Sketch plan for Route 82 homes presented to East Marlborough board
By J. Chambless
By John Chambless
New housing was the focus of the Feb. 1 meeting of the East Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors, with the board hearing about developments on Route 82 and Walnut Road.
Tim Jones of Montchanin Properties presented a sketch plan for 20 housing units proposed for the Pratt property on the East side of Route 82, where R.P. Nurseries stands. Under the plan, the 31-acre property will be divided – five acres to maintain the nursery, and 26 acres subdivided into 20 lots, each just over 10,000 square feet. There will be two roundabouts on the street, with rain gardens in the centers of each one. The two-story homes will have two-car garages and driveways, Jones explained, and on-street parking will be available on one side of the street in some areas. The road will be private, and maintained by a homeowners association. The entrance to the development will be on Route 82, offset from the entrance to Willowdale Chapel on the western side of Route 82. The placement was recommended by traffic engineers, Jones said.
Jones said there are nursery stock trees in place now on the property, “and we will leave as many of those in place as possible,” he said. Board members questioned whether the on-street parking was adequate, but Jones explained that widening the road to allow more parking would increase impervious coverage and runoff, and would create an “unsightly” expanse of pavement where the road joins Route 82.
Neighboring property owner Jim Sinclair complained that the roundabouts proposed for the development would mean car headlights would be hitting the front of his home at night.
Township solicitor Frone Crawford pointed out, “This isn't a finished landscape plan. This has to evolve.”
Jones added, “This is better than putting 14 big McMansions in there.”
Engineering studies of the site are ongoing, Jones said, and a start date for construction is still far in the future.
The board also heard from a representative of Bentley Homes, the company that is building townhouses at Walnut Walk, on Walnut Road. Phase One of the community is underway, and a proposed plan for Phase Two was presented to the board. The second phase will be a loop road to the east of the first phase. There is a historic home on the property associated with the Reed family, so the new homes will be constructed around the home, which will be renovated.
The long-delayed Walnut Walk development, which has gone through several names and management companies over the years, was proposed to have 61 units, but now there are 73 new units planned. There are 21 in Phase One, and those homes are now on sale. The general plan for Phase Two – which includes 52 additional townhouses – had already been approved, but the plan presented on Feb. 1 addressed some small issues and specified the exact number of units proposed. The historic home has been counted as a separate unit in the plan.
Board member Eddie Caudill complained that heavy trucks bringing supplies to the construction site have damaged Walnut Road, and asked that someone from Bentley Homes talk to township roadmaster Dennis Mellinger about what could be done. In the end, the board approved the preliminary plan for Phase Two, with board member Christine Kimmel voting against approval.
Earlier in the meeting, the board heard from Chris Daney, the director of the Kennett Run, about road closures and emergency services associated with the annual event. The board approved his request.
Another race, the Mushroom Cap Half Marathon, was also discussed. The event, which is organized by Run To Shine, a nonprofit, has changed its route to no longer go up Route 926 or Route 82, but use less busy roads, after the board expressed some concerns about the original route. The race will cross Route 926 at two different times, necessitating brief closures from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. on the race day. Board member Robert Weer, Sr., pointed out that the race will include nine miles in East Marlborough Township, and objected to “the inconvenience you put on the residents of East Marlborough.”
Board chairman Richard Hannum, Jr., said, “The organizers have met with us and minimized the impact,” but Weer still opposed the request for road closures. The final approval vote was 4-1 to approve.
There was also some dissent in a vote to allow the Walmart store in East Marlborough to have temporary outdoor sales of plants and mulch from April 1 to July 31. The expanded sales area will be in the parking area to the east side of the building, and will be the same size as it was last year.
Both Weer and board member John Sarro expressed dissatisfaction with the plan. Weer said that Walmart had agreed with the township to not have expanded sales of nursery products if it was allowed to add a grocery area to the store. “But now you want to do both,” Weer said. A representative of the store said that last year's sales had been very successful, and the impact on parking had been negligible. The board approved the outdoor sales area for the coming spring, with a vote of 3-2.
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