sidewalks

It’s Official — St. Davids Golf Club to Build Sidewalks

It is hard to believe but it looks like the St. Davids sidewalk saga that has plagued the township for years is about to end.  The open land development agreement with St. Davids Golf Club for their new clubhouse goes back at least 6 years.  As part of St. Davids contract with the township, the project was to include sidewalks.  Although the clubhouse was completed several years ago, the sidewalk remained outstanding.

As anyone knows who has lived in the township for the last couple of years, the sidewalks at St. Davids has been a seemingly endless tale including the threat of a lawsuit by a resident, a special Sidewalk Subcommittee, a new sidewalks ordinance, and on and on.  Last night at the Board of Supervisors meeting came the announcement from supervisor Mike Heaberg that St. Davids Golf Club has officially notified the township that they will build the sidewalks, thus completing their land development agreement.  The start date was given as March-April.

Regardless of whether you believe the sidewalks at St. Davids are the ‘sidewalk to nowhere’ a catch phrase coined by some, or you think that sidewalks are an important part of the Green Route Network, I think that we can all be grateful that this open township issue will finally be put to rest.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

No Need for Written Request to St. Davids Golf Club to Build Sidewalks . . . Just a phone call! What happens if you get the answering machine!

I attended the Board of Supervisors meeting last night; primarily to see if the chapter on sidewalks (St. Davids) would finally be closed.  Each time I think that we have turned that corner; there is a new twist that slows the process.

Whether in the audience or watching from home, the ‘Resolution to adopt the Green Routes Pedestrian Network map’ was not without debate. Chairman Bob Lamina stated that they would divide the township into 3 parts for discussion – essentially the east, middle and the western areas.  A torturous process, discussion began with a ‘street by street’ review of the map, starting with the middle section and moving next to the western areas of the township.

The idea behind this resolution was to add a map to the new sidewalk ordinance passed at last month’s BOS meeting.  However, the difficulty and confusion among the supervisors was whether the map was to ‘only’ include roads that would be affected by the newly passed sidewalk ordinance, which in essence were areas of the township where possible commercial development could occur.  Or was the map to contain all suggested sidewalks, trails, etc. that were part of the green routes network as recommended by the special sidewalk subcommittee.

The debate on which sidewalks to include on the map heightened as the discussion moved to the eastern part of the township, specifically Conestoga and Upper Gulph Roads. Supervisor (Supervisor Olson suggested that sidewalks on Conestoga and Upper Gulph Roads be totally removed from the map.)  By the time the supervisors were at the point of voting on the resolution, I am certain many of us were confused as to what exactly was to be included on this ‘Green Routes Pedestrian Network’ map.  I believe that in the end, the supervisors voted 4-3 in favor of the map as presented by the sidewalk subcommittee.  (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong). With much fanfare, Supervisors Richter, Olson and Lamina voted against the resolution.  Richter used ‘storm water issues’ and ‘empty storefronts’ to explain her vote of opposition.

At this point in the meeting, with the map issue resolved, I expected that we would finally move past the sidewalk topic.  However, no, much to the surprise of  audience members (and some of the supervisors) Lamina made a new motion — for broader notification to the public when sidewalks were contained in future land development plans.  There was concern from some audience members that this discussion was not on the agenda and needed further discussion.  Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro questioned Lamina about the timing of the motion, suggesting that because the motion was formally written, that Lamina had sought legal counsel from the township solicitor in advance of the BOS meeting.  Lamina explained that the idea had come to him at lunch, while “eating his bologna sandwich”! Supervisors DiBuonaventuro and Donahue voted against this motion, both believing further discussion was required.  However, the motion did pass 5-2.

Surely, there could be nothing further to say on the topic of sidewalks in Tredyffrin Township.  Not so fast.   Stating that there was some ‘housecleaning’ needed, DiBuonaventuro offered a motion to remove the moratorium on the building of sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club.  The ‘hold’ dated back to the February 22, 2010 supervisors meeting.  Now at this point, I was completely confused.

