Birmingham gets ready for Freddy

Birmingham Township supervisors on Monday gave preliminary approval to a land development plan for Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers.

Restaurant owner Stephen DiMarco — who owns the Freddy’s on Sproul Road in Broomall — wants to open a second restaurant at the intersection of Route 202 and Old Wilmington Pike, across from Penn Oaks Golf Club. Supervisors gave conditional approval for the restaurant following a hearing in February.

The July 11 preliminary land use approval came with several more conditions. The most discussed was the need for a traffic study on Old Wilmington Pike because a walking trail for The Knolls of Birmingham ends diagonally across from the site of the future restaurant.

At issue is whether or not there should be a pedestrian crosswalk from the end of that trail across Old Wilmington Pike. That crosswalk, if installed, would be about 30 feet to the south of the Knolls Road/Old Wilmington Pike intersection.

Supervisor Michael Shiring said he attended a Planning Commission meeting in which opinions differed on whether the crosswalk is needed.

Dave Rathbun, the township’s roadmaster and a resident of the Knolls, said a crosswalk would be a bad idea because of the close proximity with the intersection. Motorists turning right would have to react too quickly if pedestrians or kids on bicycles were crossing the street.

Police Chief Tom Nelling said he didn’t think the crosswalk was necessary because there is little pedestrian traffic.

Mark Thompson, an attorney representing the restaurant, said his client would have a traffic study done. Freddy’s would also ensure the property meets all Department of Environmental Protection requirements for sewage disposal.

Both would have to be complete before final approval is given, according to Supervisors’ Chairman John Conklin.

Also to be considered is a sidewalk between the site and Fawcett Drive. Engineer Matt Bush said he thinks a sidewalk is possible, but needs to investigate further.

Dave Vitali, who works with DiMarco, said he hoped to get final approval in September, and then get permits for demolishing the old convenience store that was on the site. Weather permitting, the restaurant could open sometime in February, he said.

Other business

Rathbun updated supervisors on the progress of this year’s road program, saying the program was mostly completed by July 8, with the township’s engineering firm Vandemark & Lynch inspecting all the work and finding it satisfactory.

Costs came out slightly higher than anticipated. Rathbun said the initial contract was for $220,000, but the cost was $229,000. Other street work related to the contract — work in The Knolls, on Heartsease Drive and on the Route 926 and Birmingham Road intersection — increased costs an additional $20,000.

The total road budget was $230,000. The total cost this year is slightly more than 9 percent over budget, Rathbun said, something that was no surprise.

“We knew by doing all this other work we would end up in this general area,” he said.

Conklin added that the board approved the overages during the process after the budget was set. That approval was based on the condition of the roads and the township’s finances.

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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