This and That in Lower Merion and Radnor: The View from Outside

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carla's picture
Last seen: 3 years 14 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-01-03 :36

Ardmore Main Street USA 086 Alrighty it is time for a post. Haven't done it up proper for a while so here it goes: I don't live on the Main Line anymore. I thank my lucky stars and the open space gods every day. No municipality will ever be perfection, but I have to tell you that leaving the Main Line has been hands down the best decision. Ever. I miss my friends, but I do not miss the constant rotation of crap and we-can't-call-it-government-corruption-even-if it-is. So let's start with my former do nothing commissioner Steve Lindner. He marches to the beat of his own personal agenda. I got a private message about him just now. I don't post often and it was from June 30th and I only noticed it today. Is it oops Lindner did it again to his constituency? I will share it verbatim:

I just saw a notice buried in the Main Line Times that they are having a hearing to amend the zoning code for R6 and two others so that a builder can have his porches intrude into the setback. This is legitimately done by applying for a variance. which would probably be opposed. Linder never told the residents of this scasm designed to help one builder and we all know who that builder is. If no one sees the tiny notice, and they won't, no one will come to the hearing July 17 and then they can vote it through without opposition. This maneuver is an all time low even for Lower Merion. Linder has betrayed his constituents. What do you think? How can we make this public? "

Ok so now it is public. But the 411 is you people keep voting for him and you don't go to meetings so what do you think is going to happen? Not trying to be harsh and I am thrilled that someone was actually on their game and reading the public notices. What you SHOULD HAVE done (since the meeting was July 17th, was get up your metaphorical pitchforks and storm the town hall. They deserve no less. And don't think Nahjee Grant of Ardmore Progressive fame is any better, because he isn't. He has definite aspirations but he is cut from the same cloth so skip him in the future. I found the aforementioned public notice on Pennsylvania Public Notices:

LEGAL NOTICES Notice Notice is hereby given that the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, at approximately 8:00 p.m., in the Township Administration Building, 75 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, Pennsylvania, will hold a public hearing and consider for adoption the following ordinance: An Ordinance, amending the Code of the Township of Lower Merion, Chapter 155, Zoning, Section 155-134, Projections In Front Yards, by permitting open, roofed porches to project into the required front yard setback in the R-5, R-6, and R6A Zoning Districts, subject to compliance with specific standards. The full text of the ordinance can be examined in the Office of the Township Secretary, 75 E. Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, PA between the hours of 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. All meeting dates and times are subject to change. Jody L. Kelley Township Secretary Appeared in: Wayne Group on Sunday, 07/07/2013

So did anyone go complain? Did anyone go complain about MUST and the fact there could be a 98-foot-high parking garage on the Cricket Lot? MUST is an always will be More Unfair Special Treatment, and it is one of those lovely things Lower Merion has patted itself on the back for as a collective only it has done nothing, is geared towards developers (that was the origin so a developer no longer in Ardmore could build a giant glass and steel phallic looking edifice in Ardmore), and ends up feeling more like spot zoning at times. All these overlays do what exactly? This of course begs the eternal question akin to which came first the chicken or the egg...or how much has all the "planning" cost in Ardmore? Did anyone ever see a line item accounting? Or is it all "classified"? (And what of the other Lower Merion famous overlays? What have they done for you lately?) 7 years later, opinions still differ on Ardmore's MUST zoning By Cheryl Allison

