Whitewing Farm event ban continues in East Marlborough
● By J. Chambless
It wasn’t on the agenda at the Aug. 3 East Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors meeting, but board president Cuyler Walker mentioned one of the big recent developments regarding the Whitewing Farm legal wrangle.
The owners of the B&B near Longwood Gardens have been fighting neighbors who complain about noise and traffic resulting from large weddings and other events held at the location. While reviewing the minutes from last month’s supervisors meeting, Walker gave an update on one of the items. “The judge in the Whitewing Farm case has ruled in favor of the township’s position that events of that type are not allowed in a residential district,” he said. The judge’s ruling was announced on July 17.
“While we got a favorable opinion, the property owner has appealed to Commonwealth Court,” Walker added. That process could take up to a year. “In the meantime, the judge’s injunction remains,” Walker said. “The property is not to be used for the type of events that the neighbors had complained about.”
Whitewing Farm owners Lance and Sandy Shortt have said repeatedly that they cannot survive in business by operating solely as a bed-and-breakfast. The business remains in operation for now.
During public comment, Bruce Shapiro, of the homeowner’s association of Traditions at Longwood, brought up the overgrown lawn at the former Hicks farmhouse that sits in the middle of the Traditions development. The home had been run as a bed-and-breakfast, but is now apparently bank-owned, and the lawn is about two feet high. Shapiro asked if there was something that could be done. “Our rules are no kids under 18, and you have to maintain the property,” Shapiro said. “They haven’t cut the grass in seven weeks.”
The matter may be considered a nuisance under township ordinances, according to township solicitor Frone Crawford, who said he would look into whether the township could cut the lawn.
The board also heard from Robyn Pigozzi, one of the organizers of the Toughmudder Philadelphia run, to be held on Oct. 17 and 18 at Plantation Field. Last year’s run drew about 4,400 people, Pigozzi said, and this year is expected to draw about 8,000. That will require onsite and offsite parking, with shuttle buses to bring participants to the event site. With about 25 buses lined up to drop off and pick up, Pigozzi was requesting that traffic be temporarily blocked on Green Valley Road. The closure would not include residents of the road, and should last no longer than one hour.
Township manager Jane Laslo said she observed last year’s event, “and it was especially well run. Very professional.”
The offsite parking location will either be the New Garden Flying Field or Willowdale Steeplechase, Pigozzi said. Residents will be notified in advance about the event, and there will be no DJ this year, eliminating the noise complaints that came from several nearby residents last year. The board unanimously approved the plans.
The board also discussed improvements to the three crosswalks – two by the middle and high school and one on Doe Run Road between Hood’s and the ball fields in Unionville – that have been the focus of considerable attention for years. Board member Buzz Hannum reported that there are some short-term fixes suggested that could be put into place in time for the start of the school year, and the board agreed to authorize those fixes as well as a study of long-term solutions to slow traffic at the crosswalks.
There is some discussion of lowering the speed limit near the schools to 35 miles per hour from the current 45 miles per hour, but Laslo pointed out that lowering the limit has been tried before. Due to PennDOT rules, the speed limit has to be 35 to allow crosswalks that are not at corners or intersections. “About ten years ago we got a speed reduction on Route 82 from Route 926 south because of the number of driveways there,” Laslo said. “From 926 north, there aren’t enough driveways to reduce the speed there, despite the presence of the schools.”
Among the suggestions for short-term fixes are more signs, brighter markings on the road, and possibly flashing lights to alert drivers to slow down.
The board unanimously approved moving ahead with the fixes and long-term traffic study.