• Terry Rumsey

Guest Column: In Media, time to focus on "Everyone's Backyard"

This guest column from Keep Media Green was published in the Delaware County Daily Times on May 7, 2019. Read it on the Daily Times site or below.

When Abbie Wysor, a long-time Media resident, delivered more than 550 petition signatures from fellow residents to Media Borough Council at their April meeting, a standing-room-only crowd erupted into thunderous applause. The petition, signed by residents from every neighborhood in Media, called on borough council to rezone the 12-acre Broomall’s tract, located immediately adjacent to Glen Providence Park in western Media, from Residential to Recreational (technically MERC - Municipal, Educational, Recreational and Community).

Why had so many passionate residents packed the borough council meeting and why had hundreds of residents from every part of Media signed a petition to rezone a tract of land on the western edge of town?

The simple answer is that most residents in Media are adamantly opposed to any housing development destroying the last significant tract of unprotected, open, green space in the borough. Rezoning the Broomall’s tract from Residential, which allows for housing development, to Recreational, which would allow for current use as a private recreational facility but not for housing development, is the first line of defense.

The residents’ fear of a housing development on the Broomall’s tract is not based on conjecture. The threat manifested on December 7, 2017, when an attorney for Broomall’s Lake Country Club (BLCC), the non-profit, tax-exempt organization that owns the 12 acres, submitted a plan to the Media Zoning Hearing Board to construct 16 single-family twin houses on the tract.

Fortunately, Media Borough Council was prescient and passed an ordinance that instructed their borough solicitor to prepare legislation to rezone the Broomall’s tract from Residential to Recreational (MERC). Under Pennsylvania’s pending ordinance doctrine, the council’s action in September 2017 temporarily changed the tract’s zoning from Residential to Recreational (MERC), thereby prohibiting any housing construction.

The Country Club’s leaders, in response to council’s action to rezone the tract, entered into talks with borough council in the winter of 2018. The two sides engaged in a series of discussions about how to preserve the tract’s open space while also ensuring the financial viability of Broomall’s Lake Country Club. One option that was explored was the purchase of a “conservation easement” by the borough. A conversation easement would have resulted in the borough paying the club a negotiated amount of money in exchange for a legal agreement to preserve the land as open, green space. This represented a “win-win” solution for the club, the borough and residents.