Kennett Square Borough Council discusses impact fee on developments
By Steven Hoffman
As development pressures increase, Kennett Square Borough officials are looking for ways to ensure that there are green spaces in town for residents and businesses.
On May 2, Kennett Square Borough Council considered an amendment to the Subdivision And Land Development Ordinance. The changes include the addition of a park and recreation land dedication or an impact fee in lieu of the land for instances where subdivisions or land-development approvals are required for a project. Developers would be required to either provide land for park and recreation or a fee-in-lieu to satisfy the requirement. Single-family homes on existing lots are exempt from the ordinance. Even so, several residents raised concerns that while the underlying purpose of the ordinance amendment may be to ensure that large developments will include some park and recreation accommodations, the new regulations could impact regular property owners—not just developers of large residential or commercial projects.
Councilman Wayne Braffman offered several comments about the amendments, including a suggestion that the language might need to be changed slightly to make sure that only developers are impacted—and not owners of small properties who might want to build a home for a family member.
Braffman also said that there should be language in the ordinance to require the funds collected through the fees to be used for new projects that provide additional parks and recreation improvements to residents, rather than having those funds be used for maintenance and operations.
Council member Ethan Cramer echoed Braffman’s sentiments, saying that if fees are going to be charged to property owners, it should result in more parks and recreation for borough residents.
Council president Dan Maffei said that adopting the ordinance amendments will allow the borough to maximize the amount of land that will be open space. With the borough so built-out, there are dwindling opportunities to have green spaces in town.
“We're never going to get another Anson B. Nixon Park,” Maffei said, adding that small pieces of land with perhaps two trees and a bench will provide green space for residents.
Council approved the amendment 6-0, but will now consider some of the recommendations offered by Braffman. Cramer made a motion to change the language so that the funding collected through the fees can only be utilized for parks and recreation. Council approved this motion, and the process of revising the language of the ordinance will now begin.
In other business at the meeting, borough council approved waivers and lot line changes for the Kennett Business Park property. The Kennett Business Park project is planned for an 18-acre property west of the NVF site. All but one acre of the property is situated in Kennett Township, and township officials have already granted their approval for these changes. It was noted that the lot line change does not impact the piece of the property that is situated in the borough.
Mary Hutchins, the executive director of Historic Kennett Square, reported that two buildings that have been vacant for some time have sold within the last month and will soon have new purposes. The old fire hall site is being renovated so that the new owner can open a health and wellness center. The former Kennett Cafe site at 120 East State Street has also been purchased by a new owner and the building will be renovated to be used as a home and style boutique.
Borough Council approved the HARB applications for 220 South Broad, 221 Magnolia, and 147 West State Street.
The Garage Community and Youth Center is planning to update the mural on its building and will be opening an application process for local artists to submit their design ideas. Borough council offered a nod of approval on the project. The Garage Community and Youth Center will come back to the borough for approval of the new mural once a design is selected.
“We have a few murals in town and I think they are artistic contributions to the borough,” Maffei said.