Downingtown residents recently presented Borough Council with a petition signed by more than 600 people opposed to a Kardon Park development.Kardon Park, a 47.5-acre brownfield site, includes 24.5 acres in Downingtown and 23 acres in neighboring East Caln, according to Sarah Peck, a co-developer for the project. Peck, of Progressive Housing Ventures, is developing Kardon Park with Jack Loew of Southdown Homes.

In February 2007, Borough Council unanimously approved the bid for the co-developers. The sales agreement involved a competitive request-for-proposal process, according to Borough Manager Stephen Sullins.

Borough officials approved a zoning amendment for the park's redevelopment district on March 5. The developers are now asking Borough Council for conditional-use approval of the plan.

The project is predominately residential with a small component of commercial space along Pennsylvania Avenue, according to Peck. East Caln recently requested a different type of residence, which dropped the total number of multi-family residences in the plan to 311, according to Peck. That number is also subject for reduction on Downingtown's side of site, she said.

In addition, up to 40 residences may be built above the retail/commercial space on Pennsylvania Avenue, according to Peck. Some 20,000 square feet of retail space will be spread between two buildings, she said.

At a hearing last week, resident Ann Feldman presented a petition to council with 638 signatures of people opposed to the project.

About 350 of the signers are borough residents and the rest are people who live elsewhere but use the park for recreation, according to Feldman. She saidthe petition was still being signed and circulated Monday.

The petition asks Borough Council to suspend all actions related to the project to allow time for a meeting between the residents and council to discuss viable options for the site.

"It's unfortunate that the petition signatures were taken by those who didn't fully take the time to look at the full proposal," Peck said Monday.

The developers have demonstrated the ability to make adjustments during further land planning when there have been legitimate concerns, according to Peck.

"We're cleaning up a contaminated site and still preserving the area," Peck said.

The park is recreational with a walking path, grass-covered areas and three ponds connected by a mill race fed by the Brandywine Creek. It has a layer of "historic fill" from previous industrial work, according to Sullins. The fill is composed of iron slag, metal, paper and wood products and plastics. It ranges in thickness from 2 to 12 feet and covers nearly the entire site to the west of the ponds, he said.

Studies done by the borough's environmental consultant in the 1990s identified benzopyrene, arsenic, iron, lead and mercury, according to Sullins. He said the developer, in cooperation with the borough, "is proposing to eliminate the potential exposure pathways by placing a soil cap over those areas of the site under-lain by historic fill."

Another concern of residents is the loss of open space at the park.

Peck said the public open space will be 22 acres, of which 8 acres are ponds. There will be 9 acres of private open space. In total, the project has 31 acres of open space, or 65 percent, of the project site.

Borough Council also has raised concerns with the project, particularly with its impact on traffic.

At the request of council, Peck said she'd bring her traffic consultant to the next hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 12. A fiscal impact consultant will be at the hearing, too.

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