The Barn at Spring Brook Farm in Pocopson will not close, after an agreement was hammered out that grants an extension of time for Barn officials to complete work to meet code requirements.
The agreement, announced at Monday night’s Pocopson Township Board of Supervisors meeting, also permits children with disabilities to celebrate their birthdays at the Barn.
“The Barn at Spring Brook is alive and well,” said Mary Beth Drobish, executive director and president of the Barn’s board of directors. “I am pleased we got through all of this and I want to thank all of the folks who supported us.”
Dan Stark had been president of the nonprofit’s board but recently resigned, putting Drobish in full control.
The Barn’s board of directors earlier this year announced it would close because it could not afford the $100,000 it would take to make improvements and bring the facility up to code.
The Barn provides animal-assisted activities for special-needs children. The nonprofit facility has been helping handicapped and autistic children for the past eight years. A complaint by a neighbor touched off an inspection by the township codes enforcement officer, who found code violations at The Barn. As a result, The Barn needed to meet 33 conditions to be in compliance.
Pocopson Supervisors Ricki Stumpo and Barney Leonard (Georgia Brutscher was absent) agreed Monday night that The Barn must meet all conditions with two exceptions on or before Aug. 31 of this year.
The Barn has until Dec. 31, 2014 to complete driveway modification work, and regrading of parking spaces, ramps and a walkway. The Barn must also make all modifications to bring the building into code compliance. Drobish must provide a weekly status report to the township’s administrative secretary.
“We are pleased to have an extension of time in which to meet the outstanding conditions,” Drobish said. “We thank the Pocopson Board of Supervisors for the time and energy they put into arriving at an educational conditional use for The Barn. We look forward to continuing to serve children with disabilities at our current location.”
The terms of conditions were agreed to by both Ross Unruh, the township’s solicitor, and Robert F. Adams, The Barn’s solicitor.
Drobish told the supervisors and their legal counsel there are no plans for expansion of current programs at the facility.
One of the conditions stated there be no religious observances at The Barn, and Drobish said that was a concession the Barn made.
Drobish said the agreement was possible because of the outpouring of support from the community. In addition to tens of thousands of dollars donated to the Barn since The Daily Local News broke the story last month, she said contractors have come forward offering to do some of the work free of charge.
The Barn at Spring Broom Farm is the beneficiary of many community initiatives, including the Kennett Run and the Mushroom Festival. The board of directors did not apply for funds this year because of the possibility of closure.
The Pocopson supervisors, who support the mission of providing therapeutic activities for children with special needs, claim they have spent $29,726 so far on Barn-related expenses. These costs include, but are not limited to, legal fees, open records compliance, auditing, zoning officer, document and office supplies, they said in a statement.
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