:A 20-acre horse pasture in Kennett Township could end up with a new roadway through the center because of a right of way that was granted years before anyone had even heard of the real estate boom.
Owned by Ann and Robert Sillman, the pasture is home now to several horses and is, in many residents' opinions, one of the more picturesque landscapes left in Kennett Township.
Currently, the land is used as an active horse pasture where neighbors board their horses and use it for riding and other equestrian activities. It has been used in this fashion for more than 20 years.
Kennett Township resident and landowner John Halsted, who is part owner of the two separate adjacent parcels, has entered into an agreement with the Thompson Owensby development firm that, according to project engineer Dan Popplewell, wants to put 21 single-family homes on the combined parcels, equaling approximately 82 acres.
According to Popplewell, Halsted was the original owner and had sold the land to his original neighbor many years ago, and gave himself access to the Old Kennett Pike in the agreement.
Popplewell said that the current plans were designed under Kennett Township's article 15 open space design option, which requires 65 percent of the development to be open space. Popplewell said that they are proposing 51.5 acres of open space, a figure he says is above the current requirements. A certain percentage of that 51.5 acres are a part of the state line woodlands on the Delaware border, which would have been protected from development anyway.
Now that the developers want to take advantage of that right of way, the current owners and the Kennett Township Land Trust are trying to explore ways to prevent an 18-foot wide and 1,300-foot long road from winding its way through the pasture.
Land Trust executive director Gwen Lacy said the land trust is currently in the process of raising funds should the opportunity arise for it to purchase some of the land, ease it and resell it if necessary.
"We want to be able to purchase some of the property, so we're looking at grant funding," Lacy said.
Although the land is already under sale agreement, the land trust has to be ready if the land becomes available.
"It takes a long time for the subdivision process," Lacy said. "We need to let people know there are other options, as opposed to just accepting the status quo of development."
Although the two parcels have access to Merry Belle Lane, the number of houses the developers would like to have would legally require additional roadway access. Currently, with access only from Merry Belle Lane, the developers could only construct eight new homes.
Popplewell said that the new road would be exclusive to the development and not access any other developments or roadways.
Negotiations on exploring other options may be moot, however, as the Sillmans are currently in litigation with the developers. As a result, the Sillmans could not be quoted for this article, although Ann Sillman expressed her disdain at the lack of support for open space in Chester County.
"I think it's very disappointing when people don't do whatever they can to preserve open space in Chester County," Sillman said.