If you have been following Community Matters, you will note that after last month’s supervisors meeting, I sent a couple of emails to Mimi Gleason, our township manager (copied the BOS and Tom Hogan, township solicitor).  I wanted to understand the next step in the St. Davids sidewalk saga and assumed that since the sidewalk ordinance had passed, the township staff now had the green light to move on enforcement of the sidewalks contained in any open land development agreements (including St. Davids).  I had received the following response from Gleason, which I posted last week on Community Matters,

Before sending letters, the Township now will contact any of the property owners with approved plans that inquired about the need to install sidewalks. They will be informed that they no changes were made to the ordinance that changes anything for their plans. Enforcement proceedings will commence only if they refuse to install the sidewalks.

Based on Gleason’s email response to me, I was completely confused as to why DiBuonaventuro’s motion was necessary but OK; let’s tie up any loose ends.

However, the vote to move St. Davids Gold Club sidewalks along in the process did not come easily.  Again, much discussion, primarily from Olson, who claimed that the township should take the $50,000 that St. Davids Golf Club, had offered not to build the sidewalks . . . further suggesting that St. Davids would instead give the $50K to the fire companies.

There was no way that I was going to let his remarks stand as anywhere close to accurate.  For the public record last night, I stated that (1) St. Davids Golf Club had not offered to give $50K to the fire company and (2) there was never any written offer from St. Davids. The $50K ‘offer’ from St. Davids Golf Club not to build the sidewalks was contained in the 2009 BAWG report but was never substantiated!  To perpetuate misinformation is simply wrong – bringing up the $50K offer from St. Davids was as if the township clock was turned back 20 months! Eventually DiBuonaventuro’s motion passed 6-1 (Olson the sole dissenting vote).

I then asked Gleason about the staff notification process to St. Davids re the sidewalks.  Based on her earlier email to me, I was concerned and was of the opinion, that such a request to St. Davids Golf Club should be ‘in writing’.  No, she explained, the staff would call St. Davids Golf Club and ask them to build the sidewalks.  I said should not there be a paper trail of the notification – how does one track a phone call?  Although she insisted that this was township procedure, I asked how was the public to know if the call was made.  I suggested that no one could ever make a ‘right to know’ request over a telephone call.  Bottom line . . . short of asking the question, “Did you phone St. Davids?” at every supervisors meeting, the public will not know.  I asked what the timeline was for the phone call – I believe her response was, in the next 30 days.

It strikes me odd that after 20 months of St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk debate, the request for St. Davids to complete their 6-year-old land development agreement is not done in writing but with a phone call.

Wonder what happens if the township person calling St. Davids gets their answering machine . . . leave a message and assume that the right person gets it?  Wow . . . is this really how local government works?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Do all Roads in Tredyffrin Lead to Sidewalks?

Although there was a 5-2 vote to approve the revised sidewalk ordinance at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, confusion over sidewalks still reigns.  I think many would agree had there never been a BAWG report that suggested there was a $50,000 offer from St. Davids Golf Club not to build their ‘agreed upon’ and ‘contracted for’ sidewalks, we would not be where we are today.  (To clarify, the $50K offer was not in writing and never substantiated).

For the last 21 months in Tredyffrin Township, it is as if all roads lead to sidewalks.  The debate over whether St. Davids Golf Club would be required to build their contracted sidewalks has reigned supreme.  A sidewalk subcommittee was formed and for over a year, held public hearings, received resident input, conducted surveys, etc. The results of the sidewalk subcommittee were presented earlier this year to the Board of Supervisors; indicating that the majority of the residents responding favored sidewalks, bike trails, etc. in the township.

The Board of Supervisors instructed the Planning Commission to draft a new sidewalk ordinance.  After several months of discussion and review, the Planning Commissioners presented a sidewalk ordinance proposal to the Board of Supervisors. The supervisors agreed that the new sidewalk ordinance would have no bearing on the 8 currently open land development agreements that contained sidewalk requirements (including St. Davids Golf Club).

For those that attended the supervisors meeting or watched from home, the confusion over the sidewalk ordinance continued to reign supreme.  Although the new ordinance passed 5-2, (Lamina and Olson the dissenting votes) there remains the open issue of the sidewalk ‘map’.  The sidewalk ordinance passed but without a map indicating the sidewalk requirements.  Discussion of the sidewalk map is apparently on the agenda for Monday’s supervisors meeting.  However, there was some discussion from Lamina at the last supervisors meeting, that it may be his intention to go through the map, ‘road by road’ to decide the fate of sidewalks.

