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Residents Fight Villanova's Zoning Change Proposal

Some say the proposal would have a negative impact on their quality of life.

A group of Radnor Township residents is fighting Villanova University's petition to amend Radnor's Planned Institutional zoning code as part of its plan to build new dorms, parking structure and performance center on its campus.

According to its website, "The Friends to Preserve Radnor  are residents of Radnor Township who have serious concerns about Villanova University’s proposed plan to amend the current Planned Institutional Zoning to provide for a new use with the Comprehensive Integrated College Development (CICD) Amendment."

"The result of this proposed Comprehensive Integrated College Development Amendment would have an extreme, immediate, and negative impact on the traffic, township density, noise and light pollution, environment, and the overall quality of life in our neighborhoods and our community," it continues.

An online petition has been created to urge Radnor's Board of Commissioners to deny the zoning amendment request.

The township's Planning Commission is meeting on Monday to discuss its recommendations regarding Villanova's plan.

SSK May 08, 2013 at 05:23 AM
Our area, the main line is FULL of thriving academic institutions- Bryn Mawr college, Haverford college, Cabrini, eastern, agnes Irwin, Baldwin, Haverford school, swarthmore, They ALL comply with zoning - that is why they are so lovely and why this is such a lovely area to live in.
Martin May 08, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Sounds like he has enough back bone to do what he thinks is right, and not be pushed by 100 naysayers that will object to any progress.
JCR May 08, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Martin - it is not about progress, this is about the size, scope and scale of that progress. Again, most of the residents want the site to be improved. Open up your mind to some of the other points of the issue. You are totally inaccurate that this is about 100 naysayers that will object to any progress.
Radnorite May 08, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Ladies and gentlemen. You act like this is going to destroy Radnor Township. It is not! Radnor has grown and changed through the years (2 Railroads/Blue Route come to mind). Villanova is not some parasite that just takes up land. It is a VERY generous neighbor and always acts with the best of intentions. They donate in excess of a million dollars a year to our town. 1 MILLION. For those that discount the argument that they were here first I think you are being far too self centered. Villanova has rights. Just as you all have rights. Heck, one of the people leading the charge against Villanova applied for relief and a waiver to the planning commision in a subsequent meeting!
Intheweeds May 08, 2013 at 01:15 PM
One week, one of the opposition "leaders" is frothing at the mouth at the Township meetings talking half-truths and spin about the Villanova proposal. The next week, Kevin Geary (who also paid for misleading robo-calls to the township) petitioned the Radnor Board of Supervisors for setback relief for an addition to his house that would violate Township Law and Code to his neighbors property line. Hypocrite. Also, one of the dumbest arguments that the Planning Commission bit on was the notion of population density. So, the Radnor Planning Commission determined that it would be better to have 2100 Villanova students scattered in the area commuting to and from campus rather than 900. Yup, those 1200 students "densely" populated on an existing parking lot, without cars or the need to commute would be a big problem for Radnor. Idiots.
JCR May 08, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Intgeweeds/-VU has rights as does Radnor and its residents. VU will get its project but with proper size, scope and scale. They will get variances, just not the current levels they are seeking.. Just because population density is being decreased somewhere else, doesn't make it a slam dunk to ignore the code. Is it more palatable because traffic will potentially be decreased...yes. But with 1200 more people LIVING on the site versus parking..this will result in more visitors and comings and going of residents for non-school related activities. Do we really know that they won't have cars? VU has a very wealthy enrollment and i would think that most students would stlll have cars. maybe there is a provision limiting parking passes that I am unaware of? if not this project will result in much more activity during different hours. It would also be helpful for you to understand the full issues instead if calling people who offer different views "Idiots". There is much more to this project than your narrow views. Radnorite -I am not aware (and maybe just uninformed) that VU is donating $1M per year to Radnor. Since VU pays virtually no property taxes, my understanding is that they pay us for services (I.e police, fire).
bkl May 08, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Actually the apartment situation is not the best for him. He wasn't able to find an apartment near a station or bus stop. I guess too many of them are competing for the apartments. So he ended up at a place that isn't near a train station or bus stop. I think he'd be a good candidate for on campus housing. Maybe the way to approach this is to limit the # of parking spots for these proposed units. If my son was to have on campus housing he wouldn't need a car. Maybe they can modify the plans to eliminate some of the parking spots. That would ensure that they eliminated cars from the roadways. Or I guess in a way what your indicating, build some dorms or buy buildings in the local community near the train or bus stops. Then he could have access to mass transit.
