Arguments made in Woodlawn Trustees case

Oral arguments have now been heard in the two appeals that came on the heels on Concord Township’s approval of a major land development plan for the Woodlawn Trustees property.

That approval came in the spring of 2015, and members of Save the Valley appealed. Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Green heard oral arguments in that litigation in August. No decision has been made yet.

On Thursday, oral arguments were heard in the second appeal. This one came not from opponents of the plan, but from a developer who was denied a reverse subdivision because, attorney Marc Kaplin said, of political reasons.

 Kaplin, representing Concord Ventures, told Senior Judge Charles B. Burr II, that his client is the equitable owner of 60 acres of the Woodlawn Property. Part of the agreement of sale was that a portion of two other parcels — totaling 11 acres — be joined with another 49-acre parcel. All that was needed was for Concord’s supervisors to approve a lot-line change.

According to Kaplin, the request was denied because residents were still angry with the supervisors over their approval of the development proposed by Eastern States Development Co. and McKee Concord Homes.

McKee and Eastern States want to build 160 homes on 230 acres. Concord Ventures is looking to construct 29 townhomes, 167 apartments and a 7,200-square-foot clubhouse on its 60 acres that are bordered by Route 202, the Delaware state line, and Watkin Avenue. However, Concord Ventures had not submitted any land-development plans, so all that was needed was the lot-line change to satisfy the agreement of sale.

“I was driving to Concord thinking we’d get approval, but received a phone call from one of the supervisors’ saying we were going to be denied,” he told the judge.

Kaplin further said that he was told that there would be a packed township building with people who wanted to “skewer” the supervisors for approving the larger plan and that supervisors would deny the application to prevent further anger.

“The supervisors had no legitimate reason to turn us down,” Kaplin reiterated. “All we were doing was putting an imaginary line on a map.”

At issue in the appeal is why the reverse subdivision was denied. Was denial a matter of political expediency or did the subdivision plan contain deficiencies?

Kathy Labrum, the attorney representing Concord Township, characterized the Concord Venture’s request as “a major subdivision.”

She also said that questions existed over the exact placement of the lot lines. Engineers for the township and the applicant could have worked things out, she said, but the applicant revoked a time extension the township would have needed to finish its review of the plan.

One of the issues, Labrum said, was that the lot-line change would have created an odd-shaped lot, which is not permitted under township code.

“If it doesn’t comply with our ordinances, the board doesn’t approve it,” she said.

The motion to deny the request — which came from former Supervisor Kevin O’Donoghue months before his re-election bid — cited environmental sensitivity for the denial.

However, Kaplin told the judge that would be irrelevant since Concord Ventures was not filing a land-development plan.

Where both sides agree is that the engineers could have worked out any concerns that existed over the exact location of the lot lines.

There’s no timetable on when Burr will make his decision.

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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