September 10, 2009


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The Chestnut Hill Local
8434 Germantown Ave.
Phila. PA 19118
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2009© Chestnut Hill Local
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Market opposition is ‘ridiculous’

I am writing in response to last week’s article regarding the Good Food Market scheduled to open on Willow Grove Avenue this fall.

I was equally enraged, disappointed and disheartened to hear that our community is providing opposition toward this new business on petty complaints and insignificant issues which cannot realistically be believed to be a concern.

How is it possible that residents on Willow Grove and surrounding areas could even think about reacting this way when it is obvious that any new stores, especially one of this quality, are in dire need in our lovely Chestnut Hill?

Everyone who lives and visits here is aware of the decline our community has endured over the last couple of years — as store after store closes — all  you have to do is drive down Germantown Avenue to see the vacant shop fronts, or all the banks for that matter.

I wish I still had a market of that kind closer to our home. We lived within two blocks of Wawa when it was open on Highland Avenue, and we never witnessed speeding cars, double parking, irresponsible citizens or the ogres these neighbors of ours make the rest of us out to be — shame on you for possibly taking away a chance to make Chestnut Hill a better and more vibrant town. How can we expect stores to open in such an unwelcome environment so ardently refusing to support change? With this attitude of resistance, our neighborhood will never reach its full potential — as one of the best city communities in the country.

I am in complete support of Jennifer Zoga and applaud her effort to serve our community in face of such ridiculous opposition.

C. Esibill
Chestnut Hill


Neighbor sets record straight

In Joel Hoffmann’s article [“Bowman project variances get CHCA board Approval,” Sept 3] board member Dina Hitchock is quoted as saying that the community’s eagerness to embrace the project “is a very far cry from 2004, when near neighbors of the property wanted to oppose development of that property at any cost.”

My husband, Jim Dunn, and I are residents of East Gravers Lane.  We were present at the board meeting, and my husband immediately responded to Ms. Hitchcock’s melodramatic (“ any cost”?  Really?) and completely inaccurate comment.  Unfortunately, his response did not make it into Mr. Hoffmann’s article. So let us set the record straight:

As the article points out, Mr. Snowden “did not elaborate his reasons for halting the project after receiving approval for zoning variances... but he previously told the DRC that the investment climate was not suitable for the project back then.” Nothing was mentioned about vociferous protests by the near neighbors of the property because there were none.

We, the aforementioned neighbors, did not oppose this development at any time.  We were enthusiastic about the project in 2004 (and were disappointed that it did not go forward).   What we did do in 2004 was raise some questions and concerns (all of which were answered and addressed) and ask Mr. Snowden to agree to several quality-of-life stipulations; he did so, and these are the same stipulations referred to in the article as applying to the resurrected project. Once again, we support Mr. Snowden’s plans for developing our corner. The planned building is beautifully designed and will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood —  as will Mr. Snowden himself.

Kate Cassidy
Chestnut Hill


Money well spent  

Joel Hoffmann’s article clearly shows that the CHCA board of directors has not followed its own rules, again, to the benefit of its own members.

Lisa Howe, a Snowden tenant, has a financial interest concerning Richard Snowden’s Bowman Properties. She did not recuse herself from the vote on variances he sought. The violation was that she was not asked to leave the room as the board discussed the issue, per their rules. I have no doubt what their ruling would have been, but couldn’t they have bothered with at least the semblance of the procedures they have put in place? Oh, and her husband’s on the board too, and he didn’t recuse himself either.

The larger issue is the financial gifts, in excess of $1,500, that Richard Snowden bestowed on the Positively Chestnut Hill slate of candidates. That number would be more than the $150 figure that triggers a conflict of interest claim, as stipulated by, again, the CHCA’s own rules.

This number does not take into account the office time, spent by Snowden employees to facilitate these gifts, but no matter because their argument will be one involving long division.

They will divide the number of “Positively” candidates by the amount of Snowden money and somehow get to less than $150 a person. See, I figured it out for them. I give them this counter-claim free of charge. It’s illogical, because each one of them benefited from the entire ad buy, but when the CHCA doesn’t care about rules, how’s a little fuzzy math going to hurt? Crazier still is that they will probably never even be asked to make the argument. Now we can all see the benefits of Richards’ largesse. There will be much more to come.

