Concord suit could include Chadds Ford

Chadds Ford Township could be pulled into litigation between Concord Township and Pettinaro Construction Co. In responding to a complaint filed on behalf of Pettinaro's Ridge Road Development, Concord Township's solicitor Hugh Donaghue has termed Chadds Ford an "indispensable party."

If the court agrees, the suit could either be dismissed outright or Chadds Ford could be joined to the case. According to Judge Spiros Angelo, the case is scheduled for court in November with a pretrial conference set for Oct. 12.

The suit centers around a condition of approval for the Shops at Ridge Road, a 190,000 square foot commercial development planned for the 22-plus acre lot at Ridge Road and Route 202. The property is in Concord but borders Chadds Ford. A condition of approval — Condition 19 — requires Chadds Ford to sign off on highway improvements before work may begin.

Specifically, the condition reads: "Prior to release of the final plans, a letter from Chadds Ford Township stating that all road improvements as approved are satisfactory, including but not limited to PennDOT HOP [highway occupancy permit] plan. Chadds Ford is to receive notification of all scheduling of road improvements."

Concord Township granted approval Oct. 7, 2008, and reaffirmed approval Jan. 6, 2014. Condition 19 was included both times. In March of this year, attorney John Jaros asked Concord Township Council to remove the condition and release the plans so Pettinaro can start work. Council declined, and Jaros later filed the action to have the court order the plans released.

Included among the highway improvements is a plan to widen Ridge Road from two to six lanes for a quarter-mile stretch from Route 202 to just beyond the proposed development.

Chadds Ford joined in the application for the occupancy permit as a co-applicant/co-permittee and signed off on the HOP application in September of 2013. The application showed "all the proposed traffic improvements," according to the original complaint.

Chadds Ford Township Assistant Township Manager Matt DiFilippo, then township secretary, signed that 2013 application.

In 2012, Chadds Ford was also a party to a Traffic Signal Easement Agreement with Concord. Former Township Supervisors' Chairman George Thorpe signed off on that.

Additional documents — a stormwater management agreement and an operations and management agreement — were signed by former Chadds Ford Supervisor Deborah Love when she was chairman, and by Township Manager Amanda Serock.

In his response to the complaint, Donaghue acknowledges that Chadds Ford officials were kept informed. "The allegations of plaintiff's complaint establish that Chadds Ford Township is an indispensable party," he said adding, "…in the absence of Chadds Ford Township, as an indispensable party, this court is without jurisdiction to proceed and must dismiss the action…" he wrote.

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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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