Thursday, February 20, 2014

We Been Robbed

1 of 3 warehouse-like rows of 8 condos to be crammed onto 2/3 acre in June.   
Here's a parable: A Girl Scout comes to your door selling cookies for $4 a box. You LOVE Thin Mints, so much that you never read the ingredients because you don't want to hear they're bad for you. Even so, you can't help noticing that the boxes she has say, "Now with Toxic Waste!" You express your reservations about the toxic waste, but this Girl Scout promises you, if you want to place a special order, she can remove enough of the toxic waste that it won't kill you, for a mere $2 more a box. You love Thin Mints enough that you agree and order 4 boxes. She comes back later with the same Thin Mints, saying she couldn't remove the toxic waste after all. But she reminds you that you placed an order and agreed to pay $6 a box. Without a word, you fork over $24 for cookies that will kill you, when you could have gotten them originally for $16. Or wiser yet, just recognized a bad deal from the get-go and said "NO."

The point of the parable is that this is apparently what developer Sarah Peck did to Norristown. I'll pause here and admit that I didn't get to the Council meeting Tuesday, so I'm basing this on yesterday's article in the Times Herald and from talking to a friend who DID attend the meeting. I'd be thrilled to be told that any part of this story isn't true--that members of Norristown Council weren't totally scammed by developer Sarah Peck. I'll update this blog in an extra large font if it's not true.

Sarah knocked on our town's door in 2012 with an offer to build condos in town. Ooh, said Council and Planning, we LOVE condos. The catch? The condos would be packed in like sardines in a tin--24 on a 2/3 acre lot. The development would cause parking, trash, snow removal, and water runoff headaches, let alone the basic friction and bad hygiene you get when people live way too close together. It would totally stress the existing neighborhood. But Council was determined to have their condos. Sarah Peck said no problem--give her $150,000 and she could reduce the number of condos on the lot to 18. Instead of reminding her that revising her plans to meet zoning requirements is a normal part of doing business in any town, Council jumped at her offer. Well, she came back this month, with her 24-unit plan intact. Yet on Tuesday night, somehow, Council STILL GAVE HER EXTRA MONEY.

If this is true, we were scammed, pure and simple. All except Linda Christian, who was wise enough to vote no. Please, someone, tell me we didn't pay extra for bad development that we needn't have spent money on at all.

I attended the Council meetings last fall on this issue. The Planning Department said they'd only recommend the plan if the number of units could be reduced, but nearly all of last year's Council members (besides Linda) were falling over themselves to do Sarah Peck's bidding. If we still had that Council, I wouldn't have been surprised at them acting like fools and getting scammed. But we've got 3 new Council members. Derrick, Olivia, Sonya--what were you thinking?

Construction begins in June.

1 comment:

  1. Elena, I appears as though most local governments and our illustrious county government seem to get scammed by these developers. We have the Parkhouse and the Logan Square projects on the County side, and the ones on the borough side. What they seem to forget is that these developers do this for a living and the politicians do it for the sake of saying they have a title. They know very little about what goes on and many are following the Pied Pipers (and they know what they are doing). Most solicitors don't really do their job efficiently enough to protect the governing bodies. They get paid very well if things go well and they also get paid well when things don't go well. They get paid if they win or if they lose...Amazing