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Guest Opinion

Chalfont trail story shows how officials disrespect residents


Thank you for including Maximillian Driks article “Chalfont residents blast council for clearing trees with no notice for walking trail they oppose” in last week’s edition of the Herald.

It is maddening how tyrannical political entities can be towards residents. Unfortunately it is becoming all too common particularly with these proposed ‘trails’ in the area along the Neshaminy Creek.

Most residents I have spoken with, while enjoying a small trail or park nearby, know that chopping down trees to make these paved multipurpose trails is detrimental to nature. It destroys the beautiful woods nearby and invades the wildlife corridor.

In dealing with the county planners concerning the proposed Neshaminy Greenway Trail farther down the creek from Chalfont, I have had a taste of the lack of transparency, empty promises and lack of respect for nature.

I wasn’t surprised to read the typical actions and statements the decision-makers made to the residents who are kept in the dark until the deeds are done.

1.) The clearing away of the trees happened before an official notice was sent out. Residents only got an email the next day explaining what happened and why.

2.) They were told this has been planned since 2010. In our case the decision makers said the NGT was in the plans since 1958. They had a feasibility study done in 2014 and only one neighbor out of close to 30 households knew about that. In 2018, they met with one household in an attempt to get access through their property. Then, in 2020, a few of us got notices that they were coming through with tools to bore samples of the ground in order to build bridges. To their credit, they apologized for being less-than-transparent but they had to. It was out in the open.

3.) After damaging the area by chopping down a 50-foot swath of mature trees, Chalfont promised to mitigate potential flood damage by planting grass seed. Don’t they know that lawn grass with shallow roots isn’t going to mitigate serious erosion in a flood plain? Trying to protect one tree from deer, voles, mice, insects, droughts, tornadoes and floods is a full time job. I have been doing it with hundreds. The loss of mature trees is travesty.

4.) They say it is all legal on technicalities like the trail only takes up one acre of land and they didn’t disturb the soil. The whole NGT will take up lots more than an acre and disturbing root life by chopping the tree down will ultimately disturb the soil. This trail building is done in little segments so as to deal with one small group of angry residents at a time and get it permitted as a small project when, in its entirety, it is a huge undertaking resulting in great impact.

5.) “There are no plans for action in the foreseeable future.” This is just an appeasing statement. First they said the plans were in place since 2010 and action was begun to save money for the foreseeable future.

6.) The residents are dismayed that their property values will go down. Every real estate agent will tell you having mature trees, even if only nearby, makes your property value go up. The planners and decision makers have decided that having wide trails in your backyard will make your property values go up. And, in fact, the advertising for “The Circuit Trails” states it is “coming to your back yard.”

Kudos to Mitchell Meyerson, a member of the Chalfont Facilities Committee for standing up to the council knowing that this is a bad idea. It is sad that the good representatives get ignored and circumvented just because they have reason to disagree.

Sadly, this trail/circuit idea has gone like wildfire. There are good things about it, but when it invades sensitive areas it isn’t good.

Marie B. Carota lives in the Pebble Hill area of Doylestown Township.

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