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

2016 Photo Contest at Ridley Creek State Park is Announced

The Friends of Ridley Creek State will be holding their annual photo contest on Friday, June 24th at 6pm on the grounds of the Mansion at Ridley Creek State Park.

Now in its 12 year, the annual photo contest was started as a fundraiser for projects at the park and to bring awareness to the “Friends,” the non-profit organization that serves to preserve, protect and enhance Ridley Creek State Park.

Hunting Hill Mansion
Hunting Hill Mansion at Ridley Creek State Park

This year the photo contest will take a new twist and be held outside, weather permitting.  As in past years, this event is free and open to the public. Come enjoy refreshments, photo submissions and experience the park through the eyes of the contestants, including children.

Deadline for submissions is Friday, June 17.

Entry forms, contest rules and previous years submissions are available  at www.friendsofrcsp.org.

If you have questions about the photo contest, call the Friends hotline at 484-442-0223.

Photo: Hunting Hill Mansion at Ridley Creek State Park by Pamela Cloud.

Pamela Cloud is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Preferred in Media and has been involved with the Friends of Ridley Creek State Park for over a decade.

 

 

 

Holiday Attractions from West Chester to Media!

Happy Holidays from Pam Cloud!
Happy Holidays from Pam Cloud!

Delaware and Chester counties are rich in history and steeped in character; the perfect backdrop to get you in the mood for the holidays. In particular, the towns of  Media and West Chester ooze with storybook charm, adding to the magic of the season. If you want to get to know West Chester or Media better, winter is a great time to do it!

These walkable towns offer unique shopping, great restaurants and beautiful streets filled with historic homes for you to enjoy. There’s also a better chance you can meet the locals during this time of year and get a feel for the neighborhood vibe. If you prefer to enjoy your time away from the hustle-bustle of downtown, discover the natural beauty of Westtown, Glen Mills or Chadds Ford, whose rolling hillsides and farmland have inspired artists for centuries.  If you are new to the area or just want to do something different, here are some of my favorites to get you started:

Fun things to do in West Chester! 

The West Chestser Railroad
Santa’s Express!
  • Old Fashioned Christmas parade, downtown West Chester-Friday, December 4th.
  • Santa’s Express on the West Chester Railroad   Take leisurely train ride on a vintage train car along Chester Creek. Starts in West Chester  and stops in Glen Mills–approximately 90 minutes round trip. A new store, The Sporting Gentleman, just opened up across from the Glen Mills Train station. Hop in for a quick cup of hot chocolate before your return trip.
  • Cut your own Tree at Wiggins Tree Farm!
  • I’ve always loved strolling the streets in West Chester, admiring the Victorian homes decorated for the holidays, then grabbing a cup of tea with  friends at The Lincoln on Market Street. The university provides some interesting entertainment off the beaten path as well. Here is a link to more activities.
  • Click here for the West Chester Calendar for a detailed list of events!
Quincy's in Media, Pa.
This window at Quincy’s on State Street in Media looks good enough to eat!

Fun things to do in Media!

  • Festival of Lights-fun for the little ones! Rose Tree Park-every night from 5:3opm-FREE
  • Budweiser Clydesdales coming to Media Sunday, December 13th!
  • Tyler Arboretum Annual Greens Sale – December 4th
  • Take a hike in Ridley Creek State Park
  • Linvilla Orchards-Christmas around the Farm~Caroling and Hayrides, Trees and Goodies
  • Carriage rides, shows at the Hedgerow Theater, the Christmas Village and more! Check out the Media Calendar of Eventsfor dates and times!
  • Check out the Media Theater for upcoming shows.
  • If you like the old-fashioned feel of a “five and dime,” put Deals on your schedule! I love the creaky wooden floors and it seems they have an ample supply of everything!
  • Did you know that Media is the first Fair Trade Town in the U.S.? It has a wide variety of shops  from new age to high fashion and art you should get to know!
  • Check out Media’s calendar for a detailed list of events!
  • Maybe you would just like to enjoy fellowship with your neighbors in Media? That’s what  Transition Town Media’s Winter Solstice Celebration on December 19th is all about!
Thornbury Train Station
The enchanting Thornbury Train station evokes a feeling of yesteryear. The West Chester Railroad makes it come to life with its seasonal tourist rides from West Chester to Glen Mills.

Winter Festival at Oakbourne Mansion,  The Westtown Township Parks & Recreation Commission is hosting its annual Winter Festival at Oakbourne Mansion on Sunday, December 6, from noon to 3:00 p.m. with craft vendors, craft making for children, music and refreshments. Free admission and plenty of parking.

  • Tree Lighting at Thornbury Park, December 5th at 5pm. Refreshments will be served and Santa will be visiting!
  • Christmas at Bethlehem-Free Christmas Festival and Live Nativity in Thornbury-December 11, 12 & 13 from 7pm-9pm. Enjoy a bonfire, s’mores and refreshments and bring a non-perishable food item for City Team Ministries!
  • Arasapha Farms-Hayrides, pick your own tree and then go for a quick bite at the Country Deli in Gradyville.
  • Brandywine River Museum for an awesome train display that covers 2000 feet of track!  Be sure to click on the link for other exciting activities at the museum!
  • Chadds Ford Candelight House Tour-December 5 1pm-5pm.
  • Thornton Farmer’s Market and Grace Winery are hosting their first Holiday Market on December 4 from 4 to 9 pm.  Join in the tasting room to purchase your holiday gifts including original paintings, holiday decorations and hand crafted goods while sampling some of Grace Winery’s finest wine and food offerings.  Located on Sweetwater Road in Glen Mills.
  • Yuletide at Winterthur ~ enjoy visions of holidays past, crafting workshops, A Christmas Carol performance and Yuletide Jazz and Wine through January 3rd.
  • Holiday weekends at the Grange Estate in Havertown, Pa. Visit the Model Train Display in the Carriage House, tour the beautifully decorated mansion and visit the delightful Gift Shoppe stocked with unique seasonal gifts.
  • Live Nativity at Neumann University a  re-enactment of the Franciscan tradition of the crib, first celebrated in Greccio, Italy in 1223.  Event includes a petting zoo!  More info here.
  • If you love holiday baking , check out Booth’s Corner Farmer’s Market for a wide selection of produce and ingredients. Just a few weeks ago I purchased the best colored marshmallows for festive hot chocolate! Here’s a list of farmer’s market’s in the area.
  • A list of more Delaware County Attractions.

Longwood Gardens is the quintessential way to celebrate the holidays in the Brandywine Valley with family and out-of-town guests. This amazing display of floral and light displays and famous fountains never gets old.

Enjoy your holidays!

Hunting Hill Mansion at Ridley Creek State Park
Hunting Hill Mansion at Ridley Creek State Park

© Pamela Cloud and The Nature of Delaware County, 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela Cloud and The Nature of Delaware County with specific direction to the original content.

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