So….let’s get to it. Has anyone looked at East Goshen Township’s upcoming BOS Agenda? There is some special and interestingly worded language about a potential “right of way land acquisition” for the Paoli Pike Trail and the Hicks Farm. (Item 11 “New Business”)
When you read that after reading item 5B which refers to “Executive session” and “legal matter pertaining to the Paoli Pike trail”, if you have ever followed eminent domain cases it makes you wonder what East Goshen Township is up to precisely doesn’t it?
Read the agenda and ask those supervisors some questions….at the meeting.
At what cost do trails get built? And is this where they were talking development a while back?
Eminent Domain is something I despise. I helped find it successfully many years ago in Ardmore thanks to our groups help from the Institute for Justice in Washington DC. I learned about both kinds of eminent domain, private gain and public purpose. And municipalities love to say public purpose is for the public good but is it always for the public good?
Since I saw these items on the agenda I have been asking around. And I was told that indeed residents did receive an eminent domain letter from East Goshen Township. And then I saw this:
I went through the public meeting packet for East Goshen Township for their upcoming meeting. And there is nothing like taking letter included in the packet and that should be publicly posted. Because if they’re doing it for the public good, don’t hide it in executive session agenda items which I have to ask is that what they’re trying to do?
📌‼️Chester County’s Eminent Problem Posted to Politics June 11, 2021 by Stephen Wahrhaftig
Imagine a knock on your door, and somebody announces that they intend to purchase your home, and that you will need to vacate it shortly. Imagine, also, that you are told that the value of your home will be established by the purchaser, and that you must accept the offer without objection. Sounds like a nightmare scenario.
This nightmare has played out time and again here in Chester County. It occurs when a local government decides that they want to take someone’s property for public use that is deemed more important than the rights of the property owner. It does not matter how long the property may have been owned, or how the owner feels about being forced to give up their land. If the locality wants it, they can take it at a price they feel they should pay. The process is called Eminent Domain, a somewhat gray area of law that has been in constant dispute for decades.
In the recent past, there have been examples of localities using Eminent Domain to seize private property for values that owners have felt unjust, and for reasons the community has sometimes found inappropriate….The latest threat of Eminent Domain use is happening in East Goshen Township. The victim in this case is Goshen View Farm, owned by the Hicks family. The ancestors of this family settled in Chester County back in 1769. According to a family member, this farm was purchased by William Huey Hicks in 1909. William was interested in the land because of the new system of electrification along Paoli Pike. Hicks bought the farm from the Sharpless family the old-fashioned way, by offering the owner a fair price and having the seller agree to the transaction in a free and agreeable sale….You may ask what the critical need is for taking a strip of land from a farm along Paoli Pike? Is there a hospital being built? Perhaps some emergency access is needed for a fire department? In fact, this property is being seized for a possible walking trail no more than two miles long, according to some local residents.
Sometimes referred to as “The Trail to Nowhere,” this strip of property is supposed to meet up with other township trails that may or may not ever exist, or even meet with this section of the trail. Perhaps the prospect of millions in government grant money is affecting the decision to invoke Eminent Domain. By some estimates, the township is spending about $5 million per mile to build the trail, $10 million in total.
The family that owns the property is not only unhappy with the threat of Eminent Domain but is also concerned about how visitors may impact their valuable horse stabling business, and about liabilities that may ensue when bikers and hikers cross the vehicle traffic on the farm lane exiting to Paoli Pike.‼️📌
Ok East Goshen there is building a walkable community and then there is bullsheit. This,East Goshen, is bullsheit .
I am all for walking trails. And I love the trails that East Goshen has in their park down the road. But this this is crap. I mean what are they going to do connect their trail with West Chester Borough? I mean do they want to connect their trail to 202 or something?
I have not seen the eminent domain taking letter, only told by a few sources that it exists. If the owners want to make it public I am happy to publish it because Imms always going to have a problem with eminent domain. And I don’t think this has anything to do with public purpose I think this has to do with legacy building on the part of some of these supervisors and that is WRONG.
