For those who do not receive the Westtown Township listserv, this Tuesday’s (July 21st) Conditional Use Hearing has been cancelled and the township plans to reschedule the hearing virtually. Governor Wolf’s recent mandated orders have basically taken us from ‘green phase’ back to ‘yellow phase.’ This means no indoor gatherings of 25 people or more, including staff, until further notice:
I am beginning to feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. Yet again, all of us together need to light the match, through Massive Public Outcry. Holding these hearings virtually for those at high risk to Covid-19 is important and necessary, but should be done in conjunction with a live hearing to accommodate public attendance. This isn’t a hearing about someone wanting to build a garage in their backyard. We are talking about a life-altering development that will forever change our region of Chester County and beyond. Until the township finds a suitable solution for the public to attend safely, in person, and be part of the process, the Crebilly/Toll Conditional Use hearings need to be postponed until such time.
‘Virtually’ has not worked for Westtown Township. Nor has audio recording. You may recall during the final Crebilly/Toll PC meeting, zoom callers could not hear those in the room and those in the room could not hear the zoom callers. In addition, the township’s audio recording of the evening failed halfway through the meeting. The May 20th Crebilly/Toll PC meeting, held via zoom that most people did not know about, also did not record properly. This is not the time to dapple in, figure out or test how to hold large, virtual meetings. I’ll be damned if the fate of Crebilly Farm and our National History are going to be the guinea pig for virtual discovery.
Here is something else for all of us to be aware of. Last week, the day before the new mandated order from Governor Wolf, Westtown Township announced they were closing their offices (listserv below):
“In an abundance of caution due to potential Covid-19 infection, the township office is closed until further notice, effective immediately. Township staff will be working remotely. Payments and applications may be dropped off using the night deposit to the left of the front door, or by mail.”
I have asked the township whether someone in the office has contracted Covid and if so, were they in attendance at the final PC meeting the week prior? No one has responded to my inquiry as of yet… I guess working remotely is posing more challenges. How on earth can we continue with such important subject matter when the entire township is closed down ‘until further notice?’
PLEASE GET ON THE HORN AND FLOOD THE SWITCHBOARD! If we do not encourage Westtown Township to postpone these hearings until the public has an opportunity to attend in person, the township will have no choice but to appease the applicant by hosting virtual hearings. If you are reading this and have a phone, whether you are in nearby Chester County, vacationing in Maine or living in East Jabip- we all need to step it up, right now. Westtown Township has deadlines to adhere to regarding the Conditional Use Hearings. Please urge Westtown Township to put pressure on the applicant (Toll Brothers) to agreeably postpone the hearings, without penalty, until we can safely attend in person, once green phase is reinstated. This is an unmitigated disaster waiting to happen if we do not do something. Please contact:
1) Westtown Township Board of Supervisors: Richard Pomerantz, Carol De Wolf and Scott Yaw
2) Westtown Township Manager, Rob Pingar:
3) Chester County Commissioners: Michelle Kichline, Marian Moskowitz and Josh Maxwell
It goes without saying these are indeed, unprecedented times. Toll Brothers would love nothing more than to capitalize on this opportunity and exclude the public any way they can. It is to their advantage. I can only imagine how weary the township is growing. Just the logistics alone have been draining. But the squeaky wheel gets the oil and we cannot give up! We, the public, deserve to be included every step of the way, safely, in this long journey of the best possible outcome for Crebilly Farm and our surrounding community.
If not you, then who?