Pocopson child-care center passes final hurdle

Although several residents voiced objections, the Pocopson Township supervisors signed off on the final land development plan for a child-care center in the Riverside at Chadds Ford subdivision.

Pocopson Township Supervisors Alice Balsama (left) and Elaine DiMonte review documents during their meeting on Monday, Nov. 14.

Pocopson Township Supervisors Alice Balsama (left) and Elaine DiMonte review documents during their meeting on Monday, Nov. 14.

With Supervisors’ Chairwoman Ricki Stumpo absent, Supervisors Elaine DiMonte and Alice Balsama listened for about half an hour at their 40-minute meeting on Monday, Nov. 14, as residents expressed concerns about the impact that the Ducklings Early Learning Center on Winston Lane would have on traffic and safety in their community.

According to the plan, the 10,000-square-foot, child-care facility will operate with about 128 children and 15 teachers and will be open five days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Riverside community is located off of Pocopson Road between Routes 52 and 926.

After the preliminary plan was approved with numerous conditions in the spring, the Riverside homeowners’ association filed its first legal challenge to the decision, a suit that was consolidated with a second filing that focused on the final approval, which occurred in July. Chester County Court Judge Jeffrey R. Sommer dismissed the HOA's claims last month.

Township solicitor Amanda Sundquist explained on Monday night that because the plan had already been approved, the signing simply represented an administrative process. “They don’t have discretion at this point” to do anything else, she said of the supervisors.

Echoing a letter submitted by Scott Kirkland, the Riverside HOA president, Riverside residents Bruce Hwang and Mike Scott urged the board to request a traffic study, pointing out that the last one was prepared in 2003. They also raised fears about the proximity of the egress and ingress for the center to a school bus stop.

The supervisors said they understood the residents’ apprehension but said that all steps had been taken to ensure that problems had been addressed, sentiments that were echoed by Kevin Matson, one of the township’s engineers.

In response to a question from Hwang about what recourse residents would have if problems occurred once the facility were built, Matson said the residents could petition the township for relief.

“The burden would be on the township,” said Balsama.

Sundquist added that once the facility has been constructed, the school district would address any complaints regarding the bus stop.

The Pocopson Township supervisors say a feasibility study should help determine the fate of the Barnard House, a former Underground Railroad stop.

Pocopson supervisors say a feasibility study should help determine the fate of the Barnard House, a former Underground Railroad stop.

As usual, the Barnard House appeared on the agenda. DiMonte reported that a request-for-proposal for a feasibility study was ready for release. The supervisors voted to prepare the RFP at their Sept. 26 meeting. They said they hoped it would definitively answer questions about whether the early 1800s building is suitable for township offices.

The building has generated controversy off and on since its purchase from the county for $1 in 2008, a sale that precluded renting the building for profit. It was originally envisioned as the home of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center as well as the township’s offices.

Escalating renovation costs and several professionals’ suggestions that the building wasn’t suited to municipal use put plans for the township’s administrative offices on hold. The KURC is expected to occupy part of the building as soon as a lease agreement is finalized.

In other business, the supervisors heard from Chris Larsen, one of the township’s representatives on the Kennett Library board. He said he was pleased that his township colleague on the board, Brad Peiper, had set up an information booth on Election Day to explain how the library is addressing its need for a new building, having outgrown its space in the 200 block of East State Street in Kennett Square.

Larsen explained that the board has been soliciting feedback from area residents about what they’d like to see in a new library. On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the library is hosting a presentation to update residents on the project’s progress at 7 p.m. in the Monroe Nute room of the Kennett Fire Company at 301 Dalmatian Street in Kennett Square. The public will learn the preliminary results of community input.

In addition, Larsen said the architects would discuss initial space planning concepts for the new building and illustrate how it would fit on the proposed site, a borough-owned property known as the Weinstein lot, located at the intersection of East State and South Willow streets. Larsen said the survey is available online at http://www.KennettLibrary.org.

Finally, the board authorized Susan Simone, the township’s secretary, to send a letter to the Westtown Township Board of Supervisors to share their concerns about the traffic impact of a Toll Brothers subdivision planned for Crebilly Farm, a 330-acre property adjacent to the already-congested intersection of Routes 202 and 926.

DiMonte pointed out that the development, which could generate nearly 400 homes, would adversely affect residents in Pocopson and Birmingham townships. She noted that the majority of Westtown residents live on the other side of the major intersection, unlike neighboring townships to the west.

She added that she hoped residents would attend the Westtown Township Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16, to make their concerns known. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Stetson Middle School on Route 202.


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