Wanting to understand the next step in the St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk saga, I sent a couple of emails to Mimi Gleason, our township manager.  I assumed that since the sidewalk ordinance had passed, the township staff now had the green light to move on enforcement of the sidewalks in any open land development agreements (including St. Davids).  I received the following email from Mimi:

Before sending letters, the Township now will contact any of the property owners with approved plans that inquired about the need to install sidewalks. They will be informed that they no changes were made to the ordinance that changes anything for their plans. Enforcement proceedings will commence only if they refuse to install the sidewalks.

Based on Gleason’s response, can we assume that by now St. Davids Golf Club has been contacted.  I am not sure why there was an interim step ‘to contact’ vs sending the letter and will seek clarification.  I will also ask what is timeline for a response before the enforcement letter is sent.  After all the issues surrounding the sidewalks, I think it would be important to have a paper trail in place.

So . . . will St. Davids now build their required sidewalks?  Or . . .  will the country club wait it out, in hopes that their road will somehow disappear from the yet-to-be-approved township sidewalk map? Let’s hope that St. Davids will do what they contractually agreed to do.  How long has it been – 5 or 6 years?

In a letter to the editor in this week’s Main Line Suburban, Tory Snyder, a Planning Commissioner and the chair of the special sidewalk subcommittee, gives an outline of the new sidewalk ordinance. As full disclosure, she indicates that she is a Board of Supervisors candidate in the East District. For folks that may not know, Snyder (D) is running against Paul Olson (R).

The following is excerpted from Snyder’s letter to the editor:

The facts of the newly adopted ordinance are as follows:

  • Sidewalks will be required on about 14 miles of Tredyffrin roads. The current ordinance requires sidewalks on all Tredyffrin roads.
  • All but one of the roads affected by the ordinance are major roads on which pedestrian safety is an issue. None of the roads are local roads per PennDOT or the Township Comprehensive Plan. Within the last two years a child walking along one of these roads with no sidewalks was hit by a car.
  • All roads affected by the ordinance provide needed pedestrian linkages to and from specific destinations, including schools, libraries, parks, train stations and shopping centers.
  • By nature of its location in the Subdivision and Land Development code, ONLY developers of non-residential and multi-unit residential properties would be required to build the sidewalks. Homeowners improving their own properties would not be subject to the sidewalk requirement.

This information lays out the facts and corrects some of the misleading and incorrect information that has been presented.

A planner by profession, Snyder further explains in her letter, “All 12 municipalities within a 25-mile radius of Tredyffrin require sidewalks in their subdivision and land-development codes. Almost all of these codes are stricter than the measured and balanced approach offered by the newly adopted ordinance. Were Tredyffrin to exclude a sidewalk requirement from its code, there would be no plan to add needed sidewalks in the future, and the entire cost of building any sidewalks would be transferred directly to the taxpayers.”

Stay tuned . . . the sidewalk saga continues at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Walkability in Tredyffrin Twp or. . . How to Keep a Private County Club from Building Sidewalks?

Is Tredyffrin’s sidewalk ordinance really about supporting walkability of Tredyffrin or is it about stall tactics to keep St. Davids Golf Club from building their required sidewalks?

Whether you were in the audience or watching from home, I hope residents have had an opportunity to watch Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Prior to the BOS meeting, I attended last week’s Planning Commission meeting; one of only 2 audience members (BOS member Mike Heaberg the other) who remained for 4 hours and 20 min. of the meeting.  My purpose in attending the Planning Commission meeting was to ask about the enforcement of the 8 open land development agreements.  These land development agreements had been placed ‘on hold’ since December 2009, 21 months ago pending the results from the special sidewalk subcommittee.  Although the sidewalk subcommittee presented their results months ago, the 8 existing land development agreements continued to remain open issues.  During a public hearing discussing the proposed sidewalk ordinance, the supervisors voted unanimously to ‘separate’ the 8 open land development agreements from any new sidewalk ordinance.  In other words, the 8 signed land development agreements would not be affected by any township ordinance change. It is the belief by many that legally the existing land development agreements could never have been changed based on any new ordinance.  To be clear, one of these 8 open land development agreements is the sidewalks required at St. Davids Golf Club.

