We lost the first round of our fight in Commonwealth Court, but it’s not over until we say it’s over.
Today I received some good news. I have been told by a reliable source that Governor Wolf might reconsider the RACP funding for the Dranoff Project if he is absolutely certain that our State Representative and Senator support rescission of the funding. State Representative Greg Vitali has always opposed state funding, but State Senator Daylin Leach has not publicly stated his position. Please contact State Senator Daylin Leach to let him know that Governor Wolf should reverse course and cancel the RACP grant to millionaire developer, Carl Dranoff. It is shameless that while school district across the state are forced to borrow money and non-profits are closing because of the loss of funding, the State is financing the construction of a luxury apartment building in Lower Merion Township.
You can call his office at 610.768.4200 and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please send him the following email:
Thank you for all your support and assistance.
On Tuesday, December 15th, the Commonwealth Court issued a decision on our lawsuit to stop the misappropriation of public funds from the redevelopment of the Ardmore Train Station to build an eight-story luxury apartment building on the Cricket Lot in Ardmore. We are gratified that the court found that we had taxpayer standing to file our lawsuit. Nonetheless, the court dismissed our suit. We are exploring our options, including appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
This issue highlights the continuous effort of the Township to force urbanization and densification on Ardmore prior to the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan and regardless of the opinion of its residents and the local Ward Commissioner, Stephen Linder. It also brought attention to the sweetheart deals made with developers in the Township, specifically, the fact that Carl Dranoff has twenty years to pay the $2 million sale price for the Cricket Lot.
While school districts throughout the state are borrowing millions to stay open and non-profits are closing because of a lack of funds during the State budget impasse, our Township, one of the wealthiest in Pennsylvania, fought to ensure that $10.5 million were available for Carl Dranoff to build a luxury apartment building in Ardmore. Our Board of Commissioners sold themselves to the devil and intended to live up to the bargain.
The public-private partnership with Carl Dranoff to revitalize Ardmore has been the perfect example of the powerful exacting what they can, and the residents granting what they must. Those who want to urbanize Ardmore like to talk about “feet on the street.” Their vision is a Ardmore filled with transients without any sense of place or standards shared from generation to generation.
Commissioner Rogan took the unprecedented step to post a press release from the law firm representing the Board on the Township website and sent out an email that gloated over the decision by the court. She claimed that only "a handful of citizens have opposed this project.” In fact, over 500 residents of Lower Merion signed a Change.org petition to oppose this project. It was more than a handful of citizens who rallied in front of the Township Building last year, packed the Board room at many a meeting to speak clearly and forcefully against this project, and contributed to pay for this lawsuit. Her statement only illustrates the enormous gulf that exists between the citizens of Lower Merion and those who run it.
The Save Ardmore Coalition is committed to enhancing our quality of life in Ardmore and the Township, which means much more than simply increasing the tax base. We are members of a community that reaches into the past and the future and has an sense of public responsibility and civic obligation. Whatever the final outcome may be, we are determined that any future plans for revitalizing Ardmore are based on community input and consensus building.
We got coverage over on Philly.com today, check it out!
I think the township's argument can be summed up as "they shouldn't be allowed to challenge our decisions". And there we were thinking we lived in a participatory democracy. Silly us!
Fortunately, the judge saw through their cunning ploy and proceeded to question their attorney as well as ours.
Here's the full article:
Our Letter To The Editor was published in the Main Line Times earlier this week:
The Building and Planning Committee of the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners meets on December 2 at 7:45 PM to vote on acceptance of the Comprehensive Plan. You can find the 400 page plan on the Township website at http://www.lowermerion.org/Index.aspx?page=355 The Save Ardmore Coalition has always supported the creation of a new Comprehensive Plan for the Township. It will be the basis for a new zoning ordinance that will determine future development throughout the Township.
Throughout the Plan are sentences that read like this:
In the last several years, it has not been the community vision that has advanced in the Township; it has been the demands of developers and the latest concepts of the planners that have prevailed.
