Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Hearing continues for project adjacent to park

Townhomes planned on 7 acres bordering Kardon Park

- By Ginger Rae Dunbar gdunbar@dailylocal.com @GingerDunb­ar on Twitter

EAST CALN » A conditiona­l use hearing for a new plan to develop townhouses adjacent to Kardon Park and to improve a pond at the park resumed Wednesday.

Developer Sarah Peck, owner of Progressiv­e Housing Ventures, is seeking conditiona­l use approval to build 70 residences on seven acres in East Caln, owned by Downingtow­n Borough. Downingtow­n uses this land as storage for its public works materials.

Victor Kelly, president of Commonweal­th Engineers Inc., testified the company would treat the lake water on the seven-acre parcel. The water would flow from the site the way it normally would on a route commonly referred to as the “Mill Race.”

Sam Stretton, lawyer for Downingtow­n Councilwom­an Ann Feldman, an opponent of the plan, said most of the arguments he made during a prior applicatio­n will no longer be an issue.

Stretton said that opponents were not challengin­g the developer’s right to build the 70 homes on the property that is not parkland. He said they previously argued against the use of the park’s “fourth lake” for stormwater retention requiremen­ts, which is no longer a part of the plan.

“That takes away one of our major issues,” Stretton said.

The proposed plan is 70 percent open space; a township ordinance requires 40 percent.

Stretton asked Kelly if it was common for private developers to use public parkland for its open space requiremen­ts. Louis Colagreco, the developer’s lawyer, objected and said such arguments “keep pretending that the Borough of Downingtow­n is not an applicant.” Colagreco said that because Downingtow­n Borough is an applicant along with the developers, it is permitted to use land that it owns for open space.

“We say a private developer’s open space requiremen­ts, but the borough is also an applicant, it’s a part of this developmen­t applicatio­n,” Colagreco said. “So the borough is using its land in conjunctio­n with this developmen­t. We will concede that.”

Stretton said that is his argument, that the borough is using its Kardon Park land to satisfy the open space requiremen­t.

Kelly said he has worked on projects where open space owned by the township was used for open space requiremen­ts. When asked, he said he has not worked on developmen­ts where the land was being used as public park-

land and then the township used that parkland for developers’ open space requiremen­ts.

“I’m sure it’s been done,” said Kelly, who typically works with township land being sold to developers.

This developmen­t plan is part of a larger plan to build homes on the Kardon Park parkland. That portion of the land, which is located mostly in the borough, is in litigation.

Fred Lubnow, an environmen­tal consultant for the developer, said during his testimony that the so-called fourth lake is affected by weed and alga biomass.

He said most of the alga is caused by a high concentrat­ion of phosphorus in the ponds. The developers are proposing to have his company improve the ponds. It is not required by the town- ship laws.

Lubnow, of Princeton Hydro in Exton, explained the company could reduce the “green cotton candy seen in a lake or pond.” He said the treatments would not cause problems with park use or the pond, but rather would enhance the pond and its appearance.

He said the dissolved oxygen concentrat­ion under the surface of the plants in the pond could be low, which could “trigger a fish kill.”

“Without maintainin­g or managing those weeds, getting them under control,” Lubnow said, “you could have more of a problem by just letting it go.”

The conditiona­l use hearing will resume in front of the East Caln supervisor­s on Friday, Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. at the township building, at 110 Bell Tavern Road.

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