Once the supervisors voted to exclude the existing land development agreements from the proposed sidewalk ordinance, I assumed that there was no impediment for enforcing the contracts (which was why I attended the Planning Commission meeting).  Much to my surprise (and to the surprise of some Planning Commissioners) in response to my enforcement question, I was told by the township manager that those agreements were still ‘on hold’ by the BOS.  I followed up with — what do we do to move forward. . . what’s the process. Ms. Gleason informed me that the BOS would have to instruct her to move forward or that a resident could ask the supervisors at a regular BOS meeting to move the process forward for enforcement.

Not really understanding ‘why’ the process continued to have delays, I took up my quest for resolution at Monday’s BOS meeting (prior to the public hearing).  There was no decision, no vote on the enforcement issue, but Bob Lamina said that he understood I wanted closure and perhaps it would happen as a result of the sidewalk ordinance.  I argued that the proposed sidewalk ordinance had no bearing (they had voted to exclude the existing land development agreements!) but I got no where.

We then get to the infamous public hearing on the proposed sidewalk ordinance.  With Lamina and Paul Olson fiercely opposed to sidewalks, there was endless rhetoric, it went on and on . . . the long and winding road. One could conclude Lamina’s behavior was nothing more than filibustering.

fil·i·bus·ter: The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speech-making, for the purpose of delaying legislative action.

A letter to the editor by Bill Bellew of Devon appears in this week’s edition of the Main Line Media News. (click here).

An accurate analysis of the BOS meeting, Bill writes, ” . . .  Some time ago I went to a BOS meeting and asked the board to “knock it off” when it came to these Washington-style debates. We the voters elect the board to run our township now and for the future. As a registered Independent, I couldn’t care less what party you are affiliated with –  just do the job we elected you to do. . . ”

So where are we with the sidewalk issue? I sent an email 3 days ago to Mimi Gleason, copying the BOS, asking when the enforcement letters would go to those 8 projects that have existing open land development agreements (including the sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club).  So far, there has been no acknowledgement of the email nor any response from our township manager (or the BOS).  With a vote of 5-2 (Lamina and Olson opposed) the proposed sidewalk ordinance was passed by the supervisors.  However, the ordinance passed without a map attached to it.  Without a map, it is my understanding there is no sidewalk requirement.  Until a map is approved to accompany the sidewalk ordinance, the Planning Commissions cannot require sidewalks as part of a land development agreement.  But even without a map, the signed land development agreements (including the one with St. Davids Golf Club) are legal and binding.  In other words, ‘where’ sidewalks are required may be temporarily ‘up in the air’ until a map is approved, there is NO impediment for the sidewalk requirement in existing land development agreements!

Tredyffrin’s sidewalk discussion has traveled beyond the borders of our local community.  In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, the following article appears.  To the Philadelphia Inquirer writer, Anthony Campisi who attended the BOS meeting, the story appeared to be simply sidewalks . . . some for them and other against them.  However, for many of us, we know it’s about a specific sidewalk in a specific location!

Tredyffrin sidewalk ordinance aims for a walkable community

By Anthony Campisi

Inquirer Staff Writer

To understand why Tredyffrin Township wants to build more sidewalks, look no further than Harold Scott.

The 69-year-old Pottstown resident was on his way to a church meeting in the township but wanted to stop first for coffee at a Saxby’s down the road on Route 30.

Rather than walking from the Church of the Good Samaritan, he ended up driving the 100 yards to the shop. The sidewalks “stop and start” too much to walk safely, he said, gesturing toward the road, with its islands of unconnected sidewalks and cars rushing by.

If the sidewalk ordinance adopted Monday does what it’s supposed to, people like Scott will be able to get around more easily on foot.

The ordinance will require new residential and commercial developments along roads yet to be designated to have sidewalks. Eight are currently planned in the township but it is unclear how they would be affected.

