Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Community Matters: Your Voice Matters … Except when it comes to C-1 Zoning Change!

At the Board of Supervisors meeting last night, Keene Hall was standing room only. Although many residents attended for the public hearing for the proposed C-1 ordinance change, I was surprised at how many stayed until midnight when I had the opportunity to present my personal statement under ‘citizen new matters’. (My statement will appear on a separate Community Matters post)

I thank all the citizens who took 4-1/2 hours of their time on Monday night to show support and to have their voices heard on the C-1 zoning change to permit assisted living usage. Tredyffrin residents spoke out from across the township, Paoli, Berwyn, Strafford, Wayne, etc. not just the Daylesford neighbors. Hours of public testimony and not a single resident voiced support for the proposed C-1 zoning change. Citizens stated opposition for a host of reasons … flawed process, spot zoning, preferential treatment to a developer, should be a conditional use not a by-right use, bed density, safety concerns for patients, increased demand on township’s emergency services, etc. — the list went on and on.

Township supervisors asked many questions of the developer Ed Morris and his attorney Denise Yarnoff, suggesting to the audience that they were not entirely supportive of the zoning change. However, in the end, the questions from the supervisors did not really matter; the motion to change C-1 zoning to allow assisted living facilities passed 6-1. The only supervisor who heard the residents’ concerns and voted accordingly, was Phil Donohue. As the middle district supervisor, it will be interesting to see which side receives his support at the Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay public hearing on October 1, when the issue surrounds his constituent’s backyards.

Unfortunately, for many residents in this township, the overwhelming Tredyffrin voices in opposition to changing the C-1 zoning was not heard by our local government,

Trisha Larkin, president of the Daylesford Neighborhood Association sent the following statement:

Dear DNA Members and Tredyffrin Residents,

A heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for taking time out of your busy lives to contribute to the cause.

Clearly, last night’s vote was shocking. It’s a painful loss. As a taxpayer and Tredyffrin resident, it’s shaken many of us to our cores. The insight gleaned from the BOS’s final vote leaves me defeated, frustrated and more importantly, frightened regarding Tredyffrin’s future. Joe and I have only lived here 4 years. I can’t imagine how some of our decades-long Tredyffrin neighbors must feel this morning. Heartsick is the word that springs to mind.

To the Daylesford neighbors and Non-DNA members (you know who you are) that attended countless meetings and contributed tirelessly, you’ll never know how much we appreciate you!

I’ve taken calls from 4 lawyers in the last 13 hours saying we have a great case for an appeal stating “spot zoning” pure and simple. That may be true

In closing, perhaps we should ALL keep in mind the six supervisors that flagrantly disregarded our opposition when they run for re-election!

  • Michelle H. Kichline, Chair
  • John DiBuonaventuro, Vice Chair and OUR Daylesford/Western/3rd District Supervisor
  • Paul Olson – 1st District
  • Mike Heaberg – At Large
  • Kristen Mayock – At Large
  • Evelyn (EJ) Richter – At Large

We should note that Supervisor Phil Donahue (2nd District) was the sole supporter of the DNA. He’s got some friends in Daylesford.

I am blessed to have met many of you for the first time via the DNA. I certainly hope to keep in touch and please join our FACEBOOK page to keep abreast of what’s going on in the neighborhood. We love building our network. If you’re out walking by our home, please knock. Join us for a cup of coffee … or better yet, a beer or a nice glass of wine! Our treat! :-)

You’re the best group of people! Thanks for everything!

Kind regards,

Trisha Larkin

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  1. If memory serves me right, developing Chesterbrook was also opposed on a mass scale. We all survived from that decision and we’ll survive this one too

  2. One of the most amazing things i have ever seen in Tredyffrin – and that metric was super high already. The arrogance displayed by those voting in favor was astonishing. These 6 must truly believe that they are smarter and more important then the dozens of voices opposed.

    Not one of the votes in favor even articulated the slightest reason why it was so important (or urgent) to shoehorn this use onto this small parcel, nor to open the door for other even less appropriate use elsewhere in the township going forward.

    Thanks for listening to the residents BOS – good job….

    1. It has the looks of outside influence, or at least the BOS is getting bad advice. When the board is so dead set on approving something that has almost no public support and was not favored by the county during it’s review you have to wonder what is going on here.

  3. It seems to me that the BOS fairly represented the majority of their constituents who likely see little distinction between assisted living and the uses already approved for the limited number of C1 parcels in a finite area of the township, are anxious for development of a blighted site that will generate jobs and tax revenues without a proportionate increase in demand for government and education services, yet were not prepared to sit through hours of commentary.

    As I’ve noted here in the past, my family has lived alongside an assisted living facility that straddles commercial and residential zones on a barely 1 acre site, and we found them to be excellent neighbors.

    I was encouraged that Supervisors committed to following up on the developer commitments made during the hearings so far, and I expect that the development approval process will provide opportunities to further consider valid neighbor concerns.

