Chadds Ford in an uproar over new shopping center

The construction drive along Ridge Road for the proposed shops of the same name marks the planned site for the main entrance. The two-lane street would be widened to six lanes for approximately a quarter-mile off Route 202.
The construction drive along Ridge Road for the proposed shops of the same name marks the planned site for the main entrance. The two-lane street would be widened to six lanes for approximately a quarter-mile off Route 202. leslie krowchenko — digital first media

CONCORD >> When Pettinaro Construction Co. attorney John Jaros approached council earlier this year about his client’s proposed Shops at Ridge Road, he indicated “several” Chadds Ford residents had expressed concern about the improvements and impact on local neighborhoods.

He apparently understated the anxiety.

More than 350 area residents have signed an online petition asking the developer to eliminate the proposed main entrance on Ridge Road and corresponding widening of the street. Chadds Ford resident Carolyn Daniels presented a copy during the August meeting.

“The heartfelt comments on the petition support what we have all known all along — this is a community that cares,” she said. “It cares about each other and about the health, safety and welfare of all those who live and travel through here today and for years to come.”

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In 2008, the Delaware-based firm received final land development approval with 21 conditions to construct a 190,000-square foot center on the approximately 25-acre parcel bordering Route 202. The main driveway would be on Ridge Road and the street expanded from two lanes to six for approximately a quarter-mile to accommodate the entrance/exit before returning to two lanes shortly before Pheasant Lane.

As the property borders Chadds Ford, condition 19 stated prior to release of the final plans, a letter would be needed from that township stating all road improvements as approved are satisfactory, including but not limited to the PennDOT highway occupancy permit plan. It further stated Chadds Ford is to receive scheduling notification for the improvements.

Jaros sought to amend the condition after learning of the letter from Chadds Ford Supervisors President Frank Murphy, stating the township “has not and will not issue any approval until such time as the issues of concern are addressed.” Council voted to deny the request and the developer subsequently filed a complaint in Delaware County Common Pleas Court. The suit, which originally just named the township and council, was updated to include Chadds Ford Township and its supervisors.

Residents note the difference between the proposed center, which would have two right-turn in, right-turn out driveways on Wilmington-West Chester Pike, and neighboring Glen Eagle Square, which has five driveways, including the main entrance, along the highway. Ridge Road, which would provide access to the rear of the center, would serve truck and customer traffic.

“We contend the main entrance should be off Route 202,” said Luci McClure. “Ridge Road is a little country road and it would become the entrance for virtually all the traffic and certainly all the deliveries.”

The neighbors note the proposal was approved five years before Brandywine Mills, the center near Baltimore Pike and Route 202 including Wegmans, Fine Wine and Good Spirits, Nemours/duPont Pediatrics and more than a dozen additional shops and services.

“A PennDOT representative said if the conditions then were as they are now, this proposal would never have been approved,” said Davis. “Who has been looking out for us over the last 10 years?”

Homeowners are upset by the seeming lack of response from Pettinaro, as the company has neither replied to Murphy’s letter nor scheduled a “sit down across the table” to address residents’ concerns, said McClure. They also take issue with the speed with which the developer is seeking its day in court, as Jaros requested a hearing within 30 days when he amended the complaint last month.

“We are getting all the problems and none of the benefits,” said Sheriden Black. “The tax revenue goes to Concord and the issues come to Chadds Ford.”