After nearly two hours of deliberating and hearing every angle of a story that East Vincent Township residents, business owners and government officials all had a vested interest in, the EVT Board of Supervisors voted to approve the ordinance at hand for the Jones Motor property, changing it from an Industrial/Professional Office-General Industrial zoned property, to a Commercial Oriented Mixed Use zoned property.
As the meeting closed, chairman John Funk asked the other two supervisors, vice chairman Mark Dunphy and Christine McNeil if they had heard anything from the public or presenting officials to change their opinions. Dunphy said he did not, while McNeil emphatically shared her lack of faith in the option of changing the zoning.
“I feel the size of this type of development is beyond the capacity of the township. It’s too big and this type of development is not ready for the township,” McNeil said to a roaring round of applause from the close to 100 citizens in attendance at the meeting.
However, in response to hearing that, Funk made his motion to approve the overlay and a booming outburst occurred from the crowd. Screams from the crowd badgered Funk and Dunphy, concluding with one audience member saying, “You’re not getting elected next time!” Still, Dunphy stood by his decision.
“From my perspective, I understand the emotion,” Dunphy said. “It’s an emotional event. There’s no question. It’s what goes into people’s back yards and that’s a fact. If you look at it, this has been in the works for a very long time over the course of many years. Our zoning, we have introduced in our township with the preservation of open space in our town, has dictated that the growth area that has been designated by the planners, is right where that area is going.”
In response to the approval, McNeil gave a booming “NAY!” Her outrage continued after the meeting.
“I think this is a travesty, what happened here tonight,” said McNeil. “East Vincent is going to be changed forever. And these other two supervisors are destroying our township and they don’t care. I wonder why they don’t care when they all lied about why they wanted to be elected to this township. I have a deep love for this entire township. We could have had a development that was in scale, appropriate to us, brought a mix and would be great, instead of an overbuilt environment that will destroy what people have come to live here for.”
Many townspeople shared McNeil’s opinion, saying they came to live in East Vincent for the “rural atmosphere.” A few from the audience even said they moved out of areas like Ardmore and Phoenixville because these places went into a development stage similar to what is anticipated with the approval.
Funk did not wish to comment, citing illness.
The Jones Motor property, owned by James Koegel, is located on Route 724 and Bridge Street. The permit is said to now allow Koegel to sell to a developer, who can build retail, service and office space, along with an average of 373 homes and a town center component. Essentially, presenters compared this type of development with downtown Exton and Phoenixville.
In the public comment portion of the meeting, many residents included their favor for the rural atmosphere as a reason for opposition to the overlay, but also expressed dissatisfaction with the potential traffic that would be created on roads like Route 724 and Route 23, the safety of existing children in the community due to the heightened traffic, a lack of a “natural community,” and an increase in minimum wage jobs that could potentially cause an elimination of skilled labor jobs.
Overall, citizens were happy with the attendance at the meeting, despite its outcome.
“It was quite upsetting to hear Funk ask Dumphy, ‘Did you hear anything this evening that would change your mind?’” said Saul Rivkin of Spring City, who plans to run for the board in November. “This means their minds were clearly made up prior to the meeting. The audacity and disrespect that Funk displayed was inexcusable. The message by the residents indicating that they demanded their township was to remain rural was clear, consistent and it was ignored.”
Limerick Patch will continue coverage of the meeting throughout the day. Stay tuned for a fact sheet, more quotes and the affect this may have on Spring City later on.