Calls for economic vibrancy in CF

An informational meeting in Chadds Ford Thursday night had residents, business owners and nonprofit groups calling for more vibrancy in the township’s village area. A few people said they wanted no zoning changes and no increased density of homes.

Supervisors called for the meeting when they heard people were concerned about possible changes to zoning after a sketch plan suggesting a multi-use development between the Barn Shops and Webb Road. Supervisors’ Chairman Frank Murphy told the standing room only crowd there was no formal plan under consideration, but that the board wanted to hear from residents and business owners on what they’d like to see happening in the village.

Harvey Lane resident Eric Gartner said he’d like to see a balance between the needs of residents and businesses, but whatever happens should be in keeping with the traditional character of Chadds Ford.

Gartner and others — including township land planner Tom Comitta — spoke about how bustling the village used to be and wanted to see that return, but any new businesses in the area should be those that are unique to Chadds Ford, products and services that people won’t find elsewhere.

Resident Richard Cain said he was in favor of some modest development but nothing that would increase the density of homes in the area. He was alluding to the Camp property, one of two properties named in the sketch plan. Cain said he wanted no more than seven homes built there.

Bri Brant, who owns Arden & James and the Chadds Café, and whose family owns the Barn Shops, said she and other business owners are doing what they can to bring back life but would like to see some help from the community.

Also speaking were representatives from two nonprofit organizations, Chuck Ulmann, curator of the Christian Sanderson Museum and Phyllis Recca, president of the Chadds Ford Historical Society. Both organizations are on north Creek Road and both said they want more visitors. To that end, they need Chadds Ford to become a destination.

“We want more people coming into Chadds Ford so people will visit the Sanderson,” Ulmann said. “If we don’t get more people, more excitement, we’re going to have a problem. [The museum] is a hidden gem and we want people to see it.”

Murphy asked Ulmann, as he asked others: “So, you want to see something to make the village more vibrant?” To which Ulmann said, “Yes.”

Recca echoed Ulmann, adding that she wants to see the village become “a vibrant community center.” She added that the village used to be a destination and called for the revitalization of the village while maintaining the traditional village image.

Land planner Tom Comitta said it would be up to the business community to find unique opportunities that could only be found in the village. He said it would be up to them to find a way to combat what he called  the “Amazonization and Walmartization of society.”

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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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