cold case curiosity in chester county

A friend of mine sent me a link to a news story today.  It was a reprint of a Daily Local article from 1964 :

#TBT: Grave of missing child found, 1964 murder which shook Chester County

POSTED: 03/30/17, 8:17 AM EDT

Editor’s Note: This story is from the Nov. 30, 1964 issue of the Daily Local archives.

Connie Evans was found dead yesterday afternoon.

The West Goshen Township girl’s body was discovered by a Berwyn man, out for a walk, in a shallow grave just south of Chester and Berkley roads in Easton Township.

Police said the indications were the child was strangled….

Investigators said that the girl may have been slain shortly after she was last seen on Oct. 24. That was five weeks and one day ago.

The girl’s grave was about one mile southeast of the Easttown Township police headquarters, a mile directly south of Rt. 30 and a half mile north of Sugartown Road.

It was on the estate of Theodore K. Warner Jr. , a member of the township’s board of supervisors.

The girl’s mother, who lives in a tenant house on the Jerrehian estate, just above Rt. 29 and the West Chester bypass, was visited by Sgt. Francis Kofke of the West Goshen Township police force, last night….The girl’s grave was about 150 yards south of the supervisor’s home, near a large pine tree and in a fairly open area,” according to an investigator….The grave was 36 feet in from Berkley Road, at one side of a seldom-used path which is entered through posts of a wooden gate. A wooden fence which had stretched for some distance on either side of the gate has rotted away, and most of it is on the ground….Connie had left home shortly after 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, her 15th birthday. She walked south on Rt. 29 toward West Chester, to meet on the way a friend, John Launi, 15, of 208 W. Gay st. West Chester, as she had done several times previously….The crime was never solved though a local private detective says she knows who committed the murder.

 

Yes I watch way too many detective stories, so I Googled .  First of all, the article mentions the Jerrehian Estate. That means this girl and her mom lived on the old Sharples Estate in West Chester – where Greystone Hall is.

(The Sharples Estate’s Greystone Hall was the brain child of architect Charles Barton Keen who was the grandfather of one of my close friends.  I also remember when the Jerrehian family was fighting the West Chester Area School District over eminent domain. In more recent time, people have been up in arms about development on the Jerrehian Estate. But I digress.)

I Googled some more and came up with a Find A Grave page for Mary Constance Evans.  The Find A Grave page created by a Daniel Oh (whom I do not know how to reach in a timely manner) contained a piece by a private detective. Her name is Eileen Law, and I spoke with her this afternoon. I realized as I was reading what she wrote that I wanted her permission to republish what she wrote in it’s entirety, not just an excerpt.  So I looked up her office telephone number and gave her a call. What an awesome lady!  She gave me her permission so here we go:

Rest in Peace Connie Evans
By Private Detective Eileen Auch Law

On Saturday, October 24th, 1964, Mary Constance “Connie” Evans (her family called her “Conti”) left her home on the Jerrehian Estate at 1028 Phoenixville Pike in West Chester, (West Goshen Township) Pennsylvania at approximately 1:35 p.m. It was her 15th birthday. She formerly lived on Darlington Street in the borough of West Chester and attended North Junior High. She was to meet her boyfriend, John Launi, who was going to meet her halfway, and accompany her into West Chester so that she could buy a birthday present. Later, the two were to meet with her mother and aunts in town for dinner and a birthday cake her mom had yet to pick up. When John knocked at her mother’s door asking for her, Mrs. Evans knew something was wrong…

Mrs. Evans (also Connie) contacted West Goshen Police Department immediately. The first officer who responded was a friend of Mrs. Evans – Sgt. Fran. (He did not want his last name used.) He took down all of the information and Mrs. Evans was told that they had to wait another day before they could put the information about her disappearance out in case she was a runaway. Some thought perhaps she might have left to see her father in New Mexico and stay with him awhile. Mrs. Evans knew better…

A search team was put together and well over two hundred volunteers from law enforcement, Fame Fire Company, neighbors and friends combed a four square mile area. Blood hounds were brought in and tracked her scent to the vicinity of Phoenixville Pike and Route 322. Several private airplanes and two helicopters from the Willow Grove Naval Air Station crisscrossed the area for hours and reported seeing nothing out of the ordinary. Men on horseback, scuba divers who searched reservoirs, lakes and ponds were disbursed. Law enforcement set up road blocks questioning passersby to no avail. They all believed that there is no way Connie would have gotten into a vehicle with a stranger on her own volition. Further, many told me that she would have fought like hell anyone who tried to harm her.

