How's Progress on Updating the LMT Comprehensive Plan?

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Submitted by carla on Tue, 2009-07-14 11:12. http://www.saveardmorecoalition.org/node/3376

"But Lower Merion does this to Lower Merion. Historic Preservation is reactive not proactive. La Ronda has been in peril and in play many times over the past 30 + years. . ..

We need changes to our historic preservation ordinances and policies not just locally but statewide and nationwide.

We need changes to the Municipalities Planning Code and the ability to have a temporary moratorium on development in communities when it is needed.

And oh yes, Lower Merion needs a Comprehensive Plan update more than every 30 years (yes this year is the 30th anniversary of Lower Merion's comnprehensive plan - shall we throw it a party?). Actually, municipalities in Pennsylvania are supposed to upday comprehensive plans every 10 years, right?"

Later but also recently, Carla posted a comment in another La Ronda blog thread (as I recall) suggesting that work has started on updating the LMT Comprehensive Plan, but it's happening out of public sight.

Carla, please correct if the above is not what you said somewhere here at SAC recently. If you did, any more news on what's going on?

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carla's picture
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What Comprehensive Plan? I suggested we needed one, not that I knew definitively something was actually being done, LOL....I guess people can e-mail Doug Cleland at and ask him....

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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Yes, but it would be par for the course for the township and the commissioners to draft a comprehensive plan and then "present" it to the citizens for review, knowing full well that they won't change much and with one or two items they planned to sacrifice to show they are supposedly working for the People.

IF and when the township is working on a very long overdue comprehensive plan, I would hope they have learned something and would get citizens involved in the process early instead of their usual route of stacking the deck in their favor with a pre-ordained plan.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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Any creative activist ideas on how to prompt some action on revising the LMT Comprehensive Plan?

And on how to help the Township manager and staff, and Commissioners decide to use a strategy that differs from the "usual route to stacking the deck . . . with a pre-ordained plan" that Politeia mentions.

Don't our Commissioners, themselves, want to be able to ground the decisions that they are continuously called on to make in a current vision for LMT's future?

Doesn't fast growing negative, enduring, and tangible evidence in LMT teach the risks of decision-making-as-usual to all LMT citizens, including Commissioners, who want to live here but whose livelihoods do not derive from development and related "industries" like real estate and zoning law and capital investment (Marsh Hawk ring a bell)?

Carla also said:

"We need changes to the Municipalities Planning Code and the ability to have a temporary moratorium on development in communities when it is needed."

Seems wise. Anybody in LMT working on it?

Incidentally, Board of Commissioners' Building and Planning Committee's meeting tonight, right now:

Chair: Commissioner Elizabeth S. Rogan
Vice-Chairs: Commissioners George T. Manos, Mark E. Taylor & V. Scott Zelov

AGENDA

CONDITIONAL USE HEARING
600 Righters Ferry Road, Bala Cynwyd, CU#3620C, Ward 9.
Zoning – M (Manufacturing District)

Applicant - Kevin S. Kyle of Righters Ferry Associates, LP.
Property Owner – 600 Righters Ferry Associates, LP
Applicant’s Representative – Marc B. Kaplin, Kaplin Stewart

Consider a conditional use application to construct five residential apartment houses containing 583 units. Conditional use is requested pursuant to Code Section 155-89D to permit the development of an apartment house in the Manufacturing and Industrial District subject to compliance with Section 155-90.1 and pursuant to Section 155-90.1(A) to permit development within the floodway fringe of the Schuylkill River subject to compliance with Section 155-160.

It's a chance to watch the "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Lawyers in Lower Merion: Fromhold v. Kaplin" in the ring. http://www.saveardmorecoalition.org/node/3450

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AHHHHHHHHHHHH! I CAN'T STAND ANY MORE OF THIS PROJECT! TURN IT DOWN! Speaking of O'Neill, what's this?

