Supervisors delay HARB approval

Birmingham Township supervisors have temporarily tabled a decision on whether to accept the township’s Historic and Architectural Review Board recommendation for a new home on Birmingham Road.

The property, at 1236 Birmingham Road, near Meetinghouse Road across from the Birmingham Friends Meeting and the Lafayette Cemetery, lies within the historic district. Construction requires HARB recommendation and supervisors’ approval before a Certificate of Appropriateness may be issued.

Supervisors’ Chairman John Conklin said the board needs more detailed information from HARB before making a decision. Township code requires HARB to issue a written report covering nine points.

Conklin said the board would have HARB’s written report before the August supervisors’ meeting.

Property owners Anthony Divers and Michelle Thompson did not attend the July 6 Board of Supervisors’ meeting, but Doug and Catherine Marshall, who live on Meetinghouse Road at Birmingham, did attend.

According to a letter from the Marshalls’ attorney, Patrick McKenna, the applicants already demolished a 2,500-square-foot dwelling and want to build a new home twice the size with an attached four-car garage on the 5.6-acre site.

McKenna’s letter says the proposed size “is not in character with the Birmingham Road Corridor nor consistent with the specific guidelines of the historic district” and that the proposal does not show proper landscaping that would protect vistas in accord with those same guidelines.

Another neighboring property owner is the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art. The conservancy bought 103 acres from the Odell family in 2008 to preserve the site known as Birmingham Hill, part of the location of the Sept. 11, 1777, Battle of Brandywine during the War of Independence.

Associate Director David Shield also wrote a letter to the supervisors expressing conservancy concerns.

Shields’ letter says the conservancy is “very concerned about the visual impact on both the Birmingham Meeting House and Birmingham Hill” and that supervisors should have the applicants use “best efforts to protect all existing landscaping trees” along the two streets in question.

Other business

  • In a brief, 12-minute, conditional use hearing prior to the regular meeting, the board heard — and approved — a request from Infinity of West Chester for a 2,000-square-foot, two-story, accessory building to be used for storage.
  • Supervisors also voted to spend another $1,000 this year for new containers for and pickup of dog waste at Sandy Hollow Heritage Park.

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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