This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website and the Delaware County Daily Times‘ website.
THORNBURY — It seemed to Thornbury Estates residents that the Caln Nether Company had quietly disappeared into the shadows after all the commotion over two little lots roughly 15 years ago.
But now, it looks like the fight between the residents and Caln Nether will once again heat up as it appears the company wants to renew its efforts to develop the land located at Route 202 and Greentree Drive.
“I don’t know what he was thinking over those years,” said Robert Anthony, chair of the Thornbury Board of Supervisors. “I’m sure these residents are fairly frustrated that they thought this was an issue that was put to bed. Now it’s back.”
At a special residents’ meeting Monday night at Cheyney University’s Marian Anderson Music Center, Thornbury’s Board of Supervisors listened to outcry from the public over the renewed effort from Caln Nether.
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“Caln Nether asked if they could (have someone at the meeting), but I preferred they not be because I wanted to keep the conversation between the residents and the township without any influence from the developer,” Anthony said to the gathered crowd.
Caln Nether, the properties’ owners, had an original plan to put either a car dealership or an apartment complex on the space, which combined, totals only just over five acres.
“This has been an issue for 10 or 15 years for the township,” Anthony said. “I’ve been a supervisor for about five-and-a-half years now and this has come to light again. We have to reeducate ourselves on what took place quite a few years ago.”
The two lots sit on land that’s part of Zoning District A, which is an agricultural-residential area.
According to the township’s zoning code, buildings may be erected on a lot in that area for the purpose of a single-family detached dwelling or, agriculturally, any building other than a dwelling must be situated no less than 200 feet from any public road and no less than 30 feet from any side or rear boundary line of the lot.
In 2001, Caln Nether challenged the Thornbury Zoning Ordinance of 1983, alleging that it failed to provide for a new and used car dealership use, wanting to be part of the “platinum mile” of luxury car dealerships running along Route 202.
Thornbury supervisors at the time rejected the request, saying that a car dealership was permitted in the Business District. The Chester County Court of Common Pleas also backed up the township.
“We don’t know what the developer is going to do,” Anthony said. “He has not come to the township with any formal plans yet. I’m not going to get too excited about the possibilities. I’m going to wait for something real to happen in the township — wait for some real plans. Whatever it is, we’ll address it.”
Caln Nether may not have come to the township yet, but he has been approaching the residents of Thornbury Estates, holding two meetings with them.
“He’s had two separate meetings with them,” Anthony said. “I think he’s out there testing the waters to see what the residents would support and wouldn’t support.”
The meetings are what promoted the township supervisors to hold the special meeting.
During the residents’ meeting, Anthony presented to the gathered crowd the two plans Caln Nether originally held for the lots.
“The two plans — the apartment complex and the car dealership — is the same thing that he talked about many years ago,” Anthony said. “He hasn’t brought anything different to the residents yet.”
The car dealership would have three entrances: one from Route 202 and two from Greentree Drive.
The apartment complex would feature four buildings, each three stories tall for a total of 89 units and also a bank pad.
The apartment and bank lot would have three entrances as well, with two from Route 202 and one from Greentree Drive. There would also be 145 parking spaces on the lot.
Residents in attendance were irritated to see these plans resurfacing after believing this all was a dead issue.
“This land is not flat,” said one resident who would be directly effected by any development. “If he builds anything, my view from my driveway is going to be looking up into people’s apartments. He’s going to circle my house with three-story apartments. Who wants to by my house from me to live in?”
Other concerns expressed over either a car dealership or an apartment complex were the increased traffic on an already bogged-down highway, stormwater management, public safety, residents’ privacy, an economic loss, crime, lights, noise and an overcrowding of a little parcel.
Not one resident at the meeting spoke up in support of the development of an apartment complex or a car dealership.
“I can only speak for myself, but I believe, as a township supervisor, I have a responsibility to assure that the residents maintain that which they signed up for,” said Thornbury supervisor George Stasen to the crowd, which was met with a rousing applause. “I feel very strongly about the issues of this nature. Any proposal would infringe on the quality of your life — that is the most important issue. If we were to pass a motion to let him have his way and people are killed, you should sue us for being so stupid.”