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West Chester Weekly News Roundup: Nov. 10, 2023

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It’s Friday, Nov. 10, 2023: A new short-term rental ordinance would allow Airbnbs to officially operate in West Chester’s Town Center. There are wins here for both those for and against the idea. Plus, Chester County Hospital’s safety rating drops for the first time in more than three years – concerns include dangerous blood clots, infections, and safe medication administration – and those “Miami Vice” directional signs could soon be going away. (Yay.) 

Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.

Short-term Rentals Coming Soon to a Borough Near You

Under the new ordinance, short term rentals would be alllowed in the Town Center.

Last year, Dr. Krupa Daniel began a standoff with the Borough of West Chester that has now taken up nearly two years of her life. Her problems began after renting two units in her Union Street home on Airbnb. The historic home she bought in 2022 is divided into five units. Three units are long-term rentals, one unit, according to Krupa, had been used as a short-term rental, and the last was an inlaw suite (which Krupa also set up as a short-term rental). Her real estate agent even suggested the use to help offset the home’s mortgage.

However, not long after Krupa listed her units, she received a cease and desist letter from the Borough of West Chester. According to the Borough Code, Airbnbs are not allowed. Except, they are. A lot. 

“There are several in town,” admitted Building and Housing Director Kevin Gore at a recent Planning Commission meeting during a review of a new ordinance that would allow some short-term rentals to operate in the Borough and perhaps, aid Borough enforcement of the others. Although, according to Kevin, “We’ve gone after many of them.” 

On this point, the Housing Director and Krupa would disagree. Her research, including a Right to Know request of Borough emails, shows that the Borough pursued the closure of just four short-term rentals since 2019. Last year, just one. 

“I think it was particularly targeted at me,’ said Krupa, and whether true or not, it does appear that way. While she was told some neighbors had raised concerns with the Borough, neither she nor her tenants have ever received any official complaints. To Krupa, who was born in India, the complaint felt personal. “Being a woman of color, this is very typical of many acts of systemic racism I have gone through in my life,” she said.

So, she fought. She hired a lawyer. She researched legal precedents and she has tried to organize other short-term rental proprietors. The latter to little avail. “There are a lot of competing interests,” she said. Some rental-owners have been successful in staying under the radar and maybe they hope things will continue that way. “I tried to organize people but no one returned my calls,” she said. She is, however, making progress in her own case. 

In her corner, she has the 2017 Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court case Reihner v. City of Scranton. The case, which is referenced in the Chester County Planning Commission guidelines on short-term rentals, found in favor of the resident after determining Scranton’s zoning code was not clear in its intentions towards Airbnbs. The current Borough code similarly fails to plainly stipulate its intention towards short-term rentals. An oversight Krupa believes should have been caught in the last Zoning Code update.

“Not addressing this big hole in the zoning code left the Borough vulnerable to legal liability,” she said via email.   

While the Borough probably could have just added “short-term rental” to the current exclusions list, Borough Council has been split on whether or not to allow Airbnbs. There are two members solidly against, three in favor, and two supporting a middle ground. 

“I think we are missing an opportunity if we don’t allow them,” Councilwoman Lisa Dorsey said in a discussion on the topic in August. Middle is where the new Short Term Rental Ordinance lands. 

Under the new ordinance “short-term” or dwellings “rented for the purpose of overnight lodging for a period of less than 30 days” would be allowed in the Town Center. The rental would have to be a stand-alone unit – you can’t rent a bedroom in your home and you would need Borough Council approval before you could lease it. The code, however, does not require that the unit have its own off-street parking – a win for Airbnb advocates. 

For opponents the win comes with the mapping – the new ordinance leaves a lot of units out. Namely, any unit currently operating outside of downtown (you can find the exact Town Center borderlines here.). If the ordinance passes, the question remains, how will the Borough enforce it? Will it take a proactive approach shutting down all rentals outside of the Town Center or will it continue to rely on neighbor complaints? 

Last month, the West Chester Planning Commission approved a final draft of the Short-term Rental Ordinance. The next step will be to schedule a public hearing. The date of that hearing has not yet been set but will likely take place sometime next month. How, when, and where to allow Airbnbs is a complicated topic that has split communities over the last decade and a half since the idea of short-term rentals took off.

Read more about the pros and cons here.   

Transformation: West Chester “Miami Vice” Signs

If all goes as planned, these old directional signs will be transformed by March.

