Concord, Pettinaro settle; Chadds Ford sues

In a surprise move, Concord Township Council Wednesday night entered into a settlement with Ridge Road Development, which ends current litigation over a proposed development on Concord's border with Chadds Ford. Ridge Road development is a subsidiary of Pettinaro Construction.

By doing so, Concord agrees that Condition 19 of the approval — which required Chadds Ford's OK — has been satisfied. That change releases the plans so the company can begin work on a commercial development without Chadds Ford's signing off on highway improvements.

The 25-acre property is on the border of the two townships, across from Olde Ridge Village. Condition 19 required approval from Chadds Ford on changes to Ridge Road.

Council decided during its Nov. 8 meeting, though the meeting’s draft agenda did not list the topic. What Chadds Ford does now is yet to be determined.

"I am working with the Board of Supervisors to evaluate the township's options," said Chadds Ford solicitor Mike Maddren in an email.

However, on Nov. 6 Chadds Ford filed a complaint against Concord and Ridge Road Development asking the court to enforce Condition 19 and also filed a preliminary injunction asking the court to prevent Concord from releasing the plans and prevent Ridge Road Development from beginning work without a signed letter from Chadds Ford.

Frank Murphy, Chadds Ford Township's supervisors' chairman, would say only that was disappointed by Concord Council's decision.

Carolyn Daniels, who lives in The Ridings off of Ridge Road and was a driving force to get Chadds Ford not to sign off, called Concord's action "more than disappointing."

She gathered almost 1,000 signatures on a petition to get elements of the approval changed. "It's always troubling when the majority of resident voices are disregarded," she said in an email.

Concord approved the plan in 2008 and reaffirmed that approval in 2014. Both approvals included the condition that said the plans could not be released without Chadds Ford Township first signing a letter that said proposed highway improvements were satisfactory.

Those improvements include having the development's main entrance on Ridge Road and widening the street from two to six lanes — for approximately one-quarter of a mile — from the intersection with Route 202 to the end of the property. The matter has been in litigation since May of this year.

Murphy said in January that he wouldn't sign any such letter until PennDOT and Ridge Road Development addressed residents' concerns. In March, attorney John Jaros, representing the developer, asked Concord to either drop Condition 19 or deem it already satisfied because Chadds Ford was a co-applicant for the PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit, which showed the planned road changes. He argued that being a co-applicant for the HOP established Chadds Ford as giving tacit approval. Concord officials refused.

Jaros then filed a complaint against Concord in the Court of Common Pleas in May. Concord responded by saying Chadds Ford had to be joined in the suit because it was "an indispensable party." Chadds Ford responded by saying the suit had to include PennDOT because it was an indispensable party as well. Judge Spiro Angelos then dismissed the case.

In September, Jaros filed a second complaint naming only Concord as a defendant.

Concord Township solicitor Hugh Donaghue said in a telephone interview that after review of the applicant’s arguments in its two previous filings, Concord agreed that Chadds Ford did tacitly approve of the highway improvements by nature of being a co-applicant for the HOP and by taking part in other actions involving traffic light and stormwater management agreements.

The settlement ends the action that Ridge Road Development filed. However, Concord Township and the developer still have to respond to the actions Chadds Ford filed on Nov. 6.

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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