Debated for many months before it was adopted in 2006, Lower Merion Township’s Mixed-Use Special Transit ordinance, known as MUST, was supposed to set the stage for transit-oriented redevelopment in downtown Ardmore. Seven years later, its application has been limited. One apartment project, which moved forward in a smaller version than originally approved due to economic forces, is under construction on Athens Avenue. Another larger apartment development on Sibley Avenue has been approved, but to the consternation of some neighbors because of the increased density and other aspects of the plan triggered by MUST. Now the special overlay zoning is causing some controversy once again, as Lower Merion commissioners consider a number of proposed amendments. The proposed changes were up for discussion by the board’s Building and Planning Committee July 10, drawing criticism from both Ardmore residents and board members.....A major concern continues to be building height, as Ard-Wood Civic Association member Jean Wolf pointed out. She said an exception to a building height limit of 65 feet that would permit an additional two stories in a “mixed-use project that includes a minimum of 100 public parking spaces” is clearly intended to advance the Dranoff project. At that height, the building “will tower over the back of the commercial and residential buildings on Lancaster Avenue” and over townhouses on adjoining Athens Avenue, in a way that is “totally out of character with the Ardmore historic district.” Hugh Gordon, a member of North Ardmore Civic Association, questioned “rushing” to adopt amendments, when it is not known yet how large the Cricket Lot building may be; if the township is able to obtain funding for a larger parking garage at the train station, less public parking may be needed in the Cricket Lot building. A decision on the amount of public parking is to be made by September.

Now if you read the whole article BOC Prez Liz Rogan doesn't want any of you to worry your pretty little heads about it, and well if you don't you will be sorry. The Dranoff Project. I still don't like that taxpayer owned land and basically the most viable and busy parking lot in Ardmore was kinda sorta given away to a developer. No disrespect to Dranoff, but the Dranoff Plan is a nice idea in the absolute wrong location. That project shouldn't be on the Cricket Lot, it should be on a lot like that one where they want to put the drive thru Rite-Aid on Ardmore Avenue and Lancaster Avenue - you know across from the people's lopsided often broken down fountain at Bryn Mawr Trust? THAT is an ideal location for such a project. And when the Dranoff Project gets built it will kill things like First Friday Main Line and Clover Market. Why? Because OMG people there still is NO parking. And OMG no plan for parking and no real plan for parking during construction. I mean shouldn't the developer provide shuttles or something and shouldn't township workers be bused to township parking outside Ardmore so there is parking for shoppers, business owners and residents?

With all that is WRONG in Ardmore (which I will get back to momentarily) there is again something RIGHT that has NOTHING to do with Lower Merion Township or Commissioners, it has to do with PEOPLE POWER, or the reason Ardmore still hangs on at all. It's going to be called Ardmore Music Hall. Yep, the 23 East, Brownies, you name it is growing up and evolving in a fabulous way.

Joe Rufo has teamed up with Richard Kardon of Point Entertainment and Bryan Dilworth of Bonfire Booking to introduce all of you to Ardmore Music Hall this fall. It is so positive and so exciting and God bless Joe Rufo for not leaving Ardmore (and who would blame him if he did?) You can read all about Ardmore Music Hall in Cheryl Allison's excellent article in the Main Line Times.

Now hopefully Iron Hill Brewery will still come to town and you are going to have a major improvement blossom with regard to Ardmore's downtown scene which once again is scary quiet like they roll up the sidewalks and add tumbleweeds. I wanted to throw a positive in there because some people work pretty darn hard in Ardmore every day and if you are politically correct or connected you simply don't know.

So back to Ardmore.

Another thing no one did a thing about including a bunch of commissioners who were elected on an anti-eminnent domain platform a couple of terms ago. What am I talking about ? The fact that The Ardmore Initiative which is supposed to be the business district authority has proposed Ken Davis, the king and chief proponent of eminent domain in Ardmore for the Ardmore Initiative Board. ARE THEY CRAY CRAY??????

I was incredulous when I read about that buried in a recent agenda for the Lower Merion Township Commissioners and how could I not be stunned? There it was in black in white proposing the guy who once upon a time at Gerlach Towns Hall Meeting at Harcum College waived a forefinger in my face and others (while carrying his man-purse of course) and basically said he would get eminent domain through at all costs and wow, this guy being allowed back into Ardmore, right? When I told a business owner this was on the horizon they said to me they could not believe that the guy that wanted to put at least a dozen small businesses out of business was being proposed for ANYTHING.

So The Ardmore Initiative is up for reauthorization, (see this presentation from off of the Ardmore Initiative website) and how can you NOT question their mission if they are going to add former but not reformed architects of eminent domain to the board of the business district authority under the vague hope and a rumored promise that they "might" get a performing arts center? I mean let's get real, that is a nice idea but usually non-profits reward people with board seats AFTER they have actually done something, not BEFORE, right? (D'oh) And what does it say about the Ardmore Initiative if they can't find anyone else for their board than one of the singularly most divisive people who ever was a commissioner in Lower Merion?