This series is brought to you by Cocoon Remodeling, experts in positive transformations. View some of their own transformations here.

You’ve probably seen them around the county – or maybe you haven’t – those teal and magenta directional signs installed when teal things were all the rage. The signs, which call out county landmarks like Longwood Gardens and French Creek State Park, are finally, after nearly four decades, getting a second look.   

“Installing wayfinding signage was an innovative move at the time,” Chester County Tourism Executive Director Susan Hamley told me of the 1980s decision. Since then, however, the signs have been deteriorating and no longer reflect the character of Chester County. “We call them Miami Vice signs,” said Susan. “Plus they are now 100 percent out of compliance with PennDOT regulations.” 

To fix this, Susan and her team have been pitching a plan to local governments to update the signs’ colors (this time an indigo blue is proposed), design, and placement thus creating uniform (and compliant) signage throughout the county. In West Chester, two signs will be included in the program – one on 52 near Price Street and the other at the intersection of Pottstown Pike and Rte. 322. West Chester destinations include Downtown, the Chester County History Center, and West Chester University. Not all directional signs are included in the program. The newly installed sign directing to Uptown Theater will not be. Neither will the signs in West Goshen pointing out QVC or the Brandywine Airport. 

According to Susan, the team went back to the program’s original criteria to determine which signs to include. They took into consideration the number of visitors an attraction received, seasonality, and whether the sign was originally in the program. As a replacement program, new signage was automatically exempt. The goal, said Susan, was to provide a welcoming visitor experience. 

“We are aiming to reduce repetitive clutter while still achieving the goal of a good wayfinding system,” she said. “The last thing we want is to create visual pollution.”  

The new signs will feature an indigo background, white lettering and a decorative scroll.

It does raise the question, in a day of cellphones and ubiquitous GPS, is any of this really necessary? Susan believes that it is.

“Wayfinding signs are meant to create awareness,” she said. She believes they are marketing tools that have the power to influence longer and repeat visits to an area – and longer stays mean more money spent in a community. 

The project is being broken into two phases. The first phase involves signs in West Chester, West Goshen, Kennett Square, and Chadds Ford. With the help of a PennDOT grant, Chester County Tourism Bureau will cover the costs and installation of the new signs. However, before they can proceed they need the approval of all the involved townships. Kennett Square, West Goshen, and Chadds Ford have agreed. West Chester gave their unanimous approval last month. 

With approvals in place, the goal is to have phase one completed by March and then on to phase two. 

Help Mike Ciunci and team collect 1,700 pounds of food for the West Chester Food Cupboard. Prizes for top donors. Drop off at CrossFit West Chester. Donations due by Nov. 17!


West Chester Police are seeking help identifying a suspect wanted for an illegal shopping spree.

Lock those doors and take your wallet with you. West Chester Police are investigating the Sunday theft of a wallet from a vehicle on N. High Street. After nabbing the wallet, the suspect used a credit card to make purchases at local stores totaling more than $3,000. The suspect is described as, “a white male, 20 to 30 years old.” At the time of the theft, he was wearing a pink sweatshirt, and baseball cap and carrying a Nike drawstring backpack. Who wants to take bets he hit up Jawn Supply? If you have any information about this incident contact the WCPD at 610-696-2700. 

On a positive note, West Chester Police Chief James Morehead shared that both Part 1 (serious) and Part 2 (nuisance) crimes were down from September to October. Part 1 crime was down 30 percent. 

Keep it in your pants. Earlier this week, Westtown-East Goshen police issued an arrest warrant for Kim David Maguire of Newtown Square on the grounds of indecent exposure. Officers received reports Mr. Maguire exposed himself at East Goshen Park at 11:45 a.m. on Halloween morning. If you were in the park at this time and saw Mr. Maguire’s genitalia, (which we all hope not) you are asked to contact the WEGO police at 610-692-9600.

Updates from West Goshen. Last week, we learned of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the West Goshen Township, its township manager, and the Board of Supervisors. The lawsuit alleges all parties were culpable in the suicide death of long-time Public Works Director John David Woodward this summer. At the center of the tragic series of events is long-standing, although potentially misguided, snow day policy.

This week, West Goshen supervisors maintained their innocence. “We intend to fully and vigorously defend all parties in this misguided claim,” Board Chairman Shaun Walsh, Board Chairman, stated at last Thursday’s Township meeting. 