The result, proponents say, would provide longer stretches of sidewalk and a more livable community. Resident Hans van Naerssen told supervisors before the vote the ordinance would ensure that pedestrians have “equal opportunity” with motorists.

But the move to add sidewalks encountered some opposition from the supervisors chairman and vice chairman, who argued that the ordinance would raise costs and scare away development. They said the question should be put before voters in a referendum.

Tredyffrin, a mostly residential section of Chester County that encompasses parts of Wayne, Paoli, and Berwyn, has had a sidewalk ordinance for almost 25 years, requiring sidewalks to be installed as part of any large-scale project.

The problem, according to Township Manager Mimi Gleason, was that the requirement “used to be waived routinely” because the ordinance was vaguely worded.

The result is that much of the township’s 150 miles of roads lack sidewalks – including parts of major commercial corridors, such as Route 30.

The new ordinance – passed after almost two years of debate – is meant to change that by providing a more strategic approach that will result in fewer waivers, according to Supervisor Michelle H. Kichline.

But that argument didn’t persuade Supervisors Chairman Robert W. Lamina, who worried that the ordinance was “highly prescriptive.”

Because most of Tredyffrin’s neighborhoods are built out, the ordinance will affect mostly commercial redevelopment projects.

Sean N. McCauley, a developer and planning commissioner, disputed Lamina’s claim, saying “the cost of sidewalks is insignificant.”

With Tredyffrin competing with others to attract jobs, he argued that creating a more walkable community was essential.

Joseph Hacker, a top transportation planner at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, agreed, saying in an interview that sidewalk requirements make an “enormous amount of sense” if, as in Tredyffrin, they’re meant to connect residents to things like train stations.

Not everyone in Tredyffrin wants a walkable community.

“I don’t believe this township is a walking township,” resident Bob Robie told supervisors, adding that he’s happy driving.

Tory Snyder, a Planning Commission member, said a survey found that about two-thirds of residents supported more sidewalks.

Snyder, who chaired a sidewalk committee that helped develop the ordinance, said in an interview that it took a balanced approach.

But don’t expect walkability issues in Tredyffrin to go away soon. The Board of Supervisors has only begun working to figure out where new sidewalks would be required.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

What Does the EIT Tax Study Group and Sidewalks at St. Davids Have in Common?

Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors meeting is tonight, 7:30 PM at the township building.  The T/E School Board’s Finance Committee meeting is also tonight, 7:30 PM at the school administration building.  Looking at the agendas for both meetings, there are topics of interest.

According to the agenda for the Finance Committee meeting, the nine members of the EIT Tax Study Group are to be named at tonight’s meeting.  There were at least 150 applications received from residents by the June 15 deadline.  The selection criteria for members of the tax study group was agreed upon by school board members attending last week’s Public Information committee meeting.  It is the intention of the school board that those residents chosen to serve on the tax study group will represent a cross-section of Easttown and Tredyffrin residents.

In addition to the EIT Tax Study Group on tonight’s agenda, I noted with interested that the Finance Committee will present the custodial outsourcing bid results. It is understood that the recently passed 2011-12 school budget includes continued custodial service provided by the non-instructional union, TENIG.  For public information, it is important that the school district release the results of the custodial outsourcing bid process.  Going forward, it may not be economically possible for TESD to continue to retain TENIG for custodial services and the bid results will offer a starting point for future contract considerations.  I am glad that the school board decided to release the outsourcing bid results.

The long-awaited public hearing on the proposed sidewalk amendment and sidewalk fund ordinance was scheduled for tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting.  The homepage of the township’s website still lists the sidewalk public hearing; however, the public hearing is off tonight’s agenda and has been postponed until July 18.  I am not sure why the public hearing has been postponed . . .  the 2010 sidewalk subcommittee presented their results to the supervisors several months ago, the planning commissioners have completed their proposed sidewalk ordinance, and the supervisors have received the Planning Commission’s sidewalk ordinance recommendations.  So why postpone the public hearing? 

Any discussion of sidewalks in Tredyffrin brings up the elephant in the room . . . and that would be the sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club (actually it’s not a sidewalk, but a walkway!).  How many years ago was the original land development agreement signed between Tredyffrin Township and St. Davids signed?  Answer:  6 years; the agreement was signed in 2005.  How many times did St. Davids Golf Club go the Planning Commission seeking relief from building the sidewalks and how many times was their request denied?  I think the answer is 4 requests and 4 times denied.

