The easiest way to be in the know.
It’s Friday, October 15. West Chester gets set to pass an update to its zoning code, but what will it do with breweries, wineries and distilleries? First idea was to stick them way outside of downtown but that didn’t go over so well. Plus, convenience shopping gets a little less convenient as we get ready to say goodbye to a longstanding retailer and how many people were arrested during West Chester University homecoming? Is it more or less than 2019? Come on, you know you’re curious. Fall is here. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.
“Coming out of the pandemic we need to have flexibility in our zoning code to be responsive to customer demand.”John O’Brien, Executive Director, West Chester Business Improvement District
Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries, oh, my!
It seems like the Borough of West Chester and its business district have come to an agreement on where to put a brew pub. The debate arose after an update to the zoning code restricted all breweries, wineries and distilleries to the Industrial District. For point of reference, the Industrial District, according to the Zoning Ordinance, is the Southeastern most section of the Borough between E. Union and E. Rosedale Streets and S. Adams and S. Bolmar Streets.
This only pertains only to those establishments that produce their product on site and don’t carry a separate liquor or eating license. Even so this wording caused concern with the downtown business district which would like to keep its options open and residents of Ward 2 which would like to keep brewery traffic from wandering through their neighborhoods at night.
After several rounds of discussion, the Borough Council agreed to amended language that would allow breweries, wineries and distilleries to open downtown as long as they meet ten little conditions. The updated and hopefully final Zoning Code will be voted on next week.
“Coming out of the pandemic we need to have flexibility in our zoning code to be responsive to customer demand,” said BID Executive Director John O’Brien in an email. “The changes that Council made to the draft will help keep our downtown thriving,”
FYI – here are those conditions, if you’re curious.
- The establishment must serve food when it serves alcohol.
- It can’t be combined with another use like a nightclub, music venue, comedy club, etc – without prior Council approval.
- Like all other restaurants downtown, it must hold a Restaurant-Café license in order to serve alcoholic beverages outside.
- All owners and managers must complete the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Responsible Alcohol Management Program.
- It must maintain video surveillance of its property.
- It must provide a contact to the borough for complaints.
- The establishment must notify the borough within 24 hours if their establishment has any interactions with the law.
- It will not allow loitering.
- It will keep its stoop clean.
- It will obey the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. And if they don’t, see #7.
You can see all of the proposed changes including the unabridged list of 10, updates to parking requirements and the new minimum lot size calculation – here. If you would like to make one last stand against a proposed change, Wednesday at 6 p.m. will likely be your last chance.
The Borough’s Vaccine Decision
Next week Borough Council will decide whether or not to require its employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The decision to consider a vaccine mandate came after the Federal announcement that all employers with more than 100-employees would need to require vaccinations or weekly testing for employees and a discussion with the borough’s labor attorney and the two labor unions that support municipal employees including those in public works, parking and the police. The conclusion of all of which is that as an employer the borough can require vaccines; it just cannot mandate the means in which they are administered.
That said, under a draft policy that was reviewed this week, employees would be required to show proof of vaccination as a condition of employment. Unvaccinated employees will be given a window of time in order to get the vaccine as well as the (paid) time off to do it. For those with vaccine concerns there will be two allowable exemptions – one on medical grounds, such as those allergic to the vaccine, and one on religious.
The draft mandate came out of committee 3-0. “I think it’s a good idea,” said Councilman Don Braceland. The full Council will take up the matter at next week’s working session, Tuesday, 7 p.m., Borough Hall.
“In 2019 we had officers and paramedics out there putting tourniquets on college kids. This year was much more mild.”James Morehead, West Chester Police Chief
Two weeks ago Saturday was one of those moments where it felt, if still just for a moment, that the pandemic was behind us. It was homecoming weekend and West Chester University’s first major event in over 18-months. Streets were lined with cars, beer pong tables filled the yards, purple and gold hordes spilled out onto the sidewalk. The old normal.
West Chester Police were prepared for a return as well. Fifteen additional police personnel patrolled the streets and manned the phones, backup forces came in from the state and other municipalities. Officers hit house parties early knocking on doors, talking with renters, evaluating music levels, and pointing out problem children. At the end of the night it was not 2020 but it was not 2019 either.
