Remarks to the Ferguson Township Board 5.18.2015

Thank you, supervisors, for your service. Thank you, citizens, for being here.

This issue comes down to commonsense questions: When is enough, enough? When does our community’s volition matter more than the pipedream of a few? By the reaction of the last few months, this meeting today, and the stern resistance you will face, you have heard the answer. We have enough.

The proposed Toll Brothers development is, for lack of any nicer way to say it, ugly sprawl. The Boxes—I refuse to call them The Cottages—would be more clichéd cookie-cut boxes with no connection to our land or us. It could have meant something more beautiful and more civically minded that drove smart and sustainable design—think the current SCASD renovation pursuing LEED Gold. But it hasn’t. Instead, it’s the dumbed-down big-box store least bad option available to us. Just the kind of thing I’d hope for from our leaders.

The Boxes will bring more concrete and asphalt, more lights, more noise, and more drunk kids. All that means less farmland, fewer birds, worse views of the Tussey Ridge and the Rothrock State Forest, and less peace of mind. As hydrogeologists have told you, it will generate more sinkholes, more turbid water during development, and more chemical runoff from cars and asphalt going into the Harter and Thomas wells and Slab Cabin Run. I’m sure our water authority loves these designs.

The Boxes economic impact sprawls too. Just as the community will be burdened with the environmental, social, and aesthetic costs, this development will enrich a few absentee owners and a wing of Penn State that thinks a university is a for-profit corporation, not a civically-minded environmentally-responsible neighbor. You’d think someone would have learned from the pipeline issues. So much for higher learning.

Finally, the Boxes are not even being boxed into the current growth boundary. To deal with the burden of its own stormwater, this design has to put 5.5-acre retention basins outside of the already ill-conceived sprawl boundary…excuse me, growth boundary. Why should this project be exempt from the rules? As Shakespeare might have said, “Something is rotten in the township of Ferguson.”

So when is enough, enough? It’s enough when thousands of us tell you that this project failed. Failure is a great teacher. But you have to listen to learn from it. It is time for you to listen. I look forward to this project’s full stop and the conversations that will make a better future for us and our community.

Thank you.

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