    I was also pleased that the Board is going to look at its web site communications policy, and Andrea provided nice models from the school district. There was one step in the right direction with the resignation of the ZHB member in the news. We will of course be left to speculate about the still unexplained – and probably inexplicable – clerical errors by two experienced police officers. I doubt that even the official police report would help with that, but it would be nice to see the BOS surprise us all and release it.

    1. Sorry, I forgot to mention that the labor agreement with the Municipal Employees Association was approved with no explanation or questions from the Board. Don’t taxpayers have the right to know the scope and cost of the agreement and the implication for future taxes? Is the silence because the agreement is indefensible, like the assumption of a 7-3/4% annual return for the pension fund that was also announced last night?

    2. Ray – you must have been watching a different meeting – i didnt see any constituents who were fairly represented by the BOS Monday night. You are free to support the use and the zoning change, but dont make up facts, no one other than the developer and his attorney spoke in favor, dozens of constituents voiced concerns against!

      1. @Not so fast: AGREE!

        @ Ray: Just wondering, when you lived next to the Assisted Living facility on one acre…what was the density again? Was it 93 units? Was the parking lot built on 1-acre of RESIDENTIAL property? Was there adequate green space or walking trails for those residents, workers or family members who visited? Did it overlook a vet clinic where some lucky residents will be LITERALLY have a window that overlooks an incinerator used for animals that pass? Was the front entrance just yards away from an incredibly busy road (like Rte. 30) that’s already burdened with traffic? And some of those drivers speed up like gangbusters to blow through the yellow (or red) traffic light to get to Conestoga or elsewhere?

        I truly appreciate that many have different opinions on this topic. But seriously, THIS project WILL BE a size 13 shoe on a size 7 foot.

  4. At the risk of stoking a fire, I think we all need to separate the anger about the Benson intimidation from the disappoitnment on the C-1 decision.

    Trisha — I think one thing very clearly came out at the meeting — that the only way this will get built once it goes through all the hoops of setbacks and land development and other requirements is to be a very high end place. No need to worry about density — because these units expect to compete with other higher end locations and the cost at Wellington, a month to month option in West Chester is $8,000+. Dunwoody is about $5,000 a month but requires several hundred thousand dollars down. The constant reference to these smaller parcels for Sunrise (I believe Mr. Morris said that was a standard for the industry) Assisted living is not a retirement home. Assisted living requires the facilities to “age in place” — and the lack of land around many of them is doubtless due to the fact that at those prices, no one goes for “assistance” unless it is of a serious enough nature as to require supervision and even “lock down” options.
    But regardless — the site in Bala Cynwyd has options that start at $192 a day for assisted living. This isn’t going to be a place to stash anyone….

    So to somewhat agree with Ray, I do not think many residents of our community are troubled but the idea that an assisted living facility might go into a site that lies dormant but would approve by right a storage unit site, a convenience store or other C-1 uses. I think the supervisors want to see Tredyffrin “revitalized” (Ms. Mayock used that term)….and if we have to do it one site at a time, so be it. By the time this gets built, it might not be Capital Health, or Mr. Morris or whatever. Just keep that tape where Mr. JDB so proudly asserted he would hold the developer to his commitments.

    And remember when they try to figure out how an ambulance heading to Paoli Hospital is supposed to exit the site turning left across two lanes of traffic BEFORE the light that Mr. JDB spoke personally that neither emergency services group was at all concerned.

    1. @TR: Thanks for weighing in. I respectfully disagree with you (or others) that feel comfortable with the proposed density. I think you’d agree I’m not alone there (based on Monday’s turnout). But let’s not beat that horse into submission. If this project is Tredyffrin’s revitalization savior, good lord – we’re in trouble.

      Regarding JD’s promise to hold Ed Morris to his commitments? Yes, as you can imagine, we’re all holding our collective breath. Insert sarcasm here. JD wasn’t supportive of his district during this entire process. Why in the WORLD would he start NOW? As far as Ed Morris? He’s lied in our faces since the start. He lied to the PC and BOS and said we supported the project. His integrity is shot to many of us. You heard it Monday night for yourself. We have no hope he’ll do what’s right. We feel NO person at the Township will hold him to task. How sad – or those that will live IN the building, and to those that live AROUND the building. Lose/Lose.

  5. I was born, raised & live in Tredyffrin (70+ years) and have seen many changes made to zoning throughout the years. 2 huge ones: the overturn of residential 5 acre minimum lot size and Chesterbrook. Dare I say when the consultant finalizes his report on our Commercial Zoning, you’re going to see more changes. Some resident aren’t going to like it, but if Tredyffrin is going to survive the 21st century, these changes will have to be made. To be sure, I would bet most residents don’t see or read articles concerning offices & development which appear on a regular basis in local papers.

    1. MG – Tredyffrin does not need to worry about it’s survival, we are doing just fine, and will continue to be ok even with some temporary vacancies – it is part of a normal economic cycle. In fact, careless and poorly vetted zoning changes will ultimately do more damage to the township then good.

      But you are correct that ultimately some thoughtful zoning changes may be beneficial – isn’t this analysis the purpose of the $100K consultant study that has been authorized?

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