After months of investigation and conversation, the Chadds Ford Planning Commission has finished work on a marijuana grower/processor ordinance. However, the ordinance won’t go iunto effect until township supervisors vote on the matter after a hearing.
The commission has been developing the ordinance for more than a year, and it follows the development and final approval of a marijuana dispensary ordinance. Under current state law, medical marijuana dispensaries and grow facilities for medical cannabis are legal. As such, municipalities need to have zoning ordinances to limit where the facilities may be located. Otherwise, they could go almost anywhere and township officials would have little say in how they are regulated.
No date has been set for a hearing; that will come later. The Board of Supervisors must first authorize the township manager to advertise the hearing.
The grower/processor ordinance restricts facilities to the LI-1 Zoning District on parcels no smaller than five acres. The facilities must also maintain indoor air quality standards and ensure that odors do not escape.
Also during the May 11 meeting, commission members heard a new application for a convenience store — possibly a Wawa — along Route 202 at Hillman Derive, the William Bunch Auction House site. Peter Miller, the developer who built the Wegmans complex on the other side of Route 202, said his Wilmington Pike Group bought the property from Bunch several months ago. While Planning Commission members and supervisors have referenced Wawa, Miller said that is not necessarily the tenant.
The presentation was only a sketch plan, not something that‘s been engineered, nor has it been submitted for approval.
But a convenience store with gasoline sales is planned for the site. There would also be a bank with drive-thru service.
Brian DiBiase, the traffic engineer on the project, said one of the plans is to widen Hillman Drive at it approaches 202. Currently, there are three lanes on Hillman at the Intersection, one inbound from 202 and two outbound. Those outbound lanes include one dedicated left-turn lane and a shared lane for right turns and straight through traffic.
Under the new proposal, DiBiase said there would still be one inbound lane, but four outbound lanes: two dedicated left-turn lanes, one dedicated to through traffic, and a fifth lane dedicated for right turns onto Route 202. There would also be a new driveway entrance for the Bunch property on the north side of Hillman and another driveway for the Goddard School on the south side. Those new driveways would be farther back from Route 202.
Hillman Drive’s possible widening has been a discussion topic for years. The Henderson Group owns the Chadds Ford Business Campus and Hillman Drive. Henderson has been working on widening that street and connecting it to Route 1 to finish the fourth and final leg of the loop road system around Routes 1 and 202, but that project was delayed.
According to Chadds Ford Township engineer Mike Schneider, “This is a much better plan than Henderson’s.”
While the proposal won’t complete the loop road, it makes for a wider approach to Route 202 with more lanes than Henderson could have built. The reason, Schneider said, is that Henderson didn’t control the buildings on either side of Hillman at 202. The current proposal calls for five lanes, while the older plan still only had four.
Commission Chairman Craig Huffman raised questions about traffic flow within the site and pedestrian traffic safety in the parking area because some of the parking spaces were on the other side of the gasoline aisles from the store. He was also concerned about vehicles making left turns onto Hillman from the convenience store or bank.
The applicant will be back with answers if he chooses to move forward with the project.
About Rich Schwartzman
Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.