Loop road inches closer

The Hillman Drive extension, the last leg of the loop road around the intersection of Routes 1 and 202, moved closer to becoming a reality on Wednesday night.

Members of the Chadds Ford Planning Commission voted on Aug. 10 to recommend preliminary plan approval based on several conditions. The Board of Supervisors must now decide whether to grant that preliminary approval before the plan can move forward to the next stage of getting final approval.

Attorney Ross Weiss, representing the applicant, The Henderson Group, said Henderson will go before the board either the end of this month during the supervisors’ work session, or at the board’s regular September meeting.

Among the conditions in the commission’s recommendation is a requirement to extend a sound and light barrier between the Painters’ Crossing Condominium property and the road.

That barrier, as currently planned, is six feet high and 150 feet long. Planning Commission Chairman Craig Huffman said it should be 300 feet long, beginning from within the Dickinson property — where it abuts with the condominium property — and running south for 300 feet. He said that would block the light from headlights coming from the parking lot of the building currently under construction in the Henderson-owned Chadds Ford Business Campus.

Project engineer Chuck Olivo said the sound-attenuating material would be part of a chain link fence, but the commission wants it to be a board on board wooden fence.

Another condition involves the construction of a sidewalk from the north side of that new office building, along its frontage and up to the Bunch Auction House property on the other side of Dickinson Drive.

With Supervisors’ Vice Chairman Samantha Reiner in the audience, Huffman said that as distasteful as he personally finds sidewalks, the “marching orders” he’s gotten from supervisors is that sidewalks are to be installed.

There is also a zoning matter that needs to be resolved. Building a new roadway creates new property lines with setbacks that don’t conform to code. Henderson would need some relief or other type of approval from the Zoning Hearing Board to get around those setback requirements.

While there is still some residential reluctance to the plan’s specifics, that is abating.

John Mastriana, president of the Estates at Chadds Ford Home Owners Association, said residents are not completely opposed, but would like to see more changes. He asked whether it was possible to relocate a proposed roundabout from Hillman Drive’s intersection with Evergreen and if residents from the condominiums could have an access other than one that brings their traffic to Evergreen Place before getting to Hillman.

Traffic engineer Matt Hammond said the planned location of the roundabout was the safest place for controlling traffic and allowing that traffic to flow properly without backing up.

He also addressed the access point for the condo residents. Plans now have them leaving the condo property through a driveway that would be built to take them around an already existing office building to Evergreen, then turn left to Hillman.

Hammond said options suggested by Mastriana would not work. One option would take traffic over a stormawater management system, which isn’t allowed. Another would have traffic drive through the office building parking lot and exit onto Hillman from a driveway without the benefit of the safety of the roundabout. A stop sign at the driveway would just back up traffic, he said.

Still, some Estates residents remain concerned about more traffic on Evergreen, which is their sole point of ingress and egress. Evergreen is a downward sloping street with a broad curve.

Residents say that it’s dangerous in the winter when there’s snow and ice on the road and that there are already many accidents. Adding traffic from the condominiums, they said, would increase the chances for accidents.

One of the residents said that having a second means of accessing the Estates would improve the situation.

Hillman Drive currently runs west from Route 202, between the Bunch Auction House and the Goddard School, past Dickinson Drive, and then stops just beyond Evergreen Place, the entrance to the Estates at Chadds Ford.

The extension would bring the road up and around from Evergreen, alongside the Painters’ Crossing Condominium property, to the traffic light at Route 1 across from Brandywine Drive.

Henderson Vice President Mark Eisenhardt has previously said that Henderson will do the project “on our nickel,” eliminating the need for taxpayers to fund the project.

PennDOT representatives have said the department would look to doing the work if the township shoots down Henderson’s offer.

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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One Response to “Loop road inches closer”

  1. Frank Rupp says:

    There is one phrase in this article that is very telling to me about the mentality of Chadds Ford’s governing bodies. “Huffman said that as distasteful as he personally finds sidewalks, the ‘marching orders’ he’s gotten from supervisors is that sidewalks are to be installed”.

    For the life of me I can’t understand why a town so focused on old-world charm, local stores, fine dining, and preserving the outdoors, would want its residents to only appreciate much of it at 55 mph behind the wheel of a car.

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