Toll Brothers making plans for Crebilly Farm

The entrance to Crebilly Farm is on Route 926 in Westtown Township.

A revered Chester County vista – replete with rolling hills, waterways and expansive pastureland – has been endangered for more than a decade.

Andrew J. Semon (left), division president for Toll Brothers, discusses plans for Crebilly Farm as Gregg I. Edelman, a Toll Brothers attorney, and Westtown Township Supervisors Thomas F. Haws and Mike T. Di Domenico listen.

Andrew J. Semon (left), division president for Toll Brothers, discusses plans for Crebilly Farm as Gregg I. Edelman, a Toll Brothers attorney, and Westtown Township Supervisors Thomas F. Haws and Mike T. Di Domenico listen.

Bounded by Routes 926 and 202, South New Street, and West Pleasant Grove Road in Westtown Township, Crebilly Farm is no stranger to the threat of development. The third-generation property is owned by the Robinson family, descendants of the founder of a grocery store that evolved into the Acme chain.

Proposals ranging from a 2003 assisted living community to a 2012 apartment complex have failed to pass muster; however, township officials suggested that a massive housing development, discussed for the first time on Thursday, June 30, is much more likely to happen.

During a special public meeting, an audience of about 60 listened as representatives of Toll Brothers presented what Andrew J. Semon, a division president for the developer, described as “a very, very preliminary, conceptual discussion.”

Westtown Township Supervisor Mike T. Di Domenico said the township learned on Tuesday, June 28, that Toll had an agreement of sale to purchase the property. Supervisors’ Chairwoman Carol R. De Wolf explained that the township invited Toll to share its plans for the nearly 330-acre tract, prior to submitting any applications, so that the township could get initial insight into the developer’s intentions.

Township solicitor Patrick McKenna pointed out that unlike the Bozzuto Development apartment proposal, which required a zoning change and was withdrawn in 2015, the Toll Brothers project involves a use that is already permitted by the township.

Semon said the company had prepared a number of possible configurations for the site, and he brought two drawings with him, emphasizing that both are works in progress. “We’re certainly open-minded,” Semon said. “This is going to evolve quite a bit.”

The first layout showed 300 two-story homes, a combination of 145 single-family and 165 carriage-style dwellings, all with basements. The second rendering featured a 347-unit mix of 143 single-family and 204 carriage-style homes. Both plans featured access from Route 926 and West Pleasant Grove Road; however, the second version included a connector road within the development that would parallel Route 202.

Semon said that the two existing homes along New Street would remain and that the barn, horse stable, and springhouse on the property would be saved, as would the stone residence at the corner of Routes 202 and 926. The barn would likely become a clubhouse or community center for the homeowners’ association, he said. He said that under township ordinances, 385 homes could be built on the site.

The purchase is contingent upon getting conditional-use approval from the township, Semon said, estimating that an application would be submitted by the end of the summer.

Semon said prices have not been set, but he acknowledged that Toll’s homes are generally not at the low end of the spectrum. He said Toll’s carriage homes range from 2,300 to 2,600 square feet while its single homes start at 3,200 and go to 4,300 and up.

About two dozen attendees, who were permitted to ask questions following Semon’s presentation, raised concerns about a variety of issues, including the views from adjacent properties, the strain on the school district, the impact on already-congested roads, a shortage of area physicians, and the property’s proximity to the historic Brandywine Battlefield.

Semon said the developer would use berms and landscaping as buffers. He said Toll Brothers had analyzed previous traffic studies for the intersection of Routes 926 and 202. “Three hundred homes seems like a lot, but to an already congested area, it’s a minimal amount,” he said.

Gary Bevilacqua, a school board member who happened to be in the audience, said the district had factored the potential for development of the site into its long-range plans. He said the additional residents would have “limited to no impact.”

Township Manager Robert Pingar stressed that once Toll Brothers makes an application, it would initiate a collaborative process that would enable residents to make their voices heard.

Supervisor Thomas F. Haws noted that Toll Brothers had no obligation to meet with the township before submitting any applications, and he thanked its representatives, who included attorney Gregg I. Adelman, for agreeing to provide preliminary information.

“I can tell you that this board is going to be working, along with our Planning Commission, every step of the way for our residents and for Westtown,” said De Wolf, prompting applause from the audience.

 

 

 

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About Kathleen Brady Shea

Kathleen Brady Shea, a nearly lifelong area resident, has been reporting on local news for several decades, including 19 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. She believes that journalists provide a vital watchdog service in the community, and she embraces that commitment. In addition to unearthing news, she also enjoys digging up dirt in her garden, a hobby that frequently fosters Longwood Gardens envy. Along with her husband, Pete, she lives in a historic residence near the Brandywine Battlefield, a property that is also home to a sheep, a goat, and a passel of fish.

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One Response to “Toll Brothers making plans for Crebilly Farm”

  1. Joseph Duffy says:

    Horse is out of the barn now!
    Preservation efforts take place well in advance of this kind of news.
    This is devastating news.
    Where are the pitchforks?

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