Intheweeds May 08, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Right now, 2100 Villanova undergrads commute to and from the university. The proposed project is an eysore of a parking lot, with zero adjacent Radnor residents. This project would eliminate 1200 commuting students. This project would introduce proper stormwater management to that area. This project would add a much needed overhead walkway facilitating student movement across Lancaster Avenue. The best use of that parcel is a more dense use than the code allows for. Forgive me for failing to see how the quality of life of Radnor residents could possibly be negatively impacted by this project. But go on complaining about the ills of Villanova students living in neighborhoods, and complaining about a project which would eliminate over half of the problem.
Radnorite May 08, 2013 at 08:20 PM
JCR- I know this release is from the school but there really is no reason to doubt its validity. http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/media/pressreleases/2011/1220.html
Intheweeds May 08, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Radnorite - Villanova University is a huge, stabilizing force for all of Radnor Township. Its positive impact both in economic terms and intangible benefit cannot be overstated. However, this myopic, short-sighted, negative minority is trying to damage the golden goose. A stronger Villanova makes for a stronger Radnor. Why is this vocal minority so enamored with a gigantic parking lot? Why are these people fighting the one project that will remove over 50% of the remaining commuting students? Why is there opposition to something that will remove THOUSANDS of commuting trips during the school year?
Gary Merken May 09, 2013 at 01:01 AM
JCR, many tax-exempt organizations make PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) to local and state governments.
Gary Merken May 09, 2013 at 01:05 AM
Why have a zoning board at all if the commissioners can simply do what they want?
Tom Dougherty May 09, 2013 at 01:07 AM
JCR - Where do you live in relation to the school? I live 2 blocks away and I have no opposition to the plan.
Martin May 09, 2013 at 05:47 AM
You can't make this stuff up... JCR must have been picketing Kevin's non-conforming addition?
Larry S May 10, 2013 at 07:48 PM
"Any plans to thwart growth or expansion are just plain stupid. Villanova University was here long before any of us." -- Ah, so were the Lenape Indians.
JTime May 11, 2013 at 07:15 AM
I agree this is another example of a few misinformed and misguided neighbors who will fight anything and everything that has to do with change. The proposal by VU would do so much to enhance the view corridor of Lancaster Ave in addition to the merits of placing students on campus. Once again A handful of residents jeopardizing the future of a top university and a well thought out community benefit.
Radnorite May 11, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Ladies and gentlemen, I find it is amazing you dismiss the notion that Villanova was here first. Obviously you know that is true. But for you to demand Villanova conform to your demands is absurd. The school does not need to yield to concessions that come from the whim of local neighbors. I tip my hat to Villanova for not capping enrollment because you want them to.
Tom Dougherty May 11, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Radnorite - I said it before. If Villanova proposed that the sun rise in the East, a group would immediately form to oppose it.
Gary Merken May 11, 2013 at 03:13 PM
The R5 railroad was built in the 1800s when much of the surrounding area comprised forest and farmland. Over time, large multi-acre estates were developed. Now I do not know the schedule of trains back 100 years ago. As an example, let’s say that the train ran four times a day along the R5, and the houses in the wealthy estates sat at least a mile from the train track so the people inside would be bothered by the noise and rumbling and train whistles. Over time, more and more residential development occurred, residences were built much closer and even adjacent to the rail line, and the demand for train service increased. By your logic, the rail company would be free to run 100 trains a day, at all hours, even at three in the morning, because the rail line was built before the houses were. Would the neighbors have zero say simply because they came later?
Mike Wilson May 13, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Glad to see so many people supporting Villanova! I hope that their amendment request is approved.
Just sayin' May 13, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Same people who opposed Louella Court conversion?
Radnorite May 13, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Gary, good question. When people bought their homes around the railroad they did so fully aware of the fact that a rail line ran in close proximity to their house. Now, the railroad, and Villanova for that matter, do not affect an entire town, just a few people who KNOWINGLY decided to move next to the tracks/school. When I moved to Radnor I looked for an area that was not close to the R5 or the R100 simply because I did not want to deal with train noise or the possibility of schedule changes/construction/or growth. It really was not that hard. So as selfish and noisy and as bad a neighbors the locals want to be, they really have no one to blame but themselves.
John Wayne ______ May 13, 2013 at 11:47 PM
No problem with construction. But not like this. Don't urbanize Radnor, which has been here since 1682, long before today's Villanova students were born. Villanova knew they were subject to Radnor democracy when Villanova chose to move here.
Radnorite May 14, 2013 at 12:27 AM
