Nov. 8 is an important day for those voting in Pennsylvania, but even more so for residents living in Westtown. On the ballot this year, those residents will decide the fate of local Crebilly Farm. But here’s the catch — in order to keep the 208 acres, residents would need to vote “yes” to a slight increase in taxes.
If voters decide to raise their taxes to keep the land it would result in the space being open to the public and used as a recreational area. Not to mention, part of the space is a Brandywine Battlefield, so saving the land would mean historic preservation.
The nature preserve would have walking trails and plenty of open space for the residents to decide what else it will hold. As of now, no plans have been made deciding what exactly the space would look like, but if the land were to be preserved the future plans would be decided through a public process, so residents would have a say as to what is done with the space.
“By acquiring 208 acres of Crebilly Farm, Westtown Township will ensure that this pristine corner of the Township remains unspoiled for generations to come,” said the Westtown Township Supervisor on www.VoteYesCrebilly.com ensuring that the tax increase would result in preserving the area.
If the referendum were not to pass, the land would be sold and developed residentially. Residents who would vote “no” likely wouldn’t want the immediate increase in their taxes.
However, residents that are campaigning to get “yes” votes argue that developing this land will cause tax increases in the long run. Creating residential developments will increase the number of students in the area, upping the school taxes and creating congested traffic flow. More residential areas would also increase the need for services from the township resulting in higher taxes there as well.
After calculating the estimated costs of these taxes, www.VoteYesCrebilly.com notes that in approximately 8.25 years the cost of the immediate tax increase to save Crebilly will break even with other taxes that would come along with voting “no” to the referendum on November 8th.
Dick Pomerantz is a township Supervisor and Chairman of the WEGO Police Commission, but he spoke from the perspective of a citizen in an interview with the Delaware County Daily times. “Perhaps it’s not surprising that the public believes that Crebilly is already saved,” Pomerantz said in that interview, “we have to inform and educate the public what the facts are in a short time period.”
The township would put $7.5 million towards purchasing the space, so the immediate tax increase that voters are deciding on would be a local tax increase of .08% and residential taxes by seven cents for every $1000 of assessed home value.
The township has also already received a two million dollar grant towards Crebilly Farm from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and no additional money will be put into the purchase than what was already planned.
This opportunity for Westtown Township to buy the land arose after the township denied the original buyer’s (Toll Brothers) application. This decision was appealed by the Toll Brothers twice, and after being denied both times, tried to submit a second, separate application that was also denied.
As the elections approach, this situation involving Crebilly Farm emphasizes the importance of keeping up with what is going on in your own community. There are many instances where residents have a voice through voting that have an immediate impact on their own local communities. When voting it is important to consider the repercussions that are possible either way so you can do what is best for you and your neighbors.
Peighton Schwalm is a fourth-year English major with a minor in journalism. PS963160@wcupa.edu