Pattye Benson

Community Matters

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.

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  1. I read Ms. Snyder’s letter to the editor in the paper and thank her for her explanation of the ordinance. I live in the panhandle area and will cast my vote next month for the candidate that has a vision for Tredyffrin.

  2. Would the folks in Tredyffrin be interested in applying for a Smart Growth America Technical Assistance Grant ? A walkability audit might help in creating that
    “yet-to-be-approved township sidewalk map”

    Tool: Walkability Workshop/Audit
    Provider: Smart Growth America and Walkable and Livable Communities Institute
    The Walkability Workshop/Audit is a one-day assessment and training workshop that includes a
    technical presentation, a walkability audit, partnership-building activities, visioning exercises, a short
    design session, and the creation of a working group. The workshop can be developed to
    accommodate local needs and contexts, and has been effectively used in all regulatory
    environments. A community-wide or stakeholder presentation by the team can be made in the
    The Walkability Workshop has been delivered for over 20 years in hundreds of communities
    throughout North America. It is continually being refined in order to remain effective as planning and
    engineering environments change, and in the presence of new technology and communications
    The workshop will begin with a walkability audit, followed by a technical presentation on contextspecific
    solutions for issues of transportation design and livability. Over the course of the day,
    participants will learn:
    • how best to design healthy roadways and streets for all modes of transportation
    • the role of aesthetics in creating healthy, harmonious, livable communities
    • what is required to lead walkability audits for other community organizations
    After the technical presentations, workshop participants will break into small groups to identify design
    challenges in the community, collaborate on potential solutions, and present their ideas to the larger
    group. The ideas that result from these conversations are often implemented in later projects. To
    ensure that the lessons from the workshop can be effectively translated into tangible change, the
    WALC Institute team will continue to work with participants after the day’s activities. The team will:
    • prepare and deliver a technical memo that summarizes findings and observations from the
    workshop and audit
    • lay out a series of next steps the working group and community should undertake to
    become more walkable and livable
    • offer descriptions of best practices that will aid in the implementation of next steps

    Selection process and criteria for Smart Growth America free technical assistance
    Eligibility for assistance
    Any unit or subdivision of local government, Indian tribe, or regional government is eligible to apply for this service.

    Selection process and criteria
    Applications for Smart Growth America technical assistance will be evaluated on the basis of criteria established by SGA in consultation with EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities.

    SGA staff shall review each application for completeness. Only complete applications shall advance to the next step.
    A proposal review committee shall review each proposal per the criteria listed below.
    SGA will determine which applications best meet the selection criteria and offer technical assistance to those communities.
    SGA reserves the right to reject any or all applications as not meeting its requirements.
    Successful proposers will be notified by November 12, 2011.
    The primary selection criteria are:

    Interest in smart growth solutions (20% of score) – The community’s application should demonstrate interest in smart growth solutions and show that the requested technical assistance tool is an appropriate way to address the community’s issues—that it helps them overcome barriers to implementing smart growth and sustainable community solutions.
    Need for technical assistance (20% of score) – SGA wants to work with communities that are interested in smart growth and/or sustainable communities development strategies but lack the capacity or expertise to implement local solutions.
    Involvement of key community leaders (20% of score) – The degree to which local government, business and community leaders demonstrate their commitment and capacity to implement the results of the technical assistance. Smart Growth America requires a letter of commitment signed by the mayor, county commission chair, or comparable elected leader that states the commitment of local leaders to implement any local initiatives that result from the smart growth technical assistance offered. This letter must be uploaded with the application.
    Readiness to implement (20% of score) – Is the community ready to act based upon the tools supplied? Evidence that the community is ready for action will help SGA to determine which communities will benefit most from technical assistance.
    Public Involvement Plan (20% of score) – The community’s capacity to carry out public engagement (particularly to low income and disadvantaged communities) and the quality of the proposed engagement plan (how will they get the word out? is the location accessible? do they have letters of support from relevant partners?).
    Other factors that will affect the selection of communities to receive technical assistance:

    Geographic diversity – SGA desires to work in a variety of states, regions, and communities and with a diverse set of populations.
    Equity – The degree to which the application contributes to the diversity of the communities being assisted through this program—and the diversity of communities that have adopted smart growth more broadly—with an emphasis on low income, disadvantaged, and rural communities.
    Past receipt of assistance – Has the community received related technical assistance from EPA or other federal agencies in the past? Is the community currently applying for technical assistance from EPA, other federal agencies, or other EPA Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program grant recipients? If yes, how will the assistance being requested with this application complement or leverage the other assistance already received or being applied for?
    Reporting requirements
    Recipients of technical assistance will report regularly (at a minimum 30 days, six months, and a year after the assistance) on progress implementing any local solutions that result from the assistance.

    Application deadline
    The deadline for Smart Growth America Technical Assistance applications is October 26, 2011 at 5:00 PM EDT. Applications must be submitted electronically by this time. Applications received after this deadline will not be reviewed.

    Pre-Application assistance and communication
    SGA is holding a webinar to discuss the technical assistance program and the application on October 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm EDT. Interested parties may register by clicking here.

    Any communication regarding this proposal shall be in writing to assistance [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org. The SGA project team will reply promptly. SGA requests that applicants not contact other SGA staff.

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