And when I saw this editorial, it did make me realize that Chester county does have an eminent domain problem from time to time and this is one of those times.
And East Goshen? Time to be public about this. And stop the madness. Why is it farms especially farms with horses have to be subjected to eminent domain takings? Aren’t enough things like overdevelopment threatening the equine and agricultural history and traditions of this county as it is???
Other things East Goshen is NOT considering is the impact this would have on a working farm or how this not might but would affect their liability and liability coverage.
Trails are like a shiny new bauble for municipalities but they have to be done and created for the right reasons. If East Goshen wants to use eminent domain it’s the wrong reason.
Farmers and equestrians I am asking you to stand with concerned East Goshen residents and the Hicks family Tuesday , June 15th at this IN PERSON meeting at EAST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP located at 1580 Paoli Pike West Chester, PA 19380. The meeting starts at 7 PM. If my friend the late Dick Saha was still on this earthly plane I know for sure he would be there with his farmer friends.
Also, I encourage people and media to FLOOD East Goshen with emails and calls:
Eeast Goshen Township Building East Goshen Township 1580 Paoli Pike West Chester, PA 19380-6199 Phone: (610) 692-7171 Fax: (610) 692-8950 Office hours 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Please note that you must wear a mask when entering the building.
When there is an election coming in West Vincent you can always rest assured that the same old political bullsheit will surface. Oh yes, bad words…please alert the potty mouth police. (Yes, sarcasm, we are talking about West Vincent, after all.)
Take the letter above. Written by Vomitorious Ralph err…that suave Country Squire former Lower Merion Township resident and political operative , former West Vincent Supervisor…David Brown.
Hence, elections in West Vincent are like seeing dead people…err former politicians desperately seeking relevance.
(Yessss people…..Buckle up West Vincent between now and Election Day it will be CRAY CRAY…..)
The largest irony about reading this letter? Wondering if it’s autobiographical to the author’s cronies and their days gone by?
I mean come on now really Mr. Brown? My goodness. If you were Pinocchio 🤥 would you be able to hold your head up now?
You can always count on West Vincent to be super nasty at election time. I have experienced it personally and have saved the screen shots to prove it. Cyber bullying, cyber harassing, the dickitude factor runs high.
I fully expect they will attack me again because oh my gosh my golly I don’t like the crap that spews out of West Vincent every single election season.
If you want the tea and scones administration to return, by all means be of the sheeple and for the sheeple and vote sheeple. Sara Shirk is your gal.
But if you want a nice man who is thoughtful and caring and honest, then vote for George Dulchinos.
Photo Credit East Whiteland Township from their website. From US Library of Congress: Michael Gunkle Spring Mill, Moore Road (East Whiteland Township), Bacton, Chester County, PA
Now I make no secret of the fall house tour events I hold dear in Chester County which are the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust House Tour (I am a sponsor and this year it’s Saturday September 29th) and the tour that started it all for me many moons ago (used to go with my parents long before calling Chester County home) — Chester County Day!
The Women’s Auxiliary to Chester County Hospital has been supporting the hospital for 125 years through numerous fundraising activities and events. One of the beloved fundraisers that has stood the test of time is Chester County Day, the longest running house tour in the United States. This year’s tour will be held Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm. Since its founding in 1936, “The Day,” as it is affectionately called, has raised more than $5 million for the hospital, earning $132,000 last year alone.
This year The Day includes tours of 16 homes and six public structures/historic sites in the northeast quadrant, including Exton, Frazer, Chester Springs, Kimberton, and Phoenixville.
The Day will kick off with the pageantry and excitement of a traditional fox hunt. The hunt will set off promptly at 9 am from Birchrunville. At 10 am guests can begin their tour of this year’s selected properties.
