No matter how hard one might try to keep them separate, the issues of open space, land development and public sewers mingle. And a piecemeal approach to each, without incorporating the realities of all three will not resolve anything.
Chadds Ford Township is a microcosm of this fact.
Consider the statement made by township solicitor Hugh Donaghue during last week's Board of Supervisors' meeting. Mr. Donaghue indicated that that there will come a time in the not-too-distant future when the township will have to be divided into three voting precincts. And it was only last year when the township was divided into two.
That third precinct will likely become needed once the 120 Toll Bros. homes currently being built are sold and occupied. Assuming each of those homes has two registered voters that would add 240 voters to the 2,800 that already live in the township.
The township is growing, and it would be naÏve to think that development will stop at Toll Bros.
And therein lies the clash with open space and the need for infrastructure in the way of sewers.
Yes, Chadds Ford supervisors did vote to amend zoning requirements with the passage of the Baltimore Pike Overlay District, an amendment that covers the entire township, not just the Route 1 corridor.
But that will not stop developers or development -- nor should it. After all, if earlier residents had blocked developers from building, most of the people now calling for open space preservation would not have been able to move into the township. What is more important, though, is that the need for infrastructure requires more people to help foot the bill.
Even current infrastructure needs, in the way of sewers, would be more easily paid for if there were more users on the system. Tapping fees, the mandatory fees paid by customers to connect to public sewers, are high. They cost thousands of dollars. But some of that cost would be less if properties were closer together and if more properties were connecting.
And sewer bills are also high in Chadds Ford Township. They run $70 per month, or $210 per quarter. Again, more users on the system would bring that down to something more manageable.
Even without growth and new homes, there will likely be a need to put more properties on a public sewer system.
If septic systems have failed in the village and along Ridge Road, there's no reason to think they won't fail along Webb, Harvey, Atwater, Heyburn or other streets in the R-1 or R-2 zoning districts where there are still on-lot systems -- which is most of the township. Ultimately that means all of Chadds Ford will need to be sewered.
That Chadds Ford Township is finally preparing to update its 30-year-old comprehensive plan is a positive sign, a step in the right direction in bringing the three issues into proper focus and perspective.
Growth, with more people available to pay for public necessities, can be a bonus if handled properly.