If you could carefully go from one farm or rural property to the next and talk to their owners you might find that many of them have some sort of arrangement like a “right of first refusal” with a developer. You might even find that some operating farm land is owned by a real estate speculator or developer. I think that will be the case anywhere within 10 miles of Rt. 30 between Coatesville and Lancaster.
The type of development in our farmland and fields has usually been single family homes. I’m not sure that there will be home buyers that need or want a single family home with 4 or more bedrooms. An average family of 2 adults and 2 children is long gone. The primary reason the turn from large families to small families is that it is now very likely that children will survive their parents. A majority of homeowners and renters in Chester County have no children and the baby boomers are looking to downsize.
Projected demographics for southeast Pennsylvania point towards more people looking for townhome or condominium design homes with minimal upkeep by the home owner. They will pay more for homes that have short access to public transit, shopping and entertainment.
The only wild cards in the demographic deck are new immigrants. They may want to buy single family homes designed for families with children or they become “Americanized” and decide a large family is not needed. Immigrants are significant. Pennsylvania has a mostly constant number of residents for several decades. Without immigrants Pennsylvania would have lost population numbers. Another possibility is that improved economies and opportunities may draw immigrants back to their native countries.
There is an alternative to building houses on farmland; that is utilizing existing municipalities. For instance, Coatesville already had the water and sewer capacity for 20,000 residents before Pennsylvania American rebuilt its sewer plant. Coatesville now has about 11.000 residents. Coatesville has an Amtrak Station and will have SEPTA train service with a planned extension of the R5 Line. That’s room for new homes for about 9,000 baby boomers and young professionals without children. The existing single family homes in the countryside that the baby boomers don’t need or want anymore could be purchased by those immigrant families looking for a home with room for a family. I only know about Coatesville but I believe that other established municipalities have room for condo and townhome development for baby boomers and young professionals.
Right now most of the undeveloped land in Chester County that is flat or cheap to develop has a "right of first refusal" or is already owned by a real estate developer or real estate speculator. If we do not utilize our existing municipalities for new development, the rolling countryside of Chester County will be only be seen in photographs in history books.
If you think our little communities and their part time attorney can stand up to the area wide, nationwide and international property owners (developers) and their squadron of attorneys and a deck of Commonwealth Laws stacked in the property owners (developers) favor; I got a bridge to sell you.
Sewage plant raises sprawl fear
Conservancy lobbying against expansion of facility
DAILY LOCAL NEWS
Sunday, November 29, 2009
By ANNE PICKERING, Staff Writer