Kennett open space

Kennett Township officials are aiming to become a leader in preserving open space.

KENNETT TOWNSHIP—Kennett Township officials have adopted an ambitious new open space plan that substantially increases its land-preservation goals.

The plan, which was drawn up by the township’s landscape architect Tom Comitta, raises to 30 percent the township’s former goal of preserving 20 percent of its open space.

Other goals are to increase the amount of land devoted to active and passive recreation by 10 acres each, and to set decision-making criteria to help the supervisors and other township officials judge potential open-space acquisitions.

Comitta told the supervisors at their monthly meeting Wednesday that the township has not had an open-space plan since the early 1990s, when it established the 20 percent goal. That plan was absorbed into a later comprehensive plan, he said.

The supervisors, who have acquired open space aggressively during their tenure using both taxes dedicated to such acquisitions and funding from grants, voted to approve the new plan.

Scudder Stevens, the chair of the board of supervisors, briefly addressed the attendees on the ongoing investigation into a pattern of suspicious transactions discovered in township bank accounts in April. Stevens said the investigations continue, with individuals being interviewed by the authorities, but said he could say little more at the recommendation of the authorities to avoid jeopardizing the investigation.

Supervisor Richard Leff said the township’s finances are secure, with about six million dollars in the township bank accounts.

In other business, the supervisors discussed what steps should happen next regarding the Isaac Allen House, also referred to as the Cox Tenant House.

The small stone structure sits on the grounds of Chatham Financial’s headquarters on Whitehorse Lane. Members of the township historical commission say it can be traced back as far as 1751 and perhaps earlier.

In 2017, Chatham Financial had looked into how it might be used, but found it unsuitable for any purpose they could envision. The company applied for a demolition permit to render it stable and leave it on the site to resemble the time-ruined historic homes that can be seen here and there in Chester County.

Local historians objected, and at the time there was talk with Chatham officials about giving it to the township or preserving it in some other way. Those talks recently resumed, with the potential of the township leasing the property for a nominal fee.

The discussion last night was whether the township should do a historical study of the house first, to learn more about it, or talk more to Chatham about a potential lease that could be extended depending on how much historical value it might have.

The house sits near the route the British army took as it marched toward the historic clash with the American forces at the Battle of Brandywine.

Sara Meadows, the chair of the historical commission, suggested doing the study before any lease was arranged, but Stevens suggested tabling that question and seeing what the township could arrange about the house’s status first.

The supervisors voted to approve several procedural matters related to ongoing projects to address congested intersections. They voted to approve an application for a grant that would provide $2 million to pay for the construction of a roundabout at the Five Points intersection south of the borough.

And the supervisors also approved an intergovernmental agreement between themselves and East Marlborough township to make traffic-flow improvements to the intersection of Route 82, Cedarcroft Road, and the Route 1 bypass north of the borough, near the two townships’ common border.

The supervisors also approved a memorandum of understanding that allows the township’s police force to look into leasing space in the township as a new headquarters.

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