Landscape plan for new restaurant gets helping hand from greenway group
● By Richard Gaw
In Kennett Township, the often radically different entities of business and environmentalism are about to shake hands in making a piece of the Route 52 corridor a little more pretty.
In a presentation before the township's board of supervisors on June 17, John Haedrich of the township's Kennett Pike Greenway Project said that Hionis Properties, who is currently building a 3,700-square-foot sports bar and restaurant at the site of the former Mendenhall Cafe and Deli on Kennett Pike, has agreed in principal to the aesthetic recommendations made by the Greenway Project, which include the planting of various shrubbery and plantings.
These recommendations -- created by Thomas Comitta Associates, Inc. (TCA), who serves as the township's landscape architectural firm -- replace an earlier landscaping concept that was reviewed and approved by the township nearly ten years ago.
The original landscape design suggested the planting of ten trees near Route 52, including five white oak trees and five red maple trees that would have grown over 50 feet tall and wide. In a review of the original plan, outlined in a letter sent to the township and to Hionis Properties on May 20, TCA recommended that the idea of planting the tall trees be scrapped, due to potential hazards with overhead utility wires, and the fact that the trees were to be planted too close to each other, too close to the restaurant building, and too close to Route 52. Rather, TCA recommended that an alternative configuration of small and medium-sized shrubs be considered, which will improve safety and visibility for motorists and pedestrians.
TCA also advised that 12 evergreen trees, proposed in the original plan, may interfere with the proper growth and maintenance of existing preserved vegetation.
TCA stated that it "has evaluated the physical attributes of the approved plants in terms of mature size and habit, growth requirements, susceptibility to disease or deer-browse, and maintenance requirements. We have further considered the suitability of the approved plants with respect to 'Right Plant/Right Place' based on the objectives of the property owner and Kennett Township, with a focus on the design goals of the Kennett Pike Greenway."
These suggestions are in line with the Greenway Project's mission to beautify the Route 52 corridor , designated as a Pennsylvania Scenic Byway, that runs through the township by offering recommended plantings to individuals whose businesses and properties line the two-lane road.
"We approached the owners of the property and proposed to them, since they were working with a nine-year-old approved landscape plan, that their plans were not compatible with what we were trying to achieve with the Greenway Project's concept for landscaping along the corridor," Haedrich told the supervisors. "This is really a win-win for both Hionis Properties and Kennett Township."
The cost of the revised plan is $2,800, and will be shared equally between the Kennett Pike Greenway Project and Hionis Properties.
Located just to the south of the Mendenhall Inn, the new establishment will be called the Station 52 Sports Bar and Restaurant, and is scheduled to open in September.
The supervisors agreed to table approval on the revised landscape plan for a short period, to allow the township and its landscape consultants to conduct a review with some residents who live near the new restaurant, some of whom objected to the revised landscape plan. That meeting is scheduled for June 24 at the township office.
Harvey McCumber, whose residence is the closest of any home to the restaurant's parking lot, told the supervisors that the original plan looked "reasonable" to him when he first saw it.
Now, he said, "I can see the parking lot from my house. The original plan called for 18-foot trees along the border, and they're gone. Vegetation has been taken out of the site. That whole back area was trees, and now it's two collection ponds, without a tree in site."
In other township business, the Federal Highway Administration has approved a “no build” option for the historic Chandler Mill Bridge. The county is in the process of transferring ownership of the bridge to the township.
The township's Historic Commission will be sponsoring an historical tour of the Longwood Progressive Friends Meetinghouse and Longwood Cemetery (near the entrance to Longwood Gardens) which were recently named to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedomon June 25, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The township will hold a public conditional use hearing regarding the construction a 175-unit apartment complex on Miller's Hill on July 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the township building. The hearing will allow the applicant, Stan-Ab/LP to present the application for the complex, and for the supervisors to hear public comments, and set conditions for the project, including setbacks, traffic impact and entrance design.
Acting Police Chief Lydell Nolt said that the department will be outfitting the township's police department with body-worn cameras. The police department currently has in-car cameras, but Nolt said that body cameras will allow an officer to maintain a recording device when he or she is engaged in a police incident outside a vehicle.
In about a month, Nolt said that the police department will have electronic e-citation capability, which will allow officers to administer electronic citations and electronic accident reports. Nolt said that this technology will decrease the amount of time an officer will be standing on the roadside outside of the driver's vehicle administering a citation, and decrease an officer's clerical responsibilities.
“It will directly send the citation to municipal court and will directly enter the citation in the department of records and management system,” Nolt said. “It cuts out the manual process of entering here as well as the process to delivering it to the municipal court. The potential for human error is also eliminated because you don't have someone re-duplicating documents provided by the driver on the street.”
Regarding the township's continuing involvement in the concept of establishing a regional police department in southern Chester County, Township Manager Lisa Moore said that she has been in contact with Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick about arranging a follow-up meeting with all participating municipalities, in order to reach a final decision on the concept. Currently, Kennett Township, West Grove Borough, New Garden Township and the Kennett Square Borough are the remaining interested municipalities.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .