Pattye Benson

Community Matters

TE School District Submits VFMS Fencing Permit Application … Tredyffrin Township Denies Request!

No FencingValley Forge Middle School fencing was not on the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors April 20th meeting, but many Chesterbrook residents attended the meeting and spoke against the TE School Board’s project. The supervisors deferred all questions/comments to the township’s solicitor Vince Donohue for response who told audience members that the township would not get involved until the District made either a “permit request or there was a shovel in the ground”. Chesterbrook residents left the meeting hoping for a more proactive approach by township officials.

The ‘wait and see’ township attitude was quickly tested when the School District submitted a permit request for the Valley Forge Middle School fencing this past week. The township’s Planning and Zoning Director Matt Bauman denied the permit request on the spot and in a letter to the School District, stated

“Please be advised that the permit is hereby denied. The issuance of the permit would violate the terms of that certain Zoning Hearing Board Decision in Appeal Number 64-02 issued December 17, 2002.”

The School Board’s action attempted to violate the legal agreement between TESD and the Chesterbrook Civic Association. Without an amendment to the Special Exception granted by Tredyffrin Township’s Zoning Hearing Board in 2002, how does the School Board think that they can move forward with their planned fencing project at VFMS?

Unless something has changed in the last couple of days, there has been no movement on part of the School Board or the District to resolve the VFMS fencing situation directly with the Green Hills residents or with the Chesterbrook Civic Association. As David Miller, president of CCA told us at the supervisors meeting, there has been no return of phone calls or emails to either himself or to the Green Hills and CCA attorneys from the School Board or their attorney David Falcone of Saul Ewing. Yet the District went ahead and made a permit application for the fencing!

I encourage Chesterbrook residents and Valley Forge Road neighbors to bring their chain link fencing opposition message to the TE School Board meeting on Monday, April 27, 7:30 PM at Conestoga High School. At some point, the School Board has to listen to those that they were elected to serve.

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  1. it is obvious that the school board does not recognize the existence of the 2002 agreement that THEY signed with CCA, otherwise why would they even attempt to submit a permit app at all?? it took our Township to remind them they need to abide by written contracts they have made….so now what, School Board? Are you going to continue to waste taxpayer money on legal wrangling, or will you now come to the table with the appropriate Homeowners Associations with a reasonable plan that both parties can live with? you cannot impose your will on this situation as you thought, that train has left the station.

      1. School Board members whose terms are up this year (2015) and are not seeking re-election: Jim Bruce (R), Pete Motel (R), Karen Cruickshank (D) and Liz Mercogliano (R).

        Republican School Board President Kris Graham’s term is up and she is seeking re-election for another four years!

    1. The Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

      • Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: Neal Colligan
      • Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: George Anderson
      • Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Kris Graham*
      • Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Edward Sweeney

      The Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

      • Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: Roberta Hotinski
      • Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: Todd Kantorczyk
      • Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Michele Burger
      • Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Alan Yockey

      The following current school Board Members are stepping down and not seeking re election.

      Jim Bruce Tredyffrin, Region 1
      Karen Crunickshank, Tredyffrin, Region 1
      Liz Mergagliano, Tredyffrin, Region 2

      Pete Motel Easttown, Region 3

      The following are School Board Directors seeking re election.

      Kris Graham, Tredyffrin, Region 2

      Pattye, Have I left anyone out. Are there others running?

      1. The list is complete. For clarification, school board candidates Graham, Colligan, Sweeney, Burger, Hotinski and Kantorczyk cross-filed Republican and Democratic but Anderson only filed Republican and Yockey only filed Democratic.

  2. This was 100% expected. Bauman has no discretion here. First, there is all of the notoriety with this issue. Second, there is the 2002 agreement. Just because Bauman states the fence would violate the terms of the agreement, that is not the last word on the matter. Conditions can always be reviewed and changed. Remember, this agreement is between the school district and the township, not with individual home owners. We already know that if the school wants to put up a 4 foot fence, it can do so without a permit, regardless of the 2002 agreement. This brings up an interesting point because the 2002 agreement does not contemplate a fence. The question is what bearing, if any, does an additional 2 feet of fence has on things. If this goes in front of the BOS, one of the issues they will have to confront is whether fencing goes to the agreement. If it doesn’t, then the BOS could conclude that the 6 foot fence is within the conditional use. This might trigger a separate ZHB proceeding. Keep in mind too that 3 of the supervisors are not running for re-election. That means there only needs to be 1 more vote. I think that vote could come from any of the other 3 supervisors. This matter is a long way from being resolved.

  3. I can address some of these questions, having been involved in the 2002 negotiation. Fencing was originally proposed by TESD as a bordering mechanism for abutting homeowners at that time, along with permanent stands (for the athletic fields), P.A. systems and the like)..These proposals are all documented..all of these items were negotiated out of the final disposition and subsequently dropped by TESD as preconditions for moving forward and obtaining the Special Exception zoning ruling issued by TT. So, Mr Baumann is correct in his interpretation, and any changes to the 2002 ruling would have to be heard by and approved by TT ZHB. Interestingly, the Special Exception applied to not only the RC zoned property but also the other parcels of land occupied by VFMS. Sitting here today, I can almost guarantee that this issue will NOT reappear before the ZHB; TT has made it plain they do not want to play referee on the specifics of what Chesterbrook Civic Association and the School District can work out..what their permit denial has made abundantly clear to TESD is that TESD must negotiate a mutually acceptable safety plan that respects the 2002 agreement..
    So you are correct, its not over..but the next major move is on TESD..

  4. Many, many residents attended the School Board meeting last night to voice their opposition to the planned fencing at Valley Forge Middle School. Although a fencing permit request was turned down last week by Tredyffrin Township, it is not over. According to SB member Pete Motel, he and SB President Kris Graham (finally) spoke to Dave Miller, president of Chesterbrook Civic Association yesterday. The plan is to set up a meeting for further discussion regarding the fencing project and signage. I have the distinct feeling that the School Board plan remains to push the fencing through — Motel again cited the 2 reasons for the fencing: (1) student security and (2) to mark the boundaries. We will count on the Green Hills folks to keep us up-to-date about fencing meetings and discussions.

  5. —————
    TESD must negotiate a mutually acceptable safety plan that respects the 2002 agreement..

    Not going to happen. Safety concerns, as a matter of public policy, will never be subordinate to any sort of land development agreement. If you dispute the efficacy of a safety measure, assuming you will have standing, you will need to provide your own experts to challenge the district.

  6. The irony is the fencing project is about marking borders, not exclusively student safety. The Facilities Chairperson has stated as such in meetings I have attended. This property, because of the previous 2002 Covenant cited (between Tredyffrin Township and TESD) and deed restrictions can neither be fenced or border-marked without mutual consent. It is a unique property of all the TESD parcels.
    Student safety is of the utmost importance in these times especially. This does not give any school board carte blanche to randomly place fencing anywhere they care to…without serious community input, this project will never it.

  7. I believe having a four-foot chain link fence around our school properties may actually DECREASE the safety of our children. It will limit egress in times of emergency. It will force students to walk/run along the fence line to find an open exit, which could make them easier targets for a bully or a stalker. And, let’s face it, a four-foot-high chain link fence will EASILY be scaled by ne’er-do-wells. It is only the smaller school children who will have trouble getting over it in times of emergency.

    Think about it. How many of the school shootings we’ve seen in our country would have been thwarted by such a fence? It seems more likely that kids running from the school would trapped or limited by the fence.

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