for christmas, maybe it IS time to rethink the aqua of it all?

Well I was talking to a very dear friend today. She lives in the New Garden area. She is one of the most diligent and practical people I know. Literally have known her since I was like maybe 12 or 13. Our parents were friends. And she quietly says to me today something about have I seen what is going on in New Garden Township about their AQUA issues. I said yes, a bit and I thought gosh I didn’t even send her my post on the extra special interim manager, but anyway….

Then my jaw hit the floor. My friend said her water bill under AQUA ownership went from $250 each billing cycle to $900!

That news made me go watch the recent New Garden meeting recordings that my friend and friend to all communities Ginny Kerslake had posted on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/Ginny4PA/videos/1221133465137182/

https://www.facebook.com/Ginny4PA/videos/837250724147851/

https://www.facebook.com/Ginny4PA/videos/524162036279162/

So now I am wondering (aloud) if municipalities selling to AQUA is a mistake?

I don’t think we can un-ring the bell on inked deals, and things are still in court that would potentially stop the sales in East Whiteland and Willistown, although I find that unlikely, but who knows?

These municipalities can’t afford their sewer systems any longer, and I do believe that is true, BUT now I am wondering what part utility companies have in that?

And something else I am now wondering about might sound crazy BUT is there ANY way that AQUA could force those of us on septic and wells to hook up to them?

Oh and I think AQUA, or I should say I know AQUA watches this blog. But as a consumer and a resident where one of these sales is pending, I am actually allowed to have questions. Even now. And WHY do I have questions? Watching that whole crazy recent meeting that was held in New Garden. That and having a friend today tell me how much their bill increased (with kids in college and not there all of the time, no less.)

I also keep coming back to those lovely laws in Harrisburg that allow AQUA to increase their rates. So now I wonder aloud what so many others wonder: is AQUA just getting what they paid back via these increases so is that a good thing for consumers in the end?

https://www.pahouse.com/InTheNews/Opinion/?id=126232

Above is a link to a press release by State Rep Christina Sappey from this September. This is what jumped out:

Recently, rate increases for water and wastewater services provided by Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. (Aqua) went into effect for over 400,000 customers in 32 counties across the commonwealth. Many residents, including seniors on fixed incomes, have been surprised and frustrated to receive bills that have nearly doubled.

The current rules regarding rate regulations and water utility sales are not in the consumer’s best interest. It is imperative that reform is considered in Harrisburg to prevent future prioritization of corporate profits over residents’ access to a basic necessity, such as water.

I share the frustration of Aqua customers going through this current increase. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is the regulatory authority in Pennsylvania for utility rates. Utilities wishing to increase rates must submit a request to the commission for approval. The PUC is currently comprised of three commissioners, each appointed by the governor on a five-year term and confirmed by the State Senate.

When Aqua submitted this request in 2021, I urged the PUC to hold in-person hearings for residents to voice concerns. When that request was denied, State Rep. John Lawrence and I hosted a telephonic public hearing and I joined many of you in testifying against the then-proposed additional charges. Despite these efforts, the PUC commissioners voted unanimously to approve the rate increase in May of 2022.

Recently, I wrote to the PUC providing examples of the negative impact the approved rates have had and requesting a review of current charges to ensure they align with the commission-approved rates. I encourage anyone who feels their bill does not properly reflect their usage or the approved rate to file a complaint with the PUC.

Today’s state laws allow for inflated valuations of financially solvent public water and wastewater utilities by private companies, enticing local municipalities and authorities to sell for a large return in the short term, only for those costs to be recouped through the ratepayer’s wallet. These processes are done with little transparency or direct input from those that it impacts most, ratepayers.

~ STATE REP CHRISTINA SAPPEY 9/30/22

I want to be abundantly clear here: I still do NOT approve the way Willistown residents have been treating Bob Lange and Bill Shoemaker. There is a THIRD supervisor, and there was the THIRD supervisor who was all for the sale and then resigned before she had been a supervisor very long, correct? What was her name? Oh yes, Barbara Handelin, right?

My other issue with this in Willistown is the inability for some residents to realize this is NOT a Democrat vs. Republican issue, it is a COMMUNITY issue that affects EVERYONE, i.e. it is non-partisan. I have NOT been a fan of the shenanigans to date and every meeting it is essentially the SAME people repeating themselves. Surely there are OTHER residents affected, yes? Well people, be polite and either zoom a meeting and comment or go in person. But the same people speaking pretty much every time? Umm, people tune that out after a while, even if they believe in the issue. And where were all of you while Willistown was deciding to sell or not? Why is it in Willistown it feels like people wake up only AFTER the horse has left the proverbial barn?

So yes, I am indeed wondering aloud in the final month of 2022 about this. It doesn’t mean I have been “won over”, it means for the first time I am articulating concerns I have always had. It’s like now that the 3 ring circus in Willistown has quieted some I have had time to think.

And when one of your more long term friends tells you HOW MUCH their bill jumped, well, it HAS to make you think. And of course how it all went down in New Garden also has to make you think. All those supervisors singing the chorus of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil etc etc, right? Quid est veritas? What is truth?

I do know that Willistown and East Whiteland BOTH notified residents, held meetings, etc. COVID or not, meetings were zoomed if not in person and well, a lot of people did nothing. I even kept putting it out there. But New Garden? That place is rather odd, isn’t it?

And I also really want to know if those of us on wells and septic will be allowed to stay as we are? I have never heard that questioned answered. I also wonder aloud if AQUA could try to be more community minded? What if they supported measures in Harrisburg that might put the brakes on their rate jumping seemingly willy nilly?

It’s a recession. In my humble opinion we have been playing kick the can down the road with recession since circa 2008. Maybe it’s time to just stop and think on this a little longer?

Sign me, thinking out loud. Happy December, y’all.

Ratepayers hold Aqua, New Garden accountable for skyrocketing wastewater bills

11/22/2022 04:28PM ● By Richard Gaw

For more than four hours at the New Garden Elementary School auditorium on Nov. 21, three factions sorted through the smoldering mass of information that lay at the creation of an agreement of sale that has been on the front burner of controversy in the township for the past several years.

In one corner of the room, the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors sat a table facing another table occupied by three executives from Aqua Pennsylvania (Aqua), including its president Marc Lucca. The most dominant presence at the meeting, however, were the more than 200 township residents who sat and stood in protest of the reason that drew them there: the massive increase they are seeing in their wastewater bills from Aqua – as much as a 140 percent increase over the past year – that are arriving in their mailboxes as part of the residue from the township’s sale of its wastewater system to the Big Water giant for $29.5 million in 2020….

Nearly from the start, the patience of those in the audience to sit through the complicated alphabet soup of agencies and legal and legislative delays was paper thin, particularly during an hour-long presentation by former township official and director of planning and projects Spence Andress, who painstakingly sifted through a two-inch high stack of documents that described the minutia of what led to the eventual sale of the township’s system.

He said that a major factor leading to the decision by the Board of Supervisors and the township’s Sewer Authority to sell off the system was influenced by the cost of mitigating the infrastructure problems of the township’s vastly outdated wastewater system, which would cost the township an estimated $1.5 million a year, as well as an additional $1.5 million for debt service.

‘Allow us to speak!’

Halfway through Andress’ presentation, Peter Mrosinski and Margo Woodacre, two of the most prominent voices of opposition, shared their argument that the nature of the meeting was designed to shut down the residents. Their argument reflected the contents of a flyer that was circulated by KWA before the meeting that said that a former agreement with board chairman Steve Allaband would allow the group to lead the discussion, but that the idea was rejected earlier that afternoon by the supervisors. “Unfortunately, our supervisors once again appear to be covering their tracks and doing the bidding of Aqua to silence any meaningful discussion,” the flyer read.