The 2018 tour celebrates the traditional, distinctive architecture of Chester County with some twists. There is a beautifully restored home in West Vincent Township which is believed to have been deeded to a Revolutionary War soldier in payment for his service. Also on the tour is a meticulously kept stone home with great antiques, rugs and a lovingly-cared for garden.
A spectacularly restored Queen Ann-style home is one of the stops in West Whiteland Township. The home was designed and built in 1851 by Andrew Jackson Downing, a prominent advocate of the Gothic Revival in the United States. The fountains, gardens, mahogany-lined rooms and diamond lead-paned windows of this house are remarkable. When the owner first purchased this property, oil had seeped into the basement and water leaked from the attic down to the first floor. The renovation of the home has returned it to its original, unforgettable state. Around the corner is a pristine stone R. Brognard Okie house set on a hill with a beautiful stone-banked garage.
Loch Aerie pre-renovation. My photo.
Loch Aerie Mansion in Frazer will also open its newly revamped doors to the tour this year. Also featured in East Whiteland? Gunkle Spring Mill! Gunkle Mill is a nationally registered historical resource. Michael Gunkle built this his first mill, in 1793. The structure represents post-Revolutionary development in the Great Valley. By 1872 the mill processed 1,800 tons of flour, feed, corn and oats yearly. At the peak of its productivity, the mill ran 18 hours a day. Gunkle Mill is now owned and cared for by East Whiteland Township. The Mill was placed on the Historic Register in 1978. (Check it out on Library of Congress website HERE.)
Attendees will also have the opportunity to tour a nearly 200-year-old farmhouse/manor house in Chester Springs that has been lovingly repurposed as a business office. The structure has retained much of its original woodwork, pocket doors, cabinetry, stair railings, fireplaces and a beautiful English knot garden. Tour-goers can also explore the largest three-story bank barn in the county located in Charlestown Township. The home boasts hand-hewn, scored beams.
Phoenixville is represented by a restored farmhouse with a pool house that was once the residence of farmhands. Eighteenth and 20th century homes on the grounds of the former Pickering Hunt are optional next stops for attendees. Two houses will be open in Rapps Corner, with the convenience of parking at one home to tour both. Each of the stone houses has been maintained and updated in very individual styles, while respecting the historic bones of each building.
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Chester Springs will serve as a lunch stop, where pre-ordered boxed lunches by Arianna’s Gourmet Café will be available.
The Day offers two ticket options, a regular priced $50 ticket or a $100 VIP ticket. The VIP package includes an invitation to the preview party in September, as well as a gourmet boxed lunch provided by Montesano Bros Italian Market & Catering at an exclusive house tour open only to VIP ticket holders.
With a GPS and a Chester County Day map (that you will receive when you purchase your ticket) the beautiful architecture and bucolic roads of the county are yours to explore!
When:Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm
Where: Northeast Quadrant of Chester County
Tickets: On sale from July 1, 2018 online; September 4th by mail or at the satellite locations listed on their website.
$50 purchased via web, phone or in person
$100 VIP tickets, which includes a VIP Reception and Preview Cocktail party at Historic Yellow Springs, Sunday, September 23; Otto’s Mini of Exton, PA will provide a Mini Cooper for qualified guests with purchased VIP tickets, while supplies last and a private tour of a special VIP house with a gourmet boxed lunch served by Montesano Bros Italian Market & Catering. VIP tickets are also available at all satellite locations, as well as via web and phone. (See ChesterCountyDay.com for details.)
More Information: Want to know more about the tour? Attend one of the free public preview lectures throughout the county. For a list of dates and locations, or to download a podcast visit: www.ChesterCountyDay.com
ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE: I am writing this post because I want to and because I attend this event. I purchase my own tickets and am a grateful supporter of The Women’s Auxiliary to Chester County Hospital.
Mary Cortes from Cramer Hill, Camden, NJ on left with another Cramer Hill resident on the right at the Little Pink House Screening in Philadelphia with the Institute for Justice.
