In 2014, the developer and borough AGAIN filed an application for a Conditional Use permit to build a 70-unit housing development on seven acres of land in East Caln. The seven acres are at the northern end of Kardon Park and currently used by the Borough for municipal purposes.
The development plan was a bit different than the first time around, but it still relied upon the use of Kardon Park for utility easements, construction easements, storm water and floodway impacts, and Open Space requirements.
June 2015: The East Caln Supervisors granted the Conditional Use permit
June 2015: Ann Feldman filed an appeal in Common Pleas Court
July 23, 2015: Judge Tunnell heard arguments
July 28, 2015: Judge Tunnell filed his Decision affirming the East Caln Supervisors' decision
Aug 2015: Ann Feldman filed an appeal to the Commonwealth Court
Oct 21, 2015: The date set for Feldman to file her appeal brief with Commonwealth Court
All of the information below is from the FIRST conditional use permit that the developer and borough filed in East Caln. That permit expired.
The short story:
The northernmost 7-acre parcel of Kardon Park is in East Caln. That parcel has not been used as a park, but instead has been used by the Borough of Downingtown for mulching and other municipal purposes. That parcel was not part of the litigation in Orphans' Court and, as a straightforward municipal property, was free to be sold and developed.
In the process of requesting a permit from the East Caln supervisors for permission to build a high-density housing project on the 7 acres, the applicants (the developers AND the Borough of Downingtown) pulled in East Caln's remaining 16 acres of Kardon Park to be satisfy the developers' stormwater management and open space requirements.
The East Caln Board of Supervisors' granted the conditional use permit to the developers and Borough. Ann Feldman, president of Friends of
Kardon Park, appealed that decision.
Arguments were heard by Judge Nagle in the Court of Common Pleas on Monday, November 22nd, with attorney Sam Stretton representing Ann Feldman.
Judge Nagle upheld the Supervisors' decision. Ann Feldman appealed Judge Nagle's decision, and arguments are tentatively scheduled to be heard in Commonwealth Court on May 15, 2012.
The reason for the appeal is not over the use of the 7-acre parcel. The appeal is because the Borough is allowing the developer
to use 4th Lake as a "wet pond" for the stormwater runoff from the
proposed 70-unit housing development that will take up the entire 7 acre parcel. 4th Lake is parkland! Parkland cannot be used to meet the stormwater and open space requirements for a private developer. Period.
The longer, more detailed story:
On September 16, 2009, Progressive Housing Ventures presented a conditional use application to the Board of Supervisors of East Caln - with the Borough of Downingtown as co-applicant.
Whether or not that 7-acre piece of Kardon Park can technically or legally be considered parkland isn't the issue at hand. Let's assume for a moment that this 7-acre parcel (UPI # 40-1-23) is free to be sold and developed.
What is at issue here is that the developer and Borough are including two additional parcels as part of the conditional use permit that are part of Kardon Park and that Judge Platt recently affirmed ARE parkland.
By including these two additional parcels, the total acreage is increased from 7 acres (the parcel removed from the lawsuit) to over 23 acres. Instead of housing density being based on just the 7 acres, the builder is now using a total of 23+ acres, which allows 70 housing units to be crowded into just 7 acres of space with no room left for the required stormwater management or open space on that parcel.
One of these additional park parcels is #40-1-23.1, which is approximately 14 acres in size and includes 4th Lake. This entire parcel was acquired using Project 70 funds from the State, which further protects it from being used for anything other than "recreation, open space, or conservation" purposes.
The builder is proposing to use 4th Lake on this park parcel for stormwater management. Stormwater management is a very serious issue, particularly at Kardon Park, since the water from the ponds travels across town and dumps right into the Brandywine. If the ponds get polluted, the Brandywine gets it, too. Did you know that the citizens in Wilmington, DE, get the majority of their drinking water from the Brandywine?
If you look at the conditional use application, you will see that the housing units, proposed trail and parking lot are all very, very close to the mill race and 4th Lake. Not only will this dump stormwater runoff with all of its contaminants (road salt, oil, pesticides, etc.) into Kardon Park's water, but it will disturb the wetlands all along the mill race and other areas.