For the record: The Greylock easement

Speaking for the Chestnut Hill Historical Society and, more specifically, the joint CHHS/FOW Easement Committee, I would like to clarify a misunderstanding in Linda Baldwin’s Feb. 8 opinion column about the decision regarding the easement we hold on the Greylock property, in which she is distressed by the community’s perceived reluctance to embrace change.

The carefully-considered decision by this committee to deny the requested modifications to this easement, which would have been necessary to permit the extensive construction proposed for the Green Woods Charter School, did not hinge on the merits of whether the school was good for the larger community or near neighbors, but rather, whether or not its plans would conform with an existing conservation and preservation easement in effect on Greylock.

After considering the easement restrictions, the school ultimately decided that their needs exceeded what was allowed under the protective covenants of the easement. This was not a case of whether a majority of the CHHS board favored or rejected the vision of the school.

Once an easement is in place, there is contractual commitment to protect in perpetuity the conservation and preservation values that are stipulated in the easement agreement. It is our duty to defend these agreements. Changes are very difficult. At stake are interests of the IRS and the Attorney General, accreditation of CHHS by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, legal precedence, and the society’s credibility. We must and do take this responsibility seriously.

J. Randolph Williams,
Co-Chair, CHHS/FOW Easement Committee

The Many, the Few, and the One

I’m not judging the twelve individuals that are appealing to the court to stop the Bowman/Magarity development, or any other group that has lawyered-up to fight city hall here or downtown. It demonstrates that some believe the system of government has failed to protect their interests. Yet they still have some faith that yet another arm of government can redress the wrong – until that too typically fails.

Governments say they are for the public good and routinely make decisions that may impact the rights of individuals. “Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz,” translates as “the welfare of the nation takes precedence over the selfishness of the individuals.” Or as said by modern day philosophers such as Spock: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Or Kirk: “or the one.”

All very logical and quite comfortable, as long as you like the decisions. And we are told if we don’t like it we can change the government. In Chestnut Hill, there are those that want to change the CHCA into the CHRA.

The CHRA says every person’s needs are worthy of support, but also that they are against every variance. The CHCA wants to be even more representative of Chestnut Hill by accepting every dollar in dues, from Maine to Florida and likely to Dubai. All dues-paying members can have an equal say (in an organization that has traditionally been in favor of every variance, unless it is found to be against the financial interests of a board member).

I believe a Fresh Market store will be a great addition to Chestnut Hill. The needs of the “many” prevailed. I don’t know why we have to have five floors of condos, except to meet the needs of the “one” person that will financially benefit. That is if he ever does build it.

Ed Budnick
Chestnut Hill

Put that dog on a leash

Chestnut Hill has almost as many dogs as people. Most owners are responsible, considerate and law abiding. Then there are the others. They let Fido run wild, poop where he pleases and attack their neighbors’ pets.

Recently, I stopped a yellow Lab from killing a helpless kitten. The “good dog” had the terrified kitty in its mouth and wasn’t letting go, in spite of its owner’s commands. There ought to be a law that prevents dog owners in Chestnut Hill from letting their large, aggressive dogs run wild. Oh wait, there is. But it is not enforced. Or followed.

Stacia Friedman
Chestnut Hill

Deed restrictions should count

Rita’s is looking to have special favors but doesn’t make the case for it.  That site has deeded restrictions against fast food.  Deed restriction on the CH Plaza is recorded and clearly prohibits “the sale of food or beverages by a “fast food” chain.” Where I studied real estate, that is an establishment where customers take food, walk out the door and eat outside the store, not at home.

The prospective owner wants trial by public opinion. I’m against waiving the restriction.

Ken Beiser
Mt Airy

Rita’s doesn’t belong

Anyone from this area taking a trip down Germantown Avenue feels worried, noticing empty storefronts. Having a seasonal, chain store, such as Rita’s Water Ice, occupying the site of the former TLA video is not going to make us feel any more secure about the health of businesses in the Chestnut Hill/Mt Airy area.