A man named Fred, who lived on Phoenixville Pike and who was getting his mail that afternoon, called police with some disturbing information. He told them he saw a man who appeared to be half black and half Hispanic or Italian drive by who had gone off the road a couple of times driving pretty fast. He says he got a good look at him, and what was disconcerting was that this man had an “arm lock around a girl’s neck who had dark brown hair – like he was hurting her – her head was flush up against him so he couldn’t see her face.” He was headed away from West Chester on Phoenixville Pike just before King Road.

West Goshen Police Officers Lt. Tom Flick, Sgt. Fran and others, talked about a man they knew from West Chester who matched that description and whom they knew had been in trouble with the law. They also learned he frequently beat up his wife. They contacted West Chester Police Department and asked if they had a picture of the alleged perpetrator. They did, and turned over a copy to them. West Goshen put together a composite of several different pictures of various people with the same look, and then went to see Fred. Without hesitation, Fred pointed to the man in question and said, “THAT’S HIM!!!”

They learned that this man, although from West Chester, worked picking up trash for a trash collector in the Berwyn area. Lt. Flick went down to the company and picked him up and brought him in for questioning. I’ll call the man “Ef.” He brought Ef into the station and learned that he had formerly been arrested for child molestation and rape, for which he served time in Eastern State Penitentiary. Ef continued saying: “I can’t go back to jail again. I can’t go back to jail.” West Goshen received a call from Ef’s boss saying: either arrest him or release him. I have unhappy customers who need their trash picked up.” They released him…

On Sunday, November 29th, 1964, at approximately 1:00 p.m., 36 days after Connie went missing, Joseph Celsi, 37, an insurance underwriter, while walking his dog along Berkley Road on the Theodore K. Warner Estate in Devon (about a half mile away from the Devon Horse Show grounds) discovered an area where his dog started to dig at. He saw strands of brown hair protruding from this area where it appeared another animal had started to dig. He found a hand…

He flagged down a passing motorist who contacted Easttown Township Police Department. Then Patrolman Stanley Scott (now a Judge) and Chief of Police John Bunce responded. Patrolmen Scott examined the shallow grave right beneath an evergreen tree. He dug Connie’s body up by hand. She was naked from the waist down. The black leather jacket and the watch she had been wearing were never found. That night, Mrs. Connie Evans, next to her friend, Sgt. Fran, stood mute as he showed her the clothing: a blouse, knee length dungarees, undergarments, and a gold friendship ring. When he asked if they were Connie’s, all she could do was nod her head.

An autopsy was performed by Chester County Coroner Thomas Monteith and the cause of death was listed as strangulation. Further identification was made with dental records. Over three hundred people attended the funeral of Mary Constance Evans. Many, like me, had never even met her. She is buried in St. Agnes Cemetery…

Many people were questioned. Theories and rumors abounded, including one that a teacher may have been involved, or a police officer or a high profile official. Each department had their own theory. West Goshen P.D. never stopped believing it was “Ef.” In fact, they picked him up again, and questioned him. They also wondered where his vehicle was. Ef told them that someone had stolen it. Based on the information they received from the resident Fred, they arrested him for Murder believing they had enough probable cause. Ef went before Magistrate Meredith Cooper, who believed there was not enough evidence to bind him over for court, and he was released…

Sometime much later, an Officer from Tredyffrin Township Police Department discovered an abandoned vehicle which appeared to have been “torched.” They were able to determine that the vehicle belonged to none other than Ef, with a West Chester address. The address was on Miner Street, right around the corner from where Connie had formerly lived. “Mrs. Ef” who had two children – a daughter and a son around Connie’s age, told them she had been separated from her husband. He would go there to visit his children on occasion. Sadly, back then, none of the departments shared information. West Goshen was not aware that Tredyffrin found a torched car belonging to Ef and Tredyffrin wasn’t aware that Ef had been picked up for questioning, let alone arrested…

Like many of my friends and classmates, I became involved in this case when I was eleven years old. Connie lived a couple of miles away from where I grew up. I was told by my parents I was never allowed to ride my bicycle into West Chester again. Though I never met Connie, her school picture in the newspaper with a smile of what appeared to be a sweet girl haunted me. Even today, when I drive past the place she was last seen or her then home, I get a lump in my throat ~ just like so many other people I have talked with over the years…

When I became the District Attorney’s secretary, later a paralegal in 1971, I studied Connie’s file, vowing to find her killer. I met many in law enforcement back in those days from various departments, all sharing their own stories and memories. On December 23, 1998, Lt. Tom Flick, Lt. Richard Weimer, former Commander of the Pennsylvania State Police and with whom I worked as a Detective before, and Officer Phil (formerly of West Chester Police Department) stopped by my office unannounced. They saw a file I have kept on my desk all of these years with the label: “Connie Evans.” Tommy said, “How could you know anything about that case – you were a kid! I was the lead investigator.” I told him it had haunted me all of my life, and that before I died, I vowed to find out who did it. We all talked for at least four hours. I took copious notes, and we all agreed that we would form a team to prove who killed Connie. Of course, Tommy already knew. He just couldn’t prove it. We met frequently and unfortunately, Tommy and Dick passed away, Phillip who had come to work for me as my Chief of Security, retired, and I was left to do it on my own. Or so I thought…

