May 31: Toll Bros. Chester County preservation battle | Digital Skills and Bike Thrills | Buy vs. rent in Philly

The Toll Brothers are facing another historic preservation housing development fight, this time in Chester County. Philly Mag’s Sandy Smith reports that the developers filed plans with Westtown Township to build a 317-unit housing development on a parcel known as Crebilly Farm, a 325-acre ‘gentleman’s farm’ that was site to a Revolutionary War skirmish between colonial soldiers and Hessian troops. Neighborhood groups are fighting the proposal, arguing that the “development would take up most of the site, and the open space would be trapped by rings of houses.”

It is 48.3 percent cheaper to buy a home than rent an apartment in Philly, according to trulia’s latest report. Curbed Philly’s Melissa Romero extracts a few of the report’s highlights, including a caution that the gap is closing—“that number was nearly 10 percent higher in 2016, when it was 58 percent cheaper to buy than rent in Philly.”

Psychiatrists with the American Association for Social Psychiatry are seeing “mental health trends related to joblessness among their white, working-class patients [that seem] inextricably tied with the current political climate” WITF’s Katie Meyer reports. AASP president Dr. Kenneth Thompson, who is based in Pittsburgh, says that “increasing numbers of those in that demographic are struggling with addiction or mental health issues that seem tied to the trouble they’re having in the current economy.”

NextCity’s Jen Kinney goes in depth with “Digital Skills and Bike Thrills” a four-week training course through a partnership between Indego and the city’s Office of Adult Education. The course grew out of a pre-existing city program, Keyspot, which offers a network of rec centers and community organizations that offer free computer use and training in digital skills. Kinney writes that data from the first three cohorts reveal that “students were mostly between the ages of 22 and 30 or 50 and 59. The majority were African-American. Well over half the graduates were earning less than $20,000 a year.”

The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge in New Jersey has won a $3.25 million settlement and can begin building a new mosque in Bernards Township, New Jersey following a five-year legal battle, the Atlantic reports. The case began in 2012, when the Township “refused to let the Society begin construction on a proposed house of worship based on alleged issues with minor details of its proposal, including the size of the parking lot.” The Atlantic’s Emma Green writes that the backdrop for these cases of “religious discrimination in the U.S. often happens in the most quotidian settings, including debates over zoning ordinances.”

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