How is this urbanizing our town? There are no trees coming down as far as I can see and no historic structures will be lost. This is a parking lot that already exists. Also, Villanova did not "move here". It bought land over 200 years ago and established a university. Big difference. Or, if you want to go down that route then fine. None of the Radnor residents were born when Villanova came into existence or, as you put it, "moved here". Again, I really have no dog in this fight except for the fact that it is interesting to converse with NIMBYs. I find them to be very self centered and get a kick out of their refusal to even slightly entertain another opinion. The demonization and denigration of a good neighbor (Villanova) is appalling. That school goes out of its way to be generous to our town.
Gary Merken May 14, 2013 at 02:00 AM
Radnorite, can you provide some examples of how the university goes out of its way to be generous to the town? I've lived here for only 12 years. While I've enjoyed going to some sporting events at the school, tickets aren't discounted for Radnor residents. Obviously the school provides employment for Radnor residents. But is that considered to be generous? The library facilities are difficult to access. Granted, there is limited but inexpensive access to some of the athletic facilities (pool, fitness center).
John Wayne ______ May 14, 2013 at 02:33 AM
Villanova is generous how? I see Penn State kids raising money for kids with cancer all the time. Ultra-liberal Temple kids are always volunteering in the scariest parts of Philly. What exactly do Nova kids do for Radnor or surrounding townships? And FWIW, my family has lived in this region since the 17th century. It's idiotic to say Nova was here before todays residents, since none of us are 170 years old. But many of us in Radnor had family that had lived here since before Catholicism was even legal in this colony/state! If Nova wants to build an urban fantasyland, do so in an appropriately urban environment, like St. Joes, Temple, Penn, Drexel and LaSalle all do.
Radnorite May 14, 2013 at 02:38 AM
Gary- A search of the internet produced this: http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/media/pressreleases/2011/1220.html I enjoy working out at the Davis Center and I am pleased with the communication provided by the school. I know we are never going to see eye to eye. That is fine. I just think it is funny people throw spears at Villanova at every turn. I am pleased they are my neighbor. I fully endorse this development and hope it comes to fruition. I have seen what NIMBYism can do. All you have to do is head towards Swarthmore on the Blue Route and you will see what I mean.
Radnorite May 14, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Oh John, I am sitting back laughing right now as you so effortlessly reinforce a negative Radnor stereotype that I despise. It is all about you and what has Villanova done for you. Well, besides generous monetary contributions, they extend many perks to residents and students from neighboring schools. But, the truth of the matter, and this is why I comment on this story in particular because it strikes a nerve, Villanova does not need to serve your selfish interests to make an impact. In case you did not notice our town is doing pretty well when compared to other places around the country and world. So to answer your question, Villanova does more than most. Please dispense with the selfishness that makes us all look bad. Your lack of compassion and parochial views earn us all an undesirable distinction. See below to for what I am sure is just a fraction of the good those students perform. http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/media/pressreleases/2012/1119.html
Intheweeds May 14, 2013 at 12:20 PM
ummm.....you do realize that this proposed project would replace acres of pavement with smart, architecturally pleasing stone buildings and fully landscaped grass areas and plantings. It is de-urbanizing the environment. As to your ignorance about Villanova students giving back, Villanova hosts Pennsylvania's largest Special Olympics meet - staffed by students. Villanova has one of the larges chapters of Habitat for Humanity, staffing projects as local as Norristown, and as remote as Guatemala. There are over 30 student service groups at Villanova: http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/studentlife/lifeatvu/organizations/service.html
Intheweeds May 14, 2013 at 12:47 PM
What amazes me is that Villanova is looking to solve joint issues that it has and Randor has, and that is largely being ignored by this crazy opposition. Villanova wants 85%+ of its students on campus. Radnor wants students out of neighborhoods. Everybody wants less traffic. Everybody wants a safer, more direct crossing over Lancaster Ave. Nobody wants acres of paved parking lot, with zero engineered stormwater management. Everybody wants to maintain, if possible, existing green space. Nobody wants development adjacent to residential neighbors. Most would say that a $200 million investment in Radnor would help support Radnor's business community, and be a shot in the arm regionally. Let's summarize, this project first and foremost would eliminate thousands of daily person-trip commutes, and remove hundreds of cars by moving 1200 students to campus. 2100 off-campus residing students would become 900 - eliminating so much of the quality of life issues created by college kids in neighborhoods. Lancaster Ave would finally get a pedestrian bridge, eliminating a significant amount of the issues caused by pedestrian crossings. All of this accomplished by transitioning acres of a paved parking lot that has zero residential neighbors adjacent to it. This project should be DEMANDED by Radnor residents, not fought.

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