NVWC Press Release – November 15, 2017

Toll Brothers makes offer to Penn State for an alternative site to Whitehall Road for student housing

Nittany Valley Water Coalition (NVWC) held a follow-up meeting on November 14th with Toll Brothers’ representative Richard Keyser, Vice-President of Apartment Living, to discuss their recent review of PSU-owned land that would serve as an alternative site for a student housing project currently slated for Whitehall Road.

On October 31, Toll Brothers submitted a formal Letter of Intent expressing interest in purchasing a 19-acre parcel on West College Avenue in front of the Blue Course golf course and across the road from the Waffle Shop as the alternative site. In prior meetings with NVWC, Toll Brothers expressed interest in the W. College location due to its proximity to campus, downtown, and student amenities. There is also strong community support for this property as an alternative site for the planned development.

Since August, Toll Brothers has been conducting due diligence research and design planning to determine the feasibility of this site for a mixed-use development, a combination of student housing and commercial use. Most new and proposed developments in the region have some type of mixed-use component, which is also consistent with regional planning directives and has support by the larger community.

Mr. Keyser emphasized that Toll Brothers wants to work with the community and hopes to engage in the development process and land sale with the cooperation of Ferguson Township and Penn State as quickly as possible.

However, in a follow-up meeting with a representative from Penn State, Charima Young, she cited a poorly defined “process that must be followed” that could delay or thwart any desired “land swap” even though Kurt Kissinger, Associate Vice- President for Business & Finance has previously stated in writing to the NVWC that Penn State has no plans for the West College site. According to Toll Brothers and Penn State, price is not at issue. Mr. Keyser stated that Toll Brothers wants the W. College site, not Whitehall, so the impediment to this “land swap” is a timing issue exacerbated by Penn State.

Ms. Young informed us that there is now a task force of Board of Trustees members who are charged with reviewing and making decisions on all Penn State land holdings to determine best use of these properties. She did not know when this task force was established but that question is relevant to consideration of the sale of the W. College parcel to Toll Brothers in lieu of the Whitehall parcels.

Putting this decision into the hands of a task force is a stalling tactic. PSU told the public many times that they were just the seller of land, and it was not their concern what is done with it after the sale. What changed? It appears that Penn State’s objective is to run out the clock forcing Toll Brothers to take possession of the land on Whitehall via the existing sales agreement, which is due to close in the next few weeks.

However, Toll Brothers could walk away; besides losing their funds in escrow, it is not clear that Penn State could force Toll Brothers to pay the remaining balance. Instead, they could purchase and build on any number of parcels available in the region.

The community supports Toll Brothers building student housing on West College Ave., not on Whitehall Road. upslope of Slab Cabin Run and the Thomas-Harter wells.

Although Penn State contracted with local farmers for winter wheat to be planted on the Whtehall Road site, no such planting has taken place. Therefore the risk to the Whitehall Road site for imminent development remains.

For additional information, contact:
Kelli Hoover at kxhoover2015@gmail.com, 814-883-4854, or visit nittanyvalley-eco.org

Nittany Valley Water Coalition Looking Ahead

From Kelli Hoover

The Nittany Valley Water Coalition is going to take Penn State at its word that the land we occupied for 127 days to protect it from development will be farmed for winter wheat under a lease agreement, but we will also keep a close eye on the site in case Penn State was lying and we need to remobilize quickly.

It is also possible that Penn State and/or Toll Brothers might terminate the farmer’s lease early, so vigilance is needed.

The timing of this lease agreement is not a coincidence given that the same grower was kicked off this land five years ago by Penn State when the university entered into negotiations with Toll Brothers to purchase the land.

So this 44 acres sat fallow for five years until the goals of the Nittany Valley Water Coalition occupation garnered so much public support that Penn State was feeling the pressure to do the right thing.

We’re going to continue participating in the land swap discussions with Toll Brothers and Penn State. Charles Elliott of Toll Brothers indicated last week that they need a few more weeks to complete their land use design proposal.

And we’re going to take a breather to regroup and reassess for two or three weeks until there’s new information on the farming plan or the land swap.

Time will tell and we will be watching.

127 days!

Today we were finally forced to leave our occupation site after 127 valiant days. We had been keeping stuff on the neighboring church but we knew that wouldn’t last and they were gracious in their hospitality.
We are glad we will be replaced with winter wheat. And we are waiting patiently for the decision by the Toll Brothers on the other site on West College/Blue Course.

Stay tuned!

We do not condone vilification of individuals

We wish to state that we, NVWC, do not condone the vilification of any members of the three parties involved (NVWC, Toll Brothers and Penn State). It does not help to single out individuals or allow for views by others to be posted on our website/FB page and thus approve such views.