In December 2009, the Board of Supervisors voted to name a yearlong sidewalk subcommittee to review the sidewalks, trails and paths throughout the township and to make recommendations for where they should be in the township.  After a year of meetings, the subcommittee presented their report earlier this year; and the sidewalk at St. Davids Golf Club was included on their list.  Next, the supervisors instructed the planning commissioners to review the sidewalk ordinance and make a recommendation for an amendment to include a ‘Sidewalk Fund.’  The Planning Commission complied – the work is now completed and their recommended ordinance amendment now rests with the supervisors.

This takes us down ‘Memory Lane’ but brings us back to the starting point, which is where do we stand on the sidewalk at St. Davids Golf Club?  To be clear, the existing land development agreement between the township and St. Davids is separate and apart from any proposed township sidewalk amendment ordinance.  For the last eighteen months, the St. Davids sidewalk has remained an open issue and I believe that the time has come for the township to enforce their land development agreement with St. Davids. 

Here’s hoping that the Board of Supervisors agree and that the St. Davids sidewalk issue can be put to rest, once and for all . . . at tonight’s meeting.  The township’s elected officials need to enforce the 6-year old land development agreement with St. Davids and require the construction of the walkway. 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Are Tredyffrin Supervisors Politically-Motivated over Land Development Authority . . . Is it all about St. Davids Golf Club?

I attended Tredyffrin’s Planning Commission meeting last night. The last agenda item was “Draft Amendment to the Subdivision & Land Development Ordinance”.

As one who understands the importance of community volunteers, it saddened me to listen to the discussion on changing final land development authority from the Planning Commission to the Board of Supervisors.  The Planning Commissioners are experienced, skilled and committed residents who spend countless hours in this volunteer position. They are dedicated to working together, collaborating with developers, architects, builders, etc. and making nonpartisan decisions.  These volunteers are now discouraged and confused by the motive of the Board of Supervisors to take away their final land development authority. Regrettably, many believe that the desire by some supervisors to take back land development authority is politically motivated and personal.

One commissioner reported that there has only been one unhappy applicant in his many years of service on the Planning Commission. Unfortunately, the one unhappy applicant is St. Davids Golf Club.  Three times this applicant came to the Planning Commission and each time the commissioners voted in favor of the land development plan, including the sidewalk. 

The Planning Commissioners are not necessarily opposed to the Board of Supervisors taking final land development authority; but all seemingly question the ‘timing’ and the political motives behind the need to change the ordinance now.  Although there is a liaison assigned to the Planning Commission, it was reported they have rarely seen their supervisor-assigned liaison attend a meeting.  Which begs the question, if there is no interest in attending the Planning Commission meetings, why do they want to take on the entire job of land development review?

Do the supervisors have any idea the length of time that land development reviews will consume?  Although Mimi Gleason pointed out that the township is about built out, as the economy improves there will be an increase in commercial redevelopment plus the significant Paoli Transportation Center land development project on the horizon.  The Planning Commission has experienced professionals volunteering their time – planners, real estate developers, attorneys, etc.  Our Planning Commissioners are volunteers with the specific skill set and willingness to commit the necessary time to the process . . . do we have supervisors with similar profiles?

Planning Commissioner Bob O’Leary has concern that changing the land development authority to the Board of Supervisors is going to increase staff time and the staff is already understaffed.  If the ordinance is changed, an applicant will first go to the Planning Commission for review and then the applicant will have a second review by the Board of Supervisors.  This double review procedure would be for both preliminary and final land development approval; doubling the work and expense of township staff.  In addition, doubling the efforts of all land development applicants.

Tory Snyder, Planning Commissioner and a member of the Sidewalk Subcommittee will be making the Sidewalk Subcommittee’s presentation on Monday to the Board of Supervisors.  The supervisors know that the sidewalk at St. Davids Golf Club is on the subcommittee’s map as a recommended site — part of the Green Routes Network.  Three supervisors, Phil Donahue, Michele Kichline and EJ Richter were members of the Sidewalks Subcommittee.  All three supervisors attended the last meeting of the subcommittee and voted in favor of the committee’s recommendations, including St. Davids Golf Club sidewalks.

