Daycare facility dominates Pocopson meeting

Pocopson Township supervisors spent the bulk of their 1 ½- hour meeting on Monday, March 14, discussing a proposed children's daycare center – a facility some residents oppose.

Victor Kelly, an engineer, display a rendering of the proposed daycare facility at the Riverside at Chadds Ford community.

Victor Kelly, an engineer for the Riverside Daycare Partnership, displays a rendering of the proposed facility at the Riverside at Chadds Ford community.

Victor Kelly, an engineer who represents the Riverside Daycare Partnership, appeared before the board seeking approval of preliminary land development plans to build a Ducklings Early Learning Center on Winston Lane in the Riverside at Chadds Ford subdivision.

Kelly said the 10,000-square-foot center would serve about 120 children and would be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. He said the township’s planning commission had supported three waivers the group was requesting.

Adam G. Marcus, an attorney representing the Riverside homeowners’ association, said his group strongly opposes the application. Scott Kirkland, the Riverside HOA president, said a vote to purchase the two-acre tract fell short because of the cost, and so the group asked Marcus to explore less-expensive ways to block the facility, such as possibly buying back Winston Lane.

Pocopson Township Supervisors Alice Balsama (from left), Elaine DiMonte, and Ricki Stumpo agree to revisit the daycare proposal after the planning commission reviews materials from those opposing it.

Pocopson Township Supervisors Alice Balsama (from left), Elaine DiMonte, and Ricki Stumpo agree to revisit the daycare proposal after the planning commission reviews materials from those opposing it.

Two residents of the subdivision said they were unaware of the vote and said they did not believe the association should take steps to thwart the center.

Marcus presented the supervisors with an eight-page memorandum outlining reasons that the plan should be denied. “They are proposing what is essentially a school,” he said, adding that zoning issues had not been properly addressed.

The supervisors, who have until the end of May to make a decision, agreed to table the issue until the Pocopson Township Planning Commission could review the document at its next meeting and share its assessment with the supervisors. “It behooves us to take a look at it,” Supervisor Alice Balsama said of the memorandum.

In other business, Richard O’Brien from Keystone Municipal Services, the township’s building codes provider, said work is progressing on obtaining the final permits needed to receive a certificate of occupancy for the section of the Barnard House that will house the Kennett Underground Railroad Center.

The historic building, once a stop on the Underground Railroad, was originally envisioned as the home of KURC as well as the township’s offices; however, the latter use has hit a number of snags due to the building’s layout and renovation costs. Supervisors’ Chairwoman Ricki Stumpo said the board reached out to the Chester County Commissioners to schedule a meeting to discuss other options.

The county sold the building to the township for $1 in 2008, a purchase that came with restrictions on its use. Stumpo said the supervisors have not yet heard back from the commissioners about their request for a sit-down.

 At the supervisors’ request, Public Works Director Mark Knightly solicited two estimates for work on the windows and doors at the Barnard House. One contractor agreed to paint everything and make minimal repairs to rotted sills for $5,600 while another estimated that it would cost more than $150,000 to replace everything, Knightly said.

The supervisors agreed that they need to have a plan for the whole building before committing to the high cost of replacement. “We want to restore it and protect it, but to what level?” asked Supervisor Elaine DiMonte.

Stumpo reported that four residents have volunteered to represent the township on the Kennett Public Library Board of Trustees and that interviews would be conducted.

Finally, DiMonte said she attended a recent meeting of the Chester County Association of Township Officials, which included a fascinating session on drone ordinances. She said Upper Uwchlan and East Goshen townships already have regulations in place.

“I think it would be good to get out in front of this,” she said.

Balsama agreed, noting that she has seen myriad uses of drones in the business world, and while some of those uses are positive, drones have also caused traffic problems in the air and on land.

Gary Summers, who heads the planning commission and attended Monday night’s meeting, said he would bring the issue before his group.

 

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About Kathleen Brady Shea

Kathleen Brady Shea, a nearly lifelong area resident, has been reporting on local news for several decades, including 19 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. She believes that journalists provide a vital watchdog service in the community, and she embraces that commitment. In addition to unearthing news, she also enjoys digging up dirt in her garden, a hobby that frequently fosters Longwood Gardens envy. Along with her husband, Pete, she lives in a historic residence near the Brandywine Battlefield, a property that is also home to a sheep, a goat, and a passel of fish.

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