MARPLE TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Marple Township residents today joined Alex Charlton, Republican candidate for State Representative in Pennsylvania’s 165th Legislative District, to call on Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to donate the property that housed the Archdiocese’s former Don Guanella home to the Natural Lands Trust for preservation.
Last week the Archdiocese announced that a 2014 deal to sell the property to a commercial developer had collapsed. The Marple Township Planning Commission had rejected the developer’s proposal for a large mixed-use development to be built on the site.
The 213-acre property along Route 320 is among the last large tracts of open space in central Delaware County.
“When it comes to open space, the taxpayer should come first. More open space means a better quality of life for the families in our communities,” Charlton said. “It keeps property values strong. It makes our air cleaner. It reduces traffic. And it keeps our neighborhoods beautiful.”
“The Marple Township Planning Board rejected the developer’s plans. It was right to, and the commissioners should be commended for listening to the voice of the taxpayers in this community,” Charlton said. “The Archdiocese should have been listening, too.”
“Today, I’m asking my fellow residents in this area to join me in this grassroots campaign to persuade the Archdiocese to take this property off the market and donate it for preservation.”
“State grant programs and county-issued bonds are often effective ways to preserve open space, and I agree a conversation about those methods is worthwhile,” said Charlton. “But as responsible leaders we should first look to other methods of preserving open space — before hitting up the taxpayer. Tax hikes should not be your first resort.”
“Taxpayers have long borne a burden for this property by virtue of its tax-exempt status,” said Charlton. “Over the decades this property has been owned by the Archdiocese, the tax exemption has meant millions of dollars in lost revenue for the township and the county. Here, the solution is clear.”
“Donating this land is consistent with the Church’s teachings and its priorities,” said Sue Ann Morrone, a resident of neighboring Springfield Township. “It’s the right thing to do.”
“The last thing middle class families need is more taxes and more debt,” said Bob Layden, a Springfield Township Commissioner. “The church has benefited from favorable tax treatment here for decades. It’s only right for them to turn this property over to the community for preservation.”
“The future of this property rests with the Archbishop. I respectfully ask him to be a protector of God’s handiwork by donating this land and I ask you to join me in a grassroots campaign calling on the Archdiocese not to sell it,” Charlton said.
“Please join us by signing our petition at CharltonForPA.com/OpenSpace,” he concluded.