The Board of Supervisors of East Vincent Township have spoken in a 2-1 vote. The Jones Motor property has added a commercial mixed-used overlay to its zoning as a result of the meeting and the vote. Wednesday night's public hearing shed light on a lot of facts and figures, but also had some opinions. Here are some notable quotes and concerns from residents:
Stephanie Adrian: “I listened to a lot of things and I have an ear for probably something very different. I guess one of the things I heard was, and it concerned me, that somebody is coming in and proposing that they’re going to create community through buildings. They’re going to build community through shopping centers and houses. I don’t think that’s how we create community. I think we create community by including all individuals and establishing that there’s no right or wrong sides – republicans versus democrats and adults versus children. I hear a lot tonight about how we don’t want children. I’m not making the judgment on individuals and I want to be clear about that.
"What I’m hearing is that if we have children, then we have to pay for them. We have to pay to put them in school and we have to pay the school district because it costs a lot of money to put them in school. I’ll tell you, I think the parents that have kids know that. I don’t think we’d have that discussion if we had a good economy. I know how much it costs to put my child through school. It costs a lot of money, and I’m scared, because when we talk about community and we start saying that old people can live in this community and young people can live in this community and kids with special needs can live in this community, it sounds like segregation.
"I really believe that in this country, we have equal rights. We can’t have a developer come in and say we’re going to build community. We can’t have township officials say that we don’t want kids because they cost money. That scares me. Kids are wonderful. You were all kids at one point in time and people put up with you.
"I realize that statistics can say a lot of things, but when you live in community and go into community where kids don’t get the things that they need, we’re not any one of us entitled to say what we get to do with the land. We need to work together and I really wish we would. I don’t care if you put a Target there, it doesn’t matter to me. That would be really great. I wouldn’t have to drive really far away. I just really want us to think about not segregating people and deciding who is who.”
James Turnbull: “I heard a lot of comparisons earlier between King of Prussia and Exton Town Center. The differences between those areas and here is you have four lane roads surrounding all of those areas – Route 30, Route 35, Route 100, 202 and 422. I’d like to hear somebody address the real infrastructure issues. It sounded naïve to me in creating bubbles where people come and go from other areas to this area. What is the plan to deal with the lack of infrastructure?”
Ray Ott: “I think you have a point in, is the capacity there to serve a development of this magnitude? Again, I’m not a traffic engineer, but I really don’t think it is. If it’s not, the development won’t occur. It’s like the way the property is zoned now and it didn’t get developed, and I think one of the reasons it didn’t is because of access.”
Bill Hall: “I live on Stony Run Road, so this is going to be right in my neighborhood. I echo that concern. I travel those roads all the time and it’s difficult to come out of Stony Run Road and make a left-hand turn onto 724 because of the traffic that’s coming down there now. In all these other places, they are at major exits on major highways where you can get in and get out without driving through the neighborhood.
"I have real concerns when I hear the words rezoning. It’s usually about personal interest and not public interest. They have to have property and they have to develop it, but it’s certainly not in my interest. I moved out of Phoenixville to here to live in a rural neighborhood and that’s the kind of living I like and I don’t want it to change. I inquired about that property over there when I bought my home and it was supposed to be 'light industrial' and things like that. From what I can see and the way it was going, I assumed I could live there all my life and not have a problem with what would happen to that property in that neighborhood.
"You toss these comparisons between the zoning now and the new zoning? The zoning now, nothing is going to happen much with that property unless the rezoning occurs. I’m concerned about property value, I’m concerned about traffic, I’m concerned about my well water.
"It’s not uncommon to spend 40 minutes traveling on Nutt Road, 23, to King of Prussia. It won’t take much more to make Phoenixville an absolute gridlock. It’s not just our little community. When I moved into this community, it’s about family and household. There’s no place for that here, honestly.”
Matt Olsen: “I think you’re trying to propose something novel. There’s a lot of devils in the details. Another one of my concerns is the schools. The students will take care of themselves. We’re pro-family here, that’s the nature of our community. If you want to look what really happens when schools have a problem is when we lose students. Case in point, Detroit area in Michigan. Their school systems are imploding because they’ve lost population. That’s your problem, not actually having schools. I hope you all think about that very carefully as you go in and consider these things. I think you really need to think about traffic flow, infrastructure, where the water is going to go and all those other things. Those can all be done by good, data-driven analysis.”
Tom Fagan: “I think we all agree that that corner is probably an eyesore. There’s not a person in this room that wouldn’t like to see it developed somewhat. The real question of why we’re all here is: do we really need this? The question we really have to ask is, are we afraid to drive ten minutes to the outlets, twenty minutes to Limerick, twenty minutes to Exton or a half hour to the King of Prussia mall, which we all do now? Do we really need this?”
