Mt. Pleasant

PA House Bill 809 would end Tredyffrin’s right to regulate student housing

For rentPA House Bill 809 sponsored by State Rep Susan Helm of Dauphin and Lebanon Counties will change college rental restrictions if passed.

Helm’s proposed legislation claims that it is discriminatory for municipalities to single out students with rental regulations and would short-circuit any municipal ordinance that prohibits the occupation of a dwelling unity by students or unrelated individuals living together.

The proposed legislation would allow a municipality to enact and enforce ordinances that regulate things like noise levels, parking, and health and safety concerns. House Bill 809 addresses municipal rental restrictions that single out students, suggesting that this is discriminatory, based on an assumption that they will be problem neighbors.

PA House Bill 809 would override any current municipal housing ordinances that restrict the use of single-family homes, as college student rentals. The proposed legislation states that a municipality would not be able to prohibit the occupation of a dwelling based on an individual’s matriculation status (that is, if they are enrolled in college) or on the number of unrelated individuals sharing the property.

In the Mt. Pleasant community of Tredyffrin Township, the conversion of traditionally family-occupied homes to student rental properties has led to ongoing problems among the neighbors.  Beyond the late-night noise, increased traffic, liter, illegal parking, the permanent residents of Mt. Pleasant are frustrated with the increasing number of student rentals and what they view as the adverse effects caused by the influx of students.

Because of the ongoing citizen complaints in Mt. Pleasant, Tredyffrin Township passed two ordinances in 2010, which placed zoning restrictions on the student rentals as a way to protect the rights of the permanent residents in the township.

Tredyffrin’s Registration Ordinance requires all homeowners in the township who rent to students to register with the township. The registration requires contact information on the student including the college/university/trade school the renter attends and contact information for the dean of students at the student’s school.

The township’s Zoning Ordinance for student housing is specific and states that all homeowners who wish to rent to students need special-exception approval from the Zoning Hearing Board. The properties must have at least a 10-foot buffer around the home, no more than three student tenants and a specified minimum distance from other student homes.

After many meetings and much discussion, Tredyffrin’s supervisors, residents and property owners, agreed on the township’s student zoning regulations but if Rep Helm has her way, House Bill 809 would override the the ordinances. If the House Bill 809 passes, where would this leave Mt. Pleasant community and its residents?

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Tredyffrin: Open for Business . . . and Closed

The economy is taking its toll on businesses across America and unfortunately, locally we are not immune.  There is such joy when we see signs of growth and development in the area retail and restaurant market but a sense of sadness when we see the closed signs.  It is particularly tough if you know the owner and developed a relationship with one of these entrepreneurs who dared take the journey in spite of the economic warning signs.

Such is the case for me with Jake’s Frozen Custard in the Paoli Village Shoppes and owner Missy Shaw.  With enthusiasm and Midwestern charm, Missy opened Jake’s 10 months ago and this week a ‘closed’ sign hangs on the door.  Missy’s smile and good humor was contagious . . . her spirit (and her frozen custard) will be missed! 

If Jake’s closing has you looking for respite from the summer sun, remember other local favorites Whirled Peace and Rita’s Water Ice in Paoli and Handel’s Ice Cream in Berwyn.

Another Paoli business that opened with fanfare last year but recently closed it doors  — Doggie Style, a boutique-type pet supply shop in the Paoli Shopping Center . . . don’t know if it saw it’s first anniversary.

However, there are some openings in Paoli to report – Shoppe Flare, specializing in gifts and monogrammed items, opened on Lancaster Avenue across from the Paoli Village Shoppes.  Re-Max Realty on Lancaster Avenue is now sharing space with a new Dunkin’ Donuts store. The newly opened store with a drive-through window is only a couple of blocks from the existing Dunking Donuts.  According to the manager of the new store, the same person owns the two locations. Until the lease runs out on the old store across from the train station next year, both locations will be open.

