Toll appeals Westtown decision

As anticipated, Toll Bros. has appealed Westtown Township's denial of the builder's conditional use plan for the development of Crebilly Farm. No court date is yet scheduled, but the matter will be heard in Chester County Court of Common Pleas.

Toll is the equity owner of the farm located between Route 926, Route 202, W. Pleasant Grove Road and New Street. The developer wants to build 317 new homes on the 300-plus-acre property.

The township's Planning Commission, in February of 2017, recommended the board accept the application with 50 conditions. However, after an almost year-long hearing process, Westtown Board of Supervisors announced the denial on Dec. 28 and released the written decision last month.

In asking the court to reverse Westtown's decision, Toll’s attorneys Gregg Adelman and Marc Kaplin said the decision "constitutes an abuse of the board's discretion, are improper as a matter of law, and are not supported by substantial evidence."

In their filing, attorneys said the Board of Supervisors acknowledged that "Toll complied with all of the applicable objective use criteria" in Westtown's zoning code regulations, that the use is permitted, does not intrude into primary conservation resources and complies with the maximum allowable density.

The board, in its written decision, said the application was denied because Toll failed to provide a collector road through the property, failed to mitigate traffic impact and failed to include scenic views as a secondary conservation area.

Toll, however, in the request for reversal says the collector road is not required to mitigate traffic impacts caused by the proposed development and that the township's Comprehensive Plan doesn't provide "specific objective criteria regarding the design or standards" of such a road.

"As a matter of law, a conditional use applicant is not required to prove consistency with a municipality's comprehensive plan, and a general statement in the Zoning Ordinance requiring consistency with the Township's Comprehensive Plan cannot serve as a basis to deny the application," the paperwork said referencing two Commonwealth Court cases in 1991 and 2009.

Other areas of contention include mitigation of the already heavy traffic at Routes 202 and 926. Toll cited a 2001 case which said an increase in traffic at an already impaired intersection is not sufficient for denying an application, and that there was no evidence provided demonstrating the development would generate "abnormal" traffic patterns.

The filing also contends that the board's assertion that the application failed to conserve scenic views is erroneous because the term scenic views "is entirely subjective," that the board does not contend that the existing features are, in fact, scenic and that the township does not have an ordinance regarding historic preservation or protection.

The filing asks the court to sustain the appeal, reverse the Board of Supervisors' decision, approve the application and "grant such other and further relief as the court deems appropriate."

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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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