Pa. approves increase in Aqua water and sewer rates. How much, it won’t say.
The Pa. Public Utility Commission granted Aqua’s rate hike request, apparently overriding a judge’s recommendation for a lower increase. But the PUC will take several days to announce the details.

Inquirer/ by Andrew Maykuth
Published May 12, 2022

Aqua Pennsylvania’s rate hike: The price per flush will go up 50% as early as Thursday
Aqua’s water rates will increase about 10%, and wastewater rates will go up 51% this week. In towns whose sewer systems were recently acquired by Aqua, the impact will be more severe.

Inquirer/by Andrew Maykuth
Published May 17, 2022

It’s time to repeal the Pa. law that allows the sale of municipal water systems | Editorial
Officials in Bucks County were absolutely right not to sell their system to a private company. Now, lawmakers must reverse the measure known as Act 12.

Inquirer/ by The Editorial Board
Published Sep 18, 2022

As Pa. municipalities sell water systems to for-profit companies, consumers are left paying the price | Editorial
It is irresponsible for local governments to peddle these valuable public assets and leave customers at the mercy of businesses who are all but guaranteed to jack up their bills.

Inquiere/ by The Editorial Board
Updated Aug 18, 2022

sowing the seeds of misinformation in willistown.

I have ZERO issue in residents fighting for what they believe to important. But I DO have a problem with sowing the seeds of misinformation in communities, especially for personal gain, whatever that may be, and can’t you agree with that?

This whole sewer system is a great mystery to me, along with the unsubstantiated claims that it will increase development and if you are on a septic or well, eventually you will have to change over to public sewer and water.

First the whole development claim. Good lord, are people so naïve and ill-informed? Development is controlled by local zoning. Local zoning is controlled by the Municipalities Planning Code (‘MPC”) of the Commonwealth of PA. The MPC has NOT been comprehensively updated since approximately circa 1969.

And the whole rate increases. Yes, AQUA does this and they are allowed to do it because of state laws which allow them to jump the rates. Those laws need to be changed in Harrisburg to protect residents and consumers.

Another reality, and not an alternate universe is development causes stresses on infrastructure, and sewer falls into that category. So pardon me while I do not necessarily shed a tear for those living in monster sized developments because ummm hello??? They helped creates the undue stresses on infrastructure.

And the whole 4 acre lot thing? Are the sure that is completely legal and not exclusionary to begin with? And developers aren’t going to slow down until the MPC changes. Fear mongering and misinformation is wrong. Kind of like stating people on septic and wells would HAVE to switch to AQUA, and since when? People can choose to switch to AQUA hookups but last time I checked you don’t HAVE to unless you have an issue and can’t do a new septic or new well?

The whole email about the agenda for Willistown this evening. Willistown is not discouraging residents from attending meetings if they tell residents on the agenda that the sewer sale is not a discussion topic of theirs for the meeting. And they provided a link on their website about the sale, which is about time and a good thing, but that is not discouraging residents from attending meetings. The business of a municipality is more than being a one trick pony, so they are telling residents IN ADVANCE it is NOT an agenda item so there are NO MISCONCEPTIONS since so many Willistown’s residents are in fact, one trick ponies these days.

It is my personal opinion that the township should in fact address this campaign of misinformation and ad hominin attacks on the supervisors because I still feel it all has much less to do about sewer than some let on. When those who will not be affected by the sewer sale makes this whole thing their complete raison d’être, it does make you wonder, doesn’t it? The loudest voices in this argument in Willistown seem to have very personal agendas here, don’t they? And yes, I can ask that question.

Willistown residents need to have a care. Why? This really isn’t about the sewer sale. I am not actually a cheerleader for AQUA or Willistown, but I believe in right and wrong. I am not actually a huge fan of small sewer systems selling out to giant companies like AQUA, but I get why it happens. The problem I have with this issue in Willistown is how people are behaving and a sea of misinformation that people are swallowing like pablum.

Residents everywhere NEED to be involved where they live and attend meetings and care. BUT there is also the question of proper meeting decorum which includes not acting like freaks to try to make a point. Fight smart with the proper knowledge. Beware Pied Pipers.

willistown needs a sedative

Willistown Supervisors Meeting 8/15/2022

The other day I wrote a post about Willistown. Tonight was mostly full psycho on display. A small group of people were polite and respectful even in their disagreement with Willistown Township Supervisors. Those individuals, I applaud because THAT is the way you do it.

The rest? Not so much.

My personal opinion is still *someone* is revving up a lot of these people with an ocean of misinformation. Like people thought they were acting on this tonight? What agenda item said that? Here was the official agenda for August 15, 2022:

Ahhh yes, don’t let reality get in the way of your delusion, right? And then there was the whole will they or won’t they sell if litigation is pending. So glad there is a recording.

Then there was all of the shouting something about sewer sewer sewer. Is that like Marcia Marcia Marcia? So yes screaming and cursing and yelling and chanting something about sewer was going to make them throw up their arms and say what exactly? That most of you were extra rude and some needed their mouths washed out with soap? O.K. we’ll go with that.

I have been to a LOT of contentious meetings. But this was something extra special this evening. It was like a super long Saturday Night Live skit of what their writers see when people go to local meetings.

One thing I loved is yelling at the Willistown Supervisors about why there wasn’t a bigger meeting room arranged for? Well, umm did your fearless creator of nasty lawn signs REQUEST a bigger venue? And as for those chastising elected officials for not governing via social media do you hear yourselves? On what planet does that occur?

I am not someone who routinely agrees with local government. I am not exactly a cheerleader of a lot of local governments, but I have to ask how is it so many people with more money than sense in Willistown have a distinct lack of knowledge of basic process?

It’s not so hard to see how government is run, right or wrong. But for starters, they don’t govern via social media. And the lack of civility and decorum was astounding.

I can NOT take credit for this comment but it was so true:

An engaged citizenship is a wonderful thing, but some showed a terrible lack of civility and decorum. Lets put away the pitchforks and work reasonably and rationally to get out of this mess.

~ willistown Resident 8/15/22

Pitchforks. Yup. Lots of verbal pitchforks and being rude as f***, including a failed politician who, well, resembles an alley cat with a bad attitude and a bargain basement dress she should have thought better of for on camera (but I digress, Glamour Don’ts aren’t part of this.)

And the person mailing out flyers, creating websites, lawn signs, and collecting email addresses doesn’t work for the township. He wants all of you residents of Willistown to dance to his tune, but instead of just telling all of you to essentially just show up, why didn’t he put on his big boy pants and suggest that he or a group of you contact the township BEFORE the meeting, BEFORE the meeting was to be advertised and ASK like adults if the meeting could be moved to a larger venue?

You want respect people? Give respect. There used to be this whole thing about the worthy opposition. Attack ratting and ankle biting doesn’t count.

Rude signs accomplish nothing. “Clean Up Sewer Mess” with the website address would have worked fine, but someone’s personal animus and perhaps ego got in the way, yes?

And then you had the people who wanted the meeting to become a parking lot brawl and the hell with the people signed up on zoom? What were you planning? To tar and feather the people YOU elected? I mean come on already: YOU the residents of Willistown elected them to do a job, but you want to scream at them for doing a job? Crikey no wonder the last township manger beat tracks.

Again, you all don’t know process and this is a rare municipal case of the politicians elected as supervisors actually know more about Roberts Rules of Order than the Willistown Mob. Usually it’s residents educating elected officials.

And oh yes, and engaged citizenry is where it’s at, but this isn’t it. It’s disorder, rude behavior, cursing and lots of shouting. A mob is just a mob. So don’t go patting yourselves on the back since you mostly looked stupid. And oh yes I can indeed express that opinion. Please, you think you invented pack the meetings? It’s all about HOW you do it, and the only thing you almost accomplished tonight was getting the whole shibang shut down for the night because um meeting rooms can only LEGALLY hold so many people. Which is AGAIN, WHY someone should have gone to Willistown Township to request a large room ahead of time.