Also last week and also related to the above case, we learned a West Goshen Republican Committee member defaced several campaign signs of current and (for some reason) prospective West Goshen supervisor candidates with the word “murder.” This week we learned that Committee Member Paul Linkmeyer resigned from his post and apologized for his actions – although apparently not to everybody. And in more elections news… 

Cheaters never win. Which to be fair, is not always true but it Is in this case. Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported the campaign of West Chester school board candidate Alain Oliver was handing out cards at polling stations that appeared to imply he was endorsed by a local parents’ group. The two-sided cards went so far as to include the group’s logo (or a reasonable facsimile) and the wording “Democrats Working Together for Public Schools.” The campaign of Mr. Oliver, who was running as a member of a slate of “Back to Basics” candidates, responded to the claim by stating, “The purchase and distribution of the cards is compliant with all campaign finance rules.” They also said Alain was not distributing the cards, rather a volunteer was doing it on his behalf. Whatever the gray water into which we have waded, it did not do much to swing the vote. Alain lost his bid to replace incumbent Gary Bevilacqua.

You can find the results of all the Chester County races here


2023 Preservation Award winner: 346 W. Union St.

Last month the West Chester Downtown Foundation held its annual Preservation Awards, the core mission of which is to, and I quote, “raise awareness and appreciation of West Chester Borough’s rich character and encourage its preservation.” 

Each year the committee recognizes a mix of projects – residential and commercial, big and small.

This year the committee recognized five projects including: 

Major Seneca G. Willauer House, 106 S. Church St. Built in 1846, the former home of Major Seneca Willauer, had seen its share of renovations over the years including the encasing of the original side porch. Homeowners Kenneth Watterson and Diane Hammell restored the porch to its full fluted column glory. They also reinstalled period-appropriate wood shutters, made a series of repairs to the home’s exterior, and added a cannon to the side yard (that last one just for fun.) 

West Chester Post Office, 101 E. Gay St. After years of back and forth and a Congressional hearing, a little over a year ago, renovations began on the deteriorating Gay Street Post Office. Today, the 118-year-old building once again shines with newly rebuilt windows, repaired woodwork, repointed stone, and a fresh coat of paint. 

Westside Brick Home, 346 W. Union St. This single-family brick residence was originally constructed in 1885. In 1905, a separate home was constructed on the east side forming a twin residential structure. Homeowners Judy and Jerry Wisneski repaired and restored the home’s front porch going so far as to have damaged parts individually milled. They also found and rehung the original wood shutters and installed copper gutters to the main house block.  

The Spence Building, 29 E. Gay St. Named after James Spence who operated a cafe there from 1896 to 1925, the Spence Building has been described as “one of the finest business places in the borough.” In 2022, Zukin Realty began restoration efforts on the building including replacing the exterior’s white brick facade. In the process, they discovered the building’s original sandstone exterior. The builders pivoted their plans and decided to invest to restore the sandstone. They also repaired the existing roof with custom-cut slate tiles.

Franklin Corners Associates, 237 Lacey St. “Located in a quiet pocket of West Chester’s southeastern quadrant, the Franklin Corners office complex is a remarkable example of good preservation practice,” the event program reads. The complex is made up of four buildings constructed over the course of a century beginning sometime around 1900. It was recognized not only for its restoration but its adaptive reuse of these historic industrial spaces into modern office environments. 

Congratulations to all the projects that won – and to all who invest in keeping the Borough’s well-earned character alive. 

Now a look at the Fall sports postseason which proceeds with a dwindling number of teams. 

Speaking of impressive sports feats, congratulations to West Chester University football coach Bill Zwaan. Coach Zwaan announced that he would conclude his 20-year coaching career at the end of the season.  He teased his intention at the Killinger Foundation Football Hall of Fame banquet ceremony Saturday evening and made it official Monday morning. “These past two decades as the head football coach at West Chester have been an incredibly great time for me and my family,”  Coach Zwaan said in a statement. 

Coach Zwaan currently has 216 wins making him the all-time winningest active Division II head coach (that’s a mouthful). His last game will be tomorrow at 12 p.m. at Farrell Stadium. Immediately after the game, there will be a post-game celebration on the field followed by a reception at Barnaby’s. Read more about his influential career here.   

