for whatever is to come if that developer proceeds right?
This West Whiteland residents and residents from other communities were abundantly clear about development NOT being high density. And it is also clear that no one from any township that lives back near Weston wants apartments townhouses, or carriage homes. What fits the area and is suitable for the area if it goes residential are single-family homes literally on half acre and 1 acre lots.
If a school came in and they didn’t have to change the zoning for Weston, that would be great but you still have to worry about who would buy the Johnson Matthey land across from Weston (and one would hope they would do significant environmental testing on that parcel), or what might get shoehorned in behind those homes on Old Phoenixville Pike.
The residents from multiple municipalities should be proud of the way they turned out last night, and I hope they keep the momentum going. Because the more people go to meetings on issues like this the better the conversation. That way my hope is whatever happens on that tract of land doesn’t actually hurt the community that Weston is in.
I am sure this issue will pick up again in the new year. And hopefully at that point, the planning commission won’t be shaking their heads “no” when residents were speaking which is disappointing, dismissive, and piss poor decorum. And I hope the planning commission in West Whiteland learn that their personal taste (or lack thereof) is not necessarily what matters here. I was on zoom, and people were messaging me this who were in the audience. Residents had a right to speak, and they did speak. And for the most part, they were a lot nicer to that planning commission than certain members of planning commission deserved. With the exception of the lady named Mary Fran, or Mary Frances. She was fair and thoughtful in her comments.
Stay vigilant. After all these are our communities, not the developers. We live here. We have a right to be heard and we have the right to want to preserve where we call home.
Good job once again, residents. Planning Commission in West Whiteland? We’ve got your number on this project.