Over half the townships in Chester County have already passed open space referendums, my home of West Bradford township included. I think that makes quite a statement. It’s pretty obvious land development in Chester County has skyrocketed and I think people are finally starting to wake up. And not a moment too soon as we are the fastest growing county in the state and have been for some time. That is the downfall of living in such a desirable area. And since it is impossible to put the brakes on development, easing open space is necessary to protect why people value living here in the first place. For more information about this, here is the link from the Chester County Planning Commission: Funded Programs | Inventory of Open Space Plans and Ordinances in Chester County, PA (arcgis.com)
“To develop Crebilly, an average Westtown taxpayer would see a $288 increase. To SAVE Crebilly $185!” A great quote from Natural Lands, shared Monday night and promoted by the advocacy group ‘Vote YES!’ Thank you very much to those who attended Monday night’s informational meeting hosted by Westtown Township, regarding what it will mean to pass the open space referendum in November, in order to preserve Crebilly Farm. Township manager, Jon Altshul, and Vice President of Conservation Services from Natural Lands, Todd Sampsell, each gave informative presentations regarding the plans on the table for conservation of Crebilly Farm and why it is imperative Westtown residents vote YES! to the referendum this November. At the end of the meeting, Richard Pomerantz, a township supervisor who is also a Westtown resident, posed the following question (as a resident) to Mr. Altshul: Can Westtown township afford to purchase Crebilly Farm? Without hesitation, the answer was YES!
*If you missed Monday’s meeting and/or still have questions about what you will be voting for, please mark your calendars for the next informational meeting:
MONDAY, OCTOBER 24th, 7PM Bayard Rustin High School, 1100 Shiloh Road, West Chester
Again, this is an opportunity to get the facts and truth from experts.
*For a more in depth understanding of the referendum, please visit www.VoteYesCrebilly.com
*Video of the entire 9/12 meeting may be found here:
*Upcoming meetings may be found on the home page of www.CrebillyFarmFriends.com
On another note, there are days I feel like I live in the Twilight Zone. Though I do not like drawing attention to things like this, in the next part of my update, I need to take a moment and address an elephant in the room. Never-in-the-history-of-passing-referendums-in-Chester-County has there ever been an organized campaign of opposition. Probably because most people understand the benefits of preserving land as open space, including the financial benefits. There is a group called ‘ROAR’ circulating bad information to Westtown residents through a terribly misleading fear campaign. (Who could make this stuff up? I’m exhausted.) I read one of their flyers and I am appalled. Friends, before you vote, please take the time to do your own homework and know your source. I am going to address of few of their misleading statements right here:
1) They state: “Your property tax would increase by 13.7% and EIT would increase by 8% for a total increase on Township taxes of 21.7%.” That is false. And absolutely ridiculous that they added those two percentages together. The correct answer is 9.9%. Here is the math: township real estate tax is proposed to go from 3.5 mils to 3.92 mils. The earned income tax (EIT) is proposed to go from 1.00% to 1.08%. Using the example provided by the township, of the average property assessment of $250K and the average household income of $100K, the blended taxes would go from $1,875 to $2060 for a $185 annual payment or a 9.9% increase of township taxes. Boom done.
2) They state: “The planned O&M (operating and maintenance) budget allowed by the bond issue is $136K. That would barely cover labor and landscaping maintenance. Actual O&M costs would double or triple that annual amount-forever!” Again, false. This was specifically brought up Monday night and answered by Mr. Sampsell of Natural Lands. He drew a correlation using Green Hills, a 200 acre preserve in Willistown Township, comparable to what Crebilly would be. He stated annual operating and maintenance for that land is approximately $40-50K. And, these fees are included in the open space fund; these are not additional fees to residents. Natural Lands either owns or manages 25,000 acres in eastern PA and NJ. Pretty sure they know what they are paying for. Next…
3) They state: (one of my favs) “‘Saving Crebilly’ really means the farmland becomes wild tall grasses and invasive weeds that require constant maintenance. The only accessible areas would be a few rustic pathways kept open by constant mowing. According to one state agency providing a grant, it insists only a perimeter grass trail is allowed.” Huh. Lol.
They go on and on but you get the gist. So, collect those flyers/emails and bring them to the next informational meeting Monday, October 24th at Rustinso you can ask questions and get the facts from the experts. On a more positive note, I do love their T-shirts- not gonna lie. What a great ladies’ shirt: ‘ROAR’ across the front. I am woman hear me!
There will be more to come as we approach election day, November 8th, so please stay tuned. The conservation plan before us,in our laps, is the best possible outcome for Crebilly Farm. And all of Chester County, quite frankly. Turning this opportunity down and waiting around for ‘another deal’ is not an option. There is no other deal for conservation, only development, and we will lose. Forever. This is a one time offer from the Robinson Family and a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
If not you, then who?