And finally some anniversary celebrations – 


The United Methodist Church on S. High St.

Next week the Borough is hoping to say, hello (and phew), to a new parking agreement with United Methodist Church for 18 spots in Borough Lot 5. While it will not be official until the full council weighs in next week, it seems as if both sides were finally able to find an acceptable middle ground. As you may recall, the dust up began this summer after the Borough informed the church that it was planning to terminate the existing lease agreement and put all 18 spots into a lottery system. They argued it wasn’t fair to let one entity tie up so many spaces in perpetuity. This, they said, was a more equitable option. The church scoffed and cited their need and all the good deeds they do in the community. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed on both sides.

The new solution which the negotiating team is calling “version 3.5” allows the church to keep its spaces but at the current garage day rate of $95 and with limited hours. Leased spaces would be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays. After those times the spaces will be available to the public through the kiosk system. In addition, the church would have the option to rent additional spaces in the lot as needed for large gatherings.  

“We see a solution that is workable,” said Senior Pastor Truman Brooks at this week’s Parking Committee Meeting. “Not cheap for us. Not easy to implement on our end, but workable. I’m proud to say, although painful and at times deeply frustrating, this has been democracy at work.” 

I am not sure that is a ringing endorsement of the process, but an endorsement nonetheless. The new compromise is expected to be voted on by the full Borough Council next week. 

Next, a hello, to new West Chester Borough Council Members Nicole Scimone and Bryan Travis. They will be joining current members Brian McGinnis, Lisa Dorsey, Sheila Vaccaro, Patrick McCoy, and newly re-elected Bernie Flynn behind the dais starting in January. 

Also, getting ready for new responsibilities? Katy Frey. She was the only non-incumbent to win a West Chester Area School Board seat. 

And so are three, yet to be named, candidates seeking to replace James Morehead as West Chester Chief of Police. According to a Daily Local article, West Chester Mayor Lillian DeBaptiste and a six-person committee will meet with the candidates, all of whom are internal to the department, and make a recommendation to Borough Council. 

“I have contemplated the different hiring process options as set forth by Civil Service,” the mayor told the paper. “I have chosen to proceed with an internal, competitive process.”

To be considered candidates must have a minimum of eight years with the department, three years the rank of sergeant or higher, and have completed at least 90 college credits.  

The members of the selection committee were appointed by the mayor and include Mandie Cantlin, Carolyn Comitta, Lisa Dorsey, Kevin Dykes, Abdul Mughees-Chaudri, and Scott Zukin. The mayor said she hopes to have a name in time for the December Borough Council Meeting. 

Read more about the selection process here

Finally, karaoke with your favorite drag queens is back. Once regulars at Split Rail Tavern, Roxanne Rohls and Ophelia Bawdy have found a new home hosting Hot Shot Karaoke, Wednesday nights at Artillery Brewing.


Goodbye is what Chester County Hospital is saying to its “A” Hospital Safety Rating from Leapfrog Group, an independent healthcare watchdog group. After holding the ranking for at least seven consecutive periods, most recently in the spring, the hospital has been downgraded to a “B.” 

Cited areas of concern included – allowing dangerous blood clots, infections in the urinary tract, handwashing, safe medication administration, and not having specially trained doctors care for ICU patients.

It has been nearly two years since Tower Health shuttered Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville and West Grove’s Jennersville Hospital.

Also, goodbye, D’Ascenzo’s Gelato. (Tear.) The family-owned shop closed for the season on Oct. 29. But don’t worry, they will be hosting a holiday pop-up from Dec. 1 through 3 and in the meantime, you have options

Finally, head over to the Chester County History Center to see the Bayard Rustin Local Roots exhibit before it ends – which is tomorrow. After living in relative obscurity for most of the last century – at least compared to his famous friends – Bayard Rustin is finally getting his story told. First, there was the documentary “Brother Outsider,” which Uptown screened earlier this year, and now there is Netflix’s “Rustin,” a docudrama starring Colman Domingo and Chris Rock which is scheduled to begin streaming on Nov. 17. 

While I’ve heard good things about the film (the Chester County History Center held a pre-screening last week.), there are a few fictionalized elements. So, to make sure you can pick the docu from drama head first to the Local Roots exhibit which includes memorabilia from the 1963 March, oral history recordings, and exclusive materials from the Chester County Archives.

Pay it forward.