Recently, information came to me about Connie’s case. I was told that the teacher in question had not only committed suicide, but left a note behind confessing to killing Connie, and that it had been turned over to the authorities within the past year or so. I contacted the District Attorney and several law enforcement officers from the various departments. None were aware of any such note. I spent days searching newspaper articles, pulling old records, talking to witnesses, old teachers and family members and going back over the notes I made from viewing the file many years ago, and the information Tommy had provided. I tracked down the teacher’s widow, and spoke with her, her sister and the teacher’s sister. I got to the bottom of how this rumor started and more importantly, how it snowballed and took on a life of its own. Each time it was repeated, most especially at class reunions, a new comment was added much like a “whisper down the lane” type thing. People just wanted to lay to rest unresolved questions desperately seeking answers for a young girl whose memory was forever embedded in their minds…

With the most recent rumors behind, I wanted to make good on my vow to resolve this case once and for all and, specifically, to concentrate on and learn more about Ef whom so many believed was responsible. Ef’s mother, from West Chester, had been raped by an African American man while she was married. She had other children before and after Ef was born. When Ef was in eighth grade, he had stolen money from his parents, and when he pulled a knife on his “father” that was the last straw: he was kicked out of his home. He lived on the street for a while, and went from home to home, and married a woman who was sixteen years old. I found their marriage license application for whom his wife’s father signed for her as she was a minor. They had two children who lived on Miner Street: right around the corner from where Connie lived. We believe she knew the children and their parents. Ef’s family had called him a “bad seed” as he was always getting into trouble. He had not only a juvenile record, but had been arrested for child molestation and rape and served time in Eastern State Penitentiary. Ef’s wife, now deceased, divorced him. When I pulled the records, she even listed the docket number of the Rape case in the divorce complaint. I was curious to see what address Ef had been served at: My heart pounded when I saw the address in Devon — it was exactly one block away from where Connie Evans body was found…

I learned through records, a police officer, Mrs. Evans and Connie’s best friend, that the day she went missing, she had started her period. It is our belief that Ef torched his car to hide blood and any other evidence left as a result of what was no doubt a struggle in that car. Yesterday, I tracked down and spoke with Fred, the man who identified Ef driving erratically with the girl in the car. He is 90 years old now, and says he remembers it like it was yesterday. He described the vehicle exactly like what had been found by Tredyffrin so many years ago. While there isn’t concrete proof that Connie got into Ef’s vehicle, we now know that she knew Ef, as he was the father of her friends and neighbor. She had no reason to fear him. There are so many other aspects to this story and case. I could go on for hours. I don’t believe it’s important…

Ef died in the late 1980’s. You won’t find his grave. He was cremated because his estranged family didn’t have enough money to bury him. His former wife has passed as well. So did another woman with whom he lived in Berwyn. I found and spoke with his daughter who told me she really didn’t know her father. She said he started drinking heavily in the 1960’s and became an alcoholic…

While there isn’t DNA evidence to confirm many years of searching and putting pieces of the puzzle together, Connie’s parents and those of us who have worked on the case over the years are satisfied that this can finally be put to rest. Next month will mark the 47th year she has been gone, but never forgotten…

I learned a few other things: for years, on the anniversary of Connie’s disappearance and birthday, West Goshen Police Department set up road blocks in the vicinity of Phoenixville Pike and Route 322 handing out flyers and questioning people with the hopes that they may have seen something. Sadly, I learned that Sgt. Fran was so upset and frustrated about the outcome of Connie’s case; he left the department and moved to Florida. He was instrumental in helping me. When I told him of my findings, he got so choked up he couldn’t speak and when he did, all he could say was “Thank you.” Lastly, I learned that as a result of this case and the impact it made on a young man who had volunteered on the search team to find her, he went into the legal field and has been a Court of Common Pleas Judge and sits on the bench today. He is known to be firm, but fair to all who come before him…

Mr. and Mrs. Evans wanted me to thank all of the people who searched for Connie, prayed for her, and more importantly, never forgot her. Mr. Evans specifically asked that this story be told to the news media to give people closure…

As for me, I’ve always believed that when Connie took her last breath on earth, she breathed new life in Heaven. What a life that must be! I’m cautiously optimistic that when I drive past the area where she lived, the lump in my throat will be replaced with a smile.

