Coming Soon to a Farm Near You: New Homes in the mid-$600s!

Western Philadelphia Suburbs Push Back on Development.

Survey markers are popping up like daffodils,  and as daffodils signal the coming of spring, orange survey markers signal development is imminent. Depending where you live, it could be a pipeline, fracking site, shopping center or new housing development.  Some consider it progress, but for many residents,  development is unwelcome as an April freeze and increasingly each new project is matched with an organization to oppose it.

People often feel blindsided by these developments and sometimes wonder why they weren’t aware of them when there was still time to do something.  People are notified, but notices aren’t always in the places you might be looking for them (such as a posting a billboard on the site in question) or written in a way one might understand (a township newsletter might read “discussion of the Brown tract subdivision”, for example). Sometimes you have to go hunting for details because this is not the sexy kind of news reported by the mainstream media. And by the time the big news makes it to social media, the development is halfway through the approval phase.   What if notices for new developments had the same requirements as the application for a liquor license?  If no one sees the notice, they won’t know about the township meetings and if no one shows up at the meeting and the developer has done a reasonably good job of checking all the zoning requirements, the next development is on its way.

There was a time when new developments promised a new tax base to fund schools and  government.  What wasn’t anticipated was the 3 to 4 car family, increasing school bus and delivery truck traffic, turning lanes and one-way problems; all things I’ve learned about from the latest traffic study done in conjunction with the development of Crebilly Farm in Westtown.

202 West Chester
Traffic on Southbound 202 in West Chester. Crebilly Farm to the right.

Picture perfect communities welcome future homeowners with impressive entrances, with names of the very things they’ve eliminated, such as “preserve,” “run, ” “trees” or  “farm.” The homes themselves are gorgeous and I understand why people love them. With stunning granite kitchens, soaring entrances and luxurious bathrooms, what’s not to love? And if you are moving from a densely populated area, this looks like the country. And you can’t blame the developer for wanting to build them, because they are only meeting demand.

But if the descriptions included a dark side it would be: increased traffic congestion, worsening air quality, increased storm water runoff and groundwater contamination, school boundaries being reconfigured to accommodate more students (and yes, increased school taxes) and the decimation of trees or farm land that go away with these new homes.

Citizens are no longer sitting on the sidelines helplessly watching as the bulldozers pave over their favorite vistas.  They are signing petitions, crowd funding, hiring lawyers, putting signs in yards and  making their voices heard at township meetings in record numbers. And with social media, developments are no longer being silently approved. People who care are being heard AND they are making a difference.  Citizen engagement is crucial.

Crebilly Farm
View of Crebilly Farm from Route 926 in West Chester. A current plan has been submitted to build 350+ homes on this site.
New home signs Westtown, Pa.
Advertisements for new homes on the opposite side of Route 926.

And what about that open space that that is promised by the developer in exchange for squeezing in a few more homes? Open space is often the leftover, unusable wetland or retention basin that are off-limits to kids, hikers and dog-walkers.  Does that fit the definition of open space? It is something to think about, as the last remaining large parcels are being developed. And did you know that some landowner/developers had preferential tax treatments prior to development? Accordingly, they may have benefitted from agricultural or be otherwise tax-exempt over the years, meaning that local taxpayers (i.e.; you)  have been subsidizing them as they held their investment until they decided it was time to develop.  Whether for or against development, most people do care about their taxes. These are the types of questions that may be overlooked if not for diligent residents who make them an issue to planning commissions and township supervisors.

To make an impact, reach out to your officials, who are mostly volunteers and citizens with the same concerns as you. If they are taking the time to volunteer, help them. Show up, even if it’s only to listen.  And if you don’t have the time to attend a township meeting, consider donating to the organizations who have the time and motivation to do so. If you can’t change the world, at least you can have an effect on your local community.

Do you have an impending development in your back yard? You might. Whether it’s a neighbor wanting to build a non-conforming garage or a developer wanting to build 300 homes, your township is likely notifying you and asking  you to participate.  I encourage you to sign up for your township e-newsletters to find out. Here are just a few developments underway in Delaware and Chester counties:

Delaware County

Marple Township

Don Guanella  Forest –  213 pristine acres along Sprould Road (Route 320), owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was once home to the Don Guanella School in densely populated Marple township. A plan to build 305 multi-family dwelling units was proposed.  This plan is currently off the table but the property may be back on the market.