Willistown residents need to decide who of the residents is leading them on this issue because right now quite frankly you all are being led astray by individuals with warped agendas. Do yourselves a favor and form a reasonable consortium of individuals who don’t think every meeting is either storm the Bastille with special information on hidden agendas , or failed politicians who have to preface statements every single time that they ran against Bill Shoemaker (and lost.)

The thing I found so sad was yes, a fair representation of Willistown citizenry turned out. And instead of harnessing your power even before the meeting, you all blew it. Most of you are lucky the police didn’t toss your asses out, and well they could have.

I have seen bad municipal governments. That’s not Willistown. You people need to get your crap together. Get your facts straight, get yourselves straight, learn about process, learn about state laws that need to be changed to protect residents from rate jumps by companies like Aqua. In other words, learn how to fight.

Everyone else? Enjoy the show. Definitely popcorn worthy. And where is Joan Rivers when you need her? Oy.

is there quite literally something in the water in willistown?

Is this about the sewer issue or personal animus?

I almost titled this post “Hey Willistown don’t let reality get in the way of your delusion”, but then I decided that was just a little too rude. But it’s about these signs. We all keep seeing them and not all of them are actually in Willistown.

It makes you wonder why these signs have to be so nasty and where they originated from.

I didn’t look far. From being against chickens to sidewalks in extraordinary places, someone has been a busy, busy beaver, haven’t they?

Above is a screenshot from a second Willistown sewer website called WillistownSewer.org which apparently will be replacing SaveOurSewer.org

First of all, these are NOT non-profit organizations as there is a common misconception that you have to be a nonprofit to get a “.ORG” domain.

But let’s back up. I am sure this post will cause another Willistown Tempest in a Teapot. Sorry not sorry, it can’t be helped, and I am entitled to my opinion. And this is yet another issue in this particular township which is exhausting because it is again so nasty.

When I was growing up on the Main Line, Willistown to those of us on the eastern Main Line was this magical place of rolling hills, horses, Radnor hunt, farms. I can safely say I have been coming out to Willistown for decades longer than some residents have lived there or known how to spell Willistown.

No, I do not live in Willistown, but I have friends there. Quite a few friends. But Katie bar the door, they will be revoking my passport into Willistown. Again. You know because I have had a thing or two to say about things like the NOFIMBY neighbors of Castlebar Lane and WildFlower Farm? (No Farms In My Back Yard = NOFIMBY)

But sweet darling baby Jesus, and yes I am taking the Lord’s name in vain. This has seemed to stop really being about the sewer issue and more about destroying the good names of two men who have given a lot to their community named Bob Lange and Bill Shoemaker. Are they perfect? Are any of us? And these are people anyone can come to. They don’t see residents as political persuasions. Oh and speaking of that, are these signs somehow politically motivated? I ask because there is a third supervisor in Willistown. Her name is Molly Perrin. Why is Molly never mentioned? Molly why do you not ever say anything in defense of the other supervisors? Molly do you actually ever say anything at all?

(Oh is that too mean? She’s a politician so might as well ask her where she stands on this behavior in her township, right? Molly, do you have a voice? What does it sound like? )

And why are these signs targeting two individuals in Willistown all over as in also outside of Willistown? If y’all don’t want us non-Willistownians commenting, maybe don’t post the signs outside of the township for starters?

Ok, I am waiting. I know it is time to cue the refrain of “She doesn’t live in Willistown, she shouldn’t say anything!

No I don’t live in Willistown. I wouldn’t want to at this rate because people are mean as snakes. There is this nasty edge meets a misplaced sense of entitlement no matter what the issue. And to me, this whole sewer issue has turned personal, which defeats the purpose of trying to win an argument in the first place. Next example? Here, this screenshot:

Campaign contributions being mentioned are rather interesting because first thing that caught my eye was Tom Hogan stepped down as D.A. in 2019. Before COVID. So what is the date on the small contribution to Bill Shoemaker? The reality is ALL of these corporations hedge their bets. They give to all candidates regardless of political party. I mean is this guy implying in his opinion that an honorable man sold out his municipality, an entire municipality, for $250? For real? My opinion is political candidates should not take donations from big old corporations. All of these corporations want something, even if it is just a certain perception. And then these donations will always do more harm than good, also because of perception at times.

And I go back now to these new street signs because they only target two supervisors. There have always been three supervisors, yet only two are ever targeted. I think that is done as a political motivation and personal animus, and just like the First Amendment may allow individuals to pay for street signs like this, I am also allowed to have that opinion. These are after all the same people who like to point out that Bill and Bob are related by marriage and the families are large landholders. Are they the largest landholders? I don’t know and I don’t care. What that says to anyone rational is they have a vested interest in the Willistown community. Family roots. Generational connections to the land. Why is that bad and they didn’t become supervisors to have a gateway to other things, did they? They have deep roots in the community, which doesn’t make them villains in some bad play or made for Lifetime TV movie. AND if they were NOT involved in the community the same folks would criticize them for that too.

But this is how all issues are approached in Willistown: lay siege and destroy the reputation of your neighbors. Don’t fight fair, act like gutter snipes. We’ve seen it over Wildflower Farm and other issues. Remember when M. Night Shyamalan wanted fences? That made regional papers and national entertainment news. Now it’s like “Oh he’s our wonderful neighbor”.

Let’s talk other issues for a moment like development. I am not a fan. No secret there. But I am a realist. The reason gets approved is simple: the Municipalities Planning Code of The Commonwealth of PA is woefully outdated by freaking DECADES. So it really doesn’t matter how local government officials might feel about development the reason above all others they can’t stop developments is zoning. Local zoning is guided by the Municipalities Planning Code so until it is changed to PROTECT our communities this is wash, rinse, repeat. It requires I think an act of the state constitution to update/overhaul the municipalities planning code comprehensively. There have been little things here and there, but not a comprehensive overhaul.

The county planning authority, AKA the Chester County Planning Commission keeps track of all developments in the county. I personally think they suck and are too pro development, but check out what they have to offer and be prepared to be horrified by the sheer volume of development marching across Chester County.

In Willistown, they talk about where developers already are, but not where they aren’t and what should also be saved. In Willistown they talk about land without conservation easements, but more so often than not when the horse is out of the barn and developers are already submitting plans. Willistown is not alone here. Most municipalities are like this. But where Willistown is different and should be better at conservation is the fact that Willistown is home to the Willistown Conservation Trust. So why isn’t more land in conservation?

Look at what is also brewing also in Westtown. Everyone wanted to preserve Crebilly. That time is here, and it’s possible. But will it happen? If the the Westtown Township Open Space Tax Referendum for Acquisition of Crebilly Farm doesn’t happen will Crebilly be saved? I mean do people think land conservation is actually FREE?

In Willistown there are lots of opinions on preserving open space. But someone politely pointed out the other day after a meeting that getting land into preservation requires money. And yes, you need to negotiate with a fat wallet if residents want more land conserved, especially when the developers have entered the ring. We as residents are NOT protected anywhere in PA because of the outdated, outmoded, skewed to developers and development Municipalities Planning Code. So basically communities have to BUY what they want to SAVE in order to actually save it. We might like how something looks, but if our communities don’t own it or us as individuals, does it matter in the end?

I am not saying that any of this is right, but it is reality. A very sad reality.

Another comment is those who are slamming two families over certain land parcels in Willistown isn’t going to get people where they want to be, either. With one family in particular, I find it egregious since they have literally given so much to Willistown. That is all I am saying on that topic.

