By John Chambless
Development plans were the focus of the March 3 meeting of the East Marlborough Township board of supervisors.
During the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, a representative from DL Howell Associates, a civil engineering and land planning firm, briefly told the supervisors about plans for the site of the former Citgo gas station at Route 1, across from School House Road. There are plans to demolish the gas station and part of a welding shop, and build a Citadel Bank, and a Royal Farms store that will sell gas.
The plan also suggests adding a left turn lane from Route 1 south into the new business, which drew some concern from the board. Chairman Cuyler Walker said, "During the time that the Walmart was built, it was the decision of this board that turning lanes at that intersection would be problematic. Years of effort went into an alternative plan, which is now known as Onix Drive. Adding a turn lane there may be something that's going to give the board problems."
A sketch plan for the development will be submitted at the board's April meeting.
The board heard from Walmart representatives about making two minor changes to their land development plan. A construction access road from School House Road that was scheduled to be removed will instead be maintained as an emergency access route, pending approval from fire chief Albert McCarthy of the Longwood Fire Company. Also, two retention basins that were supposed to have vegetation planted in them will instead be left as they are, since repeated attempts at growing plants in them have failed. Township engineer Jim Hatfield told the board that the basins are operating well, and that the plantings are not necessary. The board unanimously approved the changes.
The Walnut Ridge townhouse development that has been discussed for years was re-introduced to the board by representatives from Orleans, the developer. The plan for the site on Walnut Road, across from Everfast, Inc., was given preliminary approval in 2008 after three years of negotiations. The 61-townhouse development plan is moving forward, but the major snag is now centering on a turn lane from Walnut Road.
The plan approved in 2008 called for the widening of the road so that a left-turn lane could be added. This week, however, the owner of the Everfast property denied Orleans an easement for the road widening, stalling the project yet again. If the Walnut Ridge project ever gets built, the developers would like permission to add more units with basements, and the look of the building will be more uniform, with a 24-foot setback for all the townhomes instead of staggered setbacks.
Supervisor Robert Weer, Sr., told the Orleans representatives that much of the traffic in the area is trucks coming in and out of an industrial park, so a turn lane is necessary to avoid traffic back-ups at the site. The Orleans representatives said they will continue working on the plan, and that they hope to convince Everfast to grant the easement request.
Several residents came to the meeting to voice their opinions about the renovation of a large house on Doe Run Road in Unionville. The Fenza family is planning to turn the building into apartments. Unionville resident Jack Greenwood was on the meeting agenda to address the board about his objections to the plan, but halfway through the meeting, township engineer Jim Hatfield quickly left the room.
Walker apologized to the audience, explaining that Hatfield has just gotten word that his father had died, so the Fenza discussion and a presentation about the progress of the Unionville Community Park project were canceled.
As the meeting was ending, Greenwood asked about a future date to explain his objections, and Walker said he was welcome to write them down and they would be submitted to Hatfield to address before the next board meeting in April.
Greenwood began to complain about what he said is too much impervious coverage being added to the Fenza property's parking area, but Walker bristled and cut him off.
"Mr. Hatfield has been intimately involved in this process from the beginning. He's a professional who is paid to take care of these things," Walker said. "What you're doing is questioning whether he has adequately monitored this process. He's the one who needs to respond to that. ... Unfortunately he's had a tragic event happen within the last half-hour, and he's not present to help us resolve this matter. All we can do as a board is rely on the professional advice that we get from the person we have retained to be our engineer."