Planning Commissioners believe that the Board of Supervisor’s desire to change the land development authority is directly related to their St. Davids Golf Club decision.  As Bob Whalen, chair of the Planning Commission said, ‘We voted on the issue three times unanimously; we didn’t vote on what was political, but voted on what was right”.  Whalen said that he does not intend to waste any more time on the ordinance.  He views the proposed ordinance change as a “Slap in the face to the Planning Commission.  I know the difference between right and wrong.”

I hate the thought that the Sidewalks Committee and the time and efforts of the volunteers was nothing more than a charade . . . all leading up to the St. Davids Golf Club decision and Board of Supervisors change to the land development authority.  No doubt, some supervisors expected the Sidewalks Committee recommendations would echo their desires; making it easier for these supervisors to deliver good news to the country club. These supervisors probably thought that by handpicking the members of the Sidewalks Committee would somehow guarantee the appropriate outcome.

I salute the members of the Sidewalks Committee who engaged community members through public meetings, accepted input from interested citizens, created maps and conducted a township-wide survey to get a consensus on sidewalks, bike trails and paths needs throughout the township.  However, their thorough, thoughtful and independent analysis did not deliver the outcome desired by some supervisors.

 Another group of volunteers ‘on hold’ is the Sidewalks, Trail, and Path (STAP) committee.  If there is sufficient support from some members of the Board of Supervisors, the time and talents of these volunteers may also no longer be needed.

There is a curious element to the land development authority discussion that cannot yet be calculated.  I was told by several sources that the current vote is 3-3 among the supervisors on the question of land development authority.  Three supervisors want the authority to remain with the Planning Commission and three supervisors want the final authority to shift to the Board of Supervisors.

However, here’s the interesting twist . . . The Board of Supervisors will appoint a supervisor to fill the supervisor vacancy prior to the March public hearing on the land development authority.  With the current supervisor vote count at 3-3, that new supervisor could be the tiebreaker! Wonder what supervisor candidates John Bravacos, Kristen Mayock, Eamon Brazunas and Mike Heaberg have to say about the land development authority?  I think that would make for a very interesting question at next week’s candidate interviews.

In summary, the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, January 24, 7:30 PM is important.  Please plan to either attend or watch from home.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Interested in the Future of Sidewalks, Trails & Paths in Tredyffrin . . . Attend Tonight’s Sidewalk Policy Committee Public Meeting

Do you remember Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors meeting back on February 22?  At that meeting the supervisors reversed an earlier decision to return the sidewalk escrow money ($25,000) to St. Davids Golf Club.  In addition to a reversal of the earlier decision, the motion by Chairman Lamina also established a township subcommittee to study the future of sidewalks, paths and trails in Tredyffrin.

Although I was glad for the creation of a Sidewalk Policy Committee to review the sidewalk issues and involve the public in the discussion, I voiced concern about the open land development liability issues that remained to the township.  What was the timeline for establishing a formal sidewalk policy? I recall asking where this situation leaves current land development projects that contain sidewalk requirements.  Setting aside sidewalk requirements in current and future township land development projects, pending the recommendations of the Sidewalk Policy Committee, clearly places the township in a precarious position.  Lamina stated that the subcommittee would begin working in March and would be expected to present their recommendations by the end of 2010.  In the interim, the township’s liability on land development projects involving sidewalks would remain an open issue.

There is a public meeting of the Sidewalk Policy Committee tonight – 7 PM at the township building.  I am curious to see the progress of the committee.  Charged with coming up with a formal policy on sidewalks in the township, the committee members are about halfway through the established timeline as set by the Board of Supervisors.  With a goal to complete the study and make a recommendation by the end of 2010, they have been working on the project for about five months. 

