Thursday, February 22, 2018

NCC, DelDOT appear resolute in accommodating Chestnut Hill "Preserve"

NCC Exec Matt Meyer, serial liar
Last update from the STOP Campaign -

We have bad news to report. We have been told that NCC is resolute in wanting the Orphanage Property developed, meaning that a way will be found even if the 269 unit plan appears blocked on all sides. DelDOT has informed us that a simple curb-cut on to Rt.4, in one direction only, will suffice if the other options (Waverly and Gender) remain contested. We were not aware of this; we were told on several occasions that bi-directional access to Rt.4 was required. Assuming that the Adverse Possession case succeeds (odds are it will), and Holy Family doesn't sell or give an easement, and Waverly is saved, then the main (and only) access road will simply come off of Rt.4 in the eastbound direction. We surmise that DelDOT will "improve" signaling at Pearson (Todd Estates) to accommodate the increased U-turning traffic at that intersection, being the closest. Obviously, we're not engineers, but really, what other option would there be?

This, today, from DelDOT Planning:

"DelDOT sees value in developments having access to more than one road. Section 3.5 of our Development Coordination Manual addresses what we refer to as connectivity. However, if a property has frontage on just one road, our regulations do not prevent, or necessarily limit, its development"

Today, from Senator Townsend:

". . . preliminary word from County is that they do not intend to block this development on the grounds of having just one entrance off of Route 4. Ed [Osienski] and I are digging into the issue to figure out who has the actual decision making authority, so we know whom to contact."

So, this probably explains why construction is continuing unabated. Mr Sipple knows he'll be accommodated, even if it takes bending a few rules. For whatever reason, those in authority absolutely do NOT want our region to have a regional park; instead choosing for us all the ills that STOP has spent nearly 3 years writing and advocating about.

Rep. Ed Osienski was right; if only we had listened to him in 2015 when he would shake his head at meetings, repeating "it's going to happen; it's going to happen. It's abundantly clear now that the decision was already made, years ago. Had the Community been been made aware of this impending disaster back in 2013, when our Legislators knew that the possibility existed, we have no doubt whatsoever that it WOULD have made a huge difference, and quite likely produced an entirely different outcome.

The Orphanage Property developer himself, Joe Setting, along with a land use attorney from the firm representing the Felician Sisters, both served in influential positions on Exec Meyer's Parks Transition Team. They relegated Ogletown to third priority for a regional park, all but assuring their development will go forward. The Orphanage Property represented the last opportunity where suitable open space inventory is concerned.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

STOP Update: Construction rolls on despite AP Claim

Blogger's note: The description of this suit as an "injunction" was an error and has been corrected in this post to reflect "AP claim".

According to residents on the scene
right now, the construction is rolling forward. It was thought that activity would cease until there is a resolution and the plans redrawn. For example, the proposed access road that is now under lawsuit for Adverse Possession (AP) splits two retention ponds. Work is continuing on in this exact spot as we write. Therefore, Bob Sipple and co must be pretty confident that they'll prevail against the resident.

Based on the little we have seen and been told, there are very few options to legally connect the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" to Gender Road if the resident wins his case. One is to ask Holy Family Church for an easement, or to purchase right of way (ROW) through their existing property somehow. The other, that will surely draw mass opposition above all else, is the original plan of connecting to Waverly Rd in Breezewood, or Lynch Farm in Todd II. This would use existing neighborhood streets in those communities as through roads. A simple "curb cut" on Rt.4 is unacceptable by DelDOT regulations, given it would not have 2-way access. And that is all that remains.

Again, Mr Sipple must be pretty confident of his good fortune, or construction would have stopped by now. The claim was filed on 2/6, and the property in contention covers the stand of forested area that the access road penetrates alongside resident's yards. It would all be cleared out, and the road ROW placed directly alongside residents backyards.

The new parish under construction would appear to block any potential of simply moving that ROW northward and on to Holy Family property. Minus the Waverly option, using the Church parking lot would appear all that is left. If courted, and offered enough of a "donation", will they do it? Would the Catholic Church, albeit a different diocese, deny yet another chance at doing the right thing by its neighbors? We hope our legislators have the fortitude to notify Advocates and residents as these moves play out. That remains to be seen, though.