Detective Eileen Auch Law
President, CIA, Inc.
September 16, 2011
 
 Burial:
Saint Agnes Cemetery
West Chester
Chester County
Pennsylvania, USA 
Created by: Dan Oh
Record added: Jun 04, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 37913048

 

I know from Ms. Law that she has had people reach out to her since The Daily Local chose this particular case to highlight as a #TBT.  And if you read her words above, if DNA evidence had been in effect in the 1960s, her case would be officially solved, and there would be no mystery.

This story of Connie Evans has had a profound effect of so many people.  She is a teenager frozen in time ans space. A life just beginning when it was frozen in time by her murder.  She could be anyone’s child.  Her poor mom.  Her parents were split up at a time when it was hard for a woman to be on her own, let alone raise a child on her own. Connie inspired Eileen Law to become a private detective.

These cases involving children are the worst, and even if they are adults when something happens, they are someone’s children. Like another missing person case that has interested me because it started in Lower Merion Township where I once lived – the missing person case of a nurse named Toni Lee Sharpless. (Yes, the Magic Kingdom does have a slightly sordid underbelly, doesn’t it?) My pal, writer Kathleen Brady Shea wrote about Toni Sharpless in August, 2016.

Back to Connie Evans.

Where Connie Evans was found – near or on Berkley Road in Devon in Tredyffrin is an area quite familiar to me.  Especially since I occasionally photograph the old houses on the Tredyffrin House Tour for my friend Pattye Benson.

I never knew about Connie Evans until my friend who is a life-long Chester County resident messaged me the article today and said how her aunt, who was 14 at the time has never forgotten the story. Her aunt didn’t know her, but they were close enough in age growing up in Chester County and her death made an impact on so many.

What would Connie Evans have been like if she had lived? Would she have gone to college? Gotten married and had her own family? It’s so tragic.

It also makes you wonder what has become of the people who were her friends.  What about her boyfriend who was named John Launi? How did this horrific event impact all of their lives?

Life is a gift.  And once again after spending some time dwelling on the murder of Connie Evans today I am once again reminded of it. Love your friends and family.

 

 

holding municipalities accountable….over sunoco 

It has been a looooong time since I have had a #SuNOco post. But things are heating up over pipelines gobbling up our land, our environment, where we live…all for their gain. They want to say it’s benefitting all of us, but those gas pipelines? They are pumping what they take out of here.  We don’t benefit but Sunoco and politicians like PA Governor Tom Wolf sure do don’t they? And what is it about our current governor? He is like a Wolf in sheep’s clothing isn’t he? Talking all tough about helping residents against the pipeline until he was elected?

Anywhere these pipelines go, it’s only about profit. And they pipe it right up and out, destroying everything around it as they go. It makes strip mining look like child’s play, doesn’t it? They (another pipeline company) are even shoving one through the Pinelands in NJ….which are supposed to be environmentally protected.

As per this AP report:

The 15-member New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted 9-6 to approve a plan by South Jersey Gas to run the pipeline through the federally protected Pinelands preserve, where development is drastically restricted.

I am no fan of these pipelines, and I must admit that I feel a lot of these Pennsylvania municipalities (like West Goshen) roll over and show their big fat political bellies at the expense of residents.

West Goshen like many municipalities likes to fly under the radar, so I am sure they are not digging what I am about to post. They (West Goshen) will point to their recent letter to Sunoco, but ummm it’s just tough talk unless their feet are held to the fire and what I am about to post serves that purpose indeed. 

Sunshine….ahhh sunshine….good for Tom Casey. I think he is terrific! And NPR too!

NPR: Townships accused of failing to enforce ordinances over Mariner East 2

FEBRUARY 24, 2017 | 6:13 PM

BY JON HURDLE

Opponents of the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline project are accusing two townships along the route of failing to enforce ordinances that would be violated by the pipeline in those locations.

West Goshen Township in Chester County and Thornbury Township in Delaware County have provisions in their zoning ordinances that could force the pipeline’s builder, Sunoco Logistics, to relocate the line if the municipalities chose to enforce the rules, according to the critics.

Eric Friedman of Glen Mills in Delaware County and Tom Casey of West Chester in Chester County have sent legal memos to the townships, urging them to enforce certain zoning provisions, and threatening legal action.

The initiative is the latest challenge to the project which has begun construction in some places along its 350-mile route after obtaining its final permits from the Department of Environmental Protection on Feb. 13.

Thornbury, by agreeing to Sunoco’s plan to build the pipeline in the Andover subdivision, is failing to enforce its own requirement that requires at least 40 percent of land in that subdivision to remain as open space, Friedman and Casey say…..The Thornbury ordinance says the open space “shall be no less than 40 percent of the gross area of the tract.”

In West Goshen, the township is accused of not enforcing a section of a 2014 ordinance that requires pipelines to be set back from occupied structures by a “Pipeline Impact Radius” (PIR) that Friedman calculates at 1,200 feet.

