12 April 2011


Sorry I have not sent anything out for a while. I was traveling and not able to take the time to deal with the Internet. Now that I am back and getting caught up, I have come to find out that I was addressed at a meeting recently. I took the time to transcribe the entire monologue of Manager James Wendelgass so you may read it. The video (March 7, 2011) may also be viewed on the township website to confirm the accuracy of my transcription. I will break this down into multiple e-mails so that this does not become a novel.

I have been grossly misrepresented by Mr. Wendelgass, which should surprise no one. Whole truth is not his forte. Everything with a slant. He is claiming to address all the wrongs of my e-mail, leaving the impression that he is answering allegations of mine. The fact is, for the most part, the allegations don't exist. It is about leaving the impression.

Here is what he said, in italics, followed by my comments.

I have something, um, and this relates to, um, last week, um, we were told there was an e-mail, another e-mail out there from Chickenman, uh that e-mail was, uh, forwarded to me, uh, and I reviewed it, and, uh, the only reason I'm making comments tonight is because , a-a-again there is just a lot in that e-mail which is incorrect, uh, both from a state standpoint of how the zoning ordinance is interpreted, it's also incorrect in terms of , of, the TDR process. Uh, in terms of the the TDR process, um, TDR worksheets for the property are in question and we are talking about Pam Brown's property and for every other property that is considered by the , uh,  township and by the Open Space Committee, all were done by Castle Valley Consultants, uh, they've never been done by Carroll Engineering.

I will say that I labeled the wrong Engineering firm in my last e-mail. I said Carroll Engineering and it was Castle Valley. Carroll Engineering replaced Castle Valley as the Township Engineer. My mistake, but it was still a Township Engineer.

Um, there is a procedure in terms of how they are done that's contained in Section 2503 of the Zoning Ordinance, that's part of the TDR section that was adopted in 1998 by the Board of Supervisors. As part of the compliance with State Law, uh, because the township had two open space referendums, uh, which raised money to buy, among other things, TDR's, the township formed an Open Space Committee that is, as the name suggests, advisory to the Board of Supervisors. It was founded in 2003, after the first Open Space Referendum passed.

He talks about  Open Space Referendums. I have never questioned the referendums. The voters voted for them and trusted the Township to do the right thing with the TAX money they were given.

Pam Brown has been the Chair of that Committee since it formed. Um, she recused herself from any consideration of her property when her property was considered by that committee. That Committee developed a system for evaluating each property that was before it and each property was ranked under that and that committee made the non-binding recommendation on the purchase of TDR's to the Board of Supervisors.

Jim made the point that Pam recused herself during consideration of her property by the Open Space committee. I have merely pointed out that Pam Brown was on the Open Space Committee and that she is an environmentalist. I never claimed that she persuaded the money come her way via her position. In fact, what I said in that e-mail was “I think I should mention that Pam is West Vincent Open Space Advisory Committee Chairperson and West Vincent Environmental Advisory Committee Member and also the  Conservation Director of the French and Pickering Conservation Trust whose mission statement is “To preserve and protect endangered land and natural resources in the northern Chester County watersheds for future generationsOne would think that with credentials like that she would be the first person to look after the preservation of open spaces.   But it seems her own personal interest can easily usurp those responsibilities.”

With respect to all the agreements for purchasing TDR's, or Transferable Development Rights, nego—those negotiations and the actual agreements are negotiated by the Board of Supervisors and the Seller, uh, the Open Space Committee is not involved with that. There is also, as part of the process, a public hearing that is held for each purchase.

The hearing for Pam's TDR's was held on January 14, 2008. That was when the Supervisors were Barry DiLibero, Zoe Perkins and Ken Miller. After the hearing, the Board voted to buy the TDR's, uh, and bought the TDR's.

Jim correctly states that at the time of the hearing the supervisors were were Barry DiLibero, Zoe Perkins and Ken Miller and immediately goes on to say that the Board voted to buy the TDR's.  This gives the misleading impression that all 3 were in attendance and voted to buy the TDR's.  However DiLibero was not at that meeting.  “The Board” would have been Ken Miller and Zoe Perkins, not including Barry DiLibero. This is clearly shown on the minutes for that date http://www.westvincenttwp.org/publicmeetings/January142008.htm

The closing on that purchase was relatively quick, as opposed to there was another hearing that was the same evening. The reason why some perceived the closing faster than others is primarily because the township needs to get clear title to the Development rights and that can take time.

I have never questioned the speed of closing.

The property that Pam has is actually two parcels. One is approximately 2.9 acres in the R-3 Zoning District, which had one TDR.

I had made mention that there were two Pam Brown parcels that TDR's were paid on. One was 2.9 acres of questionable soils and stream. Jim skirts that issue completely.

The second parcel was 10 acres in the RC District, which has approximately 3 TDR's. One thing that people need to understand is that what the TDR process does, is it prevents a person from building another primary dwelling. It does not prevent a person from building an accessory dwelling. And Accessory Dwellings are allowed and have been allowed in the Zoning Ordinance since 1987, they're specifically allowed under section 2201 of the Zoning Ordinance and that's exactly what Pam Brown did. She worked very closely with the township personnel to build an accessory dwelling. It is not a subdivision of the property, its not a violation of the TDR agreement, its not a violation of the zoning ordinance.

Um, the other thing and one of the reasons TDR sales are attractive to the people who do them, is that they do not, the township does not tell the person selling the TDR's what they can do with their property. Farmers can continue to farm their property, if they so desire, they can do other things with respect to the property. The only thing they can't do is land, or develop additional primary dwellings on their property.