Case Number 2009-16451
Commencement Date 6/1/2009
Case Type Complaint Civil Action
PFA Number
Caption Plaintiff FRANKLIN MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY
Caption Defendant ONEILL PROPERTIES GROUP LP

Plaintiffs
Name Address Country Counsel Notify Sequence
Select FRANKLIN MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY 5 BROAD ST
PO BOX 400
BRANCHVILLE, NJ 07826 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES KLUXEN, STEVEN A
Yes 1
Select MULDOON, ANDREW 720 HIGHLAND AVE
WESTFIELD, NJ 07090 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES KLUXEN, STEVEN A
Yes 2

Defendants
Name Address Country Counsel Notify Sequence
Select ONEILL PROPERTIES GROUP LP 2701 RENAISSANCE BLVD
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA 19406 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES Yes 1
Select BUZZUTO CONSTRUCTION COMPANY 7850 WALKER DR
STE 400
GREENBELT, MD 20770 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES Yes 2
Select CAVAN CONSTRUCTION 274 BODLEY RD
ASTON, PA 19014 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES Yes 3
Select LYNCH 2 INC 2619 LEISCZS BRIDGE RD
LEESPORT, PA 19533 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES HORNEFF, ELIZABETH
HERBST, JONATHAN D
Yes 4
Select MERION CONSTRUCTION

Is this having to do with the Conshohocken fire last year?

Case Details
Case Number 2009-10974
Commencement Date 4/16/2009
Case Type Complaint Civil Action
PFA Number
Caption Plaintiff WEST, JEFFREY
Caption Defendant ONEILL PROPERTIES GROUP LP
Lis Pendens Indicator No
Status 2
Judge CORSO

Plaintiffs
Name Address Country Counsel Notify Sequence
Select WEST, JEFFREY 37 STANM LANE
WHEELING, WV 20603 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES TOTH, M SUSAN
Yes 1
Select LEGNINI, ALLYSON 75 MAPLE ST
UNIT 201
CONSHOHOCKEN, PA 19428 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES TOTH, M SUSAN
Yes 2
Select LONG, JONTUE 309 WASHINGTON ST
UNIT 2420
CONSHOHOCKEN, PA 19428 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES TOTH, M SUSAN
Yes 3
Select MAHONEY, KEVIN 25 GORHAM AVE
WESTPORT, CT 06880 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES TOTH, M SUSAN
Yes 4
Select MAHONEY, LESLIE 25 GORHAM AVE
WESTPORT, CT 06880 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES TOTH, M SUSAN
Yes 5
Select POTE, WILLIAM PO BOX 666
STROUDSBERG, PA 18360 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES TOTH, M SUSAN
Yes 6

Defendants
Name Address Country Counsel Notify Sequence
Select ONEILL PROPERTIES GROUP LP 2701 RESAISSANCE BLVD
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA 19406 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES Yes 1
Select BOZUTTO CONSTRUCTION COMPANY 7850 WALKER DR
STE 400
GREENBELT, MD 20770 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES GODSHALL, RICHARD A
Yes 2
Select BOZUTTO MANAGEMENT CORPORATION 7850 WALKER DR
STE 400
GREENBELT, MD 20770 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES GODSHALL, RICHARD A
Yes 3
Select CAVAN CONSTRUCTION CO INC 274 BODLEY RD
ASTON, PA 19014 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES Yes 4
Select L21 CONSTRUCTION MANAGERS 2916 LEISCZ BRIDGE RD
LESSPORT, PA 19533 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES Yes 5
Select LYNCH 2 INC 2916 LEISCZ BRIDGE RD
LESSPORT, PA 19533 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES Yes 6
Select MERION CONSTRUCTION MGT LLC 700 S HENDERSON RD
STE 225
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA 19406 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES PRIORE, PHILIP D
Yes 7
Select ONEILL PROPERTIES GROUP 2701 RENAISSANCE BLVD
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA 19406 UNITED STATES UNITED STATES Yes 8

