I drove past Crebilly Farm a few days ago, heading south on South New Street. And when I arrived at the huge open field of tall golden-brown, on the corner of South New and Pleasant Grove, I heard ‘amber waves of grain’ singing in my head. I thought of the Battle of the Brandywine and it made me wonder who and what lay in rest among those peaceful rolling hills.
Please mark your calendars for the most important hearing yet to come:
IN-PERSON PUBLIC COMMENT
MONDAY, JULY 12TH, 7PM at Rustin High School Auditorium, 1100 Shiloh Road, West Chester, PA 19382
*This hearing will be held IN-PERSON; there will not be a zoom option
*WE NEED TO PACK. THE. HOUSE.
I can certainly appreciate the frustration and questions of many regarding ‘in-person’ attendance without any other option. Sources I have checked with have explained to me that zoom is not a broadcast program that works well in an open setting, such as an auditorium. Most of us know sound has frequently been an issue in the past, as it can be hard to hear speakers. Fortunately, Westtown Township has time to plan accordingly for an experienced sound technician to make the in-person auditorium experience more clearly audible.
If you cannot attend Public Comment in-person July 12th, please consider having a friend read your comments for you. In addition, you may submit your public comments in writing to Westtown Township prior to July 12th. Please send to both emails below:
Westtown Township Manager, John Altshul: Jaltshul@westtown.org
Westtown Township Board of Supervisors: email@example.com
Or mail to:
P.O. Box 79
Westtown, PA 19395
No matter where you live, you may participate in Public Comment. And quite frankly, we need to overwhelm the board with our public participation like never before. Please include, in your public comment, how and why this development will negatively impact you, your neighborhood, your children, your safety and welfare, our county and our American history. Even a short two or three sentences will be very helpful. You can read the very same public comment you made for Crebilly I. Try to have your words in writing and please bring an extra copy to leave with the Board of Supervisors.
A brief recap of where we are and how we got here:
Before closing, I would like to try to address some recent questions I have received. There are many parts responsible for how we have arrived where we are: with the possibility of an unacceptable massive development, looming overhead. I include myself as part of how we got here. I wish I too had paid more attention years ago to what was going on around me. Perhaps if each part along the way had tried a little harder, gave a little more or demanded a little less, maybe we wouldn’t be here now. There were a few development projects proposed in years past (ie. Bozzuto apartments, a continuing care facility) both by more thoughtful developers with building plans closer to Route 202, leaving more open space undisturbed, in the western portion of Crebilly Farm, and respecting the history of the Brandywine Battlefield. There was a lot of push back from the township and nearby residents, in addition to some other unforeseen reasons, so neither happened. In hindsight, it seems either of those plans would have been much better than what is currently being proposed.
Any land conservation begins with a willing land owner. Right now, for whatever reasons, we do not have that. Eminent domain is not uncomplicated. To take the land by eminent domain means the government takes private property from the landowner for public use, in exchange for just compensation. If I was the landowner and the government did that to me, I sure wouldn’t like it. One of the great things about living in the United States are things like landowner rights, which I respect. Like many things in life, it is not perfect and one must take the good with the bad.
Another part of this equation is the agreement of sale between the landowners and Toll Brothers. Unless and until that agreement of sale becomes null and void, no other entity such as the state, county, township or local conservancies can enter into a conservation effort. We must not lose sight of the possibility the agreement could change, opening a door for conservation of some kind or perhaps buying down the development rights. In addition to these many moving parts, Westtown Township’s Comprehensive Plan was about fifteen years out of date at the time the first application, Crebilly I, was submitted. Unfortunately, Toll Brothers has a reputation for being the kind of developer that looks for opportunities, such as these, to capitalize on. In this case, Toll is seeking ‘Conditional Use’ approval from the Westtown Township BOS and is using the outdated plan to their advantage. The Crebilly II application was submitted after Westtown Township updated its Comp Plan, but before the ordinances were approved. Both applications are very similar showing little change from one to the next, so, many of the same issues in the first application are being fought in this second one.
Which leads me back to MASSIVE PUBLIC OUTCRY. This continues to be our greatest ally since day one. Thank you so much for your continued efforts. We must not give up. This is your chance to have your voice heard. It is up to us, the people, to keep the pressure on Westtown Township and continue to urge the BOS to deny Conditional Use to Toll Brothers. This is why OUR ATTENDANCE is so damn important. It is what we can do and it is what we must do.
If not you, then who?