Court denies Chadds Ford relief

Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge Chad F. Kenney denied Chadds Ford Township’s petition for injunctive relief against Ridge Road Development and Concord Township. A hearing was held Thursday, Nov. 30 and the decision released Friday, Dec. 1.

Chadds Ford had asked the court to prohibit Concord from signing and releasing final plans for recording in Ridge Road Development’s effort to develop the commercial property at Route 202 and Ridge Road in Concord.

In his ruling, Kenney wrote: “Plaintiff [Chadds Ford] has not established the elements necessary for the issuance of a preliminary injunction…”

When contacted via email for comment, Chadds Ford Township solicitor Mike Maddren said he had not yet seen the order, but “would sit down and evaluate the merits of an appeal with the supervisors and ask for direction from there.”

Attorneys for Concord Township and Ridge Road Development, Kathy Labrum and John Jaros respectively, could not immediately say what happens next as there is still a complaint pending.

The matter is one piece in the ongoing litigation regarding the proposed widening of Ridge Road from two to six lanes. Widening Ridge is part of the already approved commercial development for the 25-plus-acre lot on the southwest corner of Ridge Road and Route 202. That property is in Concord Township, but Ridge Road is in both Concord and Chadds Ford and runs between the two municipalities at that intersection.

Maddren argued that Concord "granted a right" to Chadds Ford when Concord, as part of the approval process, included a condition — Condition 19 — requiring Ridge Road Development to get a letter from Chadds Ford saying proposed highway improvements are satisfactory, but took that right away when it settled a suit with the developer.

He conceded that a former township manager had signed applications for a Highway Occupancy Permit, but said those permits only dealt with stormwater management and a traffic light easement, not with widening Ridge Road to six lanes.

Jaros countered by saying Chadds Ford knew about the widening from the beginning because the plans showing six lanes were included with the HOP applications.

"If Chadds Ford had concerns, why did they sign the permit twice?" Jaros said.

Labrum said Concord never granted a right to Chadds Ford, that it just wanted to make sure Chadds Ford was fully aware of proposed changes so there could be coordination between the two municipalities.

"We didn't say Chadds Ford had rights," Labrum said. "Chadds Ford [now] says it has the right to dictate to Concord how it should run its township."

Labrum continued, saying there is no legal basis for that type of argument and that Chadds Ford hadn't cited any reference to the law for that position.

There is still a complaint from Chadds Ford that is pending. That complaint argues the same basic premise, and asks the court to declare that, by virtue of Condition 19, Chadds Ford has a “legally enforceable right to ensure all road improvements are satisfactory.”

Timeline

Chadds Ford's filing was the third in a series of legal filings that began in May after Concord declined to remove Condition 19 or deem as satisfied by Chadds Ford signing for the HOP.

When Ridge Road Development, a subsidiary of Pettinaro Construction, filed the first complaint against Concord Township this spring, Concord responded saying Chadds Ford had to be brought into the suit because it was an indispensable party. The complaint was amended to include Chadds Ford, but Chadds Ford then said PennDOT had to be brought into the mix because it had approved the plan to widen Ridge Road. Judge Spiro Angelos then dismissed the case without prejudice.

In September, Ridge Road Development filed a second complaint against Concord. That complaint was settled in early November when Concord agreed that Chadds Ford had already given tacit approval when it signed off on the HOP.

It was during that time when Chadds Ford filed its complaint and asked for the injunction against Concord releasing the plans.

Concord Township first approved the development with 190,000 square feet of retail space in October of 2008 and then reaffirmed the approval in January 2014.

In December of 2012, former Chadds Ford Township Supervisor George Thorpe signed off on the traffic signal easement and, nine months later — in September of 2013 — former Supervisor Deborah Love signed off on the stormwater operations and management agreement. Also in September 2013, Matt DiFilippo, who was Chadds Ford's secretary at the time, signed the Highway Occupancy Permit.

Thorpe and Love have since left the board. In January of 2014, Frank Murphy replaced Love. Samantha Reiner was appointed supervisor in February 2015 after Keith Klaver resigned.

In April 2015, former Chadds Ford Township Manager Amanda Serock signed another HOP application and signed for a HOP renewal in June of 2016.

Proposed road changes

• Plans call for Ridge Road to be widened from the intersection with Route 202 through the length of the property along that road.

• There would be three access points for ingress and egress, two right in/right out only points on Route 202 for traffic traveling south on that road, and the main entrance on Ridge Road for traffic traveling north on 202. Because of the divider on Route 202 and the proximity of the site to Ridge Road, a left turn into the site from northbound 202 would not work properly, according to engineers.

• Route 202 south would be widened to allow for a dedicated right turn lane onto Ridge.

• There would be three lanes on eastbound Ridge Road that would be dedicated for left and right turns and for straight through traffic.

• According to Penn Dot's Fran Hanney, the changes at the intersection would allow for easier traffic flow with less delay for motorists even during peak hours.

 

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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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