The radius is not specifically measured by federal regulations but it potentially covers safety, environmental, noise or visual impacts, and in any case would at least equal the approximately 100-foot distance between Casey’s house and the proposed pipeline route, according to Friedman and Casey.

The West Goshen ordinance says pipelines that carry hazardous liquids or gases “shall be set back from all occupied structures a minimum distance equal to the pipeline impact radius.”

Casey argued that West Goshen Township is failing to enforce its ordinance because of political pressure……The townships are among eight municipalities in the two densely populated counties that have published official statements in recent months expressing widespread public concern about the safety of the pipeline despite repeated assurances by Sunoco.

Although Sunoco recently obtained the long-awaited permits, the project is still beset by legal challenges. They include an appeal at the state’s Environmental Hearing Board by three environmental groups for a halt to construction; a pending case before the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas over whether the project truly has “public utility” status, and now the attempt to increase local control over the project…..Jeff Shields, a spokesman for Sunoco, said the company has no comment on the initiative by Friedman and Casey

My, my, my. This IS getting interesting again. Sorry but Sunoco deserves no less. They are raping and pillaging the land around us for their profit margins. They are putting us at risk on so many levels. They do not care about potentially polluting our wells and water sources, they do not care about reducing property values because so many do not want to buy a house with a pipeline running through a property, they do not care about environmental impacts on nature, or just the whole safety thing of it all when it comes to natural gas going “boom”, so why should residents settle? Lives and land have value.

Related:

NPR 2/17/17: West Goshen says Sunoco violated Mariner East agreement

Delco Times 2/20/2017: Editorial: Legal fight looms over Mariner East 2

Delco Times 2/23/2017: Guest Column: Wolf taken to task for backing Sunoco plan

Delco Times/Daily Local 2/17/2017: West Goshen files complaint against Sunoco Logistics in pipeline battle

west goshen, west goshen, west goshen….

pizap-com14757716710352

A few weeks ago I wrote about the curious goings on in West Goshen Township. My curiosity grows.  Is there a reason for example that this is yet another story the Daily Local isn’t covering? Is it too much of a political hot potato for them?

Why?

Well, there is news. But before we get to news are West Goshen Township officials going to post law enforcement at every meeting to protect them from the public?  Are they going to pass their anti-free speech ordinance having to do with recording PUBLIC meetings even as they are discussing the recording of meetings by the township? How will that work exactly?

Oh, and about that right to know case pending, since they seem a-feared  of sunshine:

2ed44c9b-19df-4c9f-b288-68e6e740f226

casey-2

Hmmmm Sam Stretton is representing the resident’s interests.

This is getting interesting….someone might have to give up some fitness classes at ACAC to deal with this, hmmm?

Pull up a chair at upcoming West Goshen meetings and bring the popcorn…..

truth will out? a curious case of sunshine continues to brew and other tales

tape-face-west-goshenWhen I wrote about West Goshen last week, I did not realize I had ignited some sort of political powder keg and why is that is local governments are supposed to be so open and find it impossible? These people are elected to represent all residents equally, correct?

Anyway, apparently there was a rather heated West Goshen Board of Supervisors meeting last night?  I hear among other things, the recording of meetings was discussed? So as of now West Goshen records/films zero meetings and their website catalog of meeting minutes and agendas are somewhat, shall we say, deplorable? So I do not know the actual agenda. But, apparently the supervisors, or maybe it was solicitor or maybe both had their knickers in a twist about this topic and so did certain residents that in other townships are often referred to somewhat indelicately, albeit accurately, as cheerleaders?

The whole thing of recording meetings by the public has always been a hot button topic, not just in West Goshen but all over.  The reason a lot of residents will choose to record meetings often has to do with the basic fact that not all municipalities record or film (videotape) meetings, and many are not exactly current  on posting meeting minutes or even agendas. And some townships the meeting minutes are shall we say, sanitized?  So people record them. (and for the record, I have tried to pull up agendas for the West Goshen Supervisors for both August and September of this year, and I got Planning Commission Agendas, which is incorrect as per their posted meeting date.)

Municipalities will say to the public they are worried about privacy in the recording of public meetings held in public spaces.  We’re not talking about Executive Sessions to which the public is not included, we are talking about regular meetings. What is that whole no expectation to privacy in a public space?  And not a public bathroom where there IS an expectation of privacy, but a public board room, where there is NOT, correct?

Ok so yes municipalities will play Captains of Semantics to split hairs in their favor. (Not a dig, human nature, totally understandable.)

So in July I found courtesy of a Google cache that West Goshen was contemplating adopting an ordinance similar to East Goshen’s having to do with members of the public recording of meetings.  The ALSO discussed the possibility of RECORDING meetings so the public could see them in their entirety later, and I would assume that also means they are possibly speaking with Comcast and Verizon regarding a municipal channel that every municipality is entitled to if they so choose?

