Discussion of zoning issues and First Amendment rights aren't normally the stuff of big headlines in Tredyffrin Township. Today those issues, and how they impact the lives of every resident are front and center and the residents at the center of the two separate, but now intertwined issues say it's worth your attention.
They're right. If you live in Tredyffrin Township what happens at tonight's Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors meeting could impact you either directly or indirectly.
Issue One: Commercial C-1 Zoning in Tredyffrin Township
The agenda includes a final vote on a change in commercial zoning that would clear the way for a senior adult assisted living center to be build on the former Jimmy Duffy Catering hall site. The site fronts and borders Lancaster Avenue/Rte. 30 on one side and the Daylesford Neighborhood on the other. It is located across Lancaster Avenue from the Daylesford Train Station.
The proposed project, and the proposed zoming changes needed to clear the way for the construction of a senior assisted living facility (ALF) have been the subject of protracted zoning hearings and reviews at both the Tredyffrin Township and Chester County government levels.
Despite opposition from residents, led primarily by the Daylesford Neighborhood Association (DNA), the zoning change needed to clear the way for the project will come up for a final vote Monday night.
Opponents say the project is too big for the property.
At the same time, some supervisors, planners and the developer who wants to build the ALF, say there is a need for both assisted living facilities and development in the township.
Beyond the site on Lancaster however, the change in the C-1 zoning regulations would affect the entire township, not just the proposed site on Lancaster Avenue that borders Daylesford.
DNA leaders argue that the proposed zoning change essentially means the same situation could happen in any neighborhood or area with, or adjacent to, commercial properties. The association has argued that no other township in Chester County would have the same kind of commercial C-1 zoning as Tredyffrin Township.
The DNA plans to have residents at the meeting in full force to argue against the zoning change in a last-chance effort to block the project as currently envisioned and described at the August meeting of the planning commission.
Issue Two: Your right to comment on issues and speak up when you don't agree with Tredyffrin Government officials.
It is not listed on the agenda, but may prove to be an even hotter topic during the public comments portion of the meeting.
At the center of this issue is the posting of a "Letter to Tredyffrin Citizens" from Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman John "JD" DiBuonaventuro. It was written on township letterhead that includes the names of every member of the Board of Supervisors along with the Township Manager and Solicitor. It was posted on the taxpayer-funded official Tredyffrin Township website by Township Manager Mimi Gleason.
Today, Monday, September 17 is Gleason's last official day on the job as township manager. She announced her resignation over the summer, long before the letter became an issue, citing the time demands of the job. Gleason, who is also an attorney by training, would be held over as a consultant to the township under a proposed contract that is also on the Board's agenda Monday night.
Why this letter matters to you.
In his letter, Vice Chairman DiBuonaventuro talks about his relationship with a former township zoning hearing board member who was arrested on charges of public drunkeness and disorderly conduct. The woman was later found not guilty on the charges after two Tredyffrin Township Police officers failed to appear in court for a scheduled hearing. DiBuonaventuro's letter explained his relationship with the woman and that he had no role in the outcome of her case.
His letter goes on to take on Main Line Media News for a file photo the paper ran of the two together at a previous and totally unrelated event. But the letter does not stop there.
In his letter, posted on the official township website, DiBuonaventuro assails Pattye Benson, a private citizen and private, non-commercial blogger (who often also posts her blogs here on TE Patch) in a screed that accuses Benson and Community Matters of waging a campaign against Tredyffrin Township Government.
"..What is more important for our community to realize from this example is the disturbing trend which has developed with most of the internet elements of legitimate newspapers and the tabloid formatted blogs like "Community Matters." That trend is that there is apparently no accountability for those that feed on the topic or person of the week that happens to get thrown into the "chum tank" of anonymous commentators. Additionally the "Community Matters" posts about Tredyffrin Township Government appear to be an on-going effort to discredit our government and its efforts to serve the citizens by creating and fostering an environment of conspiracy and mistrust among its limited readership. The irony is that some who continue this campaign are the same who at one time, so eagerly aspired to be your elected representatives in that same government, only to fail in absolute defeat."
DiBuonaventuro's letter, which is posted in full as a pdf file concludes by saying he believes in freedom of speech, but not defamation of character.
The critical difference is that Benson, a private citizen and private, non-commercial blogger, is a private citizen. DiBuonaventuro's letter on township letterhead is posted on a publicly owned and taxpayer funded website.
The letter raises serious questions about your freedom to openly question, not to mention express opposition to "Tredyffrin Township Government" without fear of a public reprisal at your own expense as a taxpayer or as citizen of the township.