No tax hike, but new ordinance in Chadds Ford

Chadds Ford Township supervisors have held the line on taxes for 2018. The board passed the budget for next year with no property tax increase. It's a balanced budget with anticipated revenue and expense at $1.04 million.

But passing the budget was not the only thing the board did during its Dec. 27 workshop. The township now has a new zoning ordinance, the Open Space Conservation Option.

During the hearing for the ordinance, township solicitor Mike Maddren explained the idea behind the OSCO is to allow for a density increase in the R-1 Zoning District (2-acre minimum) for properties of at least 10 acres in exchange for preserving 45 percent of the property as open space. That density bonus is 0.1 dwelling units per gross acre. Developing under the new ordinance requires conditional use approval.

The proposal passed 3-0, but George Watkins, one of only two residents who attended the meeting, said the ordinance is too restrictive for certain properties. He specifically mentioned those in the narrow strip between Oakland Road and Route 202, where he owns property. He referred to that area as "the corridor."

What he felt was too restrictive is the front yard setback of 150 feet the ordinance requires.

"The corridor runs out of land, and essentially this forces us into a military barracks street lineup of houses," he said.

While not agreeing with his description, Supervisor Noelle Barbone said she did agree that the 150-foot front set back was excessive and questioned whether that could be reduced to 125 feet.

She also said the corridor would be a good spot for an assisted living type of development.

Supervisors' Vice Chairman Samantha Reiner said she also sympathized with Watkins and the others who own property in the corridor but said the issue could be readdressed if the 150-foot setback does not provide the desired results.

Reiner also said this type of ordinance was a long time in coming, and that she worked to develop open space preservation options while she was chairman of the Open Space Committee in the early 2000s. She's pleased with almost 50 percent of the properties kept as permanent open space.

"I am ecstatic," Reiner said.

Chairman Frank Murphy said Watkins raised some good points, but the passage of the Open Space Conservation Option does not exclude the consideration of other types of development options, such as a mixed-used Traditional Neighborhood Development that has been suggested by land planner Tom Comitta and favored by Watkins. However, Murphy chose to stick with the 150-foot requirement.

"If somebody wants to come in for zoning relief or come in with some other options, they'll do that. I'd suggest working with our Planning Commission to update our ordinances and find more creative things to help improve the township,” Murphy said.

Before the meeting adjourned, Murphy said the board is looking for a date to reschedule the volunteer appreciation party that was called off because of snow on Dec. 15.

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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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