Applause and rebuke at Westtown meeting

There was a round of applause from the audience and a mild rebuke of that applause during Wednesday night’s Planning Commission meeting in Westtown Township.

Commission members spent a good portion of their time considering possible recommendations to the Board of Supervisors regarding the modified plan for the development of Crebilly Farm, a plan proposed by Toll Bros.

Among the recommendations considered was the possibility of moving the development of 317 new homes further to the east on the property to keep those homes out of what is considered the battlefield swath. That’s the area of Crebilly where it’s believed there was British troop movement during the Battle of Brandywine.

While the modified plan did move some of the homes further east, there are still several dozen within the swath area. According to attorney Gregg Adelman, who is representing Toll in the matter, moving more homes to the east would create disturbances in other sensitive areas.

“We would violate a lot of natural resource protection standards under the township’s zoning ordinance,” Adelman said when questioned by commission solicitor Kristin Camp.

During Toll’s conservation design process, he said, the developer laid out the developable areas and the natural resource areas.

“When you look at [those plan sheets], you could see what’s developable or not,” Adelman said. “To go into those areas where we can’t develop violates multiple zoning ordinances.”

Commission member John Embick then asked Adelman whether moving homes out of the swath area would result in fewer homes being built.

“You could design a development that would be east of the swath line,” Embick said.

“Anybody can; it’s just a smaller development,” Adelman answered.

That’s when the audience applauded. But Adelman responded with a reminder of rights.

“We’re all of the same mindset that the property owners have as much right as the people clapping to exercise their rights,” he said. “Maybe they don’t acknowledge that, but I do. So, that’s how I can answer the question. And I can also say that the rights here are entrenched in terms of the property owner and the developer. We’re trying to balance as best we can both of those rights. We’re trying to reach some type of middle ground.”

During the rest of the discussion, there was talk about trails, sidewalks, a possible roundabout or two in and around the development, as well as possible roadway fixes to prevent traffic on the surrounding roads — Routes 926 and 202, S. New Street and W. Pleasant Grove Road — from becoming even more congested than they are already.

Toll is amenable to adding dedicated turn lanes at the surrounding intersections and to install a traffic signal at the intersection of an as yet to be built connector road and Street Road — Route 926.

There was also talk about the possibility of one or more roundabouts along W. Pleasant Grove Road. One of the roundabouts could be near the Westminster Presbyterian Church property, which would give worshippers there better access to the connector road so they can avoid Route 202.

Also discussed were improving the trail network within and around the farm for greater connectivity and widening W. Pleasant Grove Road.

While the Planning commission is hearing the matter for the updated plan, the Board of Supervisors is holding a conditional use hearing on the proposal. The next hearing date is 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25 at Rustin High School on Shilo Road in Westtown.

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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