See here:

west-goshen-july

Ok so got that?  They are discussing their OWN recording of meetings so how is THAT not an issue? It does not compute. Anyway, her is hoping they join modern times because the more open a local government is, the happier the residents and taxpayers, right? And nothing makes residents happier then to NOT HAVE TO go to a meeting to find out what is going on where they live and pay taxes, right? Isn’t it nice to be able to sit in the comfort of your own home and watch a meeting and only have to attend a meeting if you wish to speak at public privilege/public participation?

West Goshen is beginning to sound like Haveford Township in the bad old days  (or West Vincent before last election) and I hope for the residents’ sake that isn’t the case, don’t you?  I don’t really know.  What piqued my curiosity was the case just filed by the resident Tom Casey against the township.  It is about open records, or “sunshine”.

Yikes.

Here is all I can get right now.  These are all filed with the court, and to the best of my knowledge are OPEN and not sealed, unless someone has other pertinent information?  In an effort to be a good citizen, I redacted e-mail addresses and whatnot to the best of my ability with the exception of the West Goshen township e-mail addresses because those are already public.

I am a big believer in sunshine and open meetings and freedom of information where local governments are concerned. I participated in a Sunshine protest in Lower Merion Township in 2010 and photographed it.  I have friends who have taken such things to court in Radnor Township over Right to Know Requests not being honored by school district and won. The Radnor case of a lack of sunshine was a very big deal. As well it should have been.

The situation in West Goshen is also a smelly one and has to do with the sewer plant.  I don’t know all the players or the politics, but I do know quite well the politics of being miserable to residents and even non-residents for discussing topics that local municipalities and school districts/school boards do not want out in the open. Everyone always says when things happen they are “coincidences” but are they really?

I am a big believer in our inalienable rights.  Ultimately the Chester County Court system will decide, and I hope this resident gets a fair hearing in front of the Judge hearing the case. I hope West Goshen lets the resident have their day in court FAIRLY without any outside shenanigans, don’t you?

Here is what I have dug up:

casey-v-wgt-appeal-to-oor-decision-ap-2016-0868-in-chester-cty-court-of-common-pleas_redacted

casey-v-wgt-oor-ap2016-0868-rebuttal

ex-a-b-oor-2016-0868_redacted

ex-c-f-oor-2016-0868

ex-g-oor-2016-0868

ex-h-j-oor-2016-0868_redacted

ex-k-oor-2016-0868

ex-l1-oor-2016-0868_redacted

ex-l2-oor-2016-0868_redacted

I am guessing unless the court posts otherwise that this will get a hearing date in the near future, right? A public hearing that media and the public can attend? Anyway, West Goshen is uncharted waters.  Who knows what will happen? I will hope for the best that they do the right thing and get over medieval style politics, right? After all, they owe their residents (ALL of their residents) to be the best, right?

what is going on in west goshen township these days?

 

Pennsylvania, 1933, Plate 017 West Goshen Township, West Chester, Ludwig's Corner, Green Hill Station, Chester County

West Goshen is one of those Chester County municipalities that seems to like to stay below the radar.  We heard a lot about them in recent years because of the Sunoco pipeline.  But you don’t hear about them very often overall, do you? I don’t think so, unless I am missing something?

However, West Goshen actually popped back into the news again recently over a pipeline meeting in West Chester.  There was also an interesting blip in Pensions and Investments about them in early August (article was titled West Goshen Township issues call for investment manager.) And something just yesterday about QVC laying folks off again recently (jerks – QVC not the township so we are clear.)

West Goshen also seems to outsiders and residents to not be so open and transparent a municipality, and maybe there is good reason for such opinions? The Board of Supervisors Meetings are neither televised nor videotaped for replaying later (even East Whiteland has joined modern times with that!) and their meeting minutes are not current and the most recent I could find was from July 2016, and they are draft minutes, not finalized (don’t they finalize at next subsequent meeting and post?).  Oh and this Sewer Authority Meeting Minutes from June makes interesting reading but nothing more current?

I found this letter in the Sewer Authority Meeting Minutes so interesting, I thought I would share with the class. This is something one would think the local papers would perhaps be clued into and report on? What the heck is going on???

I don’t have a clue but damn…. that is one scathing letter, isn’t it?

So I found this thing on the court records after someone said there was some kerfuffle at summer meetings.. West Goshen is embroiled in some new litigation…and it’s new, very new.

I sense a Nancy Drew Mystery….and I predict this is something to watch….

 

A resident is suing West Goshen Township. People do not take those actions lightly. And it is over a lack of “sunshine”. Yep. Open Records. (I have friends who did this and prevailed in Radnor Township some years ago now and this is not an easy thing.)