People do not have to put their land into conservation. Some people don’t want to. I wish they did, but for some that was never the plan. And I still say that as someone who hates and despises all of this development. And I feel for Willistown residents over one huge parcel in particular. But I don’t see it stopping, sadly. But that doesn’t mean you all as residents can’t go look at all of the other parcels which you consider important that are not in play and work towards more conservation as a community, right?

But back to the verbal sewage over the sewer. A lot of municipalities can’t afford them long term now, so they are selling them to companies who are protected by state law when it comes to rate hikes. I have a problem with those rate hikes, but once again, it’s state law protecting what isn’t positive for Pennsylvania communities everywhere. So why aren’t people expressing outrage to State Reps and State Senators? Those are the people who can change this crap. Just like those state level elected officials are the people who can help communities worried about public water versus those on wells when it comes to all this new development….a lot of which doesn’t necessarily want to pay for public water and public sewer hook-ups and why shouldn’t they do that? Developers are adding all of these new people to communities and taking the profits and leaving? So why shouldn’t they have to do public sewer and public water hook-ups? Developers seem to be shielded from paying their fair share of anything, don’t they?

OK now a couple of articles about these sewer sales:

Inquirer: In Philly suburbs, sewer systems are for sale, and citizens push back, fearing rate hikes

by Andrew Maykuth
Published May 2, 2021

The frenzy of acquisitions in Pennsylvania is driven by a 2016 state law that encourages the consolidation of smaller water and wastewater systems under private ownership. The law, called Act 12, allows investor-owned utilities to pay an appraised fair-market value for an acquired system, rather than its lower depreciated cost or “book value,” and then to recoup the costs through higher rates.

Fair-value laws, enacted in about a dozen states, have triggered a land rush by private buyers to pay top dollar for systems. Some acquisitive public authorities have also increased their offering prices to compete with private companies — Conshohocken’s preferred bidder was the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority, which has acquired systems in Montgomery and Chester Counties. Under either public or private ownership, the higher price is passed on to customers through higher rates….. Officials from five states told the U.S. General Accountability Office that one potential disadvantage of fair-market value laws is their potential to increase a utility’s rates, according to a GAO report released Monday.

Five studies examined by the GAO found that average water rates charged by private for-profit utilities are about $15 to $21 higher per month than the rates charged by public water utilities. Private utilities have an incentive to generate a return for investors, the GAO said, while public utilities may need to respond to political pressures to keep rates low for all residents.

Every municipality has a different reason for approving or rejecting a privatization, and different circumstances — they may require significant infrastructure investments that would be better managed by a larger private entity, or already have high rates. Some towns just want to get out of the sewer business and focus on core public services

~ Philaddelphia Inquirer may 2021

And there is this article from NBC News for which you won’t hit a pay wall:

NBC News: Residents push back at high sewage and water bills from private companies

When Margo Woodacre opened her sewage bill in April, she did a double take. Her latest charges jumped 42 percent, to $37 per 1,000 gallons from $26 per 1,000 gallons. That was a major hit on the budget of the 71-year-old retired social worker who lives in Landenberg, Pennsylvania.

But she told NBC News she’s worried the rate hikes have just started. In 2017, her cash-strapped township of New Garden accepted a bid to sell off its sewer system for $29 million to a private investor-owned company called Aqua. But as part of the sale, Aqua could continue to increase rates by as much as 51 percent, with the utility commission’s approval, according to the agreement between Aqua and New Garden Township…. New Garden Township Solicitor Vince Pompo said in an email that the township had sold the sewer system because it “was aging infrastructure which was predicted to require fairly significant further rate increases of its own.” The township plans to use the sale profits to clean and develop public parks and improve streets in one of its villages….

~ NBC NEWS JUNE 2021

I understand why municipalities shed these sewer responsibilities, BUT Aqua is growing to be a bit of a monopoly and the state laws (fair market bill, etc) protecting their ability to jump the rates is disturbing. Privatizing water systems has become a contentious issue around here in Chester County, as well as across the state. I understand that improvements have to happen, and that is what causes a majority of these sales in the first place, but I have been doing research and where rates have been jumped it has been astronomical.

I feel as more and more of these sales are inevitable that the PA PUC should amend the laws and have staggered tiers of rates (as in they can only increase rates every so many years) and that rates should be capped and people on fixed or low incomes and seniors, they should pay less. State elected officials need to amend the laws so people aren’t so scalped with rate increases. It’s not the fault of the residents of PA when their municipalities decide to sell. If Harrisburg did something about the rates to protect residents, people wouldn’t object as much.

And if you paid attention to what I have said for years about OVER-development out here, you would realize that ALL along part of the problems with all of this development are the stresses placed on infrastructure. D’oh infrastructure in part are sewer systems.

Which is again why I have maintained all along you can’t just storm the local proverbial Bastille, y’all need to Git R’ Done in HARRISBURG and get the elected officials there to amend the laws that have sway on a local level.

In East Whiteland, the sewer sale has been approved it looks like based on a press release I found yesterday as a matter of fact.

Essential Utilities’ Aqua Pennsylvania Subsidiary Acquires the Municipal Wastewater Assets of East Whiteland Township
August 12, 2022 02:47 PM Eastern Daylight Time

BRYN MAWR, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Essential Utilities Inc. (NYSE: WTRG) announced today that its Pennsylvania wastewater subsidiary has acquired the municipal wastewater assets of East Whiteland Township, Chester County for approximately $55 million.

East Whiteland Township’s wastewater system serves approximately 8,200 customer-equivalents including residential and commercial connections. The system is comprised of 57 miles of collection mains and 12 pump stations. The collection system accepts waste from the neighboring municipalities of Malvern Borough and Charlestown Township. Its waste passes through Aqua’s Valley Creek Trunk Sewer system to the Valley Forge Sewer Authority for treatment. Essential’s unregulated subsidiary, Aqua Resources, purchased the 9-mile Valley Creek trunk system in December 2018, which consists of gravity sewers, force mains and two pump stations, from the Tredyffrin Municipal Township Authority.

“It’s particularly pleasing to be entrusted with the wastewater assets of East Whiteland Township, a municipality for which we’ve provided water service for years,” said Essential Chairman and CEO Chris Franklin. “Our excellent water service in the East Whiteland community brought important credibility to our offer to handle wastewater service in the township. We look forward to serving both water and wastewater customers throughout the township in the future.”

Aqua Pennsylvania President Marc Lucca said, “We look forward to providing excellent service to the East Whiteland community and have already identified the need for $17 million in infrastructure improvements over the next decade including two major sewer extensions. That work will likely begin with the Planebrook and Bacton Hill roads’ sewer extensions,” said Lucca.

East Whiteland is the second acquisition completed by Essential’s Aqua companies in 2022. The company currently has six additional signed purchase agreements to acquire water and wastewater systems in three of our existing states, which have a total purchase price of more than $363 million and represent approximately 216,000 equivalent retail customers or equivalent dwelling units.

Essential is one of the largest publicly traded water, wastewater and natural gas providers in the U.S., serving approximately 5.5 million people across 10 states under the Aqua and Peoples brands. Essential is committed to excellence in proactive infrastructure investment, regulatory expertise, operational efficiency and environmental stewardship. The company recognizes the importance water and natural gas play in everyday life and is proud to deliver safe, reliable services that contribute to the quality of life in the communities it serves. For more information, visit http://www.essential.co.

Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater is a subsidiary of Aqua Pennsylvania and serves approximately 43,000 connections in 16 counties throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Visit AquaAmerica.com for more information or follow Aqua on Facebook at facebook.com/MyAquaAmerica and on Twitter at @MyAquaAmerica.

