Rejection of high density has important implications for Marple's last forest
Seeing through the greenwash
“What remains of the county’s open land, so crucial to our quality of life, is in short supply and under a great deal of development pressure. Public meetings and surveys undertaken as part of this open space planning effort reveal that open space and recreational facilities are a priority to citizens countywide. The public has expressed interest in the re-greening of urban areas, recreational parks, trails, and open spaces, with a heightened sensitivity for natural resources. In response to public interest in open space, the [Delco] is taking a proactive approach in planning to identify needs and opportunities, as well as to address the challenges facing the County during the early third of the 21st century…”
The support is there
• The plans don't allow for nearly enough open space
• The traffic from this plan would overwhelm area roads and drive traffic to neighborhood streets
• The only way to get less traffic would be to build on less of the site
• Any development there should have real trails that wind around the entire area and connect to other trails in the area
• This plan doesn't show a town center; it’s a 1970s big box complex
• A project has to offer certain benefits to the township to be worthy of a zoning change and this doesn’t
• Marple’s residents have clearly and loudly said they don’t want it
• It’s not the fault of the community that Goodman agreed to pay too much for the property
• Marple is a dry town and businesses wishing to locate to a shopping center like this would push the town to become wet.
• Air quality is a real issue as one commissioner said that he’s recently come down with asthma, which now afflicts county residents in epidemic proportions
Neither Marple nor the county has ever had an open space bond, yet many townships in Delco have approved such referenda which is why they have hundreds of preserved acres within their borders. What's more, voters in every other Phiadelphia-area county have overwhelmingly approved ballot initiatives to raise money for open space preservation so much so that well in excess of a billion dollars have been raised to protect land in these counties. Delaware County is long overdue for such an open space bond.
The Paxon Hollow Middle School auditorium was filled to capacity with residents who came out to oppose Cardinal Crossing.
Marple’s commissioners reject the rezoning request and turn down Cardinal Crossing
By Ken Hemphill
Destroying 203 acres for 10 acres of fields?
A third of a cable bill
The Marple Township Commissioners heard the Cardinal Crossing presentation, heard their constituents, and put their foot down to protect Marple’s quality of life. In saying no, they affirmed that they would not change the zoning on the site. Each commissioner echoed the objections and concerns lodged previously by the county planning department, Marple’s planning commission, Pennoni Associates, Tom Comitta, and independent consultants. Some of their specific objections were:
The ball is now back in the Archdiocese's court.
According to a study by the Center for Conservation Finance, a 100 million dollar bond would cost each household in Delaware County just $36! For one third the cost of a typical cable TV bill, Delaware County residents could save most of their remaining open places, refurbish dozens of athletic fields, help rejuvenate existing parks, and plant street trees all over the county. All of these would go a long way toward improving our air quality, enhancing our quality of life, and raising our property values. It would literally breathe new life into the county.
It's important that this not be seen as a tax. It's an investment that will pay dividends for our children's health. It's a capital infusion to help Delaware County compete with other counties. It's an intelligent use of our resources to protect the future of our county.
What you can do to help
So what happens now?
A survey was commissioned by the Delaware County Planning Department in 2012 which found that open space ranks as a priority with residents and that a majority of residents are willing to pay for it. There’s even strong support for it in county government. According to the Open Space and Recreation Plan approved by County Council last year, “numerous studies have indicated that there are significant benefits to protecting open space, as it has the power to attract business, promote tourism, elevate property values, and create a sense of place.”
Cardinal Crossing is back and it's
just as bad as before
Since Bruce Goodman has said that he can’t revise the plans anymore and still have a financially viable project, we would expect that he is free to walk away from the project and pursue other ventures. From a legal perspective, he has made a good faith effort to get his plans approved, but now that they have no chance of moving forward, the Archdiocese should release him from his contract and refund his deposit. For the sake of our children's health, we hope that the Archdiocese will now agree to sit down with us – as one representative of the Archdiocese promised us last September – to discuss a fair price that reflects its actual wholesale value, not one based on rezoning and completely building out the site. It’s not worth anywhere near $47 million. If all environmental constraints are factored in, we believe it’s worth less than $20 million. By selling this land for its actual value, the Archdiocese would still make millions and at the same time they would be practicing what Pope Francis has preached in his encyclical of last summer. Let's not forget either that this forest represents a drop in the bucket in the Church's overall real estate portfolio, but it is a very big bucket to us. Selling this to us would also honor taxypayers who helped the Church own this land. Archbishop Chaput, let us buy this forest.
May 12, 2016
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Certainly, there would be state money, a source which both candidates for the 165th PA House seat have said they would tap. Candidate Alex Charlton reiterated his promise to find funding sources to protect this last eastern Delaware County forest. This is very welcome news, yet there is another funding source even closer to hand. Some monies could come from Marple, but the lion's share could be raised by Delaware County.
By Ken Hemphill
Chairman Mario Civera;
Vice Chairman, Colleen Morrone
From Delaware County's Open Space, Recreation, and Greenway Plan.
This open space, recreation, and greenway plan was approved by county council last April. Since the report talks extensively about the importance of protecting our remaining open places, we're hoping that county council agrees to help us save this forest with a county-wide open space bond. Click image for the report.
Air Quality Update: December 27
It's not a done deal: January 18th
Contact the Archdiocese and ask them to sell this land to us. Contact Delaware County Council and ask them to sponsor an open space ballot initiative.
Archdiocese contact info:
In case you missed our other articles
The resolution passed by County Council affirming that they fulfilled the conditions of the grant which funded the county open space plan.