If you have driven down Rt. 252 in Devon lately, you will notice much activity in the Valley Fair shopping center.  The construction on the new McKenzie’s microbrewery is well underway.  Retrofitting the old Charlie Brown’s restaurant, McKenzie’s is planning a September opening — we’ll have to wait and see if they meet their planned timeline.  In the same shopping center, the new Mealey’s furniture store is also moving forward in their construction.

The long empty box store that housed Linens & Things in Devon may have a new tenant.  The interior of the store has recently been gutted and new checkout counters installed . . . no more specifics, although a hopeful reader suggested maybe a Bottom Dollar grocery store.  Speaking of the Bottom Dollar grocery store chain, remember for a while the Chesterbrook residents thought that Bottom Dollar was headed for the empty Genuardi’s space.  Although the Bottom Dollar deal fell through other rumored tenants have surfaced, including a farmer’s market and recently a Movie Tavern.  A fun concept with a full bar and food menu (plus movies) this idea for the Genuardi’s space is also ‘dead on arrival’.  Apparently, the prospective Movie Tavern developer did not think that Chesterbrook shopping center provided sufficient visibility.  (If you are interested, a Movie Tavern recently opened to rave reviews in Collegeville).

There are new rumors swirling for the old Duffy’s catering property in Daylesford.  If you recall, a controversial high-density mixed use development plan by developer ARC Wheeler failed to win public support in 2007 and the property has remained vacant and undeveloped.  Apparently, there is new discussion for the 13-acre site – nothing firm yet but I have heard assisted living or retirement center development plans.

As of last month, the Whole Foods in Devon is now selling beer for take-out and in their new Mile Post Pub.  Looks like a new Starbucks location for Devon . . . Township planning commissioners reviewed a sketch plan for the construction of a Starbucks and drive-thru in the Devon Village Shopping Center at last week’s planning commission meeting.

A different kind of ‘closing’ occurred in Mt. Pleasant on July 21.  Ruled accidental by Tredyffrin police, a fire totally destroyed the playground equipment at Mazie Hall Park.  An early estimate of $60,000 in damage, the township playground is insured.  Looking ahead to a timeline for repairs and a new ‘opening’ for the local residents, a meeting was held last night with township staff, supervisors and Mt. Pleasant representatives.  Sean Moir, chair of Parks and Recreation attended the meeting and provided the following update from the meeting:

There was a meeting tonight between township officials and Mt. Pleasant community leaders to discuss the Mazie B. Hall tot lot fire. Paul Olson, Michelle Kichline, Mimi Gleason, Dean Wilkins, and myself were representing the township.

The township has filed an insurance claim . . . The Park Board has been asked to come up with replacement options for the community. Once the options have been compiled, they will be presented to the community and we will try to provide the best affordable solution.

It’s hard to predict the timing since we don’t know when the insurance company will get back to us.

Here’s hoping that the insurance company can move quickly to settle the case and get the playground at Mazie Hall Park ‘open for business’.

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Here is a New Twist to Save Money in Pennsylvania . . . Let’s Do Away with Township & Borough Government

There are some elected officials in Pennsylvania that think they have come up with a way to save money although it would require changing the Commonwealth’s constitution to make it happen. The proposed Pennsylvania House Bill 2431 would eliminate city, township and borough governments . . . in other words; the bill suggests collapsing local government to create county-run control.

Those behind the bill believe that state-level legislation to consolidate local government is a way to reduce the overall cost of government. Forced municipal consolidation would radically change the governing of Pennsylvania.  Potentially all local governments would be wiped out in one fell swoop and the municipal responsibilities would move to the county level. The bill would create a committee to condense the townships and boroughs and have local control pass to the county level. From snow removal to providing water and sewer, from law enforcement to land use decisions — these now local services would become regionally provided for by a centralized, bigger government . . . the county!

