KENNETT SQUARE >> The members of the Borough Council spent significant time on Monday discussing what Kennett Square will become in the future and what features it must keep to preserve the past.
The most emotional issues were raised on the agenda item to adopt recommendations of the Kennett Region Economic Development study. The substance of the report evolved from public meetings participated in by residents of Kennett Township and Kennett Borough. Those ideas were then processed and published in the form of a report (dated 2016) on six areas in the borough and what would be financially beneficial directions to take in each of them.
Those areas are Millers Hill, Ways Lane, Birch Street, State Street, Cypress Street and Mill Road.
At the meeting, the board took each item in turn and voted on whether or not to adopt the recommendations. Of the six, only one (Mill Road) was defeated, although several had opposition voiced.
One of the most controversial items was a statement on the Cypress Street report that advised “enticing” auto-related services to relocate. And in just the next sentence, it mentioned the Wawa relocating … which elicited outrage.
Resident John Thomas, given the public input opportunity to speak, said, “This Wawa sells more coffee than even the bigger ones.”
Another point that drew criticism was a suggestion that a “boutique hotel” be built on Cypress Street.
The back-and-forth among council members came to a point of presuming that the Friends Home would become that hotel.
Council member Paul Waterkotte reminded his colleagues that the hotel idea was something that could or could not happen only if the home moved and the property became available.
The defeated recommendation was the Mill Road suggestion for developing apartments and townhouses as well as senior housing and services there.
But calling it “Mill Road” was actually another way of referring to the former NVF property.
Mill Road borders on the old NVF land, which for years has had to deal with environmental pollution and has been classified as a brownfield site.
Resident Ken Edwards gave an impassioned comment saying that the land is still dangerously polluted and that adoption of the recommendation for housing could lead to dangerous legal action against the current members of the board in the future.
That recommendation was defeated 4-3.
In brief, these are six areas that were presented for discussion and possible adoption. The summaries here are not inclusive of all the data:
• The State Street recommendations centered on expanding parking and establishing buildings with businesses on the bottom and housing on top.
• The Birch Street recommendations made mention of attracting the arts and expanding mixed use, including multi-family units.
• The Mill Road recommendations (including the NVF property) spoke of mixed housing including apartments and creating a region of senior housing and services.
• The Ways Lane recommendations suggested redevelopment to include housing for seasonal workers and community housing for retreats and programming. Currently this road is in primitive condition and is not dedicated.
• The Millers Hill recommendation suggested developing medical and technical services in that region.
• The Cypress Street recommendations included enticing auto-related uses to relocate and building a boutique hotel.
In other business, the board members also had a lengthy discussion about the regulations of the Historical Architectural Review Board, when they were asked to deny the request of a homeowner in the historic district to re-lace the stucco siding of his porch with faux stone.
After a lengthy debate, they agreed with HARB spokeswoman Clare Saxton to deny the request.