Friday, November 9, 2007

She's Houldin Up the New Town Center

Here's my print column today on the BPG plan for a Town Center in Newtown Square.

One name that wasn't mentioned was Township Supervisor Linda Houldin who has been one of the more vociferous opponents of the Town Center plan. As far as BPG is concerned she's Linda Houldin Things Up.

I called her for the column but she didn't call back.

The skinny on Linda is that she has a job with Brandywine Conference and Visitors Bureau. Her newest title is "liason" to the county parks and recreation department and the county historical society.

Though she is employed by bureau, which is located in Chadds Ford, she doesn't work there. Oddly, she works out of an office in the county's parks and recreation department at Rose Tree Park.

Houldin's political patron is Newtown GOP boss Mike Gillin. If it weren't for him its highly unlikely she'd have a visitor's bureau job. So let's just say she's behouldin' to him big time.

Most recently Houldin arranged a Veterans Memorial photo op for Claude de Botton and his planned-for "Lifestyle" development on Route 3. No wonder the BPG folks are so suspicious of how they've been treated in Newtown. Especially seeing Claude's zoning changes and approvals zip through while their's languishes in limbo.

Gillin tells me he's for the BPG Town Center going forward. We'll see.

Township Board of Supervisors Chairman (and good guy) Joe Catania jokingly calls BPG's complaints "Claude de Botton envy" and explains away Claude's quick approvals as comparing apples to oranges. "They're both fruit but that's about it."

I'm willing to by that, but reasonable people might wonder if there isn't more going on here than meets the eye.

Catania thinks BPG may be bluffing in going ahead with its "by-right" plan -- so-called because that's a plan that the developer can impose on a municipality "by (legal) right," in so far as it meets existing zoning and what not.

BPG's "by-right" would be anchored by a big-box store. Nobody wants that. But right now the township is playing a game of chicken with BPG.

Catania said he would be trying to set up a meeting with BPG in the next few days.

BPG Prez Steve Spaeder will make a boat-load of dough no matter which plan is finally approved. But probably more with the Town Center. He says it isn't all dollars and cents to him. He'd like to do leave behind a development he can point to and be proud of. Another Target store doesn't accomplish that.

More to come in the days ahead.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that when it comes to the Veteran's Memorial, Spaeder told me that he would've welcomed it into the Town Center project. Where better to have it, he asked, out on the edge of the township on in its heart? He believes he could've found a perfect spot for it in the 15-acre park he had planned.


Anonymous e said...

She seems to be a troublemaker like David Landau wants to be, but couldn't get elected to be. The republicans of Newtown should see this and get rid of her. Troublemakers are bad for everybody no matter what their party affiliation is.

November 9, 2007 at 11:20 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a simple math lesson:
Houldin = Gillin

Here's a simple biology lesson:
Gillin has the credibility of a flea

Class dismissed.

November 11, 2007 at 11:02 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Board of Supervisors is trying to squeeze as much as possible out of BPG. What did they get from deBotton? How much money is he contirubting to alleviate the traffic problems his site is going to cause? What is he doing about a new or expanded firehouse? What is he doing to promote "green" spaces? His plan was pushed through so quickly that the public really did not have a chance to know what was going on.
BPG has been tying to work with the township for more than three years. No wonder that they feel as they do.
The Supervisors should not take a chance that their current course of action will bring a Big Box store to the center of town.
The majority of the citizens of Newtown Square are in favor of the Town Center.
It should be appoved NOW!

November 13, 2007 at 7:49 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who was at both meetings over the summer about this plan, it was very obvious the people are very much in favor of BPG.

But, as any involved resident of Newtown knows. It doesn't matter what the residents want. What does matter is what your supervisors want!

November 14, 2007 at 11:00 AM 

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