Under the current system, our local government is local. We have our elected officials working and living in the area they serve.  With this proposed legislation, resident questions and concerns would pass to the larger county government.  For instance, if a resident or a neighborhood has a zoning issue (Mt. Pleasant community as a recent  example) you would be reliant on the county officials to respond.  Under this proposed bill, the residents would contact an unknown official who could be on the other side of the county. How much would the county official really understand about a localized community issue?  Stands to reason that depending on where the resident is in any given county, there could be a complete disconnect and lack of understanding of the specific issue.  Look at Chester County and our diversity . . .  one could imagine the vast difference of issues of residents in the dense, more developed areas of northern Chester County and the rural, less-populated areas of southern Chester County.  In making decisions, would the county officials be able to offer even handedness of all resident issues.  Not sure that would be possible.

However, shared services between local municipalities should be heralded as a form of cost cutting.   Based on the specific needs of given local governments in the Commonwealth, municipalities should encourage the consolidation of services where fiscally responsible.  Depending on the township or borough, the sharing of services could take different direction . . . health care plans, snow and trash removal, law enforcement, etc.  Individual local governments and their elected officials should take up this cost-saving cause . . . but not forced consolidation by state mandate.

Although I am not aware that our elected township officials have responded specifically to the proposed legislation, many townships in Chester County have been very vocal about passing a resolution to oppose House Bill 2431.  The Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors is supporting resolution to oppose the proposed legislation.  The road for House Bill 2431 is a long one . . . if it were to get House and Senate approval; it would still require the support of the majority of Pennsylvania residents.  Although not likely to be supported by the residents, the bill would then go back to the legislation to be shaped in to a specific law with guidelines.  

This is one of those proposed legislative changes that is unlikely to go very far; although it would be fascinating to know how much money would be saved if you did away with all local government in Pennsylvania. 

However, at the end of the day, I think House Bill 2431 makes the case that ‘bigger government’ is not necessarily ‘better government’.

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Mt. Pleasant Supporters From Outside Tredyffrin!

We understand that student housing problems and landlord issues are not limited to the borders of Tredyffrin Township.  Locally we know that Radnor, Lower Merion and Haverford townships have all had their share of ongoing issues with designing ordinances that help residents and then the enforcement issues that go along with these ordinances. 

Carla from Save Ardmore Coalition who understands the associated problems of student rentals and the specific problems that the rentals have caused in Mt. Pleasant has weighed in on our Monday supervisors meeting.  It’s good to know that Mt. Pleasant has advocates outside the township who will be watching (and reporting) the progress of these ordinance changes to the community.

Tredyffrin Stops Recording Public Meeting at 11:20 P.M., Passes Student Housing Ordinance – Mt. Pleasant Still Kind of Screwed

So as we learned courtesy of John Haines, Tredyffrin magically stopped recording their meeting at 11:20 p.m. Now the student housing stuff passed – not on camera- and thanks to Pattye Benson our intrepid Tredyffrin blogging pal, we have an update (including the fact that Tredyffrin had no air conditioning on in their building!)- bear in mind that in the panhandle, where Mt. Pleasant is that over the past five years, the total number of student rentals has risen from 0 to 22 – in a small area that is significant, and as I have seen it myself, I hope Tredyffrin Township doesn’t continue to show a blind eye.

One thing in about what you are to read that annoys me is Tredyffrin pulling the classic Lower Merion “we can’t do anything, it’s PA law”.

I for one am tired of that. Sometimes local governments CAN’T do anything more, sometimes they CAN get creative and find a legal loophole. And all these municipalities are capable of going to Harrisburg when it’s something they want, and they never want to do anything if it’s something they don’t give a crap about.

In my humble opinion, Tredyffrin did not like getting their hand forced by residents over student housing and truthfully don’t give a crap. Maybe Pattye and some of the others will say I am being too harsh, but it is what I believe. Tredyffrin had better do better now that they passed the student housing items – many are watching now. And any of you out there, if Tredyffrin doesn’t do as they say, feel free to join the conversation up here and tell us – Tredyffrin residents, you are your own best advocates, and while some of us can recount an issue as told to us, it’s your community and you can say it best.

Maybe now Tredyffrin will start to show the historic community of Mt. Pleasant some respect in other ways too? Or will they just let speculative development plow under history? What happened last night is a beginning, but it can’t and shouldn’t be the only action on the part of Tredyffrin.

