Diminished Quality of Life for Chester County Residents
Paving over 325 acres of open space and replacing it with 317 houses will bring urban-style noise, congestion and commotion, not to meniton higher taxes to pay for the additional services that will be needed. With 12,000 residents squeezed into less than 9 square miles, Westtown can ill afford to add 1,000 new residents practically overnight to its population.
Declining Home Property Values
As quality of life is harmed, impacts of this high-density residential development will also cause home property values to decline and flooding the housing market with hundreds of new homes will bring down everyone's values through simple supply and demand economics.
This Toll Brothers development would generate between 1,500 and 2,000 new vehicle trips each day. As every Chester County resident knows, Route 202 should not be saddled with additional traffic with congestion already at "failure" loading. Traffic from this proposed Crebilly development would increase on all area roads as well: South New Street, 926, and Pleasant Grove would all be greatly affected. Unfortunately, we are paying the price for unheeded "smart growth" recommendations from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. The DVRPC concluded that U.S. Route 202 from West Chester to the Delaware State Line has been excessively overburdened by poor planning. It wrote, "it is essential that local governments utilize their regulatory powers to improve land use patterns and better manage growth within their municipal boundaries. Multi-municipal cooperation is also necessary to ensure that consistent and complementary planning occurs along the corridor and throughout the study area. Going forward, DVRPC and Chester and Delaware counties are committed to supporting the implementation of smart growth strategies in this dynamic section of the Delaware Valley region traffic situation in this area is already far in excess of what current road infrastructure can manage." Unfortunately, townships like Westown along the 202 corridor have allowed tremendous housing density to choke this essential travel corridor. And "Adaptive traffic signals" will not make this problem less ridiculous or irresponsible. Finally, the pollution from these additional cars would have a measurable impact on our health.
Environmental and Health Impacts
Calling a proposed development a "by right" plan does not make it so: it is someone's opinion. In this case, the proposed 317 houses for Crebilly represents the opinion of Toll Brothers, a national development corporation. We are certain that many environmental constraints are not being taken into consideration. Importantly, there is no way to paving over FIVE PERCENT of Westtown Township without causing significant detrimental environmental impacts. Keep in mind that Chester County ranks 15th of 67 Pennsylvania counties for its overall cancer rates. The pollution from housing density of the current proposal will certainly not help this statistic.
Dubious Tax Benefits
Several important national studies have conclusively proven that new development costs municipalities between $1.03 and $2 for each new dollar of tax revenue raised. The increased need for expensive services like schools, police, sewer, water, road maintenance and repair, snow plowing, township personnel, insurance, etc., offset or negate any increase in tax revenue. This Crebilly development could add possibly 300 to 500 new students to West Chester Area School District. These numbers represent an enormous additional expense to taxpayers as added teachers, buses, buildings, insurance, etc. will be made necessary. Open space on the other hand is actually economcially beneficial for a community as it sends no cars to roads or students to schools.
Increasing Sewer Demand Will Cost Everyone
There is no way the residents of this new development will be able to pay all costs necessary to maintain the "onsite sewage disposal" system proposed by Toll. Major infrastructure repairs will most certainly be passed onto existing rate payers and possibly taxpayers.
Paving a Virtual Public Trust
These 325 acres were held in Pennsylvania's "Act 319," a putative "land preservation" program that actually doesn't place any sort of restrictive easement on the land. The current owners have enjoyed massive tax breaks for more than 40 years, possibly in the range of half the normal tax bill. That missing revenue was made up by the rest of us. We paid higher tax rates to cover the missing revenue from Crebilly. That would be a small cost, however, to keep Crebilly open and undeveloped. Yet to leave the program, that is, to develop their land, the "rollback taxes" only extend back seven years. Taxpayers of Westtown and Chester County are on the hook for the other 33 years. These facts ought to give Chester County residents a say in what happens to this amazing farm.
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