The ideal outcome and the overwhelming favorite of everyone involved is a simple one; our legislators say "enough is enough". They begin lobbying their colleagues on the Bond Committee for emergency buyout funds, and begin drafting a buyout proposal that compensates Mr Sipple for the value of the land (minus the affordable housing, of course) and the work that has already been committed. The work that is being done now, actually -- drainage and grading -- is readily adaptable for use in a regional park, and needed to protect residents from future flooding in any case.

That is all we have for now, everyone. Do not forget that your State and County legislators work for YOU; not the builders, the developers, trade orgs, land use attorneys, or any other fat cats that load their campaign coffers. You have every right to contact them and demand an update, and demand that they must stand firm with the citizen's best interests in mind, NOT special interests.

Bob Sipple himself delivers eviction notices to Breezewood, Todd 2 residents

By Angela Connolly --
There's nothing worse than getting someone else to do your "dirty work" for you, but that's exactly what Councilwoman Lisa Diller has done. STOP Advocates were notified by a Breezewood resident, whose property backs directly to the carnage, that a letter was placed in his mailbox a few days ago. The letter was from none other than Bob Sipple, the developer of the Orphanage Property.

Mr. Sipple told the resident that Councilwoman Lisa Diller "suggested" that he walk around and deliver these letters to these residents. Well, this resident called Diller's office, and spoke to Susan Moore, Diller's Aide. Ms Moore claimed to know nothing about what is going on with the property, despite a formal notice of injunction filed a week ago, putting a stop to the construction -- for now.

The District's Councilwoman would be (and indeed should be) intimate with every phase of this nightmare, but apparently she's not. The resident felt that Diller herself should have delivered the letter, either alone or accompanying Mr Sipple. But given the overwhelming blowback this project has generated, it's obvious to most that she is avoiding her Constituents, and will go on ignoring their very real concerns.

Why not give her office a call at 302-395-8345, or e-mail her at Let her know that you don't appreciate this gross disconnect, and her lack of concern for the devastation that her inaction has caused. She has not acted on the best interests of her Constituents, and her inaction has contributed to this tragedy, which could have been avoided had she been a strong advocate for STOP.

"Friendly Bob" even offers to help squatters, some with adverse possession rights no doubt, relocate. What a guy.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

STOP: Another Window Opens

In light of a recent lawsuit that has been filed, the following letter was just sent to Senator Townsend:

Adverse Possession claim circled in red oval
"Good evening, Bryan,
It comes to our attention that a Breezewood resident has formally filed an injunction against the Developer and Holy Family Church. They are claiming Adverse Possession for the strip of land currently shown as "Tree of Heaven Way" in the exploratory plan. This would choke off access to Gender Road, and if the suit is successful, another way, an alternative access road, will have to be found. This is not an idle threat - this suit has been formally filed, as per this attachment, and the client's lawyer believes that he has a very strong case. This is where YOU (and Ed?) come in.

You have publicly stated your regrets that this project moves forward. However, IF you have been honest, AND are truly committed to stopping this project from going forward as planned, then you will make sure that you follow this case very closely, and state your FIRM objections in terms of re-connecting via stub roads in Breezewood (Waverly) or Todd II (Lynch Farm). If you are truly sincere, then you will bring Rep. Osienski on board, also. Then, together you will meet with Holy Family Church, and INSIST that they NOT issue any easement to Sipple for anything more than the affordable housing piece. It's hard to imagine they'd want that much traffic through their parking lot (or nudged up against their new parish) in any case, but just to be sure . . .

Our followers have been made aware of this new and significant opportunity, and we will be keeping them updated, including whether or not you and Rep Osienski make a sincere and aggressive effort to halt this project in any way that you can, including this golden opportunity that has arisen. This is an opportunity for you to step up and stand aggressively for your Constituents. This is the time for action, not words of regret. Our followers, your Constituents that elected you to look out for their best interests, as well as the surrounding communities, will be watching. We will make sure of that. Please, don't let them down."