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Board of Supervisors Meeting Goes to the 11th Hour . . . Student Housing Ordinances and Public Budget Meetings are Late Night Decisions

Last night’s Board of Supervisors Meeting and public meeting on student housing was a marathon!  After 4-1/2 hours, the meeting finally ended at 11:45 PM . . . a long meeting by any standard; plus there was no air conditioning!  By the time the meeting ended at nearly midnight, all that remained of the audience was myself and 2 other residents, the township staff and the supervisors.  I didn’t realize until I got home but the taping of the meeting stopped at about 11:20, which was prior to the 3 important votes – decisions of the evening.

Many who attended last night’s supervisors meeting waited patiently for the public hearing on the two proposed college student housing ordinances – the Registration Ordinance and Zoning Ordinance Amendment.  As the hour got later and later, a decision was made to suspend the regular supervisors meeting, conduct the public meeting on the student housing ordinances and then complete the regular supervisors meeting. 

As was discussed in an earlier post, the Planning Commission had come up with very strict language in their proposed ordinances.  In my opinion, the proposed ordinances provided as much future protection against student rentals as was possible within the law.  In fact, some of the restrictions (including a 10 ft. wide buffer on the sides and back of the student rental properties struck me as a bit ‘over the top’  and overly restrictive).  It was obvious that some of the supervisors had a clearer understanding of the proposed ordinances than others – at one point, it was suggested that the public meeting be continued until a future date.  But Supervisors DiBuonaventuro and Donahue pushed for resolution last night on the ordinances.

Many Mt. Pleasant residents attended last night’s meeting and were determined that their voices would be heard.  And heard they were!  On one side, the residents very much wanted to see the proposed ordinances passed but they also wanted more to be included in the proposed zoning ordinance amendment.  Specifically, the residents sought to remove the grandfathering rights of the landlords from the ordinance.  The residents wanted the same restrictions for new student rentals to be imposed on existing student rentals.  But as they were told, this is simply not possible legally.  Not because of township laws, but because of Pennsylvania state law. 

Supervisor Kichline and the township solicitor explained to the residents that those properties that were existing student rentals would be allowed to continue operating and would not be subject to the proposed zoning amendment ordinance.  However, all current student housing landlords would have to conform to the proposed registration ordinance.  Mt. Pleasant residents questioned if other municipalities had taken out the grandfathering clause from their student housing ordinances, why couldn’t Tredyffrin.  As township manager Gleason explained, other municipalities may not permit grandfathering in their student housing ordinances but it is not enforceable by law.  Period.  Not the answer the residents wanted; they had to accept the proposed zoning amendment could not legally include existing student rentals. 

The supervisors passed the student registration ordinance with minor tweaking but there seemed to be endless discussion on the proposed zoning ordinance amendment.  Lamina made a motion to continue the discussion on the zoning amendment to the 2nd meeting in September.  The motion was seconded but failed to receive the necessary votes.  There was more discussion and a motion was made on the proposed zoning amendment ordinance – to pass it ‘as is’ .  I don’t know if it was the lateness of the hour (by this point it was 11:30!), the audience remarks, or what . . . but the motion was seconded and passed unanimously.  That’s right, Tredyffrin Township now has a very strict zoning amendment ordinance for student housing and a student registration ordinance.  Although the newly passed ordinances are not going to solve all of the student housing issues in Tredyffrin, I think great strides were made in the right direction.  Gold stars to the residents, the Planning Commissioners, the township staff and to the supervisors for working together for resolution!

The public meeting ended, many in the audience departed and the regular supervisors meeting resumed.  The  meeting agenda finally got to the new matters – Board members, and I waited to see if the suggestion of public budget meetings discussed at the July board meeting would be re-visited.  And yes, Supervisor Donahue once again brought up the suggestion of a public budget meeting (to be scheduled in advance of the traditional November budget discussions.) 