Garnishees

Dockets
Seq. Filing Date Docket Type Docket Text Sealed
Select 0 4/16/2009 Complaint Civil Action No
Select 1 4/16/2009 Civil Cover Sheet No
Select 2 5/8/2009 Acceptance of Service By GREY RAY ESQ FOR DEFT BOZUTTO MANAGEMENT CORP ON 04/22/2009 No
Select 3 5/8/2009 Affidavit/Certificate of Service of COMPLT ON 05/06/2009 No
Select 4 5/12/2009 Acceptance of Service By ATTY RICHARD GODSHALL FOR DEFT BOZZUTO CONSTRUCTION COMPANY ON 5/12/2009 No
Select 5 5/12/2009 Affidavit/Certificate of Service of COMPLAINT IN CIVIL ACTION ON 5/12/2009 No
Select 6 5/13/2009 Praecipe to Reinstate/Reissue No
Select 7 5/21/2009 Acceptance of Service By MARC ZINGIRINI ON 5/14/2009 No
Select 8 5/21/2009 Affidavit/Certificate of Service of COMPLT ON 5/20/2009 No
Select 9 6/4/2009 (Internal Use Only) Served ONEILL PROPERTIES GROUP LP ON 6/2/09 No
Select 10 6/8/2009 (Internal Use Only) Served LYNCH 2 INC A/K/A ON 5/21/09 BERKS COUNTY No
Select 11 6/8/2009 Entry of Appearance OF PHILIP D PRIORE FOR DEFT MERION CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT LLC No
Select 12 6/11/2009 Praecipe to Reinstate/Reissue No
Select 13 6/23/2009 (Internal Use Only) Served MERION CONSTRUCTION MGT LLC ON 6/18/09 No

Judgments

Archive Locations

Linked Cases

You know it's funny, no media has done follow up a year later on this terrible fire. And he keeps on trucking with more projects? Is the pot o' gold that bottomless?

www.montcopa.org is where the court dockets came from --- i.e. public record.

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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In a comprehensive post of information about developers, development and implications for Lower Merion, Tales of The Teflon Developer?", Carla once again calls our attention to the still undone update of the LM Comprehensive Plan.

How much development do we need? Can we support it economically and with a basic population base really? When will it be time in Lower Merion to actually do the Comprehensive Plan update that is supposed to be done every 10 years? No rush, the last one was only in 1979, right? And will the plan be representative of the will of the people, or the will of select factions with their heads up their asses? And what of the gloreious Commonwealth? Shouldn't the Municipalities Planning Code be updated to more accurately reflect suburbs and exurbs and how they are defined?

Hearsay is that our Township's Chris Leswing, the staff person designated to get the revision underway, said at a public meeting about 3 weeks ago that it will be out of his in box in 2 months!

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Progress is slow because it is in the hands of Chris Leswing and not a high priority for him; and even slower because he is a perfectionist and will want to produce a beautiful and complete project. The sad fact about the comprehensive plan is that it will be very pretty -- Chris did a wonderful job on the open space part of it a few years ago -- and completely meaningless. Pennsylvania, unlike more advanced states, doesn't require zoning changes to conform to a comprehensive plan. Since it won't be binding on the Township, the Township won't pay any attention to it once it's finished, except that in those cases where what they want to do happens to be consistent with the plan, they will give a nod to it. (They've already started to do that with the County's comprehensive plan.) The historic practice of ad-hoc piecemeal zoning changes without regard to the effect on the overall community will continue in Lower Merion Township.

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While PA may not have a law stating zoning changes must conform to a comprehensive plan, there is no reason the commissioners can't mandate this as township policy.

It just makes sense, but the commissioners appear to be against it, or why else drag their feet on a comprehensive plan?

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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Because everyone defers to Liz Rogan on this issue, and she has zero interest in comprehensive planning.

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It has come to pass: The process of updating the Lower Merion Comprehensive Plan is underway.

Issues Report Posted on Township’s Website
Public Process to Commence in September
Posted Date: 8/16/2010 4:45 PM

and

Welcome to the Lower Merion Township Comprehensive Plan website.

