Just west of route 202, straddling the Pennsylvania/Delaware border lies a hidden gem in the midst of big box retail stores and urban sprawl. This area is known by locals as "The Valley", but formally as Beaver Valley, and consists of thousands of acres of woodland and farmland. It is treasured for its rare beauties, historic and ecologic significance, and offers an incredible recreational wonderland for hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and runners.
Members from all walks of life have joined together to help preserve over 750 acres of pristine land in beautiful Beaver Valley that is currently slated for development. We are a group of concerned citizens who understand the value of preserving Beaver Valley. We aim to put a stop to the development plans on the remaining land held by the Woodlawn Trustees and to preserve the land permanently for recreational use. We want it to be known that we will not stand for development on this land. Join us in the fight for saving this precious land before it is too late.
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This is a long and complicated story. There's no getting around it. It's important, however, that our supporters understand the whole story because this is not your typical land deal and development proposal.
What's the Valley?
Just west of route 202 on the Pennsylvania/Delaware border lies a hidden gem in the midst of big box retail stores and urban sprawl. This area is known by locals as "The Valley", but formally as Beaver Valley. Beaver Valley consists of thousands of acres of woodland and farmland and is treasured for its rare beauties, historic and ecologic significance, and offers an incredible recreational wonderland for hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and runners.
Members from all walks of life have joined together to help preserve over 750 acres of pristine land in beautiful Beaver Valley that is currently slated for development. This movement was started by two separate organizations, Save The Valley, and The Beaver Valley Conservancy, with a common goal, to save Beaver Valley from development.
Which parts are protected vs threatened?
Slightly more than half of the Valley’s lands are included within the newly-designated First State National Monument and permanently protected. Another 15% or so are held by individuals and operated as farms or country places. Some of these privately owned properties are permanently protected with conservation easements; others are expected to be so protected in the near future. The final 771 acres are owned by Woodlawn Trustees, Incorporated, a Delaware corporation. Of these 771 acres, approximately 60% (447 acres) lie in New Castle County, Delaware; the remaining 40% (324 acres) in Concord Township Pennsylvania. All adjoin, the First State National Monument and Brandywine Creek State Park.
An Unmatched Habitat
On the northern edge of nearly 2,300 acres of permanently preserved and protected lands, in close proximity to another 2000 or so acres of privately owned and permanently protected land, and located in a small area where most individual landowners use their lands consistently with good conservation and preservation practices, Beaver Valley including the Woodlawn land proposed for development provide nearly unmatched habitat for Mid-Atlantic Piedmont flora and fauna, and in the stone and frame 18th and 19th century dwellings and outbuildings – barns, corn cribs, cart sheds, and springhouses - that dot the landscape, an induplicable evocation of our regional rural heritage. Crisscrossed with miles of trails, the Valley offers an incredible recreational wonderland for bikers, hikers and horseback riders.
The importance of these lands has been recognized by New Castle County, which has recommended that the Delaware roadways that wind through them be designated National Scenic Highways, by the Delaware County Planning Commissions which has encouraged their preservation and protection, and by the United States; which designated a portion of them as a National Monument in early 2013. Their haunting and magical character was effectively captured by the National Geographic in March, 2013, when it described them as existing “at some indeterminate point in time…somewhere between the 18th and the 20th centuries.”
Don't let the name fool you, the Woodlawn Trustees are not stewards of the land. They want to sell the land to three other development companies. Instead of selling the land to a consortium of preservation organizations, the Woodlawn Trustees are selling their land to developers who are attempting to change the zoning laws so that they can build almost ten times what they're legally allowed to. They are not even satisfied with what they can build by law. Thousands of citizens are uniting in an attempt to defend and protect this land that is so meaningful to the community.
Building Past Capacity
In the wake of Woodlawn’s apparent decision to monetize its “country properties” by developing them, this fragile eco-system, historical treasure trove, and recreational wonderland is threatened. Although many have urged Woodlawn to do otherwise, its current plans are to sell the 325 acres located in Pennsylvania to developers instead of offering them to those who would protect them or working with local organizations to that end. However, the development companies cannot build as planned because the law only allows a fraction of what is proposed. The developers submitted a "rezoning proposal" in order to accommodate their proposed development. In other words, they submitted a request to change the law in order to allow for an enormous increase in development so they can maximize their profits. Proposed were 3 large residential developments (400-500+ houses) and a massive quarter-million square foot commercial complex including a nationally opposed big box retail store. The decision makers in charge of either accepting or rejecting this proposal are the five members on the Concord Township board of supervisors.
