Hi

For about two years, I have been approached by readers about the old Birchrunville Schoolhouse property, aka, the old township building, the Birch Run Village project, the Wilkinson Project.  I have stayed away from the issue.  Now, things are heating up and most of the people in the township have no idea what is going on.  I am simply going to refer to it as the Schoolhouse.

First, the location. The Schoolhouse is located at the intersection of Flowing Springs Rd and Schoolhouse Lane.  This location is part of Birchrunville, an area zoned Birchrunville Village District (BV). Many newcomers to the township have no idea where this is because they have no need to drive into this particular part of the township. Take the time to go see it. Historically, this is the heart and soul of West Vincent Township.

About the Schoolhouse. West Vincent Township recently published an article in it's newsletter about the schoolhouses of West Vincent. Here is the article:
http://westvincenttwp.org/index.php/2011-09-12-17-52-18/past-news-stories/435-school-houses-of-west-vincent-township

The Schoolhouse served as the West Vincent Township building for many years, until the current one was built on the Evans Farm on St. Matthews Rd.

What happened in years after the new West Vincent Township building was built?  West Vincent Township sold the property to the Wilkinsons.  The Wilkinsons purchased the property with the intent of developing the tract to the maximum allowable use, which is 2-3 additional buildings (distance issues are still in question) of 2500 square feet each and the Schoolhouse.  The property owners took the time to install a large drainage system under the parking lot (replacing a small pipe) and re-routed a spring that was located in the wetland area. The pipe exits the same location that the original 16 inch corrugated pipe was stationed, but the replacement is 30 plus inches in diameter, pointing directly at the neighbors property, just a few feet from the property line.

Plans have been submitted to the township since around 2004. The township said that the first plan was submitted in 2004 and that plan was later denied. There is another development plan that seems to get continuous extensions. This is where the development stands now. There are several issues that have been disturbing to the neighbors. Those neighbors have come to township meetings to ask questions and to let their feelings be known. A website has been set up to inform the public: http://www.birchrunvillepeople.com

There have been several articles written about the subject:

W. Vincent residents concerned about proposed development’s sightlines
http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20120628/NEWS01/120629523/0/SEARCH/w-vincent-residents-concerned-about-proposed-development-s-sightlines#full_story

Plans for Birchrunville offices face opposition West Vincent supervisors meet tonight
http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20120709/NEWS01/120709712/0/SEARCH/plans-for-birchrunville-offices-face-opposition-west-vincent-supervisors-meet-tonight#full_story

Plan for traffic signs, lights raise concerns in West Vincent
http://www.dailylocal.com/article/20121212/NEWS01/121219853/0/SEARCH/plan-for-traffic-signs-lights-raise-concerns-in-west-vincent#full_story

Also the Chester County Ramblings blog:
http://chestercountyramblings.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/chester-county-at-risk-historic-birchrunville/

As you will see from the articles, there is a bit of fear about the changes coming to bucolic Birchrunville.  I don't think the fear is unwarranted.  Flashing lights. Installation of stop signs on a street that ices over so badly in the winter that people can't stop at the intersection.  Now drivers will be required to stop, whether they can or not.  This is a business development in a tiny crossroads community that is so out of the way (several miles from the nearest highway, Rt 401), some residents of the township don't know where it is located.

It all seems very bizarre, but after all, this IS West Vincent Township.  A core group of people are fighting to preserve the area that the Supervisors have always spoken of with pride.  The West Vincent Supervisors in office at the time of the property sale at time emphasized preserving our historic resources and open space.  Those same Township Supervisors were instrumental and successful in promoting not one, but two tax increases for open space, voted in by the residents and will not be paid off for a well over a decade from now.  All of this was done to get others to limit their development.  Yet the Township owned one of the most important properties in the municipality and when it was time to sell the property, to liquidate it from taxpayer ownership, did the Supervisors deed restrict the parcel?  Was any action to protect the Schoolhouse from falling to development?  The answer is simple.  No.  Those in charge of the Township at the time, sold out the residents.  They knew that the property protected was not a valuable as one sold unfettered and open to exploitation of development.  The greed of wanting more money for the property overruled the right thing to do, which was to preserve the site, to deed restrict it.  Had the Supervisors done the right thing, way back when, none of the current situation would be taking place.  No effort would have to be expended, no valuable time wasted defending this historic part of the community, because the right thing would have been done.  No flashing lights, no stop signs, no street modifications, no bright lights, no increase in traffic, no diversion of waterways.  Who were the Supervisors at that time? Ken Miller, Clare Quinn and Zoe Perkins.  The new owners of the Schoolhouse will continue on until the property will be developed, which is their right, given to them by those Supervisors, because those keepers, the elected guardians, sold it unprotected; with no deed restrictions.  All responsibility for what Birchrunville becomes falls squarely with them.

I would like everyone to remember that these are the exact same West Vincent Township Supervisors that one year ago were attempting to take the Ludwig's Corner Horse Show grounds, hiding behind the shield that they, the government, were trying to protect the property for the residents and the good of the Township.  Those Supervisors implied that the Horse Show Association was being irresponsible with their own land by not deed restricting it and it was the Townships DUTY to Eminent Domain the private property so nothing would happen to it.  Yet, Miller, Quinn and Perkins didn't protect the Schoolhouse in that earlier year.

This may be the last newsletter for this year. I end it with a quote from a Chickenman of over 225 years ago.  He was speaking about local government (was he thinking of West Vincent?):

“.....of those occasional ill humors, or temporary prejudices and propensities, in which smaller societies frequently contaminate the public deliberations, beget injustice and oppression of a part of the community, and engender schemes which, though they gratify momentary inclination or desire, terminate in general distress, dissatisfaction and disgust.” Publius

Publius was the pen name of Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father to the United States of America.

Have a Merry Christmas and what other holiday(s) you may celebrate.  Please spend time with friends and loved ones and also reflect on what this holiday season is truly about.

To see my previous mailings please click on http://tinyurl.com/westvincentinfos  As usual, if you want to be on or off my list, or have some comments or suggestions, or know someone who would like to be on the list, please let me know.  Feel free to forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested.   Especially though, if you don't want to continue to receive my mails, please tell me, it will be done.  Just hit reply to this email or write to chestercountynews@gmail.com

Best wishes

Chickenman