The Institute for Justice in Washington, DC was kind enough to sponsor an event reuniting a lot of groups who had fought eminent domain for private gain. I was so happy to reunite with my original Save Ardmore Coalition friends and to see Mary Cortes and some of the Cramer Hill, Camden folks. I was thrilled to spend time with Scott Bullock, who is now President of the Institute for Justice and Susette Kelo, about whom the movie is about. I had met and spent time with Susette Kelo when she was going to the United States Supreme Court and after.
Little Pink House coming to town brought back a lot of memories. Eminent domain should be a four letter word. Here is a re-cap of what the movie is about:
Based on a true story, Little Pink House is about a small-town paramedic named Susette Kelo leaves a bad marriage, and starts over in a new town. She buys a rundown cottage with a gorgeous water view. She fixes it up and paints it pink. Then she discovers powerful politicians want to bulldoze her blue-collar neighborhood for the benefit of a multi-billion dollar corporation.
With the help of a young lawyer named Scott Bullock, Susette emerges as the reluctant leader of her neighbors in an epic battle that goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, inspires a nation, and helps millions of Americans protect their homes.
My dear friend Sherry Tillman (left) with Susette Kelo on Sunday at the Little Pink House screening.
Little Pink House could happen to any of us. And as I sat through the movie I was struck again by the B.S. spouted by politicians salivating and greedy for development (it’s universally sleazy.) How they were doing this for the residents and how it would be so wonderful….and what did they do? They stole people’s homes, bulldozed them, and handed it all on a silver platter to Pfizer (it really makes you despise big B.S. development plans all over again after seeing this movie.)
In 2009, Pfizer left New London. Yes, left. People’s lives and homes were destroyed for them. These were every day working and middle class people. The heart of their community was bulldozed into oblivion. Stolen by eminent domain for private gain.
Here is a New York Times article about Pfizer’s final bad act in this play of misery and human suffering:
From the edge of the Thames River in New London, Conn., Michael Cristofaro surveyed the empty acres where his parents’ neighborhood had stood, before it became the crux of an epic battle over eminent domain.
“Look what they did,” Mr. Cristofaro said on Thursday. “They stole our home for economic development. It was all for Pfizer, and now they get up and walk away.”
That sentiment has been echoing around New London since Monday, when Pfizer, the giant drug company, announced it would leave the city just eight years after its arrival led to a debate about urban redevelopment that rumbled through the United States Supreme Court, and reset the boundaries for governments to seize private land for commercial use.
Pfizer said it would pull 1,400 jobs out of New London within two years and move most of them a few miles away to a campus it owns in Groton, Conn., as a cost-cutting measure. It would leave behind the city’s biggest office complex and an adjacent swath of barren land that was cleared of dozens of homes to make room for a hotel, stores and condominiums that were never built.
The announcement stirred up resentment and bitterness among some local residents. They see Pfizer as a corporate carpetbagger that took public money, in the form of big tax breaks, and now wants to run.
In Chester County, many of you should remember the case of Coatesville trying to steal the Saha farm for a golf course and whatnot. That was eminent domain for private gain and I saw the Sahas often during the time we were fighting eminent domain in Ardmore. Dick and Nancy Saha were wonderful folks. I have not run into them since moving to Chester County, and hope someday our paths will cross again.
Here are a couple of articles that will refresh your memory on the Saha case:
During the two-hour hearing, much of the testimony referred to the battle between Dick and Nancy Saha and the city of Coatesville.
Prior to the hearing, Sen. Jim Gerlach, R-44th of East Brandywine, who is chairman of the committee, said he wants to establish whether one municipality can condemn land in another municipality without that municipality’s approval and whether eminent domain can be used for nontraditional uses such as for recreation centers.
The testimony which began with Greg Lownes, the nephew of Dick and Nancy Saha….