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE OF PETITION FOR REVIEW TO OVERTURN THEFINAL DETERMINATION OF THE OFFICE OF OPEN RECORDS (OOR) FINAL RULING AND TO COMPEL THE DEFTS TO PROVIDE ALL INFORMATION REQUESTED UPON”

Municipalities and sunshine and transparency do not necessarily go hand in hand do they?

I notice that West Goshen has TWO lawyers representing their interests versus one resident pro-se (representing himself) at this point.

So the two lawyers are Kristin S. Camp (Township Solicitor) and an associate from her law firm, Ryan Jennings.

kristin-camp

ryan-jennings

Hmm that Camp name was familiar, so I asked a friend who lives in Easttown Township and they said Kristin S. Camp was their solicitor didn’t I remember the articles about Devon Yard the hideous Eli Kahn/Wade McDevitt/Old Waterloo/Devon Horse Show/Devon Drama plan??  (Well who could forget about that looming monstrosity?) They sent me a link to a February 2016 article written by Main Line Media News Reporter Linda Stein titled  Easttown Township: More than 200 residents pack meeting about Devon Yard plans .

It always amazes me how many municipalities municipal lawyers have – Ms. Camp is no exception and she has a few. I don’t know if this list is completely 100% current and if not I apologize to the solicitor but I have: West Goshen, Easttown, West Nantmeal, Birmingham, and Pocopson all in Chester County? Wow, and she is a partner in her law firm? Busy busy busy.

But West Goshen is spending money on two lawyers to defend against one small resident? Are they nervous or something?

Now the Judge assigned, like most Chester County Judges means nothing.  Judge Jeffrey R. Sommer who apparently before ascending to the bench was in the same law firm that Solicitor Camp is with. His term runs from when he was elected in 2013 to 2023.  This Judge was in the news this summer over his excellent decision regarding that pool fence dispute.  Somehow I knew the Judge who wouldn’t get this case is the only one I know of related to someone serving on a West Goshen Board, Allison Bell-Royer. Her husband is a former West Chester Borough Councilman, Shannon Royer.  Mr. Royer, a senior lobbyist with a firm called Wanner, sits on West Goshen’s Zoning Hearing Board.

As a completely unrelated aside, Judge Royer has an amazing Pennsylvania political pedigree. Her grandfather was legendary State Senator Clarence D. Bell, who I think still holds the record in the Keystone State for being the longest serving public official in Pennsylvania – almost 50 years! (48 to be precise).  Judge Royer’s dad was no slouch either.  If you wonder what propels people towards public service, look no further than the examples Judge Royer had growing up.  When Judge Royer was running I was new to Chester County, so I did a little research to decide if she was someone I wanted to vote for since women on the bench is still not an every day occurrence and I think it should be (but I digress).

So back to this case.  What does it all mean? I don’t know.  Hopefully reporters will dig into it.

Seems there is a lot going on behind the scenes in somewhat normally sleepy West Goshen doesn’t there? I don’t have much of an opinion about West Goshen at this point, but I do find this somewhat intriguing, don’t you?

File under inquiring minds want to know?

Image result for inquiring minds want to know

why don’t we have more control over our communities? we live here.

Meet Pulte’s  “promotional video” on Linden Hall.

Described as an enclave of “luxury”  town homes, with views of an exclusive golf course anyone has yet to see how storm water runoff will affect and whose memberships are not exactly included with the purchase price of the townhouses. (Yes holy run on sentence Batman but I don’t know how else to say it.)

You see photos of rolling Chester County fields with nature, only there is no nature at Linden Hall. Only a crumbling historic carriage stop and inn that  sits and rots unrestored, even though the original developer (Benson or whomever) who sold Pulte the townhouse land and approvals promised to restore but thus far has not. All that has happened is a version of construction fencing has been erected to surround it. (Maybe with black plastic fabric fencing around it we won’t notice the building rotting, right?)

This video says that this development is 3.5 miles from a Septa Station. I assume they mean Eston which already has parking issues? And you get to that station from congested route 100 right? Or you have to invent a space at Malvern station?

The video proclaims 4 miles from Main Street at Exton and 10 miles from the King of Prussia Mall because God forbid people support local, small businesses, right? 

And my favorite, they tout the Great Valley “School System”.   Of course no one ever talks about the effect a rampant increase in development has on a school district which eventually affects our taxes and our kids, do they? And before all the PTA cheerleaders gather up their pom poms against me, that is NOT a slam at the school district, that is a very grim reality which is inevitable. 

But overall what bothers me the most is here is yet another developer touting our beautiful Chester County they are carving up into plastic houses one acre at a time. The site these townhouses are on once supported quite an ecosystem. Foxes and birds and rabbits and so on. I know the neighbors behind Linden Hall are very unhappy and worried how this development will affect their property values down the line.

