In Pocopson, daycare center concerns persist

For the second time in less than a month, disagreement over a proposed daycare center dominated the Pocopson Township supervisors’ meeting on Monday, April 11.

Pocopson Township Supervisors Allice Balsama (from left), Elaine DiMonte, and Ricki Stumpo listen to comments during Monday night's meeting.

Pocopson Township Supervisors Alice Balsama (from left), Elaine DiMonte, and Ricki Stumpo listen to comments during Monday night's meeting.

Ultimately, the supervisors agreed that they wanted more time to confer with the township solicitor before voting to approve the preliminary land development plan for the facility, which would be located in the Riverside at Chadds Ford community.

The supervisors heard from engineer Victor Kelly and attorney John Jaros, both of whom represent the Riverside Daycare Partnership, and Jody Thompson, who would run the Ducklings Early Learning Center on Winston Lane. Thompson said the 10,000-square-foot center would operate with about 128 children and 15 teachers and would be open five days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Adam G. Marcus, an attorney representing the Riverside homeowners’ association, said his group strongly opposes the plan, which he doesn’t believe complies with township zoning. Echoing the views of others in the audience, Marcus questioned the adequacy of the parking, especially for special events. “What happens when 260 cars show up?” he asked.

Thompson said she would be willing to ask parents to car-pool, and Jaros said the application meets the township code. “We essentially didn’t find any merit in the claims by the HOA,” he said.

The supervisors have until the end of May to make a decision; however, they suggested that it could occur as early as the next meeting on Monday, April 25.

Jack Stefferud from Natural Lands Trust uses maps to explain an effort to protect land at Castle Rock Farm, 16 acres of which lie within Pocopson Township.

Jack Stefferud from Natural Lands Trust uses maps to explain an effort to protect land at Castle Rock Farm, 16 acres of which lie within Pocopson Township.

In other business, the supervisors heard a presentation from Jack Stefferud, senior director for Natural Lands Trust, regarding efforts to get an easement on part of Castle Rock Farm, which is owned by Peter Giangiulio. Although the property on Northbrook Road lies mostly in West Bradford Township, Stefferud said 16 acres are in Pocopson.

Stefferud said the trust, which is seeking grant money, was looking for a letter of support as well as a financial contribution from the township. “Even $5,000 or $10,000 would be a help,” he said.

Supervisors’ Chair Ricki Stumpo explained that the township had exhausted its open-space fund; however, the supervisors all agreed to submit a letter of support for the initiative.

Brittany Hackman from McCormick Taylor, the township's engineer, reported that about 80 township residents were affected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s floodplain update, either by being added or deleted from the map. In response to the supervisors’ suggestions, Hackman said she would submit a draft of a letter to the supervisors that would go to the affected property owners, explaining the change and asking the residents to contact the township if they wanted more information.

In his report, Public Works Director Mark Knightly said work began last week on the $50,000 project to stabilize the embankment on West Creek Road. He estimated it should be completed by the end of May.

Knightly also said the township has received a certificate of occupancy for the section of the Barnard House that will house the Kennett Underground Railroad Center. However, the building can’t be used until a security system is in place. The supervisors asked Knightly to do more research so they could make a decision on that purchase at the next meeting.

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 building’s layout and renovation costs have derailed the municipal option for now. The county sold the building to the township for $1 in 2008, a purchase that came with restrictions on its use.

After the meeting, Supervisor Elaine DiMonte said the board is hoping to meet with the county solicitor next week to determine what other uses might be permitted.

 

 

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