Concord development request is back on track
CONCORD » After a slight detour, council is on the long road to consider a request from Concord Ventures regarding a proposed residential development near Route 202, Watkin Avenue and the Pennsylvania state line.
The meetings, slated to begin in January, took an unexpected turn when the applicant requested council and township Solicitor Hugh Donaghue recuse themselves from hearing and adjudicating the application. Attorney Marc Kaplin, representing equitable owner the Wolfson Group, based his objection on contact between township representatives and Mark Jonas, the attorney appearing on behalf of four homeowners opposed to the plan.
As a result, retired Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge James Proud has been appointed as substitute counsel for all matters related to Concord Ventures. He set the ground rules to open the meeting, such as the order of presentation, questioning by council and audience members and limiting each hearing to two hours.
“We can set dates now for March, April and June, as I expect this will continue into the summer,” he said. “We may even take a vacation month as we proceed.”
The application involves a 49.02-acre parcel, part of an approximately 63acre tract, where tentative plans show constructing 29 attached townhouses in six groupings, 166 apartments in three five-story buildings, a clubhouse and in-ground pool on approximately 17 acres of the property. The entire lot is splitzoned as residential (PRD-1 and R-2D) and commercial and the development would be built within the PRD-1 portion.
Kaplan outlined the last two-plus years in his opening statement. He appeared before the then-supervisors in December 2015 seeking a subdivision and lot consolidation for a section of the tract. The board voted to deny the request and the decision was appealed in Common Pleas Court, where it was reversed by Judge Charles Burr.
Concord Ventures has subsequently submitted four versions of the tentative PRD plans, making changes to each based on comments by township consultants. He provided Jonas, Proud and each council member with two large binders of supporting documentation.
Jonas opened with a capsule review of his client’s objections, saying the hearing “is all about the land” and suggesting council use the planning commission decision, which voted unanimously not to recommend the application, as a guide. He noted the hearings were the time for the applicant to show compliance with PRD ordinances and standards.
“You cannot say ‘look at it later,’” he added. “There may not be a later.”
Civil engineer Ben Crower, the sole witness of the evening, noted the proposed development met requirements regarding setbacks from streams, wetlands, a bog turtle habitat and steep and very steep slopes. When questioned by Kaplan, he noted the plan complies with the nine subpoints of the township and Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code, such as location, density, open space and storm water management, and the features were taken into consideration in determining the proposed layout.
Kaplin added while not required under township code, the applicant had provided the level of engineering necessary for a subdivision/land development plan.
The next night of testimony is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., March 27.
This is a sketch of the planned Concord Ventures development.