Donna Alston
Communications & Marketing
M: 484.368.4720
Media@Essential.co
Brian Dingerdissen
Investor Relations
610.645.1191
BJDingerdissen@Essential.co

I have to be honest, I don’t even know if this registered with East Whiteland residents. And again, I am not saying communities should NOT object to these sewer sales. I have not actually ever said that. It’s the misinformation and attacks lobbed at two good men in Willisotwn which bothers me. So yo’ Willistown, you wonder why your last township manager decided to leave? You wonder why we looking at you from different parts of the county ask if there is literally something in the water?

Another sewer issue related article from August 9th to note:

Inquirer:

Consumer Advocate sues to overturn Aqua Pa. takeover of Chesco town’s sewer system
An administrative law judge recommended rejecting Aqua’s $17.5 million acquisition of the Willistown Township sewer system. The PUC went ahead and approved it.

by Andrew Maykuth
Published Aug 9, 2022

The Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate has sued to block Aqua Pennsylvania’s takeover of a Chester County town’s sewer system, saying the $17.5 million sale will fail to deliver “affirmative public benefits” and would instead harm all Aqua customers with higher rates.

The Office of Consumer Advocate, headed by Patrick M. Cicero, asked the Commonwealth Court on Friday to overturn a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) decision last month that allowed Aqua to buy the wastewater system in Willistown Township, the latest acquisition of a public water and sewer system with the help of a 2016 state law that encourages the consolidation of utility ownership.

The Consumer Advocate’s Office, which reports to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, says the PUC erred by disregarding an administrative law judge’s recommendation to reject the sale, which the hearing examiner said would cause greater harms than benefits. The PUC voted 3-0 on June 8 to approve the sale to the Aqua, a subsidiary of Essential Utilities Inc., based in Bryn Mawr….But the consumer advocate said the case could have implications far beyond Willistown, a relatively small system serving nearly 2,300 customers in the affluent town near Malvern. The practical effect of the PUC’s ruling is that any acquisition by a “fit” buyer in the future will be approved if it can be shown it will promote regionalization of utility systems.

“This ruling, if allowed to stand, would eliminate the statutory requirement to conduct a fact-based weighing of harms and benefits to determine if a specific transaction will affirmatively promote the interest of the public in some substantial way,” wrote Erin L. Gannon, a senior assistant consumer advocate….

Robert A. Swift, a Willistown resident and private attorney, filed a separate Commonwealth Court lawsuit on Friday, seeking to block the sale.

The consumer advocate’s legal challenge could also be expanded to include Aqua’s $54.9 million purchase of the East Whiteland sewer system, which is adjacent to Willistown. A different administrative law judge had recommended that the PUC reject the East Whiteland transaction, saying that Aqua had not demonstrated any cost reductions or efficiencies from deal. Despite the recommendation, the PUC voted 3-0 on July 29 to approve the sale.

~ philadelphia inquirer auguest 9th, 2022

Another thing to read is a WHYY article on this Act 12 from 2017.

WHYY: Act 12, explained: Customers more likely to see rates rise with Pa.’s new water privatization process
ByEmily Previti August 18, 2017

Pennsylvania is already known among water companies and their shareholders as being a good state for doing business.

And now, it’s even better.

That was the conclusion of a report out this week from Moody’s Investor’s Service.

The change is Act 12, a law that offers a different way to privatize water systems in Pennsylvania.

~WHYY 2017

Now of course we go back to the PUC Public Utilities Commission which is SUPPOSED to act to ensure the safety and well-being of Pennsylvania residents, but all you have to do is look at the pipelines issue to see how much they “care.”

Pennsylvania is kind of a cesspool. It doesn’t mean our local communities have to be. But lots of local communities cannot see the forest for the trees.

Nasty signs now aimed at two good men accomplish nothing. They are just nasty signs. We all know I am an equal opportunity offender when it comes to politics and politicians. But Bob Lange and Bill Shoemaker are good guys. They care about their communities. You don’t have to like them or agree with them, but remember these are two people who will actually have a conversation with residents.

But these signs? They literally accomplish nothing and are abhorrent. You want to fight to save your sewer system although your municipality is saying they can’t afford to keep it? That’s fine, fight for what you believe in…but do it without these nasty signs.

THAT is what I am saying.

Quite simply: Rude A.F.

truly, you can’t make this stuff up: the truth is always stranger than fiction with the NOFIMBY neighbors of castlebar lane. nothing like a little pre-easter crucifixion between neighbors, right?

Whose horse/ponies are those? Are they even in Willistown or just some random image? They don’t live on Castlebar do they? If so, better check the zoning, right?

You literally can’t make this stuff up: The NOFIMBY Neighbors Who Want To Crucify Their Neighbors For Easter?????

Yes, the NOFIMBYs have published themselves a little WIX site called http://www.castlebarlane.com/

Now, I am not accusing any particular neighbor over this website since I don’t know YET who created it, unless any of you do perhaps? Also, there is also a flyer that has been distributed. Physically mailed to residents like one of those tacky campaign glossies.

I know, I know, it is a little crazy. Especially since when you heard recently from these neighbors, it was to say “Oh gosh, oh golly, we don’t want to ruin their lives!” (paraphrasing, but here READ THIS).

I guess they didn’t like my last post when I unpacked a few things thanks to some Right To Know Requests.

(If you think an image is too small, click on it to bring it up on your screen larger)

Let’s talk vilified since those farm hating angels feel put out and/or misunderstood, OK? How about this little website recently developed?

Wildflower Farm is a farm. They grow flowers. Oh my gosh, such a threat to humanity, can you imagine????

The “review” they posted in Wix land was a FRIEND for whom they had a birthday party. NO MONEY changed hands. It was two years ago – and the friend thought she was helping by posting a review.

Next the Friendly Sons thing is a NON-PROFIT Ryan Heenan is part of and is a past president of. That was a private event that anyone could host on their property. The Friendly Sons is an Irish organization which is well-respected and has existed since the 18th century in Philadelphia, so do the neighbors have a prejudice against the Irish I wonder? Could this be a modern spin on “Irish Need Not Apply”???

And the winery license thing has to do with HONEY, as in bees make honey. If you want to make mead, you have to have a permit as far as I understand. Maybe I don’t have that completely right, but that is what that is about. It’s not about having keggers for profit.

The “brochure” was a mock up from years ago when they had not done anything and were exploring what to do with the farm. Some web person put together a mock up of a brochure that was never formally developed or distributed and apparently left it on her website as an example of work product. It wasn’t actually a real thing. Did they explore options? Sure, who doesn’t today with a farm if they want to survive? There are actually plenty of fabulous farms in Chester County you can rent space from, so it makes sense they would look into it, right?

The Mother’s Day event last year was their grand opening. Done with permission from Willistown Township.

And as far as the creek issues go, I have been on their property – NO WETLANDS. They did rebuild a stream and put it back that a prior property owner had done stuff to in order to create a winter skating rink thingy, and why didn’t the neighbors complain about that? And how did they get those photos without trespassing? Here I have photos, that I was invited to take (as in I did not have to trespass to get them) :

They do use the barn for things like family parties. But people are allowed to entertain. They even had Santa Claus for a few friends with little in November, 2020 because Santa experiences were scarce due to COVID-19. Yes, there was a photographer, so the kids had their Santa photos. NOT a public event, just doing something nice with a few friends after a horrible year so kids could have some normalcy at Christmas. How is that a horrible thing? The answer of course it’s not, but I would say the Scrooges of Castlebar Lane probably would say otherwise, yes?

It’s time to take a stand against NOFIMBY people in Chester County And to be clear, these people are not doing anything for the benefit of all in Willistown.

This is only about THEM.


And yes Ryan Heenan and family members are in real estate. Real estate investors. So what? So are lots of people.

Wildflower Farm is this family’s HOME. And they grow freaking flowers.


