Residents learn about Oakland Road development

Residents of Chadds Ford and Birmingham townships had the chance to learn more about a possible residential development along Oakland Road during an informational meeting in Chadds Ford.

Keith Klaver, supervisors’ chairman in Chadds Ford, said he wanted residents to have an understanding of what might be happening and to hear their opinions on the possible construction of about 40 homes on the old Goodman property along Oakland near Brinton’s Bridge Road and the five-point intersection with Birmingham Road, the border of Chadds Ford and Birmingham townships.

Mansfield Development, a company owned by the Grace family of Chadds Ford, has offered three sketch plans for the 91.5-acre property. As yet, there is no formal application.

Each of the sketch plans show the same number of homes — 41 — but in different configurations based on lot sizes.

The property is in the R-1 Zoning District which allows for 2-acre lots. Developing the plan that way would leave little to no open space, according to Mike Dignazio, the attorney for Mansfield.

The property could also be developed as a PRD, or planned residential development, with homes on 1-acre lots. That would allow for 26 acres of open space, Dignazio said.

A third possibility is for the township to enact another PRD ordinance, PRD-3, which would allow for 0.5-acre lots. That would result in 48 acres of open space. Such a plan would also ensure the preservation of the Oakland Road historic area.

“It would be dedicated to the township in perpetuity,” Dignazio said.

Public sewer would be installed if either of the PRD plans are chosen, but on-site septic would be used for the standard 2-acre plan.

John Snook, a senior land planner with the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art, confirmed Dignazio’s assessment of open space acreage.

The conservancy acts as a consultant for Chadds Ford Township, but Snook said the developer asked him to review the sketch plans.

Snook told the standing room only crowd that the 2-acre plan is not good environmentally. It would distress the land and create more problems for proper stormwater management.

The PRD plans, Snook said, are beneficial for several reasons. They would preserve open space and the clustering of homes would allow for more flexibility in where the homes are placed.

He added that the 0.5-acre plan keeps the woodlands intact and that there could be more buffering and landscaping to hide homes from the road.

The land planner said he would like to see a few of the homes removed from the area along what could be an entrance to the community on Oakland. He said he would like to see a municipal park there. That park could have trails and house any historic artifacts found during the construction.

Resident concerns included the size and prices of the new homes as well as the impact on area traffic.

Many of the questions couldn’t be answered because there’s been no decision on which proposal to go with. The developer wants some input from the supervisors on what they think is best.

Klaver acknowledged that it was the township’s responsibility to give that advice and that the supervisors would act quickly.

Several residents, including Eric Goodman who grew up on the property, said the 2-acre concept would be the most destructive.

“No plan is great,” Goodman said, “but the smaller lots preserve open space.”

Another resident, Laurie Strine, agreed with Goodman saying the smaller lots mean smaller houses, which means less impervious coverage.

One cautionary note came from Bill Kirkpatrick, vice-chairman of the Birmingham Township Board of Supervisors. He said building a park, especially one with trails, would attract many more people to the area.

Kirkpatrick said Sandy Hollow Heritage Park was an example of that. That park is drawing people from at least seven different municipalities, he said.

He also requested that the Birmingham Township Planning Commission and Police Department be included when a formal traffic study is conducted.

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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