All 7 supervisors agreed in favor of a public budget meeting. Supervisor Olson suggested a Saturday morning meeting at the township building as a good time to schedule the meeting.  Lamina suggested either Saturday, September 18 or 25 but Supervisor Kichline quickly pointed out that September 25 was my historic house tour (thank you Michelle!) and maybe the budget meeting should not be scheduled on that date.  Lamina asked Mimi to look at the calendar and see about setting up the public budget meeting in September.  Under new matters – citizens, Dariel Jamieson thanked the supervisors for setting up the public budget meeting and asked if the BAWG recommendations could be included in the  meeting . . . the supervisors seemed to think that was a good idea and will include BAWG updates at the meeting.

Thank you supervisors for choosing transparency and citizen participation in the township budget process –  we will wait to hear the date and time of the public budget meeting.

Just a couple of other items from the supervisors meeting. As a member of HARB, I joined the other members in thanking Jim Garrison, a historical architect, for his 12 years of service to the HARB.  Jim and his wife recently moved from the township and therefore he is no longer permitted to serve on HARB.  In their move, the Garrison’s have joined the ranks of ‘old house owners’.  They purchased a 250-yr. old stone farmhouse that is on the National Register.  Congratulations to Jim but the HARB will miss him! 

The other item of personal interest from last night  has to do with Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust.  Newly appointed Trust board member, Jean Sauer, presented an update and PowerPoint presentation on the Jones Log Barn project. She provided a short history and background on the barn.  The Trust is now in Phase II (final phase) of the project with an intended completion date of 2011.  On behalf of the Trust, thank you Jean for providing a wonderful overview of the project.  

I updated the supervisors on our Trust fall events, including the 6th Annual Historic House Tour on Saturday, September 25. our annual In the Mood fundraiser on Friday, October 22 and our Fall Lecture Series.  (Tickets for the house tour are now available on our website, www.tredyffrinhistory.org)  The Trust is underway with the Capital Campaign to raise the remaining $200K for Phase II.  Please contact me directly at tredyffrincommunitymatters@gmail.com if you would like to help with the Capital Campaign, the house tour, In the Mood fundraiser, the Jones Log Barn reconstruction project, etc. – we will be put your time and talents to good use!

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Save Ardmore Coalition Blogger Weighs in on Tredyffrin’s Student Housing Issues

Over at Save Ardmore Coalition, Carla has been following the ongoing problems of the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood and the student housing situation.  Reciprocal links are exchanged between SAC and Community Matters and thanks to social media, there are immediate notifications as the sites are updated.  I wrote of Tredyffrin’s upcoming public meeting re proposed college housing ordinances and Carla responded with the following on her website:

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ALERT!!! Dead of Summer Meeting on Student Housing in Tredyffrin MONDAY AUGUST 16th!

For almost a year now thanks to a blog/website I found and nice woman named Christine I met, I have been following the issue of off campus student housing in Tredyffrin.

This off campus student housing issue in Tredyffrin is quite serious because in my opinion Tredyffrin Township is all F*****d up with no place to go on the issue.

The issue is horrific in Mt. Pleasant, a historic African American community in the panhandle or Wayne section of Tredyffrin. But I also know a dear friend’s sister and her husband (and she is an old school chum of mine as well) who are in another very nice neighborhood in Tredyffrin off Old Eagle School who also put up with what often amounts to party city.

For years, while other municipalities like Radnor, Lower Merion, and Haverford Townships were creating rules (because you can only say creating zoning in Haverford and Lower Merion, because in Radnor Township, student housing is dumbly NOT in zoning I believe) surrounding off campus student housing and the number of people wh can live in group housing situations, Tredyffrin pretty much ignored it. So in Tredyffrin for the past however many years, off campus student houses all year round have resembled over-crowded shore houses in many cases.

I first became interested in this when I heard the plight of a mom in Tredyffrin who would awaken to things like a drunken college student peeing on her child’s toys in her fenced in yard. Then I heard stories of lack of action on almost mob mentality by Tredyffrin Police and the problems she had calling the police and getting them to respond. This was followed by reports of properties being gobbled up by developers, slum lords who wanted to turn a single family home into twins, etc and how Miss Mazie’s house had fared in Mt. Pleasant.