Would the NOFIMBY neighbors of Castlebar Lane be more comfortable with say an actual developer carving up their ‘hood? Maybe they would like some townhouses or apartments where all are crammed in like lemmings?

And nothing being done on Wildflower Farm goes against state agricultural/farming laws (ACRE law). Local ordinances from what I have been told are supposed to conform to state laws?


I know Willistown people to be BETTER than this. BE better than this. Please contact Willistown Township and politely ask them to stop this madness. Their zoning needs to go along with state law. If it isn’t, they respectfully need to change that. They also need to consider the fact that one of their planning commission members is one of these unpleasant neighbors on Castlebar, and has shown up on stuff about this filed against township, hasn’t he?

Phone: 610-647-5300 (Willistown Township Phone Number)

sslook@willistown.pa.us

wshoemaker@willistown.pa.us

rlange@willistown.pa.us

mperrin@willistown.pa.us

And lest I forget to post photos of it, someone indeed paid for a campaign-like glossy mailer to go out about Wildflower Farm. Nothing like harassing your neighbors because you want the advantages of living with agricultural districts which give regular homeowners perks but not living near actual farms, right? And I have to ask again, do they have a publicist doing these flyers and placements? That would be nice to know so people can avoid giving them business in the future, right? And that mailer requires a permit so who got the permit?

And OMG BUS TOURS? 😛 😛 COME ONE. What do you think they are The Barnes Foundation or maybe Dorney Park or Dutch Wonderland? 😛 😛


Here is a mash-up of little video snippets from when they opened last year. Tell me you think these neighbors are normal in the way they treat the Heenans?

#SaveSmallFarms

I mean dayummmm, it’s almost Good Friday and Easter is Sunday. Way to nail the Heenans to a proverbial cross or try to, right?

You literally can’t make this stuff up: The NOFIMBY Neighbors Who Want To Crucify Their Neighbors For Easter.

the wildflower farm tale continues: giving it the good old NOFIMBY college try in willistown

Wildflower Farm posies (yes grown there)

I love the smell of “placed” media, don’t you ? It’s marvelous spin describing a working farm as “an event venue”.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about a little piece that has appeared in places over the last day or so. It’s about Wildflower Farm. But this time, it’s from the neighbors perspective. And I am of the opinion, and allowed to have the opinion that it smells of professional placement. It’s not even honest, is it?

Yes it’s a clear case of spinny, spin, spin isn’t it?

I mean let’s get real these neighbors will do anything to get this farm and these people out of their neighborhood, won’t they? And you have someone who is portrayed as Mother Freaking Theresa in a sweet little media-esque blip when she has shown her true colors even at public township meetings?

And the Emmy goes to…the NOFIMBY (no farm in my back yard) neighbors of Castlebar Lane.

Oh bless their cold, dark hearts and clap, clap, clap. Cue the tiny violins of pity with a side of barf bag. Sorry not sorry that is how this makes me feel.

Neighbors of Wildflower Farm, a Point of Contention in Willistown Township, Share Their Side of The Story

By Leah Mikulich
Published: 5:30 am EDT April 6, 2022

Wildflower Farm in Willistown Township has been a point of contention for months, as neighbors believe they have been demonized on social media and ignored by township officials, writes Davis Giangiulio for Main Line Tonight. 

Lonnie Gray owns one of the five homes on Castlebar Lane, a quiet cul-de-sac where Ryan and Lori Heenan bought two properties and opened Wildflower Farm. They planned it to be a flower farm that would offer small workshops and classes. 

However, when its opening event drew around 100 people, Gray and several other neighbors voiced their concern, and it ultimately led to a call to the police…

Gray is adamant about one thing.

“We are not trying to shut down the Heenans,” she said. “We just don’t want an event venue in our neighborhood.” 

The neighbors have complained to the township about the farm. However, after the Heenans reached what neighbors allege was a “backroom deal” with the township without anybody else’s input, they decided to involve lawyers.

vista today 4/6/22
Main Line Tonight wrote about Wildflower Farm and covered it before.

Let’s unpack this: It’s not an event venue, it’s a farm. And is it REALLY true that some affiliated with these people tried to inquire or perhaps set up the farm early on when they made a folksy, friendly inquiry to see if they could host a small gathering there? And was the answer not essentially that the Heenans did not know then it would be possible? They were not told yes, no deposits were taken, and no “event” was planned or held, was it? It was a fishing expedition, wasn’t it? Yes, yes person who asked, I know this happened and I know who you are and I found that very sad that you stooped so low to shall we say, curry favor with whom you perceive to be the popular kids of the McMansion set?

The berm I have dubbed Mt. Rushmore after seeing it live in the fall

Let’s also discuss Our Heroine of Castlebar Lane. When we last left she was (metaphorically speaking) wringing her hands in a seemingly “placed” puff piece? Their side or just her side? Are we to interpret that the NOFIMBY neighbors aren’t really so bad, they just fear for their PUBLIC road in Willistown Township? That they really aren’t UNneighborly when they call the police on their neighbors? And is this the neighbor with that Brooklyn Bridge project of a Mt. Rushmore berm that always seems to be being worked on whenever I have popped over to visit my friends the Heenans? And that’s a funny thing, Our Heroine always seems to have lots of vehicles in and out? I mean, maybe I am imagining things, but does she have a home based business that generates traffic? Or is that just berm building?

And was it not Our Heroine who said

“It’s beyond comprehension why they would invite the public to come and spend time in the country.” 

“Bringing the public into the neighborhood is completely unacceptable.”

`our heroine

And while we are at our revisionist history best, if these are neighbors NOT trying to ruin the lives of other neighbors do we remember them at a township meeting in Willistown December 2021? By all means, explain how they are lovely people not trying to ruin their neighbors’ lives?

My understanding is that a possible settlement has been reached between the township and the Heenans. Again, the neighbors who will be most affected by the traffic, noise, invasion of privacy, liability, and a reduction in the quality of life not to mention our property values have no idea of what has or will transpire through this agreement.

I understand the zoning and the Farmstand ordinance, let’s keep it to a farmstand and not a full fledged business which is what I believe the Heenans intend. You determine the quality of life in Willistown and I urge you to be guided by the long standing nature of what exists here, open space, conservation, protection of the land, privacy, and a quality of life that is the model for other townships.

Letter discovered via RTK written 12/2021

The flower truck at another farm, Life’s Patina

So the Vista piece came out of a larger more expansive “article” from “Main Line Tonight”. They have an interesting “board”. However, I will point out, we are Chester County, and not the Main Line. And Wildflower farm is in Willistown in the heart of Radnor Hunt. Historically speaking, farms were here before any of the rest of us today, yes?

So here is the article from Main Line Tonight written by a gentleman named Davis Giangulio:

Part Two: The Wild Saga of Wildflower Farm

Feeling demonized by social media and ignored by Willistown Twp., Wildflower’s neighbors share their side of the story.
by Davis Giangiulio, Contributing Editor

Lonnie Gray wants to make one thing clear: “We are not trying to shut down the Heenans. We just don’t want an event venue in our neighborhood.”

That “event venue” is Wildflower Farm, a 4-acre property that opened in May 2021 on Castlebar Lane in Malvern. Ryan and Lori Heenan billed Wildflower as a flower farm that would host small workshops and classes. But Wildflower’s grand opening event on Mother’s Day of 2021 alarmed neighbors. “We were in shock,” Gray said. “Over 70 cars, 100 people, a pizza truck, and all kinds of stuff. We’re going, ‘Wow this is crazy.’”

It got crazier. According to the Heenans, neighbors interrupted that Mother’s Day event, causing so much commotion that police were called.

