A proposed compromise would save West Bradford from a 450-home development on 188 acres off Broad Run Road.The compromise calls for 150 homes on the 112-acre Smith farm at Broad Run Road and Chestnut Lane. The plan was presented Tuesday to township supervisors during a standing-room-only meeting. Afterward, some residents expressed satisfaction with the proposal.
"I think this is an excellent plan and preserves the last working farm. It looks like it will be aesthetically and environmentally pleasing," said Kevin McGovern.
"I support it," said Ed Markowski, one of the residents who contributed to a fund used to file litigation relating to the 450-home proposal against the township.
If supervisors accept the plan, several lawsuits in Chester County court will be settled, said Rich Coster of West Chester Road, who is party to one lawsuit.
The compromise settlement is between John Lynch, a principal partner in TI-McKee Bradford LP, and Susan and John Boswell, neighbors of the Smith Farm. It proposes 150 homes on the 112-acre farm. The development would be nestled in one corner of the farm away from Broad Run and nearby wetlands and would keep most of the farm intact.
Gary Smith, president of the Chester County Economic Development Council, owns the farm, which has been in the family for 56 years. Several years ago, he was approached by Lynch, who wanted to develop the land.
Under the first plan Lynch proposed, the whole farm would have been developed into an 84-home subdivision.
Next to the Smith farm is the 78-acre Gray property on West Chester Road that Bentley Communities was planning to develop. To keep the Smith farm, the township asked Lynch to buy out Bentley and develop both properties, putting most of the development on the Gray property. Lynch came up with a plan for 450 homes on the combined 188-acre parcel.
That plan ran afoul of neighbors John and Susan Boswell, and others, and became embroiled in litigation.
The new 150-home plan keeps enough of the Smith farm intact to continue the farm.
Smith is endorsing the latest plan and attended Tuesday's meeting with his family. He said his family's desire is to continue to live and work the farm, but the farm did not generate enough income to support them.
"I could have sold the whole farm years ago," Smith said.
"The revenue off the farm is less than $10,000 a year. If I didn't have my day job, I wouldn't be able to keep the farm," said Smith.
It was originally a dairy farm, he said, but he couldn't make a living with 35 dairy cows. Now he has a registered herd of 45 cows and calves, and he sells the calves.
He lives on the farm with his wife and two children, and his mother lives in a separate house.
If the supervisors approve this plan, he said, he will put an agricultural conservation easement on the farm to prevent it from being developed.
Susan Boswell, a neighbor on Beacon Hill Road who has been involved in the negotiations with Lynch, said the compromise offers improvements over all the former plans. The new development would be served by a state-of-the-art sewage-treatment plant that does not involve spray irrigation. The plant would produce clean effluent that would be disposed of underground.
Another important consideration are stormwater management facilities that would not add to flooding on Broad Run.
"We think this is a good plan or we wouldn't be endorsing it," Boswell said.
As far as the Gray tract, Bentley Communities recently introduced a sketch plan for about 30 homes to the planning commission.
Assistant Township Manager Vincent Visoskas said no action was taken Tuesday. The supervisors plan to ask their legal counsel about the next step, he said.