I have sat on the sidelines and watched as all these Tredyffrin residents have gotten jerked around by Tredyffrin Township officials and I think it is still happening because Tredyffrin has scheduled the crucial public meeting to decide on this student housing ordinance and how good it will be or how much it will suck for the DEAD, DEAD, DEAD of summer when all ther municipalities around aren’t even scheduling meetings. To me that is very telling on how important they think this is.

So I am posting this and hoping others out there who blog will cross post this and twitter it and Facebook it and tell whomever they know in the media to consider covering it so these people in Tredyffrin get a break from slum lords who just want to shove as many bodies as possible into rental properties – which if course in the event of fires and whatnot is also not safe for the students – and you know darn well these landlords are also probably charging these students a fortune too.

My fear as residents just try to get some rules in place is that Tredyffrin will grandfather so many of the places and not have proper seperation requirements that the zoning, etc will be worthless. And we all know when a local government wants to blow something by the residents and taxpayers the best time to do that is to schedule meetings when a lot of people aren’t around. Oldest trick in the book.

Many thanks to Pattye Benson over at Tredyffrin…Community Matters for notifying us of this crucial public meeting. . .

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Proposed College Student Housing Ordinances – Public Meeting on Monday, August 16

On July 15,  I attended the very long Planning Commission meeting regarding the two proposed township student housing ordinances. The proposed ordinances were reviewed by the Planning Commission at their public meeting and will be the subject of a hearing at the Board of Supervisors public meeting on Monday, August 16. If the proposed ordinances are passed, they will be instituted township-wide. 

However, the focus of the attention has been on the Mt. Pleasant community and their ongoing struggles with student housing.  Many Mt. Pleasant residents attended the Planning Commission and expressed their concerns in regards to student housing and the need for ordinances that can be enforced.  The Planning Commissioners listened and came up with very strict guidelines for the proposed ordinances. 

To review the draft zoning ordinance amendment, click here.

To review the draft registration ordinance, click here.

In advance of the public meeting on Monday, I received the following email from Donna Shipman, a resident of Mt. Pleasant encouraging her neighbors to attend.  As Donna reminds us, the student housing rentals is not just a Mt. Pleasant issue but rather it is a township-wide issue.  I support Donna and the Mt. Pleasant community as they face the challenges of student rentals in their neighborhood.

Hello,
 
I just wanted to remind everyone that on Monday Aug 16, 2010 at BOS Public meeting the College ordinance along with the Registration ordinance will be debated and voting on. I am asking that you please send out a reminder to your neighbors and friends encouraging them to attend the 7:30 PM meeting.
 
We still have issues with the 2 pending ordinances and we need for the BOS to see that this is NOT A MT PLEASANT ONLY ISSUE but a Tredyffrin Township issue. You did such a wonderful job at the Planning Commission hearing I am hoping for a repeat.
 
Please pass the word about the meeting and let me know if you require further information on the matter. Please note that the pending amendment ordinances are out on the Township’s website.
 
Thank you in advance for your continued support!
 
Sincerely,
 Donna B. Shipman
Block Captain – Mt Pleasant Ave.
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Student Housing Zoning Ordinance & Student Registration Ordinance Takes the Next Step . . . Planning Commission to Review on Thursday

Based on direction from the supervisors at the June Board of Supervisors meeting, the prospective student housing zoning ordinance takes it next step this week . . . it moves to the Planning Commission. The draft zoning ordinance amendment will be reviewed at the Planning Commission’s July 15 public meeting and at the Board of Supervisors’ August 16 public meeting.   According to the township website:

The Zoning Ordinance amendment establishes a new use that the ordinance will regulate called “Student Home”; and permits this use in the R- ½, R-1, R-2, R-3 and R-4 zoning districts by special exception approval. Special exception approval means that the use, in each instance, needs to be approved by the Tredyffrin Township Zoning Hearing Board. The draft amendment establishes criteria that must be met before the Zoning Hearing Board can authorize the special exception approval.