Rita’s in that site will only take away foot and car traffic from the Trolley Car ice cream operation and Bredenbeck’s Bakery, and stand to weaken businesses that have been favorite gathering places for the Chestnut Hill and Mt Airy communities. These are businesses that give back to the community nonprofits, and strengthen the spirit of community. Rita’s will add little except for empty calories and empty promises. The Chestnut Hill Community Association needs to do better for the community and pay attention to matters like deed restrictions.

Rachel Falkove
60+-year Germantown Ave. shopper
Mt. Airy

Rita’s Water Ice would increase trash

I am not in favor of a Rita’s Water Ice coming into the mall at Germantown Avenue and Mermaid Lane.

Every year Dr. Arlene Bennett organizes a clean-up of Cresheim Drive between Germantown Avenue and Stenton Avenue. She is assisted by neighbors, the Wissahickon East Project ( and the organization Ready Willing and Able.

You’d be amazed at the amount of trash – dozens of trash bags full!  With a Rita’s opening the trash will increase exponentially.

And, I believe the deed restriction should be enforced.

Hertis Smithey
Mt. Airy

Bring your money, not your opinions

I am not a lawyer and I have not seen the details of the deed restriction on the proposed site of a Rita’s Water Ice franchise, so I will leave that discussion to those who are better informed. However, I am a resident of Mt. Airy and am offended by the arrogance and shortsightedness expressed by Mr. Thain. When speaking of the covenant, he states, “It’s not for the benefit of a commercial enterprise, certainly not one from Mt. Airy.”

This is the second such remark by a Chestnut Hill businessman that has appeared in the Local in the last few months. I would suggest that businesspeople in Chestnut Hill start keeping a record of where their customers live. Perhaps the “we welcome your money, but not your opinions” attitude should be reconsidered. While Kilian’s and Zipf’s will always be a “destination stop,” that attitude and the loss of other small businesses and unique shops has given me fewer reasons to shop in Chestnut Hill.

Marilyn Lambert
Mt. Airy

Rita’s Water Ice: Building community?

We were surprised to read the stories about John Thain, the franchise owner of Rita’s Water Ice. We can’t speak to the issues of fast food vs. frozen dessert. But we can speak to building community, wanting harmonious and good business practices and building businesses that benefit the community.

Ken Weinstein has been, and continues to be, a pioneer in this community, throughout the Northwest, Mt. Airy, Germantown, and Chestnut Hill.  His vision is one of bringing more visitors and business to our communities while making the Northwest a better place to live. Did he have a right to be invited to the community meeting around Rita’s? We think so. Did he have a right to privacy while continuing a binding arbitration meeting with Mr. Thain – you bet! When new businesses open in the Northwest, you are living off the community successes that people like Ken Weinstein (and may we add, Weavers Way) have created.

Mr. Thain, to us, creators of a community center for the arts for the entire Northwest, it doesn’t matter where you live. It’s about doing the right thing.

Linda Slodki and Arleen Olshan,
Cofounders, Mt. Airy Art Garage

Dangerous Fences

It recently came to my attention that a deer died after trying to jump over an iron fence with spikes on a residential property in Chestnut Hill. It is time for all of us to look again at the fences around our homes and businesses to evaluate if they are indeed safe. Iron, mesh, or wooden spiked fences lead to injured, maimed or dead deer and other animals as well. Deer are dying or being severely injured or maimed from being caught on fences near homes and especially on the Morris Arboretum’s fences.

There are options available. First, consider not buying a fence – try planting shrubs or trees for boundaries. Second, if you do buy a fence, purchase one that is 8 or 9 feet high so that deer can’t jump over it. Do not buy a fence that has spikes or wires on top of the fence or has places where deer can wedge themselves between posts or under the fence. Following are solutions to help with an existing fence that is unsafe. You can attach rubber garden hose over the top of the spikes on the tops of fence; put a hold in small rubber balls that can be attached to the top of spikes; cover the bottom of fences that have open spaces with a strong material such as a wooden board to prevent the deer from entering a small space; contact fencing companies for help with the materials needed to make your fence safe.

Please consider the above suggestions. The way the deer die on fences is cruel and inhumane, especially when there are options available. Let’s keep our neighborhood safe for the deer and other animals that roam from the Wissahickon Woods.

Mary Ann Baron
Co-Founder Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer
Chestnut Hill Resident