Westtown denies Toll Bros.

It took five minutes for Westtown Township supervisors to end a year-long conditional use hearing when they voted to deny Toll Bros. application to develop Crebilly Farm.

There was no public comment period during the Dec. 28 session, but residents in the township building's standing room only meeting room applauded and some jumped for joy when the vote was taken. Supervisors gave no reason for their decision and Toll's divisional President Andrew Semon declined to comment.

Semon only said that he would have to wait until the board issues the formal written decision, which is due on or before Feb. 12.

As has been reported for more than a year, the Robinson family is the legal owner of the 325-acre farm on Route 926 at Route 202. Toll is the equity owner and proposed to build 317 new homes on the property. The township Planning Commission recommended approval of the plan with 50 conditions attached to that recommendation in February, and the hearing began in the spring.

Supervisors' Chairman Mike DiDomenico said the board sifted through almost 2,000 pages of testimony and exhibits submitted during that time.

Township solicitor Patrick McKenna said the board also reviewed findings of fact and conclusions of law submitted by the applicant and by others given party status including the township Planning Commission, Neighbors for Crebilly, as well as Thornbury and Birmingham townships.

Supervisors deliberated in executive session on Dec. 5, 14, 18 and briefly on Dec. 28, McKenna said. He added that Toll granted the township a 45-day extension in which to issue the written decision, which set the date for that at Feb. 12. The decision will be posted on the township website as soon "as soon as possible after the decision is issued."

During the hearing, with sessions held monthly at various locations throughout the township, residents, businesses, and others — including the West Chester Area School District — expressed objections to the proposal. They cited added traffic to the already overburdened intersection to Routes 926 and 202, a strain on the school district and the loss of a scenic view and open space that has historical significance. Historians testified that there was British troop movement on the property during the 1777 Battle of Brandywine.

Toll will either accept the decision or appeal it but, again, only after reading the decision in writing.

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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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