Although there was a 5-2 vote to approve the revised sidewalk ordinance at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, confusion over sidewalks still reigns. I think many would agree had there never been a BAWG report that suggested there was a $50,000 offer from St. Davids Golf Club not to build their ‘agreed upon’ and ‘contracted for’ sidewalks, we would not be where we are today. (To clarify, the $50K offer was not in writing and never substantiated).
For the last 21 months in Tredyffrin Township, it is as if all roads lead to sidewalks. The debate over whether St. Davids Golf Club would be required to build their contracted sidewalks has reigned supreme. A sidewalk subcommittee was formed and for over a year, held public hearings, received resident input, conducted surveys, etc. The results of the sidewalk subcommittee were presented earlier this year to the Board of Supervisors; indicating that the majority of the residents responding favored sidewalks, bike trails, etc. in the township.
The Board of Supervisors instructed the Planning Commission to draft a new sidewalk ordinance. After several months of discussion and review, the Planning Commissioners presented a sidewalk ordinance proposal to the Board of Supervisors. The supervisors agreed that the new sidewalk ordinance would have no bearing on the 8 currently open land development agreements that contained sidewalk requirements (including St. Davids Golf Club).
For those that attended the supervisors meeting or watched from home, the confusion over the sidewalk ordinance continued to reign supreme. Although the new ordinance passed 5-2, (Lamina and Olson the dissenting votes) there remains the open issue of the sidewalk ‘map’. The sidewalk ordinance passed but without a map indicating the sidewalk requirements. Discussion of the sidewalk map is apparently on the agenda for Monday’s supervisors meeting. However, there was some discussion from Lamina at the last supervisors meeting, that it may be his intention to go through the map, ‘road by road’ to decide the fate of sidewalks.
Wanting to understand the next step in the St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk saga, I sent a couple of emails to Mimi Gleason, our township manager. I assumed that since the sidewalk ordinance had passed, the township staff now had the green light to move on enforcement of the sidewalks in any open land development agreements (including St. Davids). I received the following email from Mimi:
Before sending letters, the Township now will contact any of the property owners with approved plans that inquired about the need to install sidewalks. They will be informed that they no changes were made to the ordinance that changes anything for their plans. Enforcement proceedings will commence only if they refuse to install the sidewalks.
Based on Gleason’s response, can we assume that by now St. Davids Golf Club has been contacted. I am not sure why there was an interim step ‘to contact’ vs sending the letter and will seek clarification. I will also ask what is timeline for a response before the enforcement letter is sent. After all the issues surrounding the sidewalks, I think it would be important to have a paper trail in place.
So . . . will St. Davids now build their required sidewalks? Or . . . will the country club wait it out, in hopes that their road will somehow disappear from the yet-to-be-approved township sidewalk map? Let’s hope that St. Davids will do what they contractually agreed to do. How long has it been – 5 or 6 years?
In a letter to the editor in this week’s Main Line Suburban, Tory Snyder, a Planning Commissioner and the chair of the special sidewalk subcommittee, gives an outline of the new sidewalk ordinance. As full disclosure, she indicates that she is a Board of Supervisors candidate in the East District. For folks that may not know, Snyder (D) is running against Paul Olson (R).
The following is excerpted from Snyder’s letter to the editor:
The facts of the newly adopted ordinance are as follows:
- Sidewalks will be required on about 14 miles of Tredyffrin roads. The current ordinance requires sidewalks on all Tredyffrin roads.
- All but one of the roads affected by the ordinance are major roads on which pedestrian safety is an issue. None of the roads are local roads per PennDOT or the Township Comprehensive Plan. Within the last two years a child walking along one of these roads with no sidewalks was hit by a car.
- All roads affected by the ordinance provide needed pedestrian linkages to and from specific destinations, including schools, libraries, parks, train stations and shopping centers.
- By nature of its location in the Subdivision and Land Development code, ONLY developers of non-residential and multi-unit residential properties would be required to build the sidewalks. Homeowners improving their own properties would not be subject to the sidewalk requirement.
This information lays out the facts and corrects some of the misleading and incorrect information that has been presented.
A planner by profession, Snyder further explains in her letter, “All 12 municipalities within a 25-mile radius of Tredyffrin require sidewalks in their subdivision and land-development codes. Almost all of these codes are stricter than the measured and balanced approach offered by the newly adopted ordinance. Were Tredyffrin to exclude a sidewalk requirement from its code, there would be no plan to add needed sidewalks in the future, and the entire cost of building any sidewalks would be transferred directly to the taxpayers.”
Stay tuned . . . the sidewalk saga continues at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.