So heading west let us touch on Radnor.

There is some funkyness afoot there as well. We'll start with the Willows. Radnor officials working to minimize township risk in Willows deal Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 By Linda Stein

Eyes rolling at the spinny spin spin.

Minimizing township risk would be not being a bunch of dumb asses - taking on a $4 million dollar mortgage on behalf of some random catering outfit is being a bunch of dumb asses. The odd thing about this is everyone thought Radnor was putting out a public/private partnership RFP was to get OUT of the event business not get farther INTO it. This is as bad a plan as Cas Holloway's McMansion the Willows Plan. Sign most as disappointed and seeing Radnor as Lower Merion Lite.

Radnor should have gone with the other plan that involved the caterer wanting to partner with the Wayne Art Center for something viable long term and possibly taking those blowhards at the Radnor Conservancy out of the center of Wayne and putting them in the Willows Cottage where they belong and letting them use their current in-town rent to go towards the Cottage restoration/upkeep. The Radnor Conservancy would more appropriately live their mission in the Cottage.

Lordy the Radnor Conservancy is right arounf the corner from Louella and I wonder what they think of the LOVELY stucco columns that have absolutely nothing to do with that historical facade we all thought was being preserved? It's like they borrowed the columns from Barbie's Dream McMansion or something.

And about that item in the Radnor Patch about the $8 million smackeroos windfall settlement? Radnor Patch wanted to know what did Radnor residents think should happen with the money?

This is the answer I liked:

Pay it toward the Stormwater Ordinance and give us a cushion. Pay into the OPEB deficit/obligations? Use it to perform upgrades to existing parks. Anything but toward Ardrossan; we can barely care for what we have now.

I also felt this answer had some good thought:

It's obvious to anyone paying attention to Radnor's finances that this "windfall" should go towards paying down the township's well over $200 million of unfunded liabilities Those who are paying attention are also aware that the Board of Commissioners has already confirmed with their counsel that they can ignore the open space acquisition policy they themselves recently adopted, so don't be surprised when they make the foolish proposal to spend $10 million plus buying Ardrossan land the township doesn't need and which could be preserved through other no-cost means, working with the developer through the zoning process. We have plenty of open space already, costing us more than we can afford (look at the Willows, and the potential $4 million loan guarantee). It's time to pay the bills, not pile on more. Board of Commissioners: Act sensibly.

I am hoping that Radnor gets it's act together. I am a little concerned it is slip sliding away given all it's issues including sunshine issues and a little issue with Lehman brothers. And well the cliff notes version is they tangled with BOTH Sherry brothers on this....and lost miserably.

See: Radnor ‘thwarts transparency’ to comply with Lehman’s terms Published: Friday, July 19, 2013

Wow. And so far it does not seem that Elaine Paul Schaefer at President of Radnor's Board of Commissioners is anything to write home about. As Vice President she wasn't so bad, as president she is bordering on incompetent some meetings (yes I watch them). And oy vey the UP talking.....Not that anyone wants Bill Spingler back as BOC Prez mind you. Speaking of old Spingler, are felicitations in order? Maybe three times the charm in the wifey department? Makes you wonder doesn't it? Think he'll buy this one a new house or did he move her into #1's old house with the old mother in law? Is that really true? And will Radnor residents be dumb enough to vote Spingler into Osborne's role next election day? Hope not.

So there you have it. I am sure there is more, but Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. I have moved and many of you still contact me asking what you should do, or suggesting I do something....People, I am the outsider looking in now and grateful to be in that position. If you want change, you need to stand up and work for it. Go to your meetings, elect new commissioners, write blog posts of your own, write letters to the editor. In other words; make some noise. Don't be sheeple, become the architects of your own community's destiny. You live there, you pay taxes, you rent, you own, whatever.

Get busy. Enact positive change. You actually can do it.

Stay cool out there!

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