In addition to the student housing zoning ordinance, there is a separate ordinance concerning college students living in the township –  Registration Ordinance This proposed ordinance would enact a new Chapter 151, Property Registration for student rental units, to provide for a register of contact information regarding student rental units.  The parameters surrounding the registration of students living in Tredyffrin may have interesting ramifications.

Although the proposed Zoning Ordinance and Registration Ordinance would be in effect for the entire township; the focus of attention has centered on  student housing issues in the Mt. Pleasant community.  The Mt. Pleasant Civic Association has sent out the following email asking for support at the Planning Commission Workshop meeting.  If you have an interest in the regulation of student housing in Tredyffrin, I would encourage you to attend the meeting on Thursday night.

“Your support is needed!
 
Tredyffrin Township’s Planning Commission will be discussing the pending registration ordinance for college housing within our township on Thursday, July 15, 7:30 PM . . .
 
The ordinance in its current form is weak and it needs allot of teeth in it to be effective. We want the BOS and the Zoning Board to mirror Radnor’s college housing ordinance. Radnor’s ordinance is strong and it has teeth in it that our Police department and Township can use to enforce the ordinance. The BOS feels that the college housing issue is only an issue in the Mt Pleasant Community so we are in need of your support to show BOS that the ordeal of the college housing is a township issue that effects the entire Tredyffrin Community.
 
Without your support and attendance at this meeting (and the upcoming BOS meeting for the second part of the ordinance) the ordinance may pass with alot of holes in it and we don’t want that! We want them to get it right the first time. By a show of members from the Community we will show them that the whole Tredyffrin Community is watching and will hold them accountable for their inactive or specifically their lack of real action.
 
On behalf of the Mt Pleasant Civic Association and Mt Pleasant Community we want to thank you in advance for your continued support. . . “
 
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958 Mt. Pleasant Road . . . vacant lot remains haven for dumping and . . . much more!

Back on March 22, there was a town hall meeting in Mt. Pleasant.  Residents of the community, representatives from the township staff including Mimi Gleason, Mike Pilotti, Steve Norcini and members of the police department and board of supervisors met for public discussion.  The meeting allowed an opportunity for the residents to voice their concerns on a variety of issues, including the long-abandoned vacant lot located at 958 Mt. Pleasant Road.

You can tell by the old cement steps, that there was once a house on the property but what remains on the lot is a mound of crumbled concrete and ever-increasing trash (broken bottles, tin cans, car tires, etc.).  According to one of the neighbors, the overgrown lot has now become a haven for rodents and she now has to deal with the rodent problem in her own home.

Knowing that the Board of Supervisors were adding discussion of a student housing ordinance to their upcoming agenda, I decided to visit Mt. Pleasant for an update and I am including photos with this post.  I will say that the vacant lot looks much better in the springtime; not because it has been cleaned up or that dumping has stopped but because the overgrown lot is now green rather than the deserted, abandoned look in the winter.  Nevertheless, the problem remains at 958 Mt. Pleasant Rd. 

I have confirmed that the absentee owners of the vacant lot live in King of Prussia.  Apparently they bought the lot (with house) a few years ago, immediately took down the house which was in disrepair and intended to sell the lot and make a profit.  Unfortunately, the bottom fell out of the economy and the couple has subsequently separated, leaving the lot to become a community dumping area.  I have been told that the owners have not been entirely responsive to township outreach although there was some discussion from one of the owners about erecting a 6-ft. chain length fence across the front of the property.  This situation on Mt. Pleasant Road is an enforcement issue; I suggest a letter from Tom Hogan, township solicitor might encourage some movement on the part of the owner to clean-up the property, get a fence up and signs to indicate ‘private property – no dumping’ under penalty of law.