Understanding the township’s open liability issues on land development projects, I am confident that the Sidewalk Policy Committee will update us tonight on their progress.  The 9 members of the committee include Supervisors Donahue, Kichline and Richter; Planning Commissioners Whalen, Lukens and Snyder; and STAP members Moir, Donegan and Brake.  As Planning Commissioners Whalen and Snyder fully understand the land development liability issues and should be able to address those concerns.  Presumably, the next step in this process will be to set up regional public meetings and to distribute a township-wide sidewalk questionnaire.  I look forward to updating you on the progress of the committee tomorrow.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Another Angle on St. Davids Escrow Desision . . . STAP (Sidewalks, Trails & Paths) Committee Member Weighs In

Molly Duffy, member of the STAP (Sidewalks, Trails & Path) Committee looks at the recent Board of Supervisor decision in a different light.  What does this decision say to its residents about the future walkability of our community?  The STAP Committee thought that the supervisors shared their vision for a walking, biking landscape, but do they? Below is Molly’s letter to the editor that appears in this weeks edition the Main Line Suburban Life newspaper.

Tredyffrin supervisors missing the big picture

To the Editor:

Five years ago a handful of concerned Tredyffrin residents got together to talk about how we could make the township more walkable and bikable. The township agreed that this was a worthy goal. After all, 78.5 percent of residents who responded to the 2004 Parks Recreation and Open Space survey stated that they would be likely to use an interconnected townshipwide trail system in Tredyffrin designed for pedestrian, runners, skaters and bikers.

Later in 2005 the Board of Supervisors formally created the STAP (Sidewalks Trails and Paths) Committee and charged it with the mission of identifying priority trail and sidewalk areas, determining appropriate trail and sidewalk types, and researching funding options. This very committed and energized group of volunteers did just that. The township’s Green Routes Network can be viewed at www.tredyffrin.org. As a member of STAP I’m proud to say that our highest-priority sidewalk project will be under construction within a few months. New sidewalks will connect T/E Middle School, Conestoga High School, Daylesford Train Station, the YMCA, the Easttown Library and the village of Berwyn. Residents will no longer have to walk on the road and risk their lives to get to any of these locations, and the school district may be able to eliminate the cost of operating a few buses. Because of the dedication of STAP and the township’s very talented and effective staff, the township received a $2.8-million grant that will pay for this project. If STAP and the Board of Supervisors had not had the vision and patience to move ahead with this project, it would not have been shovel-ready and consequently it would not have received ARRA grant funds.

The Board of Supervisors’ Jan. 25, 2010 vote to forgive St. Davids Golf Club’s obligation to build a path along Upper Gulph Road, which is part of the Green Routes Network, makes me wonder if the township still cares about its future.

Transforming Tredyffrin, largely developed in the car-centric 1950s and 1960s, into a walkable, bikable community is no small task. A best-case scenario estimate would put completion of the Green Routes Network at 15 years. Nevertheless it is a task we must complete if we want Tredyffrin to be a place where people want to live and work in the future. Yes, it will cost something. Perhaps it will be grant-funded. Perhaps it will not. Regardless, it is a wise investment in our future.

It is standard practice for new developments in Tredyffrin and elsewhere to include sidewalks in their plans. For many reasons people don’t want to rely on their cars to take them every place they need to go. People of all ages call Tredyffrin home. Many are too young to drive, some are unable to drive, and many more just want another option for getting from here to there. The ability to walk to school, church, work, the library, the dentist’s office or shopping gives us all, young and old, a sense of independence and some decent exercise.

The Green Routes Network will never include every street in the township. Instead it strives to connect residents to popular destinations. In the next few years, the Chester Valley Trail will cross our township on its way from Downingtown to Valley Forge. If we plan proper linkages, many Tredyffrin residents will be able to safely walk or bike to the trail from their front doors.

Recently the national news has focused on studies showing that while real-estate values have dropped, homes with a high walkability score have dropped much less. It is becoming standard for real-estate listings to show a home’s “walk score” because many homebuyers want to be able to walk or bike to a destination. You can find your home’s walk score at www.walkscore.com.

If we don’t begin to implement the Green Routes Network that the board of supervisors recently approved in the updated Comprehensive Plan and reaffirmed in the Green Tredyffrin Resolution, we’re taking a step backwards and depriving our children and grandchildren of a livable, desirable community.

Sincerely,

Molly Duffy, Paoli

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Community Matters © 2017 Frontier Theme