Information at the website includes lots of information to help "residents participate in the process and understand what is going on."

And the "Issues Report"

    "Table of Contents
    Introduction
    Background
    Analysis
    Zoning Hearing Board
    Planning Commission
    HARB & Historical Commission
    Planning Studies
    Identified Issues & Staff Analysis
    Recommendations
    Appendix A - Community Profile
    Appendix B - Planning Studies 1998-2008
    Appendix C - Historic Preservation Best Practices
    Appendix D - Issues & Themes Identified by Stakeholders"

and dates and time (6-9 p.m.) of Public Workshops

    "This fall a series of public workshops will be hosted by the Planning Commission to review and stimulate discussion about the analysis and to identify additional conclusions. Ultimately, the purpose of these workshops is to formulate recommendations to the Board of Commissioners regarding the order and content of the Comprehensive Plan Elements. The public workshops will be held on the following dates from 6-9 p.m. in the Board Room of the Township Administration Building, 75 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, PA 19003:

    Tuesday, September 21st
    Monday, October 18th
    Monday, November 22nd
    Monday, December 13th"

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Yep, and have you read the issues...this will probably amount to a hill of nothing too...I remember the LAST series of workshops - went to all of them...and nothing happened. Of course if anything DOES happen this time it will only be because a selction of certain somebodies are up for election in 2011, right?

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                                                                       THE DISCUSSION BEGINS. . .IN JUST A FEW MINUTES

 

http://www.lowermerion.org/index.aspx?recordid=2620&page=51

Planning Commission Public Workshop

Comprehensive Plan - Issues Report

Date: 9/21/2010 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Location: Township Administration Bldg - 2nd Floor Board Room 75 East Lancaster Ave Ardmore, Pennsylvania 19003-2323 

Co-Chairs: Robert Gray & Alan Ritterband Members: Charles Howland, Brian O’Leary, Anthony Vale, Brian Hirsch & Laura Shell

WORKSHOP AGENDA

INTRODUCTION –

  Overview of the Comprehensive Planning process to date and purpose of Public Workshops. Discussion of questions regarding the overall report.

HOUSING –

  Discuss the methodology behind the initial recommendations for the Housing Element. Evaluate the initial recommendations.

CIRCULATION –

  Discuss the methodology behind the initial recommendations for the Circulation Element. Evaluate the initial recommendations.

NEXT STEPS

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Why does the Planning Commission turn the lights down on the public seating at its meetings?  It's weird sitting there in the half-dark.    Attendance tonight was not overwhelming -- there were four members of the public who sat through the bulk of the presentation and discussion.  That is only one more than the number of members of the Planning Commission who didn't show up:  Howland, O'Leary and Hirsch.  Also in attendance:  Cheryl Allison, Nathan Susanj,  and Lori Salganicoff of the Lower Merion Conservancy.      

 

The proceedings were not televised because Doug Cleland doesn't want to spend the money on overtime for the crew.  On the other hand, they have spent a potful of (Other People's) money on the Issues Report.  But it is so beautifully produced with its color photographs and color-coded subsections, that they only made a handful of them and are reluctant to hand them out.   It is extremely long and dense  (close to 500 pages of small print) and you have to be very interested in land use happenings in the Township to actually read through the whole thing. (It is posted on the Township website.)   On the one hand, Chris Leswing and others in the Building and Planning Department have invested a huge amount of time and labor into producing this thing; on the other hand,  Liz Rogan reminded us again last week that it is only a policy document, and Alan Ritterband of the Planning Commission observed tonight that they have never looked at the 1979 Comprehensive Plan for guidance.