Something else interesting about the vacant lot — it’s located directly across from 961 Mt. Pleasant Rd. which is clearly a college house rental for quite a number of students.  This house has a driveway that goes around back of the house with a large parking lot and a commercial trash dumpster.  At 2 o-clock on a Thursday afternoon (not Friday or Saturday night!), I found it extremely interesting that there were 7 cars parked in the parking lot behind this house.  From the back of the house, there are several exterior doors indicating multiple apartments in this house.  Two college girls were on the front lawn in bathing suits enjoying the summer weather.  I asked them if they ever saw any dumping across the street and although they had not, it wasn’t a stretch to think that as parties at this college house spill over on to the front yard and in to the street – that vacant lot directly across from this house makes a great disposal for empty beer and soda cans. Here was a direct case where a sign posted for ‘no dumping’ might make a difference. 

As long as there will be discussion re the student housing rental ordinance, could we expect to hear about the status of the vacant lot?  Also, remind me – is the Panhandle area, (including Mt. Pleasant) covered by Supervisor Paul Olson?

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Board of Supervisors Meeting – Monday, May 24 . . . A few interesting topics of discussion

This Monday, May 24 is the Board of Supervisors Meeting which was moved from last week due to the Primary Election (and the township building needing to be set-up as a polling place).  In reviewing the agenda for the meeting, a couple of items are of interest under ‘Township Business”:

Resolution authorizing East Whiteland Township, Malvern Borough, and Tredyffrin Township to work jointly to oversee planning, design and construction of the proposed Patriots Path trail.  If you recall, there was a lively debate between residents that were ‘for’ the trail and those that were ‘against’ the trail.  Ultimately a consensus was reached for the trail to move forward and permit a joint agreement with E. Whiteland and Malvern.  My guess is that this resolution creates that working relationship.

Award contract for design of renovations and improvements at the Tredyffrin Public Library.  After talking to a couple of people, my understanding is that there were a few items that were not part of the original library construction plans, including windows and air conditioning improvements.  This additional library contract must pertain to those items — although I assume any of these additional library improvements will need to be in the 2011 township budget. (Another reason that the work and discussion on the 2011 budget needs to begin sooner, rather than later.)

Discussion about regulating student housing.  A student housing rental ordinance for the township has been in discussion for some time, originating with complaints from the Mt. Pleasant community.  Several months ago a community town hall meeting was held in Mt. Pleasant which I attended.  Without a township ordinance for student rentals, many of the properties in Mt. Pleasant are being sold to investors and converted to student housing.  It’s not so much the idea of college students living in the community, it is more about the associated issues, such as increased traffic, noise, trash, etc. Other municipalities (including Radnor) have strict student housing ordinances and Mt. Pleasant residents would like Tredyffrin to consider a similar ordinance.  I will be curious to see where the supervisors stand on this issue — I was in Mt. Pleasant  yesterday taking photos of the vacant lot (which I will post later) and spoke with a couple of the college students.  I would encourage Mt. Pleasant residents to attend Monday night’s supervisors meeting and offer their personal insight on the situation in to the public record.

Here’s an item not appearing on the agenda under ‘Township Business’.  I was disappointed that there was no mention of the newly created sidewalks subcommittee on the agenda.  Perhaps that update will occur under the liaison report by the supervisors. If you recall back on March 15 Board of Supervisors meeting, the sidewalks subcommittee was formed as a result of the St. Davids sidewalk issue.  If I remember correctly, the sidewalks committee was to meet separately has a group and to also hold public focus meetings throughout the township to receive community input.  It’s been over 2 months, has the subcommittee held a meeting? 

According to Lamina when announcing the sidewalk subcommittee members in March, there was to be a resolution of the sidewalk matter by the end of the year.  I voiced a concern from the start that this unresolved sidewalk issue was leaving the township in a tenuous situation with developers/contractors doing work in the township.  As long as the issue of sidewalks was ‘on hold’ and without clear direction from the township, enforcement of certain outstanding land development elements could be difficult (including sidewalks, lighting, etc.)  I would encourage the supervisors and the sidewalk subcommittee to keep the residents in the loop by providing updates on an ongoing basis so that the timeline of December 2010 can be met.

 The Board of Supervisors meeting will be at 7:30 PM at the township building this  Monday, May 23.  It is important for all of us to stay involved in the governing of our township – plan to attend the meeting or watch from home.

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