“We are not against the revitalization of Coatesville. What Coatesville does with their property, we don’t care. Dick (Saha) has a business in Coatesville. He has a vested interest. But we object to the city taking the Saha’s land for a for-profit business,” Lownes said.
In his testimony, Lownes said he would like laws to be passed that would not allow one municipality to condemn land in another municipality without that municipality’s approval.
The Sahas beat city hall quite literally. But is was a long, ugly, drawn out legal battle.
Also note the 2013 article in the Daily Times where the land acquired that the Saha land was supposed to be added to. The land was being auctioned off. Here is the article from then:
The Saha family – Delaware County natives – rocketed into the headlines a decade ago when they dug in to fight a municipal land grab in an eminent domain case that sparked national headlines.
The Sahas’ struggle with the City of Coatesville centered over the city’s desire to use a part of their family farm for a golf course development.
The Sahas, who came to Chester County from Drexel Hill, decided to fight City Hall. And they won.
They stopped the golf course plan. Elected officials from Coatesville pushing the project were ousted by voters. The city administration was replaced.
An auction Tuesday hopes to dispose of the property surrounding the Saha tract that were acquired in efforts to build the golf course and related projects.
A city property in Valley township is 22.5 acres of land with old stone farm home and is zoned as conservation land. The property is at 175 South Mount Airy Road. The property, officials said, is ideal for agricultural uses.
The city property in West Brandywine township is 63.5 acres of vacant land that is zoned as agricultural and residential land. The property is located off North Manor Road (Route 82).
Dick and Nancy Saha moved to their farm on Mount Airy Road in 1971. They said they worked hard for 15 years to make their home live able and added heating and plumbing. They raised five children on the farm.
In April 1999 they said city officials knocked on their door with legal papers for the intention to take their 38 acre farm land through eminent domain. For the six years that followed, the Sahas said their fight against the city cost them more than $300,000 in legal fees.
There are stories like the Sahas’ from coast to coast. Eminent domain for private gain has been addressed on a state level in many states, but not on a federal level.
Eminent Domain for private gain is legal stealing, economic segregation, and more often than not, class warfare. When you receive a notice of a taking, your world turns inside out, not just upside down. At first you feel like you are in the battle completely and utterly alone. But you aren’t alone. There are a lot of us out there.
I didn’t set out in life to become a grassroots activist on any level, but eminent domain is an issue that, as an American, I found I simply could not ignore. I loved Ardmore, where eminent domain threatened a block of small businesses in a local historic business district. Ardmore to me was a quintessential old fashioned main street-oriented town. It represents the bygone days of small town America.
The township (Lower Merion) had declared this block “blighted,” and it intended to acquire these properties in a certified historic district for inclusion in a mixed-use development project to be owned by a private party.
One of the first lessons we learned as SAC was that when you are fighting a battle like this, you become an instant pariah. SAC next contacted the Institute for Justice and newly formed Castle Coalition, who gave us a crash course in grassroots activism.
We held rallies, protests and community meetings. We wrote letters to the newspapers until we had writer’s cramp. We took every opportunity to speak at public meetings. We lobbied government officials on a state and national level.
In November 2005, we watched as five new faces against eminent domain were elected to the 14-member Board of Commissioners.
During this whole time before and after the election, we had the good fortune to finally get some national and even international media publicity. We networked further with other eminent domain fighting citizens locally and nationally. Members also gave testimony before both the Pennsylvania Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. We submitted written testimony to the U.S. Congress and became part of the record on HR 4128.
In March 2006, the five new commissioners who came to office promising to end the specter of eminent domain did just that: they proposed and passed a resolution to end eminent domain. The businesses were free.
I will not lie. It was an exhausting process fighting eminent domain. I went to so many municipal and other meetings during this time, that even today I have a hard time going to meetings.
We won our battle in Ardmore and the Sahas won in Coatesville, and Long Branch, NJ won….because Susette Kelo lost the U.S. Supreme Court Case by one vote. This of course also demonstrates what happens when administrations stack the United States Supreme Court, doesn’t it?