John Beniger: “It seems between the two zoning stipulations, there’s a complete difference. One, the town doesn’t have as much power and control over what’s in there and the landowner has the right to sell it to whomever he wants. The new zoning laws, it looks like the town can decide what they want to do with it. It gives the town more control, which in turn, gives the people more control of what goes in there. Because eventually, they’re going to put something in there regardless of whether or not you don’t mind having a building across the street from your house or something else.”
Tim O’Baron: “I believe that we need to be realistic, and I’m not for your development, let me state that clearly. I think we need to be realistic that development will occur there one way or another. I don’t disagree with the analysis you’ve done, but times have changed completely. I don’t care what happened in King of Prussia or Exton or benchmarks or anything else. I chose to live here and raise my family for the atmosphere and the school district, let’s be real.
"We need a realistic view of what the economy is like today, the demographics and what the households are like with the kids. If you look at the school districts around here, they have always been in five to 10 years of catch up in getting the schools up to size. I completely disagree with one of the comments. It comes down to family and it comes down to kids.
"The question is, how do we ensure the infrastructure and that the schools are kept up in an appropriate way. We need to think about the kids, the impact on the families and why people chose to go here. Do I want your development? No. Do I think we need realistic numbers? Yes.”
John Funk: “Whoever buys the property and decides to development is betting their money on what’s going to happen in the future. That’s one point that’s really missed a lot. This zoning is half the situation. A lot of money is going to be spent if something is going to be developed.
"Whoever says they’re getting up on the diving board and jump off on this thing, they’re going to do all kinds of studies, as you would if you had a lot of money at stake. I think the whole other side of this is the market. Who’s going to buy it and who’s going to develop it? Is it going to be developed to a maximum? I have no idea, but it hasn’t been developed and they haven’t been able to market it. What are we going to do?
"We’re using this multi-use plan to try to help them and help ourselves. Is it going to be done? Who knows?”
Desiree McIntyre: “I think we’re going in the wrong direction. This development benefits the owner of the property and is opening a Pandora’s Box for residents. I don’t want this. Look at what happened at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets. Do you see the amount of crime that comes out of there? And what about the development at that ghost town that is Oaks? We want to keep this a rural township. If we wanted the hustle and bustle, there are plenty of places to find that. We voted for elected officials on this Board of Supervisors who we thought agreed with us. Please don’t vote for this.”
Lois Rieger (Read by Diane Benelli due to health complications): “Mr. Funk, When you were running for position, you came to my home and asked for my vote.
One of the first questions I asked you was, ‘are you going to preserve the land in East Vincent to ensure it remains rural without big business?’ You looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Absolutely!’ You went on to tell me how you wanted to preserve the ‘country-side atmosphere’; and, added that ‘the area could not accommodate the consequences of big development.’
You continued by telling me how inadequate the road system, sewage, etc. was and that we could not handle any significant increased volume in East Vincent and that big business would cause a congestion of traffic far too great for our community. You stood on my porch for more than a half-hour convincing me of your sincerity. I gave you the courtesy of listening to you, and I trusted you. So, now, I would like you to tell the people who have assembled here this evening, with sincerity and in truth what has ‘incentivized’ you to change your mind so drastically. Surely there must be an incentive involved to turn your conviction 180 degrees, thereby, causing you to follow the golden calf – especially without a solid, succinct planning investigation.”
Funk did not respond.
Jim Vaughn: “I have more experience than most residents in the area. I’ve been here since 1968 and own 20 acres of property. Fifteen years ago, I served on the industrial planning commission for the industrial park. I told Jim [Koegel], who was also on that board with me, that light industrial is phasing out and the more reasonable we made it, the more we’ll get out of it. We zoned this property properly as a light industrial and it would work if we used it right. We have to get involved so that it’s done right.”
Ken Thorpe: “There are no bus stops where the thru-traffic comes in. We have to protect our kids on the street if we build this up.”
Alicia Eickhoff: “I moved here from Phoenixville because this is a more rural area. If you bring in business and housing, you bring in crime and taxes. We’ll need more police officers and sewage and that means a lot of us would have to give up our well water. I don’t want that.”
Dennis Kilp (former chairman of the Planning Commission): “The traffic structure has gotten worse and doesn’t support big development. We have always been against residential development.”
Joe Calomaro: “I have been a part of development with places like Providence Town Center in Collegeville. This just doesn’t make sense. It’s too big and is an oversaturation of retail. Look at Limerick and Collegeville. Township supervisors there said the same thing. ‘Just because it’s been approved doesn’t mean anything will go there.’ But in my experience, once you get to this point, the deal is already done.”
Michael Pavesi: “At the end of the day, tyranny prevailed and citizen desire was ignored. At the end of the day, disillusionment pounded another nail into the coffin of public distrust and disgust with elected leaders. At the end of the day it was business as usual.”
Stay tuned to Patch for the final thoughts of Spring City residents and officials tonight.