Newtown Square

Earles Lake-Earles Lake in Newtown Square, Newtown Township, PA and 9 acres of wooded land are at risk of becoming a 54 townhome community.

Edgmont Township

Sleighton School (Middletown and Edgmont townships)There had been a proposed over 55 development by Toll Brothers. At this time approval status is unknown.

Edgmont Edgmont County Club-200 acre golf course on Route 3 in Edgmont township.

Middletown Township

Franklin Mint Property-current proposal for 300+single family and mixed-use nursing facility on a 173 acre site.

Concord Township

Beaver Valley: Potential development of 160 homes on 230 acres which was recently saved and now money is needed to purchase the land as open space. Still more is at stake with Wilmington University.

Thornbury Township

105 Stoney Bank Road: 55 acres adjacent to Martin Park,  currently under agreement and pre-approved for 27 new homes. Known by the township as the Crane Tract.

Sign up for updates: Thornbury Township

Chester County

Westtown Township

Crebilly Farm  300 acres in Westtown township with a proposal for 350+ homes located at the intersection of Routes 202 and 926.

Township Updates: Westtown Township

Organizations: Neighbors for Crebilly , Save Crebilly Farm , Neighbors for Crebilly Facebook

If you want to find out more about regional planning, please explore these sites

While demand for new housing and development of land is a reality,  property rights of  sellers of the land and developers need to be balanced with the property rights of neighbors being affected. The little land that is left needs to be developed responsibly so it doesn’t create the same problems people are moving away from.  It takes time to be involved and there are more projects going on out there than one person can keep track of. With long work hours and commutes, families and responsibilities, it is easy to overlook what’s happening around you and hope that someone else will save the land for you.

If only it were that easy.


Squire Cheyney Farm Park, a 30 acres of preserved space overlooking homes at The Preserve at Squire Cheyney.

Disclaimer: The status of the projects listed above are subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, check in with the appropriate group’s Facebook or web page.


Featured post

Thornton Farmer’s Market

Thornton Farmer's Market
Entrance to the Thornton Farmer’s Market on Glen Mills Road.

It was towards the end of the season last year when I became deeply appreciative of the Thornton Farmer’s Market. It’s not because I realized what a habit it had become to share a great chicken barbecue with my son after a tennis match at Thornbury Park every Saturday,  or buying a freshly cut bouquet of homegrown flowers from Maxine, or knowing that the locally produced honey is helping everyone’s flowers and vegetables. It’s wasn’t the homemade baked and canned goods or the really cool jewelry. My appreciation stemmed from seeing friendly and familiar faces week after week. Not of just the vendors, but of my neighbors. We eat lunch under the canopy and kids learn about growing their own food or get to pet an alpaca. Collectively, we are all doing something to lower carbon footprints, eat healthier and help the environment. We are advancing our local connection, which can get lost in our busy lives of electronic devices and on-demand ordering of food and clothing. Everything slows down at the Farmer’s Market. At the Farmer’s Market we know where things come from and who makes them.

The commitment of the vendors who not only make the goods, but show up every Saturday, eager to serve in good weather and bad, is a testament to their dedication. They define one of the great aspects of our community and are a bright spot in my week. When the market closes for the season, its followers eagerly await the annual Holiday Market, which was an instant success several years ago, much to the credit of Donna Wetterlund, organizer of the Thornton Farmer’s Market and Holiday Market.

If there ever was a world disaster, these would be the people I’d like to be stranded with. They know what to do and how to do it. Each has their own gift, whether it is growing produce or making handmade soaps, clothing or dog treats. This is sustainable living at its best.

In my mind, Thornbury wouldn’t be Thornbury without the Thornton Farmer’s Market.

