Letters to the Editor

Time to assert community rights

Fifteen plaintiffs, including me, successfully sued Toll Brothers last year in Centre County court. The lawsuit targeted the developer for a zoning violation with its planned luxury student housing project at Whitehall Road and Blue Course Drive.

Toll Brothers appealed the decision to Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court and, in a blow to our community’s environmental health and social well-being, won.

Apparently, we lost the case because of a technicality, not because Toll Brothers had done everything right. I maintain there is no doubt it had broken the law in siting a stormwater basin on land zoned for rural agriculture. Nevertheless, it currently has a green light to proceed with the project without even having to correct its flawed design. Even worse, the basin will be close enough to a fracture in the underlying bedrock that, if it leaks, could contaminate State College’s water supply.

This is not justice. Once again a corporation, a distant one with no emotional connection to the landscape, uses its wealth and political power to trample a community, destroying its natural beauty, threatening its drinking water, and degrading its quality of life.

This is an attack on democracy on the local level, and a victory for big money. Yet Ferguson Township, where the development is proposed, passed a referendum in 2012 for the adoption of a Community Bill of Rights, including the rights of “natural communities and ecosystems” to “exist and flourish.”

It is time for common citizens to unite in asserting these rights.

Andrew McKinnon,

Pennsylvania Furnace