54-twin unit clusters approved in E. Marlborough

By Karen Cresta, Staff Writer, The Times

EAST MARLBOROUGH – The East Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors approved the conditional use order for the Villages at Northridge development of 54-twin units.  The 22.6 acres, located at the intersection of Gale Lane and Walnut Road, was revised several times to comply with more open space.

The order was approved at Monday night’s meeting after a lengthy discussion with the property owner Doug White and his lawyer, Michael Gavin.  The details of unit placement and lot sizes were reviewed in detail based on suggestions from the township’s Planning Commission.

In the end, the plan was approved with the goal to increase the buffered areas between houses, roads, and surrounding properties as much as possible during the land-development planning phase.

The board set a date for Feb. 26 for a conditional use hearing for the new owner of Brewster’s on Route 1 to be converted to a medical office.  The building’s footprint will remain the same but will be remodeled.

The supervisors discussed a new state law under Act 172 that would allow municipalities the option to provide up to a 20 percent rebate for the township real-estate tax.  The township would set guidelines on eligibility for volunteer firefighters and emergency services personnel to take advantage of the tax break, if approved.

Planning Commission Chairman Cuyler Walker, who is a representative for the Regional Emergency Services Commission, acknowledged that the rebate, though small, is a grand gesture of appreciation for volunteers residing in the township. The recommendation of the regional commission was to adopt the rebate when Act 172 is formalized –  but the supervisors have time to pass the measure in 2018, according to Township Solicitor Frone Crawford, and have it apply for tax year 2019.

Supervisor John Sarro provided an update on the safety committee initiatives, such as the ongoing issue of improved crosswalks in the village of Unionville.  Sarro mentioned the “pretty hefty engineering costs” and discussed the different types of crosswalks suitable for the village.  Sarro will present the different costs and options at the next meeting in March.

Sarro and Police Chief Robert Clarke attended a meeting to discuss the expansion of parking options at Unionville High School and the neighboring C. F. Patton Middle School.  Safety issues were addressed previously when adequate parking at the schools is not available and cars park along Route 82, forcing pedestrians to walk across the busy road in the dark.

Sarro said that a parking garage with solar panels was one option – but the costs would be big.  Also discussed was the 22 acres of open land behind Unionville Elementary for additional parking that could include a walking trail around the perimeter to link it with Unionville Park.  All options are being investigated, according to Sarro.

Supervisor Robert McKinstry informed the rest of the board that he met with Bike Kennett, a regional advocacy group working with Kennett Borough and Kennett Township for additional and safe bicycle paths. The group wants to include other neighboring municipalities for opportunities to create and connect paths.  Supervisors expressed interest in bike safety but were concerned about the costs and would like to see a proposal.

Also discussed was the possible formation of an Environmental Advisory Committee consisting of three residents to start.  Their purpose would be to make recommendations to the Planning Commission regarding proposed developments and the environmental impact. More discussions about the ordinance will take place at the next meeting on March 5.

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