East Marlborough and Royal Farms reps spar over conditions
By J. Chambless
The East Marlborough Township board of supervisors approved a conditional use order for a convenience store along Route 1 at their June 3 meeting, but not without considerable discussion and frustration on the part of the applicants.
Attorney John Jaros represented Royal Farms, a convenience store which is planned as part of a complex that includes a gas station, medical office and bank on land that was formerly a gas station. A list of about conditions was placed on the application by the supervisors. Adherence to the conditions is necessary for the approval to proceed.
The Royal Farms store is planned to be across Route 1 from the Schoolhouse Road outlet from Walmart. It will be very close to the merging point of traffic traveling north and east of Baltimore Pike out of Kennett Square and Route 1.
The essence of the disputes came when the supervisors tried to work out what the applicants were going to do about the increased traffic and who was going to pay for it. In the original list of conditions, number 24 imposed an impact fee of $257,472 on the applicants – an amount that was supposed to cover road repairs and construction. But the supervisors also included in earlier conditions that Royal Farms would pay for substantially more road work.
As the supervisors discussed the scenarios and assessed the costs of providing the solutions, the question was raised of who was going to pay for it all. Township engineer Jerry Baker said roadwork to handle all the work would cost substantially more than the $257,472 impact fee. In fact, he said, it could reach nearly $1 million.
But Jaros countered that since Route 1 is a state highway, PennDOT would pay for it. He added that asking for more improvements to Schoolhouse Road on the other side of Route 1 was excessive.
Supervisor Bobby McKinstry mentioned that Schoolhouse Road (the exit ramp of Walmart) is a township road, and township residents should not have to bear the excessive costs. The discussion went on for the more than an hour and a half, concluding with the supervisors approving conditions that would require Royal Farms to bear a large percentage of the costs, while Jaros was still frustrated and hinting that there could be an appeal.
In other business, the supervisors approved the refund of a 2014 sewage plant bond issue in order to substitute a recent bond that has a better interest rate. They approved joining other municipalities to hire a firm to renegotiate the franchise agreements with internet providers. They also agreed to set a date for their representatives to meet with the PoMarLin and Longwood fire chiefs to discuss future changes in the water shooting capacities of fire hydrants, and whether the current shortfall in thrust could be made up by increasing the number of tankers arriving at the fire.For updated township information, visit www.eastmarlborough.org.