Seeing this movie on Sunday, and listening to Scott Bullock and Susette Kelo again, brought all of this back. Susette and I spoke before and after the movie and I said I thought she was so brave and amazing to keep telling her story but I imagined it was incredibly hard some days to sit through showings of this beautiful film. She said it was.
📌None of this is Angela Murray’s fault. Not the giant crane that hovers over the Cricket Avenue parking lot, its American flag billowing in the breeze. Not the 110 apartments rising from a giant hole in the ground. Not the upheaval for residents and business owners alike. Not the possible traffic congestion. None of it.
“People have blamed me,” says Murray, who’s been Lower Merion Township’s assistant director of building and planning for 16 years. “But I think it meets a need that was pressing.”….The allocated state money was supposed to go for the station, but when Amtrak balked at allowing apartments so close to its tracks, the plan—which included replacing some buildings along Lancaster Avenue south of the station—lost momentum. Meanwhile, the Save Ardmore folks filed lawsuits and protested the idea mightily. “Amtrak didn’t want people living so close to the rail line because it didn’t think it would be safe,” Lower Merion’s Murray says. “They were concerned about people throwing things out of windows onto the track.”📌
So….this is quite the piece in favor of Ardmore development. I don’t know who the writer is but my, he was sure led by the nose down a primrose development path.
I also take issue with the latest attempt at glossing over eminent domain in Ardmore. But then I also do not quite understand the article love affair with Angela Murray of Lower Merion Township, but perhaps she had a hand in the placement of the article?
Lower Merion Township can not unring the bells of the past.
Back in the day, as a member of the ORIGINAL Save Ardmore Coalition, Ms. Murray was awful to us. She was not nice, she was perennially unpleasant. However she wasn’t alone. You were either with them or against them. If you were against them, well then you were the enemy.
Those of us who reunited from the original Save Ardmore Coalition on Sunday remember what it was like. It was at times, awful.
But also on Sunday we realized what we were a part of with Susette and all of the other folks who the Institute for Justice helped back then.
Also see the huge interview on Megyn Kelly on Today. 44 states changed their eminent domain laws as a result of the Kelo Case. So many people’s lives have been destroyed by eminent domain. Real people. Nothing in the abstract. It almost happened to my friends in Ardmore.
A landmark Supreme Court case over eminent domain and people’s right to private property is back in the headlines with the new movie “Little Pink House.” It tells the story of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood in New London, which was the scene of an epic struggle between a municipality that wanted to take property for the purpose of economic development, and the homeowners who resisted every step of the way….“You go to work every day, you pay your bills, you’re a taxpayer, you’re a law-abiding citizen, you keep your yard clean, grow your vegetables in your little garden, raise your family — and to have this happen to people who were just trying to be simple people and live their lives was really wrong,” said Kelo in a recent interview with Connecticut Public Radio.
If you are interested in learning more about what the Institute for Justice does, check out their website. IJ.org . Also check out the Little Pink House website to find our where the movie is playing or if you can get a screening where you live.
(PennDOT apparently delivered big old pieces of concrete at some point today to keep people OFF the bridge.)
Someone else was kind enough to send me some photos today. Except for the one above I have cropped them in a little so people can see the damage that occurred with the accident over the weekend.
This particular photographer and I were discussing how someone would wedge their SUV in the middle of the bridge, and we came to the conclusion that there must’ve been some kind of speed involved, and quite possibly someone both unfamiliar with the road and driving on wooded covered bridge surfaces.
I know for example when we go over a covered bridge, we treat the wood surface with respect and go slowly. A lot of people don’t – they fly. You combine that with Saturday’s weather conditions where we had had our first freezing rain/sleet of the season and even though the road surfaces were too warm for anything to stick long-term, it could’ve very well made everything quite slick. Or at least the road leading to bridge.
