Whitewing to appeal ruling on wedding ban

Improvements to crosswalks at schools, URA approved

By Karen Cresta, Staff Writer, The Times

GavelEAST MARLBOROUGH – A quick update on a recent judgement regarding Whitewing Farm was added to the short agenda by board president Cuyler Walker at Monday night’s township Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

Much to the dismay of Inn at Whitewing Farm owners Lance and Sandy Shortt, who bought the bed and breakfast in 2012 and hosted events such as weddings and private parties, Chester County Common Pleas Court Judge William Mahon ruled against them being able to do so.

The Shortt’s long battle for the events at the bed and breakfast, located at 370 Valley Road near Longwood Gardens, has been on-going with neighbors and the township. The venue is located in a residential area that sparked complaints about increased traffic and noise and township warnings that the venue was violating zoning ordinances.

The township previously rejected the Shortts’ request to change the zoning ordinance and obtained an injunction from Mahon restricting them. In turn, the Shortts went to the zoning hearing board to argue that the township did not allow for public gatherings.

After the zoning hearing board voted in favor of the township, the Shortts appealed to the Court of Common Pleas.

Walker stated, “Judge Mahon, in the Whitewing Farm case, has ruled in favor of the township’s position that events of that type are not allowed in a residential district.”

Walker also mentioned that the Shortts planned to appeal the judge’s decision to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court and it may take up to a year for a decision.

In the interim, the July 16 ruling prevents the venue from holding public events. The business remains in operation as a bed and breakfast.

“The property is not to be used for the type of events that the neighbors had complained about,” Walker concluded.

In other business regarding pedestrian safety, board member Richard “Buzz” Hannum presented a progress report from engineering consultants Traffic Planning and Design Inc. to improve three crosswalks located at Unionville High School, Patton Middle School and by the Unionville Recreation Association fields in the village

All the board members present – Bob Weer and Eddie Caudill were not in attendance – approved short-term fixes such as more prominent signage, markers, flashers, and reflective paint to be put in place by the start of the school year. A study for longer -term solutions to slow traffic will be conducted.

The board heard from Robyn Pigozzi, Toughmudder Philadelphia organizer, about the plans for onsite and offsite parking for the event to be held on October 17 and 18, at Plantation Field. The event is expected to draw over 8,000 people this year.   Pigozzi requested that traffic be temporarily blocked on Green Valley Road, except for residents, to accommodate about 25 shuttle buses to bring participants to and fro.

The offsite location will be at New Garden Flying Field or the preferred Willowdale Steeplechase, Pigozzi said. All affected residents will be notified in advance and signage placed at least a week prior. The board approved the plans.

During public comment, the overgrown grass at the former bed and breakfast (Hick’s farmhouse) was a topic of discussion addressed by Bruce Shapiro of the homeowner’s association of Traditions at Longwood. The bank-owned farmhouse that sits in the middle of the over 55 community was being neglected, according to Shapiro, and he wanted to know if the township could help in anyway.

According to township solicitor Frone Crawford, the property neglect could be considered a nuisance under the township ordinance and he would review options in order to get the lawn cut.

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