Once again, our local papers are full of articles about, and we're so shocked to announce this, residents questioning and fighting development. Three articles are from Main Line Life and focus on Tredyffrin and Radnor (even though in one article an Ardmore developer weighs in, and it is ridiculous that a developer won't allow preservationists and a concerned citizen's group at the planning table), and one article oddly related is about a woman who tried to burn down her own home in Villanova to build a more fitting McMansion, and isn't that just nuts? The last article from the Suburban talks about problems in Berwyn.
We're glad the local papers are giving these development issues a good and generous public airing, because we seem to be noticing a trend other than condos and that is how hard residents and concerned citizens have to work to have a say in the future growth of their communities.
It shouldn't be that hard, and we know that we will now piss off all the developers that follow the content of our site to the point of what can only be termed slightly unhealthy, but we're gonna say it:
We're getting overdeveloped. We have to slow down. The schools can't handle it, the people can't handle it, the aging infrastructure can't handle it. Seriously, do we have to resemble Southern California (down in the Valley where the commutes are hellish), Metro Washington D.C.'s Beltway, and part of what surrounds New York City in the NJ and NY suburbs? And why do our suburbs have to be so urban anyway? If we wanted to live in the city, we'd live in the city. And even what used to be construed as country is now becoming urban.
We're asking again: is all this development today merely creating more problems for tomorrow? And as we all get priced out of the communities we once called home, or leave by choice because unwelcome development makes our very existence untenable, where do we go? Where can we go, and should we have to go?
The thing we're seeking is balance. If our local municipalities either won't listen or won't take enough action, then we have to bump it up a notch and tell the folks on a state level they need to get involved and do things like what has been suggested: give municipalities the option of placing a one year moritorium on development, giving us better historic preservation and updating that onerous tome, the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code.
And now, enough about us, read these articles:
Neighborhood vs. builder
By:Jeff Cobb 03/08/2007
Passions are converging in a section of Radnor as neighbors attempt to stave off unwanted development.
The Save Ithan Coalition is the name of the latest civic association created in response to what is perceived as insensitivity by profit hungry developers.
The coalition is comprised of at least 40 historical preservationists, environmentalists, and others, and membership is growing.
Their immediate purpose is opposition to O'Neill Properties Group's proposed 20-unit condominium development on 1.09-acres along Conestoga Road. The site backs into the Ithan Creek near the intersection of Route 320.
It's also the historic center of Radnor, but no ordinances protect it as such.
....O'Neill's plan seeks four zoning variances to allow residential construction in a light commercial district that is also in the creek's flood zone.
Designs call for elevating the condos above the waterline, but critics said pollution from up to 40 cars parked underneath would be unacceptable.
Ted Pollard, a coalition steering committee member said the anti-O'Neill group formed in reaction, but he hopes this is just a beginning.
As president of the Radnor Historical Society, Pollard envisions a day when the township will "have a historical preservation group that serves as a watchdog for the whole area," he said. That way, as development plans come along seen as threatening, neighbors "don't have to reinvent the wheel."
....A zoning hearing board meeting for mid-February was postponed 60 days. O'Neill's company is said to be planning a stakeholders meeting on March 13.
It is for neighbors only, and the Save Ithan Coalition was not invited, Pollard said.
....From the sidelines, another developer, Tim Mahoney of Ardmore voiced concern.
"I don't understand why a shuttered gas station, sitting for 6-7 years is better than something that is alive and vibrant," Mahoney said. "All I hear is preservation, preservation ... I don't know what this fear is over change and progress."
....Mahoney speculated pollution controls could handle runoff and many uses would be better than nothing.
"That whole stretch has always been commercial," Mahoney said. He said that if something were built under current regulations, traffic might not be any less than from a 20-unit condo.
Mahoney also said property values might increase and voiced frustration with groups with finely developed sensibilities ready to pounce on perceived problems, but able to offer few viable solutions.
"It's like the old joke," he said. "What's the definition of a Sierra Club Member? The answer is the guy who already has his place in the mountains."
Mahoney said despite accusations in Ardmore to the contrary, he does care for the future of Main Line communities.
....Somehow compromise has to happen, and there ought to be less finger pointing, Mahoney said....For now however, activists see a struggle, according to Maya K. Van Rossum. As the spokesperson for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a nonprofit that advocates the health of that river's watershed, her concern is first ecological.
Van Rossum said Ithan Creek is a tributary to Tinicum Creek and ultimately the Delaware River....But often developers, she said, "just want to line their back pockets."
"They have an obligation to reach out to the community first," she said. "That has absolutely not happened in any way, shape or form."
Van Rossum spoke of both the O'Neill proposal, and a smaller project tentatively being discussed in the same area by neighboring Farley Homes, LLC.
It seems certain personal offenses are adding fuel to the debate.
"It's not an innocent person who bought this property and now finds his hands tied,"....In response, Brian O'Neill said accusations that he wants to hurt the neighborhood are not true.
"First of all I totally appreciate the Save Ithan Coalition because it's a totally beautiful site," O'Neill said. "I live right down the street."....O'Neill contended that putting the three-story building on columns, would allow water to drain more quickly than under present conditions....."If Radnor Township or anyone else for that matter would like to buy the property for open space, we will sell it to them at our cost."
SAC Note: Radnor Township has the o.k. as per the most recent election to acquire more open space, right? Well Radnor, put your money where your mouth is - quit buying junkyard pocket parks on Brook Street, houses, and odd strips of land...do something good with your taxpayer money.
Proposed Berwyn residential, office complex faces hurdles
By Jason F. Smith 03/08/2007
Township officials, developers and local residents discussed the possible Waterloo Complex that may be constructed at 32-36 Waterloo Ave. and 709 Berwyn Ave., Berwyn, at the Easttown Planning Commission meeting Tuesday.
There are currently five structures that would have to be demolished to create the proposed complex; four are decades-old houses and one is a shack that was more recently built.
The local residents and planning commission had mixed comments on the proposed appearance of the project - few agreed with the proposed building heights but most said the buildings look nice. However, most agreed that if the plans were carried out parking would be a problem...."This isn't Center City Philadelphia,"
Tensions run high during Paoli Transit Center debate
By:Daniel Kristie 03/08/2007
The Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on Monday night to consider whether to adopt zoning ordinance changes aimed at giving Paoli a town center feel.
The zoning is intended to encourage the people of Paoli to walk and take public transportation instead of driving.....After a lengthy discussion with Paoli residents, many of whom were displeased with the increased density, the supervisors sent the zoning changes back to the planning commission for revision.
The supervisors will review the zoning again in May.
Bob Zimmerman, who lives on Friendship [Drive], summed up the residents' concerns about increased traffic:
"I suppose not everyone is going to come by rail," he said. "Some are going to come by car. Where are these cars going to be handled? I would like to see a road network that says you're going to alleviate or eliminate what we already have and not create more. It looks to me like this is going to create more, and that's not doing anything for the residents of Paoli."
Many attendees clapped.
Woman gets 10 years for torching Villanova home
By:Margaret Gibbons 03/08/2007
A Main Line woman last week received a lengthy probationary sentence for torching her $350,000 Villanova home to secure funds to build a larger home more comparable to others in her neighborhood.
Montgomery County Judge William T. Nicholas sentenced Davikha Dasani, 45, who had resided at a home in the 2000 block of Matsons Circle, Lower Merion, to 10 years of probation.