In response, in a movement that was started by two separate organizations, Save the Valley and the Beaver Valley Conservancy, with a common goal of saving Beaver Valley from development, thousands of citizens.
Beating The Rezoning
Through an enormous effort we were able to rally almost a thousand people to the Board of Supervisors meeting in May of 2013 to oppose the rezoning proposal. With such an uproar, the developers were forced to withdraw their plans to rezone.
Back Again With Another Proposal
Despite being beat back once, the developers came back with what's called a "by-right" plan. A “by-right” plan is what developers are allowed to build on a piece of property under the existing law. Anything that is outside the current building law (zoning) is not by-right. For example, you are probably allowed to build a shed in your backyard (it’s your right as a land owner), but you’re not allowed to build a power plant. It’s your right to build what you want on your property as long as it follows the zoning law. A shed falls within in the zoning but a power plant does not.
Variances ≠ a “by-right” plan
Incomplete plans ≠ a “by-right” plan
Misleading plans ≠ a “by-right” plan
This isn’t a by-right proposal because the plans are misleading, incomplete, require 10 variances, and have upwards of 45 code violations! Plans can be rejected for just 1 of these violations! This plan is a rezoning proposal being stuffed into a by-right envelope. One of our major concerns is that the developers are not complying with the township law. The developers are doing the equivalent of submitting plans for a shed while building a power plant. This is important because the Concord Township Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission cannot reject a “by-right” proposal. They can; however, reject a proposal that’s not by-right.
The Beaver Valley Conservancy (BVC) commissioned almost a dozen consultants who are experts in their field to perform studies in conjunction with Concord's township studies. The BVC's consultants performed traffic studies, ecologic studies, historical studies, economic studies, among others.
Despite the opposition from hundreds of residents from Concord Twp and the surround area, as well as the expert testimony from the BVC's consultants, the Board of Supervisors approved the plan to build 171 houses.
Where We're at Now
Currently, the decision to approve the Vineyard Commons Proposal is being fought in court between Concord Twp and the Beaver Valley Conservancy. We should know an outcome within the following months.
To protect and preserve the unprotected acres of Beaver Valley in Pennsylvania and Delaware by facilitating public awareness, public education, mobilization, and action regarding the protection of Beaver Valley.
Who We Are
Save The Valley is a community-wide citizen-driven movement that is rapidly gaining traction in Wilmington, Concord Twp, and the surrounding areas. We are a group of local, action-oriented citizens who share a common love for Beaver Valley and aim to preserve it for future generations. We believe that Beaver Valley is an irriplaceable piece of land, rich in heritage and beauty amongst a backdrop of urban sprawl. The fields and forests of this land offer a unique opportunity to escape from the confines of the city and allow individuals to connect with nature. We are Save The Valley, we are your neighbors.
Q: I am not into Nature or Outdoor activities...why should I care?
A: As everyone in the Township knows, the Route 202 corridor is already overburdened. Developing these 325 acres will eventually affect everyone in the surrounding areas with increased traffic, noise, water and air pollution, and pressure on the Garnet Valley school district.
Q: I did not know about this land --what does it offer me now?
A: The extensive trail system is open to hikers, dog walkers, runners, bicycle and horseback riders. Access to good-quality, well maintained open spaces can improve our physical and mental health by encouraging us to walk more, play sports, or simply enjoy the fresh air, green space and natural environment.
Q: What is the difference between Save The Valley and the Beaver Valley Conservancy?
A: Save The Valley is primarily an awareness organization. We spend our time getting the word out to the community and mobilizing people. The Beaver Valley Conservancy (BVC) is a separate organization with a similar mission, however, their approach is a bit different than ours. The BVC has collected data on the impacts of the proposed development and has made that information available to the public. Save The Valley uses that data to create digestible informational pieces for the public. You can visit their webiste at www.savebeavervalley.org.