Remarks made by Christine Jones

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Remarks made by Christine Jones
Before the Montgomery County Planning Commission
March 9, 2005


I am Christine Jones. Before I retired I was a member of Lower Merion's Historical Architecture Review Board for eighteen years.

At your August 11th hearing on Ardmore Redevelopment, Mr. Shelley said, "We're designating a redevelopment area. This is it." Today's hearing, however, has the potential for causing dire consequences for Ardmore.

On August 11th, Mr. Shelley admonished Lower Merion for doing a "disservice to the residents by sending out condemnation notices (so early) when they didn't know what they were doing."

Actually, most believe Lower Merion knew exactly what it was doing, then, as it does now, by rushing ahead with plans ill-suited to the area, created by a firm with no track record in rehabilitation of downtown areas, and approved by few citizens of the township.

Also, Lower Merion willfully disregarded your advice, and that of the Lower Merion Planning Commission to "be sensitive to buildings and districts with historic significance," to "avoid eliminating such buildings," and to "consider compatibility of new development with what exists nearby in terms of bulk, scale, materials, and character." Neither Hillier's plan nor the architectural sketch for the station area (with woefully askew dimensions!) remotely recognizes this advice. [show news article]

In September 2004, a ULI team was brought in by the Township; their assessment of Ardmore redevelopment gave us great hope. In a few days, they developed a remarkably apt plan, proposing respectful rehabilitation and emphatically stating "NO DEMOLITION." Lower Merion was told that municipalities through the country would love to have what exists in Ardmore now.

Despite ULI's proposals, despite attempts by merchants and residents to work with township officials, despite the outcry at many harings where hundreds testified and offered suggestions for sympathetic, non-intrusive revitalization ... Lower Merion persits in pursuing unrealistic, inappropriate plans destructive to the evolved historic fabric of Ardmore.

Ardmore's redevelopment is but one of a large number of proposed redevelopment plans and ordinance changes now being considered by Lower Merion. Here again, most Township officials disregard requests by individuals (and by the League of Women Voters) to prepare a new Comprehensive Plan to replace the outdated 1979 Plan prior to proceeding with any individual development, claiming that they have "no time." This is not only poor hit-or-miss palnning, but, I'm told, does not comply with County plans.

Today, Lower Merion, once again, is doing its residents a disservice by rushing through an undesirable, unsympathetic, and inappropriate plan.

We here today represent many thousands who signed petitions ... plus innumerable others expressing outrage at the Township's actions. Please help the citizens of Ardmore, and all Lower Merion, by denying approval of Ardmore Redevelopment Plan Option B.

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