Efforts to save Beaver Valley from development are continuing despite Concord Township supervisors’ last year granting preliminary approval of a plan that would have built more than 100 homes.
Township solicitor Hugh Donaghue said during the supervisors’ Nov. 1 meeting that the township would still work with the legal and equitable property owners of the Beaver Valley tract in an effort to preserve the valley as open space.
Over the objections of many residents and other interested parties, supervisors last year granted preliminary approval for Vineyard Commons, a plan calling for a 160-home development on 230 acres in Beaver Valley.
Three people appealed the decision and oral arguments were heard this August. In response, Judge G. Michael Green remanded the decision approving the plan to the supervisors on Oct. 24.
In his decision, Green directed supervisors to hold evidentiary hearings on the application and to determine whether the plan complies with applicable laws and regulations regarding the preservation of natural, historic and scenic resources.
In announcing the township‘s response to Green’s decision, Donaghue said, “Please be advised that the board of supervisors is presently reviewing the court’s most recent decision. Also, be advised that over the past few months the developers, the owner and interested conservation groups have been negotiating the terms of an agreement to keep the Beaver Valley property forever as open space.
“In that regard, both the Concord Township Board of Supervisors and the Delaware County Council have reconfirmed their financial support and applaud the efforts of these organizations. Consequently, and in light of the above, the township will not be offering any additional comment regarding this subject at this time,” Donaghue said.
The financial support Donaghue referred to was $500,000 offered by the township and another $250,000 offered by Delaware County. Supervisors’ Chairman Dominic Pileggi announced the monetary support to keep the valley open the same night the board voted 3-1 to approve the preliminary plan in March of 2015.
Donaghue said after the meeting that he could not identify any of the conservation groups negotiating to keep the valley preserved as open space.
Jack Michel, Diana McCarthy and Eileen Mutschler were the three people who appealed the Vineyard Commons decision. None of them were available for comment, but Ken Hemphill, while not directly involved in the appeal, was one of the people advocating to save the valley.
"It remains to be seen where Judge Green's decision will lead, but the dozens of people who've worked tirelessly over the past three years to preserve the taxpayer-financed Woodlawn Wildlife Refuge in Beaver Valley hope that it leads to the preservation of a place that should never have been on the auction block in the first place," Hemphill said.
In a related matter, Donaghue said the township would not appeal the decision of Senior Judge Charles B. Burr to remand the Concord Ventures decision to the board. In that decision, supervisors denied a request for a lot line change and consolidation of property, preventing the possible construction of 29 townhouses and 167 apartments on 60 acres of the Woodlawn Trustees property.
Concord Ventures did not have a plan for any construction before the board at the time, but was seeking the consolidation of the parcels as part of its agreement of sale with Woodlawn Trustees.
However, “There is now an application by Concord Ventures for essentially a very similar subdivision and consolidation together with a land development plan. That will be considere