Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Doyle & McDonnell

What does historic preservation, an assisted living facility and a high school parking lot have in common? Answer: Tredyffrin Twp Planning Commission Meeting, Thursday, Nov. 21, 7 PM

There should be a standing room only audience for the Tredyffrin Township Planning Commission meeting (Click here for agenda) on Thursday, Nov. 21, 7 PM at 1100 Duportail Road, Berwyn. For those that do not typically attend these meetings, I suggest that you come prepared to “stay awhile”!

First up on the agenda is the historic resource amendment. The township has over 800 historic buildings and this ordinance is to protect (from demolition) the 70 most critical historic structures. The 70 township structures on the list are either on the National Historic Register or are deemed eligible. Putting my historic preservation “hat” on as president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, chair of the annual historic house tour and owner of one of the 70 historic properties on the list, this ordinance has been a long time coming. Members of the township’s Historic Commission and the Trust are in full support of this ordinance and look forward to a recommendation from the Planning Commission. The proposed historic preservation ordinance will next go to the December Board of Supervisors meeting.

Next on the agenda is the final land development application for Solera Senior Living, the proposed assisted living facility on Russell Road in Paoli. You may recall a few years back; C-1 zoning in the township was updated to include multi-family and assisted living facilities. As a result, the Daylesford Crossing assisted living facility was built as a permitted use in C-1, with many neighbors opposing. However, Daylesford Crossing is located on Lancaster Avenue, not on a narrow residential street like Russell Road. The Russell Road applicant plans to demolish two office buildings, consolidate three separate parcels and construct a 3-story 116 unit assisted living facility.

There is increased discussion about reviewing the permitted uses of C-1 zoning. However, it should be noted that any future zoning changes to C-1 will not impact the Solera project, already in progress. In addition, there are some in the community who feel that the Board of Supervisors should retain final land development approval not the Planning Commissioners who are appointed, not elected. At this time the planning commissioners will have final approval on the proposed Russell Road assisted living project.

TE School District’s $40 million high school expansion and parking lot plan is back in front of the Planning Commission. At the Zoning Hearing Board meeting tonight (Wednesday, 7 PM at township building) the District will seek an amendment to its appeal to reduce the number of proposed parking spaces from 128 to 94 (270 parking spaces are required).

The District is seeking preliminary/final land development approval to build a 40,500 sq. ft. two-story addition to the existing 215,900 sq. ft. high school. In addition, a new surface parking lot with 94 spaces (presuming it is granted by the Zoning Hearing Board). It is the proposed parking lot on Irish Road and the possible unintended consequences that are of concern to many of the neighbors. In addition to the removal of many mature trees, questions/concerns about the parking facility range are wide-ranging including storm water, increased traffic, safety, lighting, etc. etc.

Adding to another layer of complication to the proposed project, is the very recent decision by the school board to take the 13 acre Doyle-McDonnell nursery site by eminent domain. There are some in the community (including myself) who feel that the pause button should be put on the proposed $40 million high school expansion plan and parking lot. I understand the demographics and increasing student enrollment plus the perceived additional cost (?) to slow down and review but still … there could be additional opportunities for the high school expansion plan with the purchase of the adjacent nursery property (and this is a $40 million taxpayer-funded project!)

I am of the opinion that to push forward with the parking lot and the high school expansion without a thorough review of alternatives (in light of the eminent domain purchase of 13 adjacent acres) is short-sighted. This planned parking lot on Irish Road is going to have a detrimental impact to the neighbors – in an area already greatly affected by stormwater issues.

All residents should be encouraged to attend the Planning Commission meeting – find out firsthand what is planned for the community – this is your tax dollars. All Voices Matter!

Toll Brothers Plan for 85 Townhouses on Cassatt Road (Doyle & McDonnell Nursery site) – Please Just Say No!

Oh my goodness, how did I miss this significant development plan in Tredyffrin Township!? For those that may not have heard, there is a proposed plan for 85 townhouses on the Doyle & McDonnell nursery property next to Conestoga High School. Yes, Toll Brothers has signed an agreement of sale for the 13 acre Doyle nursery property in Berwyn with plans for 85 townhouses. However — the Doyle property is zoned R-1 residential which means that multi-family townhouses are not a by right use.

It is my understanding that the school district has a right of first refusal on the property but has yet to exercise it. Would it not make sense to acquire the property and build the parking lot for the high school expansion project on the Doyle property? Or possibly build two schools, one for 9 and 10 and the other 11 and 12. With the existing stormwater issues and concern of the neighbors over the proposed parking lot site on Irish Road, will the District look at the Doyle property?

Some of us worried about the deep pockets of Catalyst Outdoor and its ability to fight the community over the digital billboard situation – but a quick check on Wikipedia ranks Toll Brothers (, a public company as the 10th largest home builder in the US, trades on NYSE:TOL and lists 2017 revenue at $5.8 billion!

Generally we hear rumors about a development plan before it gets to this stage but with a Toll Brothers agreement of sale and a conceptual sketch drawing filed with the township, looks like the ball is rolling fast! Many of us are troubled about the rate of development in the township and the impact on school district enrollment, traffic, stormwater, open space and on and on! The next Planning Commission meeting is Thursday, Nov. 21 and concerned citizens should plan to attend!

When Tredyffrin and Easttown supervisor candidates responded to the Community Matters question about the number one issue facing the township, real estate development was at the top of the list. In Tredyffrin Township, many of the candidates (and now elected supervisors) heard that residents wanted final land development approval to go to the supervisors. How quickly could the supervisors enact that change and will it make a difference? Remember, Catalyst came to the township fifteen months ago with its proposed digital billboard project and the township has yet to update/change its signage ordinance to address the issue. Perhaps our newly elected supervisors will provide action for the voices of the community.

If I had a vote, I’d say slow roll the high school expansion plans and thoroughly investigate ALL alternatives!

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