Ridge Road saga continues

It could take almost another month before the next shoe drops in the ongoing drama of The Shops at Ridge Road in Concord Township. In the interim, Chadds Ford Township residents remain concerned and apprehensive. There's even a movement afoot to generate a crowd-funding account to cover legal fees should residents choose to fight a potential decision that goes against their wishes.

At issue are road widening features that are part of the project. They include widening Ridge Road from two to six lanes from the intersection with Route 202 to the boundary with Chadds Ford, and for the shopping center's main entrance to be on Ridge Road.

Frank Murphy, the Chadds Ford Township supervisors’ chairman, said last week that widening Ridge Road to six lanes is akin to "taking the intersection of Routes 1 and 202 and moving it to Ridge Road."

When Concord Township approved the project for the empty 22-plus-acre lot on the southwest corner of Ridge and 202 in 2008 and then reaffirmed it in 2014, there was a condition — Condition 19 — that said Chadds Ford had to sign off on those improvements. Murphy said in January that he wouldn’t sign off until residents' concerns over increased traffic were satisfactorily addressed.

In March of this year, attorney John Jaros asked Concord Township to remove Condition 19 from the approval. Township Council refused. Jaros, in May, then filed against Concord on behalf of Ridge Road Development — the subsidiary of Pettinaro Construction that wants to build the shopping center.

Concord responded saying that Chadds Ford was an “indispensable party” and had to be brought into the suit. Chadds Ford responded saying PennDOT was an indispensable party. Judge Spiro Angeles dismissed the complaint. Jaros then filed a second complaint on Sept. 29.

Chadds Ford Township was co-applicant for the Highway Occupancy Permit that showed the road changes. Jaros has argued that means it tacitly accepted the changes.

Concord would have had 20 days to respond to that second complaint after being served notice, but township solicitor Hugh Donaghue said he requested and received an extension of time to respond. He didn't have the exact date in front of him during the brief telephone interview but said he thinks Concord has until the latter half of November. He doesn't yet know how he'll be responding, he said, because Concord Township Council had not given him any instructions.

While that response is pending, residents of the Ridings are considering options. Karen Johnson, president of the Ridings Homeowners Association, sent an email to neighbors and other HOAs in the township to see what interest residents might have in setting up a Go-Fund-Me account to cover possible legal fees should the residents want to hire an attorney if Condition 19 is removed from the approval.

Johnson said she is looking to include residents from other developments because they could be affected by traffic as well.

"There are many people in The Ridings that are interested in doing this, but I feel, as a resident and HOA president, this effects not just The Ridings. I don't think it's just our fight and don't agree with being the only community to fund it," she said.

Johnson said in a telephone interview that she wants to set up a meeting with PennDOT representatives so she can express her concerns directly.

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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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