From Gray’s point of view, the commotion was caused by the Heenans’ event. She and a few of her neighbors hired attorney Marc D. Jonas at Eastburn and Gray PC to protect their rights as homeowners. “No one is going to want to live next door to that,” she said. “It’s living in a residential area and then having it become something very different.”….. Throughout Willistown Twp., and especially on Castlebar Lane, privacy is a luxury. That’s one of the things that attracted Gray, who purchased her four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 5,000 square foot home in 2013.

main line tonight

I just feel that this piece I excerpted is placed. And oh, not all of the hyperlinks in this piece work. Here are some things released under a Right to Know. Now that the public face of the neighbors of the poor, poor neighbors who feel demonized has been polished and scrubbed like shiny new pennies, how about reading what has flown around Willistown over this issue:

The above is just a sampling. Do you want me to REALLY believe they don’t want to destroy the Heenans and Wildflower Farm? And they talk about “back room deals” ? Where? Are they confusing public township meetings as “back room” deals? Yet they can send somewhat unctuous emails to Willistown Supervisors essentially saying “hop to”?

Willistown Meeting December 2021

I just do not GET IT, do you? I mean, and correct me if I am wrong, but do these neighbors NOT benefit from living in McMansions in an agricultural district? And Willistown is one of those places where farms still exist, so if they had their way would farms cease to exist? What’s their next target? Farms like Sugartown Straberries? Heartwood Farm? Ohana Farm? Windy Hill farm? Canter Hill Farm? Willisbrook Farm? That farm with the “oreo” cows AKA Belted Galloways?

Now a lot of what is going on here is of interest to those who follow the ACRE law, correct?

Here is a state pamphlet on the ACRE LAW:

There is an entire section on the PA Attorney General’s website about ACRE. For the entire kitandkaboodle CLICK HERE. And truthfully if Willistown is dancing with this, didn’t they dance before? A little Googling found this:

We’ve been talking about Wildflower Farm and the NOFIMBY neighbors for a long time now. How can people be so determined to all but literally kill their neighbors? Why is a flower farm so bad? I still think this is one of the ugliest examples of misplaced sense of entitlement I have ever seen.

At the end of the day, this just makes me sad. These NOFIMBY neighbors can say they are lovely, caring people but the thing is this: actions speak louder than words. If they want to be seen as good, they can’t just write lovely checks to non-profits can they? They actually have to be good. I can’t help but wonder what they are in fact costing the taxpayers of Willistown with all of this swirling nastiness?

Sadly the NOFIMBY drama seems to go on and on and on. As I said the first time I waded into this topic, I think these people are wrong. Their lives aren’t adversely affected by flowers and a flower farm. They are responsible for this swirling ugliness, not the Heenans.

I am a lover of farms. Small farms matter. All farms matter.

I am also a gardener. Plant more flowers. Stop and smell the flowers NOFIMBY neighbors. Stop this madness, except you won’t will you? So sad.

#SupportLocalAgriculture #SmallFarmsMatter #AllFarmsMatter #TeamWildFlowerFarm

For more coverage:

the strange tale of wildflower farm: in willistown when is a farm not ok to be a farm?

this is wildflower farm

christmas comes to wildflower farm in willistown (hopefully)

the new trend in willistown, the land of farms and open space is NOFIMBY?

it’s simple: save wildflower farm.

Main Line Tonight: The Wild Saga of Wildflower Farm

Vista Today: Neighbors Continue to Sow Seeds of Discontent in Malvern Couple’s Wildflower Farm

My Chesco: Neglected Chester County Barn Transformed Into Organic Farm Producing Flowers for Any Occasion

Find Wildflower farm on their WEBSITE, Instagram, Facebook, and in-person during open farm hours.

from willistown to west whiteland: wche 1520 am is covering chester county today

What is new and newsworthy this morning? Honestly, nothing to do with me, two juicy podcasts from WCHE 1520 AM. Listen below:

(File under As The West Whiteland Turns some more) Audio Courtesy of WCHE 1520 AM from 3/3/2022

(File under Wildflower Farm, Willistown and the unending saga of the NOFIMBY neighbors of Castlebar lane) Audio courtesy of WCHE 1520 AM

The first video concerns West Whiteland Township and the next chapter of As The West Whiteland Turns.

The second video spotlights the NOFIMBY debacle in Willistown Township. The unending saga of Wildflower Farm.

Many thanks for WCHE 1520 AM for bringing Chester County’s issues to light.

the new trend in willistown, the land of farms and open space is NOFIMBY?

So in 2014 there was this little video done by one Robert Van Alen, a Realtor. Related to Bonnie Van Alen of Willistown Conservation Trust fame we are to presume? Now I am sure as soon as it is seen to exist still on the internet it will disappear, but until then:

So imagine the joy when a nice young family saw that their dreams to own a farm that sells FLOWERS was possible, right?

So yes, a little slice of heave called Wildflower Farm was born.

But then they moved to Castlebar Lane, which has the neighbors from hell, and yes I can indeed have that opinion. Why are these neighbors so hell bent for leather to make the dream of an organic flower farm an nightmare?

And why are these neighbors NOFIMBY ?

NOFIMBY is a new acronym developed just for this ridiculous issue in Willistown It means No Farm In My Back Yard.

So yes you ask, why are we still discussing this? Because…

Oh yes, the NOFIMBY neighbors of Castlebar Lane and adjacent streets (because no all in that suit actually LIVE on Castlebar Lane) have now filed suit against their township.

Please note a very neat trick for one neighbor in particular who sits as an appointed official on the Willistown Planning Commission, right? I mean this guy as an appointed official is supposed to uphold the laws of the township like all other appointed and elected officials, right? So how is suing the township whose laws you are supposed to uphold a thing he should be doing? Shouldn’t he step down or be removed?

But I digress.

Because the other wonder is a person who doesn’t live on Castlebar, but has real estate lots there but has other property in Willistown, yet claims to have primary residence in Wyoming? Why would they care? And given their support of Willistown Conservation Trust (see this nifty article on Willistown Conservation Trust website and note photo lower right.) one would think they would find an ORGANIC FLOWER FARM ( Wildflower Farm) TO THEIR LIKING, right?

Come to think of it again I ask why isn’t Willistown Conservation Trust publicly supporting Wildflower Farm? Or are they and we all just are oblivious?

Back to the matter at hand:

Seriously, what strange hell is this? So is this really an appeal of Zoning Hearing Board decision, the settlement agreement between Willistown and Wildflower Farm, some kind of private enforcement action against Wildflower Farm, and some DEP thing that the DEP already settled?

Oh and the settlement agreement is executed and public so here:

So now what is the pretzel logic of these neighbors? Why do they hate farms so much? Why did they even move to Willistown Township if they have such issues with farms and open space on farms?

I think this is very sad. Do state laws surrounding farms not matter? Do Willistown’s laws not matter? Do farms and open space not matter? Why is ok for Radnor Hunt, their horses, pack, and follow cars OK to be on Castlebar (a public road FYI), but not a flower farm? Especially when people visiting flower farm park on flower farm? When you think of Willistown don’t you think of horses, Radnor Hunt, open space and FARMS?

Is these because these people were told NO ?

Sigh….happy new year, Chester County….

Street view of Wildflower Farm from real estate listing before Wildflower Farm came to be. Still pretty much the same view except for better maintenance and tree pruning.

christmas comes to wildflower farm in willistown (hopefully)

This evening at Willistown Township, the Township officials voted in an agreement with Wildflower Farm, specifically a settlement agreement. As I am a friend of the Heenans, I knew the agreement was coming, but was waiting for the official evening which was the Supervisors Meeting this evening. I have not been privy to the terms of the agreement, I should be CLEAR about that. I also didn’t ask because it’s not my business. I am just happy an agreement was reached.

Well, here it is:

I have to admit the Willistown Supervisors were very patient with the charming neighbors of Castlebar Lane. Still can’t decide if they are Super Stepford, Desperate Housewives throwbacks, Knotts Landing or just jerks of the first order.

