Borough council conducted a conditional use hearing for the S&T Realty to build a restaurant at 47 W. Lancaster with off-street parking across the street. Conditional use is a zoning ordinance which allows borough council to determine whether or not S&T Realty can build. The applicant must produce testimony as well as evidence to support their case for land development. Borough council then decides whether or not to allow S&T Realty to build on borough property. The problem is not everyone in the borough wants to see a restaurant with off-street parking be built on the busy stretch of Lancaster Avenue. Dr. Charles Messa, a Downingtown resident who lives adjacent to the proposed site, opposed the building of S&T Realty.Represented by attorney David Blake, S & T Realty wants to construct a restaurant with off-street parking across the street from the facility.
"We want to build a 3,000 sq. ft. Italian restaurant that would require off-site parking to satisfy the restaurant's needs. A restaurant of this size requires 19 parking spots, 17 for patrons and two for the kiosk," said Blake.
Tempers flared when Dr. Messa's attorney, Joseph Messa, his brother, addressed council to defend the fact that his client's property would suffer water run off from S&T Realty's desire to build near his property. He stressed the fact that his client's property is located below the potential building site which would contribute to water runoff onto his property.
"The property you wish to build is at a higher elevation than Dr. Messa's house. By virtue of simple physics, water runs from higher ground to lower," argued Messa. He presented council with pictures of Dr. Messa's property to illustrate what happens to the land when it experiences heavy rain. According to Joseph Messa, the pictures illustrate the further damage his property would endure at the hands of S&T Realty if it is given permission to build.
Civil engineer James Haigeny, hired by S&T Realty, addressed the problem of water run-off onto Dr. Messa's property when the area floods.
"I'm fairly confident that we can reduce the peak rate of runoff into his property by putting in place a stormwater management plan," said Haigeny.
Messa also disputed the safety of pedestrians and patrons crossing Lancaster Avenue to get to the restaurant.
"If you get PennDOT to reduce the speed limit, does that take away the risk to people crossing Route 30?" questioned Messa.
Haigeny commented that he didn't see an increased risk of patrons crossing with no crosswalks or traffic lights. Borough council had concerns about the dangers of pedestrians crossing the busy stretch of Lancaster Avenue.
Traffic and Planning engineer Matthew Hammond, also hired by S&T Realty, tackled the parking issues of the new facility and how it would impact the borough. Hammond referred Georgio's Restaurant located at 149 E. Lancaster Avenue as an example of an eatery that has off-street parking across the street from the facility. He also commented that the West Chester borough has a similar set up on Route 3, West Chester Pike, where pedestrians cross a busy stretch of roadway to park and dine.
"Our goal is to improve the overall traffic flow in the borough," said Council President Anthony Madiro. Hammond suggested petitioning PennDOT for a crosswalk at a defined area to help ease the problem. For now, the future of 47 W. Lancaster remains to be seen.