Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood. . . How Can We Help?

Mt. Pleasant community is located in the panhandle area of the township and borders on Upper Gulph Road.  The historic Carr School (c.1833) is a local landmark that you pass on Upper Gulph. I became particularly aware of the Mt. Pleasant community when I co-chaired Tredyffrin 300 with Judy DiFilippo.  For the celebration, we did a special 2007 calendar which featured special places and people from around the township.  Included was a photo which featured a tea party in front of Mazie Hall’s house in Mt. Pleasant. Ms. Hall passed away in 2006, at the age of 103 – she never married and lived her entire life in the same Mt. Pleasant house.  Read the Phila Inquirer’s Mazie B.Hall obituary for details of how Mazie made a difference!

During my election campaign, I spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon in Mt. Pleasant and spoke to a number of its residents.  One young woman, Christine Johnson impressed me with her spirit and community activism on behalf of her neighbors.  Mt. Pleasant is an interesting mix of young families, older people who have lived there for years and college students from Cabrini and Villanova who are renters during the school year.  There was a real sense from Christine and her neighbors that the township was not helping them with their ongoing issues and they have become frustrated to the point of creating a Mt. Pleasant Community Action Group.  The residents complained of loud parties, speeding cars, trash, etc.  In addition, the neighbors do not think that the zoning has been followed in regards to single family homes housing multiple unrelated persons.  Mt. Pleasant residents feel that their community is looking more and more like college dorm life.  Apparently as recently as 6 years ago, there were no college rentals and that now 1 in 4 houses in Mt. Pleasant is rented to students.  The residents have documented 17 homes are now college rentals. It appears that the ordinance and zoning in the Mt. Pleasant area allows for 3 unrelated persons living in a house but my guess is that there are often times more than 3, their names just don’t appear on the lease.  Maybe 3 or less persons sign the lease but I’m guessing that these houses are home to many more during the school year.  As I walked through the neighborhood, I saw several instances where multiple mailboxes existed on individual houses.  One house had a commercial trash dumpster in the back of the house with a large commercial-like asphalt parking area.  Would appear to me that it was designed for many more cars than would be needed for a single family dwelling.

Another complaint which community members echoed was in regards to police.  The police are often called to Mt. Pleasant because of the loud parties, drinking, etc. but are giving the kids warnings in lieu of fines.  I am all for the idea of warnings, but are the police keeping track of how many warnings some of these kids are getting?  At some point a stricter approach may be in order.  Don’t get me wrong – I spoke to some of the college students and they were respectful and actually one of the neighbors spoke highly of the students living next-door to her.  I am sure that the majority of the students are ‘good kids’, I just think maybe some guidance could be useful.  If the landlords are aware of their tenant issues in the neighborhood, why not supply a list of ‘dos & donts’ that might improve the community living situation. 

The residents have taken their concerns to the Board of Supervisors a number of times, asking for help with the situation.  One resident stated that when she complained about the noise to the police, she was told by the police to shut her windows and doors as a solution.  Not acceptable.  I would like to know the record of complaint calls to Mt. Pleasant and how follow-up to the neighborhood was handled.

Bottom line is the students may have a right to live in Mt. Pleasant (assuming no zoning ordiances are being broken) but the residents also have rights.  We need to ensure that the quality of life of these residents is also protected.  On behalf of the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, I would ask for township support . . . supervisors, police, zoning officer, etc.  Tonight’s Planning Commission agenda actually includes a subdivision request on a Mt. Pleasant-Upper Gulph property.  Here’s hoping that the Planning Commissioner ask the intentions of this owner (investor?) — is this property going to be used as another college rental to add to the other 17 rentals? 

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5 Responses

  1. I have empathy for the honest, hard working families who live in Mt Pleasant. The history of the area is wonderful. Unfortunately, I believe the neighbors are fighting an uphill battle. It’s extremely sad and would make me angry, too. But, this area is transitioning and it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reverse this trend. 25% of the homes are rentals now, while all were owner-occupied six years ago? That’s a pretty rapid transition. There just don’t seem to be many other neighborhoods near the colleges where houses are modest enough for investors to buy and charge a rate students can afford. So, Mt Pleasant was targeted. There will always be scummy landlords who care more about profit than doing the right thing…..and there will always be students who are loud late at night, whether they are drinking or sober. The police can’t be there all of the time. I hate that it’s happened in Mt Pleasant.

  2. Thanks, Pattye, for continuing your blog and for airing out important issues in our Township. Based on your information, it looks like Mt Pleasant is yet another example of lack of enforcement of the Township’s rules and regulations. Something that will be even more evident with the staffing cutbacks. Hopefully our government will take heed.

  3. Mount Pleasant is not a lost cause! Yes, it will be an uphill battle… but we will suceed! The remaining homeowners are not leaving. We have very nice families buying houses and moving in. We need to limit the number of student rentals. I pray that the Township will enact a Student Housing Ordinance. This will enable us to limit the number of student rentals within a certain distance of each other, limit the number of occupants, bringing down the cost of rent, making Mt. Pleasant affordable again to families. (Right now the average student rental goes for $2600/month – do you know what kind of houses in Tredyffrin these kids could rent if they really wanted – take a look at Realtor.com- complete with built-in pools & BBQ’s) I may be extremely stubborn and in a bit of denial, but I have to believe that people are good and that the Township will move forward to protect its citizens and promote the development of an attractive, healthy, safe and stable neighborhood.

    As far as enforcement, our ordinances need to be updated : We need an open container law, we need a Party Host law which holds the host of party criminally responsible for furnishing alcohol to minors, we need to ammend our noise ordinance, we need to increase the cost of fines for trash, weed, nuisance violations, etc, etc, etc,

  4. I would never, ever want to go up against Christine Johnson. She is a determined lady. If anyone can win this, it is Ms Johnson.

  5. The Panhandle Civic Association has been active in that area on numerous issues that have impacted the Panhandle. They should be contacted to see if they are willing to lend support on these issues. It is in their district, and they should be willing to help their neighbors.

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