She's Houldin Up the New Town Center
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.