The price points are not affordable for those who would need affordable housing. The quality is not so spectacular that the exteriors won’t wear quickly after a few Chester County winters. And the way they describe them, well you don’t realize if you are looking at a development essentially sitting on a highway. No matter what you do to them they are sitting on a major thoroughfare. And it’s not pretty.


Ok this brings me to the impetus behind this post:

The New York Times:  How Anti-Growth Sentiment, Reflected in Zoning Laws, Thwarts Equality

By CONOR DOUGHERTY

JULY 3, 2016


….“The quality of the experience of being in Boulder, part of it has to do with being able to go to this meadow and it isn’t just littered with human beings,” said Steve Pomerance, a former city councilman who moved here from Connecticut in the 1960s….These days, you can find a Steve Pomerance in cities across the country — people who moved somewhere before it exploded and now worry that growth is killing the place they love.

….But a growing body of economic literature suggests that anti-growth sentiment, when multiplied across countless unheralded local development battles, is a major factor in creating a stagnant and less equal American economy….

Zoning restrictions have been around for decades but really took off during the 1960s, when the combination of inner-city race riots and “white flight” from cities led to heavily zoned suburbs…To most people, zoning and land-use regulations might conjure up little more than images of late-night City Council meetings full of gadflies and minutiae. But these laws go a long way toward determining some fundamental aspects of life: what American neighborhoods look like, who gets to live where and what schools their children attend.

And when zoning laws get out of hand, economists say, the damage to the American economy and society can be profound. Studies have shown that laws aimed at things like “maintaining neighborhood character” or limiting how many unrelated people can live together in the same house contribute to racial segregation and deeper class disparities. They also exacerbate inequality by restricting the housing supply in places where demand is greatest.

This article is written by someone who doesn’t get the realities of rampant development. Nor does the author mention the fact that a lot of these developments are built just to build, not because there is an actual need. 

The author of this article of this article also does not get how these developers are actually contributing to what he seemingly despises. As in these developers are actually contributing to racial segregation and deeper class disparities. They are in fact limiting the housing supply by their very price points. How many families of multiple people and kids are going to look at condos for example that are studios and one bedrooms and if not rentals start at mid 500,000s? How many agricultural, factory, or service related workers are going to be able to afford Linden Hall or Atwater or so on or be encouraged to buy there?

And look at all the zoning together. That is developments in progress in one area, regardless of municipality, along with other development in various states of approval. A sleeper to watch for in East Whiteland would be that thing a developer named Farley got approved a while back, remember? A multi acre parcel that is accessed off a property on 352 that looks like a hoarding situation that goes up into woods and would be shoehorned in between Immaculata and the William Henry apartments for lack of a better description? So you have the increasing traffic nightmare on Route 30 by Linden Hall which will only get worse with completion of neighboring projects like off of Frame Ave and Planebrook Rd. Can you imagine adding this 352/Sproul to that? And the effect it will have potentially on King Road? Let alone what one more project so close together would have on the ecosystem of the area AND the school district!

See that is the problem with all these developments, developers, and the factual analysis this New York Times writer Conor Dougherty thinks he has done. The reality is we do NOT live in a bubble. We are connected. Developers envision and present these projects as stand alone things with no real time or effort put into the relationships between projects. It starts when you see the plans presented at a local municipal meeting.

 These projects are depicted all by themselves with nothing around them, or nothing around them realistic to human or other scale. They do traffic studies when no one is around, they don’t really look at what a large uptick in population will do to anything from roads, to hospitals, to school,districts, to the environment. They do not care about us, they just want to build, get their money, and get out. So pardon the hell out of us Conor Dougherty if we want to preserve the character of where we live and do not want our school districts, property values, and our shrinking open space detrimentally affected. And his affordable housing argument doesn’t wash at least around here because they are not building affordable housing. These developers truthfully don’t give a rat’s fanny about actual affordable housing.  None of this is about actually helping others, it’s about lining their pockets at the expense of many communities.

Chester County is at risk. I am not sure why Chester County even has a county planning department because everything getting built is about the dollars developers get from density. Our open space and communities and agricultural heritage are seriously at risk. That doesn’t anyone make sny person saying that some kind of NIMBY ….it is the truth. Why is it that the rights of those who already live in an area seem so less important than what politicians  and developers want?  Look at Embreyville and Bryn Coed – what happens to those areas if development gets approved for maximum capacity? Embreyville is already in play, and Bryn Coed is only a matter of time, right?

Community preservation and open space preservation aren’t dirty words. They should be our  right as residents of this beautiful county we call home.

Happy July 4th. Our forefathers fought for our freedoms and apparently we are still fighting for our rights.

Thanks for stopping by.