I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to all who were in attendance at yesterday’s court appeal. What an exciting sight to see the courtroom packed with about one hundred members of the public! A mid-day commitment during business hours- your presence was invaluable. Thank you. And the people just kept trickling in! For those who could not be there in person, thank you, as I know you were there in spirit and I commend each and every individual for taking the time to do what one can through this lengthy journey that is not over yet. It has mattered.
Yesterday, the highlight for me, hands down, was the commentary presented by Westtown township solicitor, Patrick McKenna. As always, Mr. McKenna was nothing less than articulate, classy and strong- the man nailed it! He clearly called out Toll’s many inconsistencies and moved forward like a steam engine. I could hardly contain my own excitement after he presented argument on behalf of the Westtown township BOS and if I could have jumped up and cheered myself, it would have looked something like this (minus the beauty, hat and fabulous dress): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POR3zHyqjtE
I have learned there is no specific time frame for the judge to make a ruling. I am told it could easily take many months (yes, months) for a ruling based on the size of the record. I appreciated Judge Tunnell was very patient, asked thoughtful questions throughout each argument and seemed to take into account a bigger picture.
Perhaps the most significant message that resonated with me personally was a statement from the Robinson family, owners of Crebilly Farm, read by their attorney. The statement explained their desire to sell and why, much in part because many of the family members no longer live in the area. It is true: the Robinson family has tried in the past to negotiate with Westtown township to sell their land to other, more thoughtful developers. It is true: the family was met with much resistance by the township and local residents in the past. Though I was not privy to those negotiations years ago, it is important to acknowledge part of how we got to where we are now. When I try to put myself in the shoes of the landowners, I can only imagine their frustration.
Reasonable is one of my favorite words. I apply it to people and situations all the time. I look for what is reasonable. We have such incredible privileges and freedoms in this beautiful country of ours, such as the rights of landowners, which I respect and want to continue to believe in. The Robinson family, like every other landowner in the United States, deserves to sell their property and be fairly compensated. The family should not have to donate their land. I would like to see a reasonable plan for the landowners to sell their land without compromising the values of the surrounding community, history, infrastructure and land and nature that is already here and well established.
For these reasons, I truly hope Judge Tunnell upholds the decision of the Westtown township BOS to deny Toll Brother’s appeal for Conditional Use. Perhaps such a decision will begin to humble all parties, including you and me, and open up the playing field for a more suitable and reasonable path to a better outcome.