Clearly this is a heated situation but we will ensure that going forward our official platforms do not focus on individuals but stick with the discussions of the principal parties.


NVWC Welcomes Winter Wheat

Press Release from Nittany Valley Water Coalition:

Today was a dark day for town-gown relationships when Penn State called the Ferguson Township Police to evict community members who have been staging a 124-day long occupation at the Toll Brothers proposed development of the Cottages on Whitehall Road and Blue Course Drive.

The Nittany Valley Water Coalition is committed to protecting the wells that supply two-thirds of State College’s water.

These wells are beside the proposed development site and are connected to the site by subsurface water flow and an intermittent stream.

Although we are saddened that Penn State chose to evict us by sending the local police force, we are happy for the land’s short term future.

We have learned that our camp will be sown with winter wheat which will not be harvested until next June! The power of soil to act as a natural filter leading to recharging of the wells with clean water is well known.

So, while we are sad to have been denied our First Amendment rights, we are happy with farming. We hope that Penn State, a Land Grant school, will realize that the future of this site is better as farming and not as hundreds of luxury cottages.

Kelli Hoover on Today’s Events

By Kelli Hoover

At 9 am this morning, Penn State University ordered the forcible eviction of peaceful protestors on land we have been occupying to protect our water supply from development.

Zach Moore of Penn State arrived at the site in a Ferguson Township police car to oversee the removal of all persons and property of the Nittany Valley Water Coalition (NVWC).

The NVWC has occupied the proposed development site on Whitehall Road near Blue Course Drive to protect it from development for four months now as we negotiate with Penn State and the developer for an alternative location for this development on PSU-owned land.

Ferguson Township police maintained a presence at the site all day and asked anyone who arrived at the site to leave by order of Penn State.

Penn State planning to lease the land for winter wheat farming

Just heard that Penn State is planning to lease the proposed development site to a local farmer for a winter wheat crop, that would be harvested in June 2018.

So, at a minimum, if the lease agreement goes through, there won’t be any residential development activity on the site between now and next summer.

Nittany Valley Water Coalition members are glad to hear the land will be used for agricultural purposes.

-Posted by Katherine Watt

Organized, informed resistance seems to confuse Penn State.

Following is the text of a notice printed on plain white paper and hand-delivered Friday, Sept. 29 to David Stone, Nittany Valley Water Coalition activist, at the Whitehall Road site, by Zack Moore, PSU Vice President of Government and Community Relations.


This property is owned by the Pennsylvania State University.

However, it is not open to the public.

You are hereby notified that you are not allowed, licensed or privileged to place any personal property on this property.

Should you fail to adhere to this Notice, any personal property you have placed on this property will be subject to removal by the University.




There are a lot of strange things about this document.

  1. It’s not on any letterhead: not Penn State, not a municipal police department, not a county sheriff, nothing.
  2. It’s unsigned and unattributed. Not signed by Zack Moore, nor by PSU VP for Finance and Business David Gray, nor by PSU President Eric Barron, nor by PSU Board of Trustees Chairman Mark Dambly. No way to know who wrote it.
  3. It’s not dated.
  4. It doesn’t cite any federal, state or local law or authority to support the assertions contained within it. Nor does it cite any internal Penn State administrative directives or policies.
  5. Most intriguingly, it walks back from the demands and threats stated and/or implied the prior day’s email thread. There is no reference to Penn State’s demand that the protestors themselves leave the site or risk arrest and imprisonment. The notice only asks that protestors remove their stuff, which consists of some folding chairs, coolers, canopies and signs, or risk having their stuff taken away by parties unidentified.
  6. In the first two sentences, it makes an attempt to separate the notion of Penn State as a public university from the notion of Penn State’s land as open to the public.
  7. Further, it carefully avoids asserting that protestors have no “right” to be on the site with their personal property, by stating only that the protestors are not “allowed, licensed or privileged” to have their stuff with them.


Nittany Valley Water Coalition activists don’t think Penn State has a legal leg to stand on.

And, based on the peculiar form of this alleged “notice against trespass,” it appears Penn State executives know the same thing.

They’re just hoping to bluff their way through and intimidate the water coalition into compliance based on innuendo and Penn State’s powerful reputation, even though Penn State has no legitimate authority to impose its will in this case.


In response to the Penn State notice, water coalition activist Bernie Hoffnar spent a few minutes yesterday on his own computer, with his own printer, to produce a similar unsigned, undated, non-letterhead, legally-unsupported document, which he then handed to David Stone last night as a rebuttal:


This property is owned by the Pennsylvania State University and the State of Pennsylvania and its citizens. The property is open to the public as it has been in the past.

You are hereby notified that you are allowed and privileged to keep any personal property on this property that you wish.

This is our final notice to you.


-Posted by Katherine Watt