The Chadds Ford Zoning Hearing Board granted variances in three hearings last week, including one for the township and another for Chadds Ford Inn owner Joe Grace. A third hearing was a continuance of one from last month.

Grace bought the inn last year. It's been closed for renovations since then, but is scheduled to reopen in August after the interior work is completed. However, variances were needed for Grace to continue with his land development plant for the property. That development includes increasing the number of parking spaces and building an access from the parking lot to Creek Road.

Variances from parking and buffer requirements were needed because, though there will be improvements, the property will still be non-conforming to code. Grace must still go through the Planning Commission and get supervisors' approval before the changes are made.

Engineer Grant Hitchens, testifying for the applicant, said the existing parking lot used for the inn and the old Baldwin building has 58 parking spaces with 44 of them being smaller than the 18 feet required by township ordinance. Ordinances also call for 90 spaces.

The propped changes, Hitchens said, are to re-stripe and realign the parking spaces so that there will be 72 with only 17 smaller than required.

Once public sewers are available in the village area, a sand mound will be removed from near the Wooden Knob store, and that area will be used for an additional 19 parking, he said.

Also planned for the parking area is driveway access to Creek Road. Currently, the only ingress and egress is the entrance along Route 1. Vehicles departing the inn to go north on Route 1 or south on Creek Road must cross two and four lanes of route traffic respectively.

Having direct access to Creek Road from behind the Baldwin building and the Wooden Knob would afford motorists the added safety of the signaled intersection of Creek Road and Route 1, Hitchens said. He added that the island on Route 1 would be reworked so that drivers must turn left onto southbound Route 1 if they depart through the front.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation must also approve the addition of the driveway, but Hitchens said PennDOT is in favor.

The amount of parking was a concern of board members until neighboring property owner Jeffrey Yamas, owner of the Brandywine River Hotel and the Barn Shops, said his property could be used for overflow parking if the inn was crowded.

Other neighboring residential property owners wrote letters of support saying they had no objection to the Creek Road access.

The board granted variances from the parking space requirements and for the Creek Road access that would encroach on a buffer requirement.

@hedc:Other business

@bod:n Zoning board members also granted a use variance to the township so it can lease the former township building on Creek Road as a studio for an interior designer.

The building is in the residential district and was never given a variance for use as the township building and office.

Supervisor Garry Paul testified on behalf of Chadds Ford, saying that leasing the structure would allow the township to gain revenue from the building while it decides what it will ultimately do with the building.

The lease with interior designed Janet Whitlock is for three years with a two-year option.

n In a third matter, the board granted approval for a setback variance sought by Rocky Hill Road resident Laurie DeGrazia. DeGrazia wanted to install a photovoltaic --solar power -- system within the side and rear yard setbacks of her property.

The hearing began last month, but board members wanted more information about why the specific site was chosen for the solar array.

Engineer Tad Radzinski said that specific location, in the northeast corner of the property, was best because it received the most amount of sunshine throughout the year without the need to cut down any trees.

The solar array will be connected to the PECO power grid.

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