Residents appeal Beaver Valley decision

Concord Township residents have appealed the supervisors’ decision to grant preliminary plan approval for the Vineyard Commons project that would develop 230 acres in the Beaver Valley area.

Eileen Mutschler, John Michel and Diana McCarthy filed an appeal with the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas on Friday, April 17. All three own residential real estate on Beaver Valley Road.

A month earlier, on March 18, supervisors granted preliminary approval for the plan to build 160 homes on 160 half-acre lots in the area between the Delaware state line north to Smithbridge Road, and from Route 202 west to the border with Chadds Ford Township. A final plan must still be presented.

Papers filed with the court say supervisors “capriciously disregarded” the township’s own regulations in approving an application with seven zoning violations, 31 subdivision and land development violations and 43 “deferrals of mandatory plan requirements.”

“The township’s erroneous and defective approval demonstrates the failure of Concord Township to fulfill its constitutional role as trustee for the protection of the public natural resources, as mandated by Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution,” according to the Notice of Land Use Appeal.

Supervisors’ approval, in a 3-1 vote, came with 19 conditions. The applicant — Woodlawn Trustee, the legal landowner, and equitable owners McKee-Concord Homes and Eastern States Development Co. — requested 10 waivers, four of which were granted in total, three denied in total, and three others that were partly granted and partly denied.

In the 40-page appeal, the appellants say the property is home to “an extensive array of invaluable and irreplaceable public natural resources,” and that it contains the headwaters of Beaver Creek, which feeds the Brandywine Creek, impacting water supply. The land also abuts the First State National Historic Park.

In addition, there are numerous steep slopes and high quality streams, 18 “rare species of plants and animals” and six historic resources.

“The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has determined that the property should qualify to be listed on the National Historic Register,” according to the filing.

The appeal also says the plan calls for the clear-cutting of 53 acres of mature woodlands resulting in the loss of more than 2,000 notable trees, the loss of rare woodland habitat.

Additionally, the appellants contend the township failed to notify them of a special Planning Commission meeting, failed to provide copies of revised plan submissions, failed to notify residents of a special township meting until the day before the meeting was held, and failed to allow public comment at a Planning Commission meeting.

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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