Judge dismisses Ridge Road complaint

Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Greene late last week dismissed Chadds Ford Township's complaint against Ridge Road Development and Concord Township. The dismissal was made with prejudice, meaning Chadds Ford can't refile the same complaint.

However, township solicitor Mike Maddren said Chadds Ford could appeal the ruling or request reconsideration. He said the supervisors might make their decision on whether to follow up by the end of the month.

"We're disappointed, but still weighing our options," Maddren said.

If the decision stands, Ridge Road Development, a subsidiary of Pettinaro Construction, would be able to begin the next phase of turning the 20-plus-acre empty field at Ridge Road and Route 202 into a shopping center, The Shops at Ridge Road. The site is in Concord Township but borders Chadds Ford.

Plans show 21 retail pads, including three restaurants and a 58,000 square foot pad for an anchor store. But what has caused concern for Chadds Ford residents is that plans also call for Ridge Road to be widened from two lanes to six from Route 202 to the end of the development, roughly one-quarter of a mile. Residents fear excess traffic in the area.

Concord Township approved the plan initially in 2008 and reaffirmed the approval in 2014. Included in the approval decision, however, was a condition that Chadds Ford supervisors sign off on highway improvements before the plans could be released, but two former supervisors and a former township manager in Chadds Ford had signed off on several documents — including the Highway Occupancy Permit.

Residents, mostly those living in The Ridings and other homes along Ridge Road, became alarmed when they learned about the plan in 2016. Frank Murphy, Chadds Ford Township Board of Supervisors chairman, said he would not sign a letter approving the road widening unless resident concerns were addressed.

That set off a year's worth of litigation between Concord, Chadds Ford and Ridge Road Development. First, the developer filed a complaint last spring against Concord for its refusal to remove the condition or deem it already satisfied by Chadds Ford signing the HOP.

Concord responded to that complaint saying the developer couldn't file against Concord unless it also filed against Chadds Ford. So RRD included Chadds Ford in the complaint, and Chadds Ford responded by saying Ridge Road Development would have to name PennDOT as a defendant.

At that point, Judge Spiro Angelos dismissed the case without prejudice. The developer then refiled its complaint against Concord, and that township settled, saying Chadds Ford had already given tacit approval when it signed off on the HOP.

Chadds Ford then filed its complaint as well as a preliminary injunction against the developer. Judge Chad F. Kenney denied the injunction in November.

Attorney John Jaros, representing Ridge Road Development, has not yet responded for comment.

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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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