In 2019, police arrested 89 students during homecoming. This year they picked up 30 and alcohol related incidents were way down. “In 2019 we had officers and paramedics out there putting tourniquets on college kids, it’s crazy but that is the behavior that was out there back then,” said West Chester Police Chief James Morehead at this week’s Public Safety meeting. “This year was much more mild.” Even still the police are taking no chances.
“We are not getting comfortable. We are trying to make sure what we did is going to work again,” said Chief Morehead.
Congratulations, you are about halfway through this week’s update. If you are enjoying it so far, why not take a second and follow this blog so you never behind again? Ok, there’s you’re friendly request, now back to it.
This is your last shot. West Chester police are seeking the public’s help in identifying an individual who may have a connection to a shots fired incident that occurred in the borough on October 2. (See above.)
Watch the ref. On Saturday during a travel team soccer tournament, West Chester Police were called to Delacey Soccer Field after receiving reports of an incident occurring between one of the game’s refs and one of its coaches. While the fields are managed by local soccer club Penn Fusion, the incident occurred while the fields were being rented for an outside tournament and did not involve any Penn Fusion members or coaches. However, Penn Fusion Executive Director Mark Thomas assured members in an email this week that appropriate action was being taken by EPYSA, youth soccer’s governing body. He also cautioned about the statewide ref shortage and encouraged the local community to step up and help develop a new batch of officials.
“There is currently a statewide shortage of referees within Pennsylvania;” he wrote. “As a community we must do all we can to develop referees and maintain a safe and respectful environment for players and match officials.”
West Chester police are still seeking information about the incident. If you have any, particularly information of the video nature, please contact Sgt. Hammond at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stabbing a laundry bag never solved anyone’s problems. Last week West Chester PD were called to the residence in the 700 block of S. Franklin Street after receiving a report of a woman screaming. The woman was attempting to re-enter a residence she moved out of the day before to retrieve some clothes when she was attacked by her former roommate who began stabbing the clothes and in the process injured the victim. To quote my daughter’s Pre-K teacher, “Use your words.”
You may want to go around. Next week New Street will be down to one lane from Gay to Market Street; Harmony Alley will be closed. Travel restrictions will also be in place on E. Nields Street from S. Franklin Street to S. Adams. And on Monday and Tuesday Church Street access to WCU campus will be blocked.
Bragging rights to Rustin Football which improved to 5-1 on the season and proved it was the best in the borough after soundly beating cross-town rival East last weekend. They had previously soundly beaten Henderson. Up next: the Golden Knights celebrate their homecoming and hopefully more winning ways this Friday against Oxford.
Also, congratulations to West Chester University which will receive a $50,000 check at the half time of Sunday’s football game from Air Line Pilots Association International. The check will go to endow the Michael Horrocks Football Scholarship. The scholarship named in honor of the WCU football star and United Airlines Flight 175 pilot goes to a standout player on the team.
And finally high fives to Tara Gorgiogio at the Brow Bar and Phineas Gage both of whom are celebrating five years in the borough. As part of her birthday post, Tara reminisced about her atypical start.
“Remember that one time West Chester’s zoning officer said, and I quote. “You really think a girl your age can make rent in this town just doing eyebrows?”
Well, here’s to proving the doubters wrong. Congratulations to both and here’s to another 5 – or 10 or 25 – years in the borough!
Say hello to the modern court. This year Rustin is rethinking the homecoming court. Instead of nominating a king and a queen per usual, students will select ten individuals to the court. Then each of those ten court members will be allowed to select their own escort. I am not sure this is so much radical, as about time.
To book bundles from the library. Now, this is not really new but somehow I missed its rollout last December. The West Chester Public Library’s children’s department librarians will put together a collection of 10 to 12 books based on your child’s interests at your request. There is an online form if you would like to request a bundle for your little reader..
Finally, give a warm welcome back to West Chester Borough’s Trunk of Treat event. Now this is not really new news either but after confusing everyone last week when I forgot to remove the once-again cancelled 2021 Halloween parade from the upcoming events list, I thought I better rerun a reminder.