The Save Ardmore Coalition is committed to ensuring that the community is heard when the Board of Commissioners meet because our quality of life must be preserved.
Come out and be heard. This is the last chance for the public to speak before the Commissioners on this most important matter!
The Save Ardmore Coalition has taken a stand - fighting the misappropriation of public funds and challenging the Board of Commissioners to consider the issues of out of scale development in Ardmore and its consequences.
We published a 2015 Voter’s Guide so you know where the candidates stand on issues important to us.
Today is the beginning of our fall fundraising drive and we need your help.
We need contributions for the legal fees that we are incurring to stop the misuse of tax dollars. Our lawsuit is expensive.
Our goal this November is 100 x $100. We need 100 members to contribute $100 each or pay it forward for two, four or more members. Or pay what can by going to our PayPal link: http://www.saveardmorecoalition.org/donate
We also need volunteers; we can't do it alone:
We need people to make phone calls to get the word out about the Save Ardmore Coalition.
Critical things are at stake:
After the Township Comprehensive Plan is passed, there will be changes made to the zoning code that will have long lasting impact.
Did you know that increasing the density of our neighborhoods is pushing long time residents out of their apartments and homes?
We are changing the terms of debate in this Township. We are introducing a perspective that is fresh and challenging.
The Save Ardmore Coalition matters. Our membership is growing and influence spreading. I’m excited about the future. Be a part of this great movement.
If you haven’t already made a contribution, you can use our PayPal link at http://www.saveardmorecoalition.org/donate or by mail to
With your support, we will continue to make a difference in Ardmore and Lower Merion Township. Contact me for your availability to be a part of our planning committee.
Recently, we sent out a questionnaire to candidates for Lower Merion Township Commissioners and Montgomery County Commissioners. We asked questions about affordable housing, use of taxpayer money for private development, and forced densification of neighborhoods. The responses can be found below:
Some candidates did not (or were unable to) respond to any questions at all. Here's a list of who did not respond:
2015 Voter's Guide: Montgomery County Commissioners (Valerie Arkoosh, Joe Gale, Josh Shapiro, and Steve Tolbert)Submitted by dmuth (Douglas Muth, Webmaster) on Sun, 2015-10-25 13:39 Tags:
1. What is one thing you would like to see changed in Montgomery County? Please explain how you will work to effectuate that change.
Valerie Arkoosh: Did not respond.
Joe Gale: I would like to see Montgomery County taxpayers have a commissioner who is not beholden to political party bosses, special interests, and courthouse lobbyist.
I am the only candidate not chose by political party insiders but chosen by the voters of Montgomery County.
Politics as usual in our county is irresponsible and unsustainable: selling 220 acres of open space assets to fill short-term budget gaps, wasting tens of thousands of dollars on signs bearing the commissioners’ names, and dumping $25 Million into a movie studio pipedream in Norristown.
We need to eliminate wasteful spending, restore our AAA Bond Rating, fully-fund county pensions, and oppose tax increases.
1. What is one thing you would like to see changed in Lower Merion Township? Please explain how you will work to effectuate that change.
Brian McGuire: Passage of a storm water authority so the township can more effectively and equitably improve our storm water management capacity, focusing on improving water quality and utilizing more natural best practices. I have been one of the leading advocates on the board for this and look forward to acting upon the recommendations of the task force we appointed earlier in the year.
2. Does Lower Merion Township have any responsibility to maintain, protect or create affordable housing? What do you propose should be done to foster housing diversity in Ardmore and other parts of the township?
1. What is one thing you would like to see changed in Lower MerionTownship? Please explain how you will work to effectuate that change.
Bill Madway: There are many things I plan to focus on as a member of the Board of Commissioners. For example, finding more efficient ways to deliver township services, so we can maintain and, where necessary, improve the quality of services we provide residents without busting our budget. In addition, prudently managing our capital improvement program, so we make the necessary investments in roads, bridges, and other public facilities, before expensive breakdowns occur. And encouraging greater use of environmentally responsible building practices and other conservation efforts.