Substantively, they were scheduled to cover two topics, housing and circulation.  They didn't get to circulation.    Chris Leswing presented highlights of the Housing component of the Issues Report and read out loud many of the PowerPoint Slides prepared for tonight's meeting.   Mr. Gray thinks there are pockets of the township where the housing is deteriorating to the point that it cannot be preserved -- he mentioned Ardmore and Bryn Mawr.  He is also of the view that it would be desirable to create a transfer of development rights system to encourage the preservation of large estates with trees and grass, in exchange for the right to develop with greater density in Ardmore than would otherwise be allowed under the zoning code.     There was an estended discussion of "affordable" or "workforce" housing, which is an important theme in Chris's Issues Report.  The Issues Report suggests that affordable housing opportunities can be found in existing residential buildings and their accessory structures.   The Report addresses the issue of affordable housing as a "regional" issue with a "regional" solution; I think this is a way of saying that it is unrealistic to expect that  more than a handful of affordable housing units will be built inside the boundaries of Lower Merion Township.  Anthony Vale said he didn't want LMT taxpayer dollars to be used to build affordable housing.

Pretty dull event except for the most obsessive Township watchers.  No BOC members except for Cheryl Gelber who left after seeing how dull it was going to be. 

 

They will have to adjust the schedule for future meetings, since they didn't get to "circulation" tonight. 

 

 I would like to encourage people to turn out for these events but it isn't hard to see why they don't. 

 

 

 

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Thank you for posting an update.   

Some thoughts.

It is routine and understandable that few members of the public attended (a 6:00 p.m. start meeting), but not good for the future of our Township.   The next meeting reportedly will start later, 7:00 p.m.

A repeated public complaint since the Issues Report came out is that it, and the Township staff recommendations in it, have been presented to the public as if the substance, direction, and guiding philosophy of the new Comprehensive Plan is a done deal, with Chris Leswing (leader of the staff Comprehensive Plan update team) seeming to expect only a little tweaking based on public input and input from citizen-based Township bodies like the Planning Committee.   

A similar observation was stated to the Board of Commissioners many times during public workshops on the City Avenue Special Services District rezoning proposal.   Fortunately, many Lower Merion residents repeatedly showed up, and explicitly commented on and resisted the strong fait accompli character of the public meetings.  

Everybody realizes that a strong natural tendency for people who think about and work on a plan for a long time, and who might also spend a lot of money producing it, like the City Avenue Special Services District Board did with its rezoning proposal, is to become deeply invested in preserving the plan as presented, and even come to believe that it duly merits a simple and fast rubber stamp from affected citizen-public stakeholders once they are informed about it.   

Most experienced people also realize that the ubiquitousness of the above human tendency is a major reason why it is a big mistake not to give major stakeholders, like tax paying residents, the opportunity for substantive input before the framers of a document allow themselves to feel strongly committed to it.    If the preceding action is not taken, another common mistake is for document framers to expect that the public will not quickly perceive that the public meetings are regarded by the framers mainly as marketing and sales sessions to bring a mostly uninformed public--that also lacks the background needed to provide valid input anyway--on board as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  

 

 

 

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Just reread Hugh Gordon's 2010-06-04 12:20, comment in this thread:  

Since [the Comprehensive Plan] won't be binding on the Township, the Township won't pay any attention to it once it's finished, except that in those cases where what they want to do happens to be consistent with the plan, they will give a nod to it. (They've already started to do that with the County's comprehensive plan.) The historic practice of ad-hoc piecemeal zoning changes without regard to the effect on the overall community will continue in Lower Merion Township.

The "historic practice of ad-hoc piecemeal zoning changes without regard to the effect on the overall community" might now be operating in a double way, that is:   negative effects of prior ad-hoc piecemeal zoning being used to justify a proposed new ad-hoc piecemeal zoning change.   

During the televised public meeting this past Monday night when the Bala Village element of the City Avenue Special Services District rezoning proposal was discussed, Commissioner Reed attributed the current problems that he and co-Commissioners Manos and Taylor perceive and want to fix on Bala Avenue to the current mix of 1920's and 1950's zoning ordinances in that area. 

If the above suggestion seems inaccurate or unfair, would someone who better understands the argument presented by Commissioner Reed on Monday please enlighten this observer.

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This is very well put.

At one point last night, Chris asked the public to send him emails correcting the typos in the document. 

 

 

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