Woodlawn decisions remanded to Concord

See Update Below

It’s back to the drawing board regarding Concord Township land use decisions. Two Delaware County judges remanded both decisions to the supervisor.

Common Pleas Court Judge G. Michael Green issued his ruling Oct. 24 in response to an appeal of the March 18, 2015 decision that gave preliminary approval for Vineyard Commons, a proposed development of 230 acres of land along Beaver Valley Road owned by Woodlawn Trustees.

Supervisors amended, but still approved the application on April 14, 2015.

Eileen Mutschuler, John Michel and Diana McCarthy — the appellants — appealed both of those decisions and filed a third appeal on June 24, 2015 after supervisors, in May, ratified the earlier decisions.

While Woodlawn is the legal owner of the property, Eastern States Development Co. and McKee-Concord Homes are the equitable owners looking to construct 160 homes on 230 acres.

According to Green’s decision, the court was to determine whether the approval “was made by reason of a manifest abuse of discretion or an error of law.”

Appellants contended that supervisors made no specific findings of facts supporting their discretion during the decision-making process.

Attorney Marc Jonas, representing the appellants, said “The court essentially vacated the series of township approvals, directing the township to hold evidentiary hearings, which the township had previously refused to do.

“The order also directs the township to consider the implications of the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution,” Jonas said.

He said the township contended that it had no obligation to consider that amendment in its consideration of the Vineyard Commons development.

Jonas also said the decision should have been voided automatically because the developers did not agree to the conditions of the approval within the 15-day period required by law.

Attorney John Jaros, who represented Vineyard Commons, declined to comment, as did Kathy Labrum, the attorney representing the township.

However, Labrum did say that another appeal involving Woodlawn Trustees property was also remanded to the supervisors.

In that second case, Eastern States and McKee, operating as Concord Ventures, appealed a decision that denied a reverse subdivision to join two parcels.

The builders want to construct 29 townhouses and 167 apartments on 60 acres. However, they had not presented any formal plan.

The attorney for Concord Ventures, Marc Kaplin, said at the time that all his client was requesting was a lot line change to join the parcels as part of the agreement of sale with Woodlawn.

Kaplin, was not immediately available for comment on Senior Judge Charles Burr's ruling on the appeal.

Burr heard oral arguments in Concord Venture's appeal on Oct. 13. Green heard the other appeal in August.

*** Update: Kaplin later said Labrum was incorrect, that Burr reversed the supervisors' decision to deny the consolidation of lots. He added that the supervisors subsequently decided not to appeal Burr's decision.

"It's approved," Kaplin said. End Update

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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