Gemcraft forces Kennett to pull minutes down

Townhouse developer that failed to finish paving roads threatens to sue over supervisors minutes mention

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

The entrance to Penn’s Manor in Kennett Township, where residents have had to cope with unfinished roads — and now the property’s developer threatened to sue the township if it didn’t pull down from the Web and revise its meeting minutes specifying that Gemcraft, rather than its Harkins Property subsidiary was the property developer.

KENNETT — A housing developer has demanded that the township remove from the Internet and amend its August Board of Supervisors minutes after the board instructed township staff to take action to compete the roadways in the Penn’s Manor Development.

Attorneys for Gemcraft Homes — which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010 — threatened legal action against the township if the minutes were not revised to assign ownership of the Penn Manor development to Harkins Property, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gemcraft Homes, which like its parent company went through a bankruptcy process in 2010.

Township Manager Lisa Moore said Monday night during the Board of Supervisors meeting that the township had pulled down the the minutes. The Times acquired a copy of the original minutes, in which the supervisors voted unanimously to take possession of the escrow funds, which will be used to pave the roads in the development.  The escrow is in the form of a letter of credit from M&T Bank, a primary creditor of Gencraft & Harkins. The bank appears now, based on the bankruptcy filings, to  have some management role in the company, federal court records show.

“We were forced to remove the minutes from our Website,” Moore said. “We apologize (to the township’s residents) that this had to happen.”

At the August meeting, Moore said the developer, Gemcraft/Harkins, had done no work in more than a year — leaving the final paving work in the townhome neighborhood undone. Monday night, she noted that some paving work had been done in the interim, something township officials were looking at more closely.

The board agreed unanimously to amend the minutes — which are expected to be reposted shortly — to refer to the developer as Harkins Property, a Division of Gemcraft Homes, pending the approval of Township Solicitor Bob Adams.

“It would have been nice if they had just done the job,” Supervisor Scudder Stevens said, referring to the company’s failure to complete the work on the development, leaving residents to ask the township for help.

Attempts to reach officials at Gemcraft for comment were unsuccessful.

The Penn’s Manor neighborhood is listed on Gemcraft’s main Website as a Gemcraft community, with no mention of Harkins Property, LLC, the division of the company that developed the neighborhood.

Currently, the townhome neighborhood lacks a final layer of pavement on its streets. Raised manhole covers and sewers — and some large humps in the roadway — have left residents with bumpy rides to and from their homes. They have asked the township to seize the escrow funds to finish the paving, so the roads can be conveyed to the township and properly maintained.

At current, only the entry apron, along West State Street appears to have received the final layer of pavement.

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