I hope the people who were in the accident are OK – I don’t know who knows which ambulance company responded or if the people went to a hospital. I also hope that the people who were in the accident we’re not impaired in anyway because that will make this an even more expensive accident for them.
I am told PennDOT was out today. Thank you blog friend for the photos!
According to county records, Chester County once had 85 covered bridges, 21 of which were shared with other counties. The earliest recorded covered bridge in Chester County was built in 1807 and the most recent in 1899. Only 15 covered bridges remain today, the oldest being the Hall’s Sheeder Bridge built in 1850. The covered bridge played an important part in the transportation system of the County throughout the 19 th century. Many of the bridges were built to serve local mills and the transportation of agricultural produce to market.
The bridge in Valley Forge just reopened. How long will this one be down? With a crash like this, there is undoubtedly severe structural damage possible, isn’t there?
Why are people so hard on our covered bridges?
I have been told by someone who looked at the bridge who saw it after accident and said it was dark, but they could I’d see there were a few new gouges in the Burr truss timbers. They were going to see what they could see in daylight – fingers crossed.
Burr truss is the design – the combination of arch and multiple “King posts” – originally designed by Theodore Burr in around 1804 and patented in 1817. The bridge also interestingly enough has steel beams, and no weight limit. The truss structure really only supports the walls and roof.
But last time we went over this bridge I did notice that it had some deferred maintenance going on. I am not sure technically who owns the bridge. Is it PennDOT or Chester County. This is the oldest bridge in Chester County still in active use.
Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust
Now that it has been announced, I can say that I have known for a few years that Natural Lands Trust was working on saving Bryn Coed. I was asked to not say anything, so into the proverbial vault it went. But I can’t say it is untrue that developers were sniffing around Bryn Coed’s 1500+ acres can I ? After all, it is a magical piece of land that is almost mythical, isn’t it?
Media, Pa. – Natural Lands Trust announced today a major milestone in the non-profit land conservation organization’s effort to preserve 1,505 acres in northern Chester County known as Bryn Coed Farms.
On September 28, 2016, Natural Lands Trust and the current property owners, the Dietrich family, executed an Agreement of Sale for the property. Natural Lands Trust now has six months to conduct due diligence, including Phase II environmental testing.
The fate of the property has been the subject of much speculation over the years as development pressures have increased in the region. Located primarily in West Vincent Township, Chester County, with portions also in East and West Pikeland Townships, the property is one of the largest remaining undeveloped, unprotected tracts of land in the Greater Philadelphia region. Under current zoning, nearly 700 homes could be built on the property if it is not placed under protection.
Natural Lands Trust has been working with the Dietrichs for more than five years to conserve the land.
“It is too early to celebrate, but we are optimistic that much of this iconic property can be conserved,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “It’s a complex deal with many moving parts, but Bryn Coed is certainly worth fighting to save. It’s a community and ecological treasure.”
If successful, the deal would result in a 400-plus-acre nature preserve with eight miles of hiking trails that will be owned and managed by Natural Lands Trust. The preserve will be open to visitors, free of charge, just like other nature preserves owned by the regional conservation group—including the 112-acre Binky Lee Preserve in nearby Chester Springs. In addition, West Vincent Township is considering Natural Lands Trust’s offer to establish a 72-acre municipal park on the property.
The remainder of the property would be divided into large conservation properties, preserved by conservation easements, and sold to private individuals.
“The amount of land that can be permanently protected as a Natural Lands Trust preserve is dependent on the amount of funding we can raise. The cost of preserving the entirety of such a vast and valuable property is beyond the currently available resources. We will be seeking support from the public in the weeks and months ahead,” Morrison added.
In 2003, the Dietrich brothers decided to divest themselves of the property. Various conservation and development options were explored but never came to a successful conclusion.
In recent years, several developers have been in negotiations with the Deitrichs, including Toll Brothers, which had proposed a 254-unit development on about one-quarter of the property.
