Victory Brewing sidewalk OK to stay after council decision
● By Steven Hoffman
One of the duties of mayors in small Pennsylvania boroughs is to break a tie in the event that borough council is deadlocked on a decision. It isn't often that mayors are called upon to perform this duty, but Kennett Square mayor Matthew Fetick found himself in this position at the July 5 council meeting.
The issue at hand was the sidewalk in front of Victory at Magnolia Place at 600 West Cypress Street.
Borough manager Joe Scalise explained to borough council that the developer of the property, Kennett Square Realty LP, had been informed that the sidewalk did not comply with the borough's specifications. It also did not match the rest of the sidewalk work that was done during the streetscape project on West Cypress Street. The sidewalk was fully installed before the mistake was discovered, so the most obvious remedy was to have the developer replace the sidewalk with one that complies with the borough's regulations.
However, an alternative plan was proposed—instead of replacing the sidewalk, which is otherwise safe and serviceable, the developer could instead offer $2,700—the approximate cost of tearing up and replacing the sidewalk—to the borough as a fee-in-lieu payment so that the money could be used for sidewalk improvements elsewhere in the borough.
Council president Dan Maffei recused himself from both the conversation and the vote because he did some consulting work for the developer.
Council member Ethan Cramer said that he would be voting against accepting the fee-in-lieu because a developer did not follow the specifications that were provided, and he felt that it was important for the borough to ensure that developers remain in compliance with Kennett Square's regulations.
Several other council members nodded in agreement. LaToya Myers expressed concerns about setting a precedent where developers could ignore the specifications for projects.
However, a counterargument was made. Council member Doug Doerfler said that he'd rather see the borough utilize the $2,700 for some other sidewalk project instead of forcing the developer to spend that money tearing up and rebuilding a sidewalk.
Council member Geoff Bosley concurred, saying that the $2,700 could be used on other sidewalks in town, which would move the borough a little bit closer to being a fully walkable community. Bosley also pointed out that not every sidewalk in the borough is uniform, so the fact that the sidewalk in front of Victory Brewing is slightly different shouldn't be an issue.
When the vote was taken, Doerfler, Bosley, and Wayne Braffman all voted to accept the $2,700 and use it for another sidewalk project in town. Council members Cramer, Myers, and Jamie Mallon, and voted against the motion.
With the 3-3 vote, it was up to the mayor to break the tie. Fetick noted that the developer was making good on the mistake, whether the sidewalk was fully replaced or $2,700 was contributed to another sidewalk project in the borough. He voted to have the borough accept the $2,700 fee-in-lieu payment and to allow the sidewalk to remain as it is.