Toll quiet on Westtown decision

A week after Westtown Township released its written decision denying the Toll Bros. conditional use application for the development of Crebilly Farm, the developer still has not commented.

Westtown supervisors announced their decision verbally during a five-minute meeting on Dec. 28 but didn’t issue its written decision until last week on Feb. 13.

Toll’s Divisional President Andrew Semon said last week that the company had no comment at that time. He has not yet responded to a follow-up request for comment.

Supervisors gave no reason for denying the application during their Dec. 28 meeting and Semon said he could not comment until the written decision was released.

One of the points made in the board’s 52-page decision is that supervisors didn’t find one of Toll’s witnesses credible regarding the internal road structure of the proposed development, specifically regarding a connector road between W. Pleasant Grove Road and Route 926. The decision says the board did find credible the testimony of Brandywine Conservancy land planner John Snook who said Toll failed to adequately provide a connector as cited in the township’s comprehensive plan.

The board also had issues regarding testimony on stormwater management.

“There is no evidence to confirm [the development] will meet the township’s requirements with regard to the reduction of nitrates and Total Suspended Solids…,” according to the written decision.

Supervisors also objected to testimony offered by hydrogeologist Paul Scott on water and sanitary sewer components of the plan: “The board does not credit any portion of Mr. Scott’s testimony regarding wastewater treatment or wastewater disposal.”

Additionally, the board said Toll “did not investigate, and was unable to offer evidence with regard to, any potential problems associated with placement of a drip irrigation wastewater disposal system…”

The decision also says Toll offered no assurance that future residents would not enter the designated drip irrigation area.

Overall traffic volume and the alignment and changes of roads are also an issue. The decision says that while Toll has discussed changes to the original plan with PennDOT and is amenable to changes suggested by the board, Toll had still not made those changes on the plan accompanying the conditional use application.

Also, the development would “cause an increase in overall delay at the intersection of Routes 202 and 926…”

And there are historic preservation impacts, the board said, regarding the connection between Crebilly Farm and the 1777 Battle of Brandywine.

The board relied on the testimony of Robert J. Wise Jr., the principal senior historic preservation planner with Cultural Resource Consultants, who said the farm is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but that would be jeopardized by the proposed development.

But Wise did not testify as to how the impact on the historic site could be mitigated and the board concluded that it couldn’t give his testimony full credit.

The board’s conclusion is that the burden of proof on whether the proposal meets requirements lies with the applicant and that Toll had not done that. Citing court cases, the board said: “An applicant seeking conditional use approval must provide compliance with both the use-specific and general conditional use standards and criteria…”

Toll has 30 days from the date of the written decision to appeal.

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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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