Say goodbye to Rite Aid on High Street. Word is the Parkway Center drug store is closing its doors in two weeks. The closure may be due to increased competition in the area or part of the purchase agreement with Walgreens which required Rite Aid to trim some of its holdings in order to avoid antitrust implications – whatever the reason, it’s another blow to the once thriving Parkway Center.
Also say goodbye to Chester County History Center’s Chilling West Chester II. If you had hoped to catch these true tales of terror pulled directly from the CCHC archives, I am sorry to disappoint but all 14 instances of this popular event have been sold out.
And finally say goodbye to Monday mornings at DK Diner – at least through the end of the month. The Gay Street diner is closing Mondays in October to give their staff a much needed break – but don’t worry, they’ll be around the rest of the week to dish you out affordable breakfast and lunch specials.
Pay it forward.
As we move into the giving season, don’t forget the West Chester Public Library. With the pandemic causing popular fundraising events like the Christmas home tour to be cancelled, fundraising revenue was down 17% last year but there is no reason we can’t help bring that back up. Small donations go a long way with the library. For example, $25 will purchase one print book; $50 – one e-book; $100 provides enough materials for four Tinker Days; with a $500 donation you could support four STEM/coding classes for children and if you are feeling really generous, $1,000 will purchase the materials and staff time for a 5-week story time session for ages 0-5 years (virtual or in-person). A real deal, for an amazing program.
Also, know someone in need of a little pick me up but a little tight on cash at the moment? This Sunday Elevate Hair Studio is opening their doors to anyone in the community who needs a haircut but cannot afford one. If you or someone you know is interested, doors are open but reservations are encouraged (610-696-9100).
Also, West Chester Business Improvement District is looking for ideas for new events to bring to downtown West Chester in 2022. Perhaps they read last week’s Roundup?
“Things like the Restaurant Festival, Halloween Parade and Christmas Parade will be back, we want help thinking of additional events that can help attract even more people to the downtown. Think of this as a brainstorming session, so no idea is off the table!” they wrote in their weekly newsletter.
Break out your best brainstorming aids and take that as your invitation to get creative.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? The boys are going camping so the girls are going on a pumpkin hunt and stop on our way for some croissants and hot cocoa or maybe a s’mores for mama?
Heading out? Greystone is holding a five-course prix fixe meal on Sunday in celebration of PA wine month. Reservations are required. Plus, the STOMP cancer run is Saturday and several ways to get out and enjoy the weather while making someone’s day a little better. And Halloween events are starting – tonight with a Trunk or Treat event being held by the West Goshen police.
Mark your calendars:
Stay safe. Stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
Oct. 15 – West Goshen Police Trunk of Treat, 915 Old Fern Hill Rd, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 – Homecoming, Rustin High School
Oct. 16 – West Chester STOMPS Cancer 5K, 9 a.m. Event is being held in person downtown or can be run virtually.
Oct. 16 – Hikes with Herrin, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Oakbourne Park, Join Rep. Herrin for a discussion of invasive species, open space and other issues.
Oct. 17 “Walk with Me” Merge with Mercy Foundation, 11:00 a.m. via Zoom Registration is required. Event is “pay what you can.”
Oct. 17 Pumpkin Party with Cinderella, Lulu’s Casita, 9:30-12 p.m. Pumpkin decorating, bubble dance, snacks and mimosas provided. $25/child; adults are free.
Oct. 21 – 10th Annual West Chester Preservation Awards, Chester County History Center, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 – Homecoming, East High School
Oct. 23, Labyrinth Dedication Celebration, Everhart Park, 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 24 – Affirmation crafting, Shadyside Park, Pavilion F, 2-5 p.m. Boards and paints provided but if you have some of your own please feel free to add to the mix.
Oct. 27 – West Chester Trunk of Treat, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., behind the West Chester Borough hall (401 E. Gay St.) The event is free and open to the public.
Oct. 30 – 2021 Halloween Ball, Chester County History Center, 6:30 -10:30 p.m. Costumes highly encouraged. Tickets $100;
New to the blog? Follow along for the latest from West Chester.