Get ready. Holiday collections are beginning. (Photo from the archives.)

Tis the season to give back – to help you get in that holiday space I have rounded up some easy giving opportunities for you: 

For those looking to clear out the pantry – Mike Ciunci and team are holding a food drive with all donations going to the West Chester Food Cupboard. They have set an ambitious goal for themselves of 1,700 pounds of food. Help them get there and there could be a prize in it for you. Donations are due by Nov. 17. Drop them off at CrossFit West Chester at 917 Old Fern Hill Road. Learn more here.  

For those heading to the store this weekend – Rustin students are on a mission this holiday season. Their goal? Provide at least ten local families with a full Thanksgiving meal. For this, they are going to need all the fixin’s from herbs to apple pie. You can find a list of needed items here. Or you can keep it simple and pick up a Giant or ShopRite gift card. Donations are needed by Nov. 21 and can be dropped at the school’s main lobby. 

For those who believe it’s the thought that counts – Friends Association is holding its annual Grocery Store Gift Card drive. All you need to do is pick up a gift card at Aldi, Walmart, or Giant, and bring it to the Friends Association HQ on West Chestnut Street. (It’s the one with the new mural.) Gift cards are requested in $50 increments and are needed by Nov. 15. 

For those already jumping ahead to ChristmasToys for Tots drives have begun. New, unwrapped gifts can be dropped at collection boxes in the police department lobby on E. Gay St. or at the Public Library on N. Church St. Donations are being accepted through Dec. 5

If you are hosting a food-, gift card-, coat-, sock-, or holiday drive, let me know and I will add it to the list.

Now a shout out to those already donating. West Chester University’s RamTHON raised $41,014 for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia obliterating last year’s total of $30,000 and Keystone Volvo delivered 250 brand-new winter coats to the West Chester Area School District. These coats will be distributed to district students in need. “With their thoughtful contribution, Keystone Volvo is not only helping to keep our students warm but also demonstrating the incredible spirit of community support,” the district shared in its monthly newsletter

The Weekend Marque by Uptown

NOV 16 | Sara Michaels Release Party – NOV 17 | AM Radio Tribute Band

It’s a music-filled weekend at Uptown! On Thursday, Uptown’s own Sara Michaels sings from her new album. Then on Friday, flashback with the sounds of AM Radio. Tickets on sale now!

The freakin’ weekend.

Impromtu gallery walk

What are you up to this weekend? I am going to try and rally the troops and head over to West Chester University to cheer on the Golden Rams for Coach Zwaan’s last game. We’ve never been to a game at Farrell Stadium and it seems like this is as good a time as any. Then on Sunday, I’m doing a little mommy and me bowling with my little Girl Scout. (I hope they put the bumpers up.) 

If you are hanging around this weekend don’t forget Better than Bacon is hosting a charity performance Saturday at Uptown Theater. There are a few tickets still available – but there’s been a bit of buzz about this show so, if you want to go, you may want to grab them now. And on Sunday, Align.Space is hosting a holiday mart with more than 20 local vendors, Thistle Be Perfect has fun tumblers for wine lovers, Escape West Chester has new puzzles – and has anyone tried the cold foam martinis from Greystone? I’m intrigued. 

A special thank you to this week’s Community Sponsor the Look Around Music & Arts Festival. This all-day festival was started in 2022 by West Chester musician Nikki DiGiorgio of onyx&honey. She began it as a way to raise awareness of the local arts scene while also hanging outside enjoying a lot of really great music. Follow them on Instagram for the latest updates!

Look Around Music & Arts Festival

The Look Around Music & Arts Festival is an all-day grassroots event benefiting the West Chester music and arts community.  Their primary focus is to give local creatives a platform to raise the consciousness of the community. You can always expect live music, vendors, culture, networking + more!

View a list of all our amazing Community Sponsors here. Want to get your business out in front of this wonderful community? I don’t blame you. I have a few ad space available in the next couple of issues. It’s a great (and cost-effective) way to get your business in front of a highly engaged local audience – I swear they see everything! Send me an email if you are interested and I can get you details and dates. Ad spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Like knowing what’s happening in and around town? Same! I figure if regular readers contribute just $10 a year – we can keep the updates coming and the ads limited! Help keep readers first with a small donation below.

Mark your calendars:

Psst. Like to plan? Check out the Calendar page for events through December

That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week!

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