Park Advocates and Local Residents Appeal Valley Forge Ordinance

Date:   October 11, 2007
Contact:   Cinda Waldbuesser, Pennsylvania Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, 215.327.2529

Park Advocates and Local Residents Appeal Valley Forge Ordinance

Proposed Commercial Development Incompatible with Historic Character of Valley Forge

Philadelphia, PA— Lower Providence residents joined the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today to appeal to the Lower Providence Zoning Hearing Board on the townships' decision to allow incompatible commercial development on private land within Valley Forge National Historical Park.

“Valley Forge is a national icon that deserves to be protected for future generations to enjoy and appreciate,” said Cinda Waldbuesser, National Parks Conservation Association Pennsylvania program manager. “Beyond its historical significance, this land also provides invaluable open space for local residents in a rapidly suburbanizing area.”

Despite the objections of local residents, the Lower Providence Board of Supervisors last month approved the “Living History Overlay District,” which would allow for a museum and inappropriate commercial development, including a hotel and conference center, to be built on private land inside the park. The National Parks Conservation Association and local residents are challenging this ordinance change on the basis of spot zoning.  Specifically, the appeal filed today challenges the ordinance because the development it permits is inconsistent and incompatible with the neighboring federal parkland and other open space.

“The proposed development would alter the park's historical and cultural landscapes, and conflict with Congressional intent to protect the landscape's historic character,” said Waldbuesser. “By filing this appeal, we're providing the township another opportunity to weigh the consequences of this inappropriate development.”

In addition, the National Parks Conservation Association charges that the development plans are incompatible with the park's recently completed long-range management plan, which calls for the land to be acquired by the National Park Service and preserved as open space. Under the new ordinance, development on the site could occupy more than 509,000 square feet—space equivalent to more than three Wal-Mart stores. It would allow structures including pedestrian walkways, courtyards, and plazas to be counted as open space.

The commercial development that would be permitted under the new ordinance would be built on land where units of the Continental Army were encamped at the end of the bitter winter of 1777-1778, and where General George Washington established the army's commissary operation to bring order and security to distribution of precious camp supplies, ending the starvation of the troops. 

Since 1919, the nonpartisan, nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 335,000 members, and allies work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation's natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come. 



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