Much of the property is actively farmed or in pasture. There are nearly 500 acres of mature woodlands on the property that are home to a myriad of songbirds and other wildlife. Generations of residents and visitors have enjoyed the pastoral views of Bryn Coed Farms.
The land also contains the headwaters to Pickering Creek, and is a high priority for source water protection. Bryn Coed Farms alone constitutes 17 percent of the remaining unprotected high-priority land in the Pickering Creek watershed.
Persons interested in receiving more information as the Bryn Coed Farms conservation effort progresses are invited to visit www.natlands.org/bryncoed and sign up for email updates. Those interested in learning more about the conservation properties that will be available for sale should contact Brian Sundermeir, Bryn Coed project manager, at 610-353-5587, ext. 237.
Natural Lands Trust is the region’s largest land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 43 nature preserves totaling nearly 22,000 acres. Today, some 2.5 million people live within five miles of land under the organization’s protection. For more information, visit www.natlands.org.
Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust
So, this is not yet quite a done deal. There are three municipalities and a lot of due diligence and environmental testing. From what I am reading, not all of the land will be conserved (it’s a little unclear) , but one can hope and no matter what this is a heck of a lot more than anyone expected.
As I understand it, The NLT-owned preserve will be a “big chunk ” of Bryn Coed. The remainder will be large conservation lots with easements on them and trail easements as well. The size of the preserve can grow if Natural Lands Trust gets more money towards the project.
To David Robinson and his family who own Crebilly, why can’t you look at something like this? You can afford to.
Ok I just wanted to put this out there as some thought my post from the other evening was fabricated. I do my homework, and it doesn’t get much more official than the press release from Natural Lands Trust. And this is THEIR hard work and no one else’s (because I know some who will try to take credit, and well it is not theirs to take.)
I am a member of Natural Lands Trust, and proudly so. Please consider a membership. This is me asking incidentally, not them. Go out and enjoy the glorious weekend this weekend. This surely is an awesome way to start it!
Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust
This photo came to me from a friend with the following note:
People who are interested in all the new construction in the Chester Springs area should be made to attempt a morning commute during the week versus cruising through on a Saturday or Sunday.
I felt like I was in Manhattan this morning – cars well past Montgomery School on Route 113 trying to get through the intersection with Route 401, a couple miles worth of hideous, now everyday traffic.
God bless those who have to get to work OUTSIDE of Chester Springs. And to think of the nearly 250 homes not yet occupied as part of Byers Station Phase 2 and roughly same number of Pulte homes going up near Ludwigs Corner????
This is insanity!!!
Perhaps worth a post. Biggest problem when the the massive amount of developing going on is the market for them- the buyers. They have no idea the poor quality of these homes along with what it is really like to get around these 2 lane roads. Uh!!!
And indeed, so worth a post!
Why this is so good to see come to life isn’t so people can be miserable in traffic, it’s instead so people can know what their future holds every time they see one of these plans proposed wherever it is they live.
When these plans are proposed in your municipalities, they are cute little Lego land box drawings on a big flat piece of paper. The drawings are shown with these buildings with nothing around them, so you can’t visualize the reality of these developments for the most part. You get stuck waiting for the developments to be built and then there’s nothing you can do.
And my favorite is the trick that even a curse out here where they talk about how people aren’t going to be using their cars, they will use special Jetson spaceships and public transportation. Everything is going to be “walkable”. Of course how they can say that with a straight face and parts of Chester County were you still have to drive miles to get to a grocery store cracks me up.
A lot of the “highways” out here are glorified country roads. They weren’t meant for this volume of humanity. Then you look at roads like 202 which are a nightmare even with improvements.
So anyway, just more food for thought. Especially if you were thinking about areas like over around Crebilly, and that’s not just because of the Toll Brothers proposed building on that land. It’s quite simply put: just adding all the plans up.
What do you get if you add up all the developments large and small from one end of Chester county to the other? To me that prospect is frightening and very very sad.