Ed Feldman


Opening the checkbook

The CHCA’s decision to pay $3,500 in “settlement” to Rob Remus establishes a bad precedent: the CHCA’s checkbook is open to anyone who cries libel without any consideration whether the complaint — and any resulting legal claim — is bona fide.

In New  York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court settled the law of defamation to exclude claims brought by public figures in the absence of actual malice. No longer is the mere publication of a statement decried as defamatory sufficient to establish libel (printed defamation). Similarly, even if the statement is defamatory in nature, that is not enough to result in a judgment for the claimed victim.

In the absence of the victim’s ability to show actual malice, a defamation claim brought by a public figure does not lead to the writing of a check to the victim. Implicit in the court’s decision is the notion that any person thrusting himself into the public spotlight ought to have a thick enough skin not to feel burned when the spotlight turns on him.

Within the Chestnut Hill community, every member of the CHCA board is a public figure. It goes with the territory. When the Local published a letter detailing the author’s uncovering of facts concerning an incident involving Rob Remus, the spotlight did in fact shine on Mr. Remus’ conduct. It is clear Mr. Remus did not like what the light revealed.

The bigger concern is the CHCA’s willingness to send a signal that anyone claiming libel has an ability to collect 80 percent of their attorney’s fees without consideration whether the claim is spurious or frivolous. That is a bad precedent. It is indicative of bad policy. Okay, $3,500 is cheap to avoid the litigation costs which would be incurred while Mr. Remus tries to show the actual malice. But the same $3,500 is very expensive when it is clear Mr. Remus would fail in that endeavor.

Ron Recko
Past President, CHCA


Not pleased with State of park

I’ve written to Councilwoman Miller in the past about the poor water quality at my local park and I know those letters have been forwarded on to The Parks Commission.  However, as you can see from the attached pictures, the pond is a disgusting breeding ground for mosquitoes and a smelly eyesore for all those who use the park.  A tree limb has been sticking out of the pond for a couple months now and there are several sizable holes in the main field that could swallow a child.

I know budgets are very tight, but when it comes to safety and a heavily utilized park, I would hope priorities could be adjusted.  As you all know, this park is very popular and the amount of anger I hear from my fellow park-goers is reaching an unprecedented level.

I’m requesting the help of Councilwoman Miller to get definitive commitments from the Fairmount Park Commission and get this pond and park back to a healthy state where it can be enjoyed by all.

Christian Thomas
Chestnut Hill


He cannot believe ‘defense of murder’

I could not believe the letter by John Russo of Glenside this week entitled “Misplaced outrage.” He defends the murders and torture committed by that deranged multi-millionaire Michael Vick on the grounds that he “is the product of a violent place where the killing of young people is just a fact of life.” Well then, why don’t we just open up the jails and let out all the murderers because most grew up in “violent neighborhoods?” In fact, according to Russo’s “logic,” we should do away with laws altogether and revert to caveman status?

Well, I grew up poor in Coatesville, but my friends and I did not go around torturing or murdering animals or people because we were taught right from wrong, which has nothing to do with poverty. Russo is insulting every person who grew up poor but did not turn into a sociopath.

I would recommend that Russo go on YouTube and plug in “Roo II,” then click on the second image that pops up. He will see a 90-second video of a sweet little dog that was thrown by Michael Vick’s gang — along with many other small, innocent dogs — into a cage with starving killer dogs. The killer dogs would tear these other little dogs to pieces to “make them tough.” This poor little thing on the video, whose front legs are now paralyzed, was eventually rescued along a highway, where the dog was thrown by Vick, and nursed back to life by a loving family.

This is the kind of barbarism by Michael Vick that John Russo — and Andy Reid and Jeffrey Lurie and most Eagles fans — think is no big deal. I’m sure they would think it was no big deal if Vick and Company had done it to children either, as long as Vick can score touchdowns. That’s all that counts to these football nuts, not law or morality.

Eugene Popovic
Fort Washington