Will our legislators grab hold of yet another opportunity to halt this carnage? Only time will tell. Stay tuned for updates.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Not too late for legislators to join Vic Singer, and STOP

Victor Singer: "it's not rocket science"
Will Senator Townsend and Representative Osienski do it? That's the question right now on everyone's mind. It is not too late to put a stop to the Chestnut Hill so-called "Preserve" (CHP), if they were serious about enforcing NCC law. That is a well documented, undeniable fact coming from a former Rocket Scientist with Thiokol, Mr Victor Singer, who served for 13 years as Chair of NCC's Planning Board. He has intimate knowledge of the Unified Development Code and how a traffic impact study (TIS) is to be applied at all times. Vic also cites prior cases, that set legal precedence for the very situation STOP is in now. He is famous for responding "it's not rocket science!" in cases like these, when achieving the correct outcome is a simple matter of standing law. That is the case here; it's "simply" being violated by Mr Richard Hall and his Land Use Dept.

Unfortunately for us, Mr Singer's approach of filing legal action upon building permit #51 (county law allows dispensation for only 50 dwelling units - DUs - in the case of the CHP) is not going to work, because the townhomes/duplexes/mcmansions are being built first. It might work if the "affordable housing" portion came first. That means that, by the time the building permits are requested in about April or May, all the development infrastructure will already be in place; roads, utilities, drainage (going on now), etc. By then, the only result we might achieve is an article in the paper, with full dispensation soon to follow.

However, if our legislators both pooled their resources, and allied with Vic TODAY to file an injunction against NCC, to reverse their approval of the CHP based on a flawed TIS, it isn't too late to STOP this horrible embarrassment. Justice could still be served, and we could avert this major disaster. But will they is the question; from all our indications, probably not. Both (forget Diller) have completely resigned themselves to our loss, and are preparing to "move on" in the most upbeat possible manner.

Here is a list of our past links demonstrating Mr Vic Singer's case against the NCC Dept of Land Use, relating it to historical precedent:

Chestnut Hill "Preserve" TIS scope exposes flaws, favoritism


State must act if NCC issues building permits for Chestnut Hill "Preserve"

Drilling down on the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" TIS

Vic Singer presents legal objections to Chestnut Hill "Preserve"

Thursday, February 1, 2018

STOP defeat helps pave the way for North Jersey redux

By Frank Warnock, on behalf of the STOP campaign

We're such horrible people for wanting this jewel of a landscape saved, that even the press has abandoned us. We've become toxic, to be avoided at all cost. This, despite the blatant contempt for established county codes and other law breaks going on with the Chestnut Hill "Preserve". Our last press release stirred no interest among any of the major outlets, despite a clear outline of one, final, last gasp potential for a buyout opportunity.

Starting construction of the Chestnut Hill "Preserve"
It's such a terrible and rotten thing when you're trying to be a force for good, for the greater good of people, the planet and its indigenous species, isn't it? It's become abundantly clear to Advocates just how anti-environment this county and state has become, even when they know and understand the implications of putting money before quality of life issues.

As what's left begins to fill in, don't think for a moment that so-called "protected" lands now won't come under scrutiny. Traffic sewers like most of N Jersey and SE PA didn't happen without rampant corruption and crushing pressure by development interests ruling the day. Growing up in NJ, I watched it unfold before my eyes, to where reaching any kind of rural countryside and/or habitat area became an hours+ long harrowing car trip away.

Therefore, with so little support coming from those we truly need it from, this is what we can expect. This lack of support was shocking, having included so-called environmental orgs like DE Audubon, DE Chapter of the Sierra Club, DE Wildlands, all of our region's civic groups, etc. as non-endorsers. With all of the attention on the Coastal Zone Act (the darling of Townsend and Osienski, btw), so-called environmentalists have lost sight of the critical need for inland wetlands and open space protection as well. And that's not to mention a sorely needed regional park.

Below is a snip showing the difference. No, the scale on North Jersey wasn't increased -- both are the same. With an exemplary campaign like STOP unable to put the brakes on a disaster like the Chestnut Hill "Preserve", this is what's coming, folks. Fill in the pale yellow, over time, until we are wall to wall bodies with little to no bio-diversity and green space.

The only advice we can offer is to abandon the two party establishment system and start voting for 3rd party candidates whose mission it is to protect the environment and our quality of life. Or, if that's a stretch for you to consider, at least vote anti-incumbent; the Democrats are clinging to a 1-seat majority in the Senate. They have placed the bar so incredibly low, just vote to tip the balance of power, even if it isn't necessarily favorable.