East Marlborough supervisors consider development plans
By John Chambless
It was business as usual at the Oct. 6 meeting of the East Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors, with Cuyler Walker presiding as chairman and making no mention of his dramatic past few weeks.
Walker, who suddenly withdrew from the 158th District State House race last month, leading to political infighting and the appointment of Rep. Chris Ross as a replacement Republican candidate, made no statement to the capacity crowd. During the public comment period, no one asked him about his withdrawal or the rumors that have swirled since that time. Walker's fellow supervisors seemed relaxed and ready to get down to business.
The board heard from Greg Papiernik, the public safety manager for Longwood Gardens, who requested approval to alter the traffic flow at Longwood during the peak holiday season. When the main parking lot at Longwood is full, Papiernik said, there is parking available on nearby unpaved land. The wet winter last year, though, made the field too muddy. Longwood has worked out an agreement to use the Exelon company lot for overflow parking, and run shuttle buses to and from the gardens. Last year, parking spilled over to auxiliary lots “about 10 times,” Papiernik said. “I'd say we bused in about 20,000 guests during the last Christmas season,” he added.
During peak times from Nov. 27 to Jan. 11, Greenwood Road, next to the firehouse on Route 1, could be closed to right turns, preventing a traffic backup onto Route 1, if conditions warrant. The board approved the request.
The board also approved a new sign at the Shoppes at Longwood on Route 1. The original pylon sign contained spaces to advertise only four of the shopping center's tenants. There are now 21 businesses in the center, so the new sign will allow them to direct drivers to their doors. The brick sign will be internally illuminated, and the board recommended using only one color for the lettering. Businesses will be allowed some leeway in using lettering styles that will reflect their company logos. The new sign was approved by the township zoning board on Sept. 23, and the board of supervisors also authorized updating a 1992 agreement that allowed the first sign to be built.
Township engineer Jim Hatfield detailed erosion that has affected a property owned by the Ross famiy on Route 926. Alan Ross said his mother, who has lived in the home at that location, is selling the property, but stream bank erosion near the road has caused some concerns. Hatfield said he observed erosion along the roadway, but is unable to determine if the township is at fault because of the addition of turn lanes at the route 82 and 926 intersection in 1992, or if weather pattern changes have increased stormwater runoff in the area.
Hatfield said that a formal engineering services study to suggest fixes would cost $12,700, but the supervisors and the Ross family agreed that spending the money might not be necessary if some agreement can be reached to stem the erosion. “I understand that this may take some time,” Alan Ross said. “My main concern is to arrest the problem that's occurring there.”
Walker said that two supervisors will work with Ross and Hatfield to come up with solutions “that are the most efficient in terms of time and cost. We all want the same thing,” he added.
Most of the crowd at the meeting wanted to hear about development plans for the site of the RP Garden Center on Route 82, a 31.4-acre parcel. The 5.2 acres containing the nursery and home will be preserved, but the township is working with the property owner on what to build on the 26.2 remaining acres.
Both the township and the family are agreeable to a development of 18 or 19 lots, with a minimum lot size of 7,000 square feet, that would leave 19.5 acres as open space. Neighbors in the Willow Greene development are supportive of the design because it will put more open space between their homes and the proposed development.
“It makes sense to give the land owner this option to keep more land as open space,” Walker said. “It seems to be a win-win for the property owner and neighbors to minimize the impact.”
While the proposed lot size got a nod from the board, the proposal still has to go before the Chester County Planning Commission and the Township Planning Commission, which will have a public meeting to get feedback from citizens. After that, the supervisors will hold another public hearing before any action is taken to change the zoning ordinance.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.