More than 100 pack latest hearing on controversial Toll Brothers plans for beloved farm

WESTTOWN >> It might not have been a true battle, but a solicitor for the planning commission and a historical expert hired by builder Toll Brothers certainly engaged in a war of words during the latest hearing to decide the fate of the controversial plans for Crebilly Farm.

Once again township residents packed the meeting Wednesday night.

Solicitor Michael Gill and Robert Wise, historical consultant, battled over the historical significance of the 330-acre farm off Routes 202 and 926, and its role during the Battle of Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777.

Both seemed to reach common ground and agree at Wednesday night’s continuation of a conditional use hearing at Westtown School, that there is far more to the Revolutionary War battle lost by Gen. George Washington than specifically where blood was shed.


Wise said he has found no evidence showing that British and American soldiers fought on the farm.

“We can’t say for sure if it was a battlefield,” Wise said. “I have not encountered anything that shows a battle or skirmish was fought there.”

Wise did say that “it would appear” that some of 17,000 British and German troops marched south through the western edge of the farm and along where New Street now sits.

Toll Brothers wants to build a 317-home subdivision at the last large undeveloped tract of land along Route 202 and between Wilmington and King of Prussia. The proposal has sparked strong opposition. More than 100 people showed up at the continued conditional use hearing Wednesday night.

Toll Brothers plans call for “pushing” the construction 600 feet to the east, away from New Street. Toll Brothers is considering adding a vehicle pulloff on New Street or adding a historical marker to subdivision plans.

Both men agreed that there was a bloody battle just south of Street Road but where troops moved is up in the air.

The farm stretches from New Street to the west, Street Road on the south, Wilmington Pike on the east and Pleasant Grove Road to the north.

Gill asked the historian and former Brandywine Conservancy employee whether historians should study further.

As far as history goes, it’s very limiting and “new things come to light,” Wise said.

Gill asked whether the possible historic site might be compromised by construction.

“In light of uncertainty and the importance to the Battle of Brandywine, is a marker or pulloff an appropriate way to further our understanding of the battle?” Gill said.

Both men relied heavily on a book written by Michael C. Harris, “Brandywine: A military history of the battle that lost Philadelphia but saved America, September 11, 1777.” Gill read several paragraphs into the hearing’s record from his tattered copy.

The Darlington Tavern, near the corner of Street Road and Wilmington Pike, is the only building on the property eligible for the National Historic Register, according to Wise….

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