I love Downingtown and the flavor of old time mixed in with modern. I love that there are thriving businesses that bring revenue into the town and that there are still "mom and pop shops" that are open sometimes under their own steam. What I don't like is residents that have a bit of power and abuse that power.
I'll admit that I am biased about some things that go on in town. I am really biased when it comes to my husbands employer, but with good reason. Robert's Automall has been a fixture in this town for 25 years and yet tonight the dance that they had to do to revamp their two remaining showrooms on the parcel of land that they own was incredible and embarrassing to say the least. Robert's successfully went before the zoning board and made sure that they had dotted all their "I's" and crossed all their "T's" before what should have been a final compliance meeting with the Planning Commission. Yet that is not what it was. In fact little was said by any commission member other than Mr. Steve Henning. A few valid operating comments were made by Sean Lawrence, but by and large it was Mr. Henning's show and I am sure everyone could see that his intent was to not give Robert's the go-ahead with their plans to redo both showrooms and make the lot look that much more pleasing to the eye, but still maintain an operating business in the borough. In fact it becomes quite plain that if it were an option for Mr. Henning he would tell Robert's to get out of town. A fact that is brought to bare in the Comprehensive Plan that goes before Borough Council soon. Of which a public meeting was conducted and NO changes were made, not even those recommended by the Historic and Parks Commission, in writing, which is an entity of the borough.
It is quite obvious from a listeners point of view that Mr. Henning has no comprehension as to how a car dealership is run and how they conduct business. It is quite clear that he wants HIS way or the highway. Well all fine and good, but is Mr. Henning willing to subsidize each Downingtown resident when their taxes go up because a LARGE revenue producing business leaves the borough to your landscaping and aesthetics? I understand compliance with building standards in the borough, but I also understand communities coming together to make a business viable and running so that a long time staple in town can continue to operate within the limits they have complied with.
I will say that I could not sit any longer and watch and listen to the machinations of this commission once they decided to table the go ahead to discuss "what they could control" which was the landscaping. I wonder when the living walls will come to bear again. What did surprise me is that Sarah Peck who is a developer who is presently in litigation over Kardon Park thought that it was her place to speak directly to Joe Dwyer general manager of Robert's and tell him that she knew better what Honda would do than he did. She said that she saw other Honda showrooms that did not conform to Honda's image. Well bully for you Ms. Peck, but when did you become part of the planning commission and when were you given free reign to discuss another business owner's business? Yet when Ann Feldman wished to ask a question she was originally shot down. Regardless of your feelings about Ms. Feldman's stance on Kardon Park, why was Ms. Peck given free reign to bash Joe Dwyer and tell him in not so many words that he didn't know what he was talking about when she is a developer and NOT part of an automotive franchise, planning commission, nor an interested party and Ms. Feldman who is on Borough Council was told NO? The other sticking point is why is Main Street Association even involved in any aspect of what is determined for Robert's?
Be careful Mr. Henning you may get your wish and Robert's tells you where to put your landscaping and moves out of the borough and it would serve you right and those who listen to your arguments. In fact it would serve Mr. Henning right to be the reason that Downingtown residents find that their taxes have gone up exponentially not just to cover services in the Borough, but because of Henning's Folly. Let's hope that Borough Council has more insight into what it takes to keep Downingtown thriving, not living walls and pretty bushes, but actual money.