And yes, Castlebar dwellers, that is my opinion and I am allowed said opinion. I would never have thought twice about any of this if I hadn’t seen things with my own eyes, including but not limited to someone driving back and forth and back and forth in front of Wildflower Farm’s driveways when I was there one time. For quite a while. I still think that was super creepy and stalkeriffic.

One of the neighbors, who was speaking a lot during settlement agreement identified himself as Frank Houder. He is on the Willistown Planning Commission and his business has gotten a lot of work out of Willistown Township over the years, correct? So I guess as an observer this evening I am a little surprised that he seemingly doesn’t get how things and ordinances work?

I don’t know. It’s a great mystery of life. How these neighbors can be so horrible even when tamed down at a meeting being recorded, escapes me. Again, my opinion and it’s allowable. But those people are why I do not go to many meetings and am grateful for Zoom and streaming. I can watch them and have my meeting Tourette’s and not disturb anyone. Because frankly, people like this make me want to stand up and tell them they are terrible and would they please just STOP.

So all these Scrooges of Castlebar Lane and their ilk will now sit and stew in their McMansions with their cold, dark hearts?? Will they keep filing things against Wildflower Farm? Will they keep essentially spying on Wildflower Farm?

People, it’s freaking CHRISTMAS. Do you get the whole reason for the season? Do you get how horrible you have been to your NEIGHBORS you supposedly wish to get along with?

And why do these neighbors think they should have been privy to a settlement agreement between the township and the farm? That has nothing to do with the neighbors, does it? Or do these people think so highly of themselves that everything has to do with them? (Umm hello, if the world revolves around them, stop it I want to get off.)

Well only time will tell what the Scrooge Collective on Castlebar Lane does. Here’s hoping they just accept they live in an area where farms used to be more plentiful than McMansions. Here’s hoping they realize how LUCKY they are to have a Wildflower Farm in their midst. I mean what if they were allowed to be pig farmers? Me thinks pigs would be far more offensive and odiferous than flowers, yes? And they could have a field of townhouses or ticky tacky new construction crammed in, but they are looking at a FARM and a nice rehabbed one at that. Be GRATEFUL.

As a gardener I have shared my garden resources with this farm – sources for unusual bulbs, tubers, roses, and native plants/trees. As a gardener, I am thrilled to have them close to home. They are wonderful and their flowers are awesome and so is their honey. And they are nice people I have come to know and I am grateful to call friends. Nice people. Beautiful children, hardworking. Chester County is LUCKY to have them.

Merry Christmas Wildflower Farm. Your friends and customers and nice neighbors believe in what you are doing!

Here are the prior posts on Wildflower Farm:

October 7, 2021: the strange tale of wildflower farm: in willistown when is a farm not ok to be a farm?

October 8, 2021: this is wildflower farm

Merry Christmas Heenans! Can’t wait for spring flowers!

this is wildflower farm

I broke the story yesterday about Wildflower Farm and I’m going to keep talking about it.

I was there today visiting (I was a guest in their home, nosy neighbors) and for 25 min a guy in a dark SUV drove back-and-forth in front of their farm to see who was sitting on their patio. I finally waved at him and called hello (loudly) and he went away. I guess a middle-aged white woman sitting on someone’s patio as a guest drinking a sparkling water is a threat?

Can I tell you how BEAUTIFUL and serene and peaceful Wildflower Farm is in spite of their neighbors? I walked through their magical woods and walked every outside row and every hoop house row of flowers. I am a gardener, I was in heaven. And their trees are awesome. Including things like native redbuds and Japanese maples that they have planted. I can also envision their fields alive with peonies and hydrangeas, too.

We talked gardening. I shared my gardening resources for bulbs and native plants. I also shared with them Chester County farms also that are small producing farms. Why? Because those farms and farmers are embraced by their neighbors, not absurdly reviled.


The majority of the neighbors on this street where they live have that extra special development mentality that I abhor. They sure are the types who should be living in a Stepford Wife Toll Brothers or similar development where everything is samey-samey cookie cutter and they can’t plant flowers, but the petty tyrants of homeowner associations reign supreme.

Wildflower Farm is zoned to be a farm. They aren’t throwing raucous parties 24 /7 they are a young family with two beautiful children who have a dream to have a farm and grow flowers.

They are an organic farm.

And what I saw today with the person in the SUV driving back-and-forth and back-and-forth and back-and-forth with my own eyes, they are experiencing harassment and must feel as if they are constantly under siege.

If someone chooses to live differently or simply, these pig-ignorant types of people find fault with it. It’s literally heart breaking that they cannot see the beauty here through the trees. But it’s like a blood sport to play whisper down the lane and to gossip inaccurately and cruelly about this young family? That’s Christian, God-fearing behavior?

The people who live in this neighborhood on Castlebar Lane where poor small farm is located are not all bad. But the majority of them seem so off the hook unpleasant in my opinion, it takes your breath away. I don’t understand how these people can do any of this with a clear conscience? They trespass on their property, they fly drones overhead to try to say they’re doing something wrong and they’re not, and for what? What do they gain?

A friend of mine (who lives on a farm) said to me that they don’t get these people who want everything big box and cookie cutter.

Take the neighbor on one side? Building this giant berm so they don’t have to look at them which is something that is so ludicrous to me because if I lived next-door I would want a clear view so I could see what flowers they were growing! They have totally cleaned up this property it’s beautiful, and it has the most gorgeous woods. You look at it and it makes you think like this is what Chester County is supposed to be.


What is happening to these people is literally insane. And the fact that one of the people giving them a hard time and filing zoning things and other stuff is on the planning commission in Willistown Township just blows my mind and then there’s the other people who have lots (as in empty lots of land) on the road but don’t actually live there who have been big for years with the Willistown Conservation Trust? And if you go through publications of the Willistown Conservation Trust you see other names also in this bizarre NIMBY situation? I don’t understand these people apparently farms are OK just not in their neighborhood but it’s zoned agricultural, it’s not just a residential area so I really don’t understand the pretzel logic? (And FYI the candidate for Willistown Supervisor who seems to be doing a lot of promising including helping their horrid neighbors? Remember THAT at the polls. Those who over-promise to everyone, never deliver but that is a separate conversation.)


Wildflower Farm deserves ALL of our support. They are up in front of zoning next week and Willistown and I have posted about it it is a public meeting and if you’re not a resident you don’t have standing so you won’t be speaking but you can go and support in solidarity. Especially if you are a FARMER.

The Willistown Township Zoning Hearing Board will meet on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. Sugartown Elementary School – Gymnasium 611 Sugartown Road, Malvern, PA 19355

The Heenans are the people we want as neighbors in Chester County, and in a time where every square inch is developed they are farming and growing wildflowers and are into native plants.

Willistown also has a regular supervisors meeting on October 11 at 7 PM which is also a public meeting. Charles E. Coxe Memorial Campus. 688 Sugartown Road, Malvern, PA 19355


Please lend these nice people your support. Supporting farmers benefits all of us. Their dreams should not die because they have the biggest bunch of jerky Stepford village neighbors ever created. NIMBY anti-farm hell. Petty tyrants. And that opinion is allowed.


Also they have a petition. Sign the petition please, but also please consider attending the zoning meeting, especially.

#PayItForward

#SaveSmallFarms

#MeanPeopleSuck

#ShopSmall

#SupportSmallBusinesses

I would also say in the short term to think twice about donating to Willistown Conservation Trust. If these neighbors are the kind of people supporting them I don’t know about you but you really want to be around them? But I would encourage you to support Natural Lands, of course.

I love flowers. I love farms. I love nice people. So you know I am Team Wildflower Farm, are you?

#HateHasNoHomeHere #TeamWildflowerFarm