Kennett Square and Longwood Gardens team up during holidays
● By Lev
By Steven Hoffman
During its meeting on Monday night, Kennett Square Borough Council approved a memorandum of understanding with Longwood Gardens that will allow for a free shuttle to run between the town and the popular tourist destination each Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The shuttle serves the dual purpose of helping Longwood Gardens alleviate some traffic congestion during its busiest times of the year, while Kennett Square gets to promote its shops and restaurants for visitors who are heading to Longwood Gardens.
Mary Hutchins, the executive director of Historic Kennett Square, said that the shuttle will run every 30 minutes between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., the busiest times for Longwood's Christmas light displays.
Visitors will be able to get on the shuttle at the Walker Building on State Street and make the short trip to Longwood Gardens. The shuttle is free, but people who want to ride it are encouraged to pre-register on the Longwood Gardens website.
Hutchins said that there is no financial obligation for the borough or for Historic Kennett Square. If all goes well this year, the shuttle could be expanded in the future.
In other business at the meeting, borough council held a public hearing and unanimously approved amendments to its Municipal Code with regard to the zoning for group homes. Because persons with disabilities can’t be treated any differently than others, group homes need to be treated the same as single-family homes are treated in each zoning district. The new amendments provide a revised definition of what a group home is in the borough’s ordinance. These amendments are considered necessary to be compliant with federal laws.
There was a lengthy discussion about the ordinance amendments. Several residents expressed concerns that neighbors would not be notified if a group home were established in the neighborhood.
Council member Danilo Maffei said that he agreed with the borough’s need to remain in compliance with the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the updated regulations would do that.
“I’m in favor of this. I think the language is clear that this is not for criminal treatment facilities,” Maffei said.
He added that the existing ordinance would have allowed up to 15 people in a group home, while the new ordinance only allows four people in a home. Maffei said that that reduces some of the impact that a group home could potentially have on a neighborhood.
There are currently two group homes in the borough, and police chief Ed Zunino and Codes Enforcement Officer Rusty Drumheller both said that they are so peaceful that no one would even know that the existing group homes are there.
There was also a public hearing regarding amendments to the borough’s Motor Vehicles and Traffic Code to make a portion of Center Street and Wilson Road a one-way thoroughfare. Sightlines are poor along the portion of Wilson Road that would be converted to one-way.
“Sight distances are almost non-existent in either direction,” said Zunino.
A traffic study also indicated that the change to a one-way street might help improve safety. Council agreed to approve the ordinance change.
Hutchins said that merchants are currently making preparations for Small Business Saturday, which will take place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
She also announced that a group is looking at starting a half-marathon in Chester County and Kennett Square will likely be the site. Dates are currently being considered to determine how the race could fit into Kennett Square’s already full calendar of events.
Borough council also approved the creation of a junior council person position that will be open to residents of Kennett Square who are juniors or seniors in high school. The junior council person will be a non-voting member who can take part in discussions during council meetings. Borough council president Leon Spencer said that Tony Gomez, a junior at Kennett High School, has already submitted a letter of interest regarding the position.
Spencer said that the borough is currently looking to fill one position on the Architectural Review Board, two positions on the Historical Commission, and one vacancy on the Shade Tree Commission. Any resident interested in these positions should call or email borough hall.
The borough council approved the Special Event application for Winterfest on Feb. 28, 2015.
Kennett Square Borough Council is slated to meet again on Monday, Nov. 17.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email email@example.com.