The Farmer’s Market opens on Saturday May 12th and continues most Saturdays through October and is located in the open field adjacent to Thornbury Park on Glen Mills Road. Hours are 10am-1pm,  so mark your calendars and check out the following small businesses:

Here is a complete list of the 2018 vendors:

  • Bob Yoder– Yoders Country Packages- Angus Beef, beef jerky, plants, veggies and eggs, Corn, hanging baskets and annuals, mums and pumpkins
  • Edie’s Sweet & Savory Pastries: pies, cookies, artisan bread, quiches and pot pies (opening up a shop in downtown West Chester)
  • Lisa of Yes, I Can– relishes, jams, jellies, pickles, BBQ sauce, batter breads, eggs
  • Roxanne of RockSands– pottery and jewelry
  • Maxine’s Flowers: fresh-cut flower arrangements, hand dyed linens
  • Rich of Heartstone Orchard: native plants, herbs, heirloom tomato plants, vegetable plants, perennials, orchard fruit, peppers and tomatoes
  • Van of The Artistic Garden: miniature succulent gardens, table top gardens, concrete garden ornaments
  • Carmen of Carmen B’s Honey: local raw honey in various sizes
  • Erin of EG’s Homesewn: custom aprons for children and adults, kids activity table
  • AJ of Cocky Gourmet Confections: nut and seed brittles and toffee
  • Thomas of Gladiolus Farm– veggies, flowering plants, corn, pumpkins
  • Pam of Trotter Hill Alpacas, Wool, yarn, felt, woolen products including shoe inserts, clutch purses, toys, Alpaca Petting Pen, spinning demos
  • Tim and Terry of Urban Essence Salon and Spa– handcrafted soaps, lotions, scrubs, home fragrance
  • Richard’s Puzzles-Handcrafted wooden puzzles for young and old
  • Nate’s Funky Photos–  Photographs of local scenes, postcards and luggage tags
  • Deb- Debbydos: Crystal Towers for gardens
  • Margie’s PawPaw Fruit: September ripe pawpaws
  • Eleanor’s Peonies: Cut peony stems, rootstock of award-winning peony varieties 
  • Phyllis of Phylydoll’s Cards: Greeting cards, Stationery sets and paper-crafted desk sets and gifts.
  • JB’s Afrikan: Tribal baskets, jewelry, totes, prepared food, assortment of produce, iced tea
  • Dan of Fireworks Mobile Woodfired Oven: woodfired pizzas, salads, beverages, cookies, vegetarian pita sandwiches prepared on site
  • Donna of Bruno Bits Dog Treats: handcrafted artisan style dog treats in gourmet flavors, dog shampoo and dog bone pillows
  • Naomi of Three Sisters Mac and Cheese: Southern Style baked macaroni and cheese.

Stay connected with the Thornton Farmer’s Market on their Facebook Page!

I hope to see you there!



Where to Donate Business Clothing and Accessories in Delaware County

Whether it’s a New Year’s clean out or right-sizing your business attire, if you are looking for a place to put your professional or other clothing and accessories to good use (as opposed to donating them to a thrift store), this article is for you! Some of these organizations are also looking for regular clothing for children, adults as well as other in-kind donations.

Many people I’ve worked with over the years prefer that their items go directly to someone who could use it as opposed to ending up in a resale shop. There are many organizations that provide gently used business attire and accessories to people entering the job market.  These organizations accept donations and give them to their clients FOR FREE.

Adult Clothing

Our Closet, Springfied, Pa.



Wings for Success

Clothes Mentor (Clothes Mentor pays you for saleable items, if accepted, and will donate unaccepted items to charity-you can decide whether to sell or donate)

Domestic Abuse ProjectDelaware County

City Team, Chester

Swarthmore Presbyterian Church

Williamson College of the Trades – Clothes Closet (men’s only– suits, ties, belts etc.)

Children’s Clothes

St. Agnes Day Room, West Chester, Pa.

Media Food and Clothing Bank, Media, Pa.

The longer you’ve lived in your home, it’s likely you have more items to go through than just clothes. You didn’t accumulate everything in a day and likely won’t get rid of it all in a day either.

Understandably, some people are not able to physically drive donations to the sites listed above. For that, Purple Heart and Salvation Army are still great options that go to good causes.

If you have a suggestion for additional organizations, please comment below or send me an email. Thank you!


Board of Supervisors Make Decision regarding Crebilly Farm

Westtown Supervisors unanimously voted to deny conditional use application for 300-400 homes on 300+ acres on Crebilly Farm in Westtown Township.

via Crebilly Farm Update 12/28/17

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