Jim claims that the TDR deed restrictions keep one from building another PRIMARY DWELLING, but not an ACCESSORY DWELLING. I cannot emphasize enough that is NOT what the covenants say and I attached and highlighted her exact covenants in my last e-mail. It says, “The term 'Development', as used in this agreement, shall be taken as meaning the construction and occupancy of a separate residential home....”. It does not speak in terms of “subdivision” or “accessory dwelling. Pam Brown built a residential home and the covenant specifically says she needed to hold back a TDR in order to build one. She did not. You, the taxpayer, got snookered. It gets worse, believe it or not, but I will deal with that in another e-mail.

Um, with the respect to the cutting of trees, the TDR process has nothing to do with the cutting of trees, um in this township, uh, trees have been, for many years considered a crop. There's a lot of people in this township who have, um, had loggers come in and take trees down on their property, that's allowed. Uh, in 2010, the zoning ordinance was amended to put in a requirement, this is a requirement that relates to when a property is, goes under subdivision land development, that if there are specific definitions in the ordinances to what constitutes a specimen tree that if they're specimen trees, all efforts are to be made to preserve the specimen trees. If it can't be done, then there are to be additional plantings of additional trees. Now, the trees that were in question that were on Pam's property were Pines and Tulip Poplars and specimen Pines need to be 2 feet in diameter, I have never seen one in West Vincent that's 2 feet in diameter and for a Tulip Poplar, they need to be 3 feet in diameter. These are very large trees and that's why they are defined as specimen trees, because they are unusual specimens, so, there is nothing in the TDR process that would have prevented her from cutting down any trees. There is also nothing in the zoning ordinance that would have prevented her from cutting down any tree at the time.

The discussion of cutting down trees is brought into question and Jim consumes a good amount of oxygen exonerating Pam from accusations of her violating and zoning or TDR rules. I never said it was illegal or against any rules. I simply found it funny that a tree hugger was willing to decimate all those trees for her house (see the Google Earth pictures before and after) and take out a tree line of stately looking pines 70' tall. 

There's been some other issues raised primarily in some other, uh, issue, uh, emails and I'll just address this quickly. One is, uh, with respect to her son's business, uh, state law says there is something called “no-impact” home based business and by law, the township is not allowed to regulate a “no-impact” home based business. The township does have in it's zoning ordinance Section 2209 a, uh, provision that people can have home occupations, uh, as best as we can determine to the extent that Pam's son has a business at that property, uh, it is a no-impact” home business and the township does not regulate it.

About the fence business on Pam's property. I find it funny that Jim states that they cannot regulate it since the state has control of this type of thing, yet the Municipal Planning Code is very clear when it states, “To empower cities of the second class A, and third class, boroughs, incorporated towns, townships of the first and second classes ….to plan their development and to govern the same by zoning, subdivision and land development ordinances, planned residential development and other ordinances.....defining “no-impact home-based business” and further providing for ordinance provisions,.....”

This means that the State requires the Township to define what businesses are allowed to be no-impact “home based” businesses, contrary to what Mr. Wendelgass states. There is nothing in the township zoning that specifically allows a fence business to be located in the home, unless using their definition of “woodwork”, a term not usually reserved for fence making and installing with heavy equipment.

Now, with respect to zoning, uh, Chickenman made a lot of statements about the zoning that, quite frankly, haven't been true since 1978 and, I'm, not 1978, 1998. In 1998, the township completely re-did it's zoning ordinances. It did so it kept the maps the same so it still called districts R-2, R-3, RC. But those designations, which used to mean that you needed 2 acres to build a house in R-2, 3 acres to build a house in R-3, and 5 acres to build a house in RC, um, after 1998, those with the designations of the Zoning District but they no longer have that meaning. Uh, the reality is that to determine what can be built on a piece of property, it is very compulated, uh, ah, ah, calculated...complicated calculation, I'm sorry. Uh, which is essentially a TDR calculation to determine haw many units can be built on the property. Uh, there is no minimum lot size, so, uh, (undetermined word) for larger subdivisions, the clustering has allowed the subdivision to meet the extensive Open Space requirements of the Zoning Ordinance, so, I, I'm not sure where Chickenman gets his explanation of the Zoning process but I would encourage anyone to look at the zoning ordinance and not go by what's in the e-mail because what's in the e-mail, quite frankly, is wrong and has been wrong for over 10 years.

Beyond that, I would just like to note that, um, I spoke with our Zoning Officer, to see if anyone came in to her in advance of that e-mail going out, I'm talking anyone, to check as to whether the facts that were in that e-mail were correct. No one did, no one came in to me to make the same check, so to the extent that checking was done, I'm not sure how that checking was done but much of what was in that e-mail was in error. I just wanted to point that out tonight.

I have checked with people who understand the Zoning just fine and looked at the property carefully. If 3 lots can be squeezed out of that 10 acres in RC, it would be very difficult. In order to carve the property to make a three lot subdivision, maybe the Engineer has a magic wand, and even if he could, I would like to know how he could validate the ground across the street for a TDR. But don't believe me, go look for yourself. It's at 1072 Jaine Lane.

I am sorry to have to explain these things and I have probably bored all of you to tears but I think it is important to respond to the comments made by the township manager. Next installment, Clare speaks out. Remember what I said, the best about this property is yet to come.

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Best wishes

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