West Chester’s Barclay Woods may get a reprieve from development.
The borough council approved an ordinance that would allow the township to enter into a negation with the properties current owners, Stan Ab LC, and could potentially lead to the borough owning the land, Wednesday night at borough hall.
John Turner, the attorney for the developer, laid out a potential deal to the township in front of nearly 100 residents that would “give the borough a unique opportunity” to retain the property “without expense to the borough and its taxpayers.”
The plan, as laid out by Turner, would involve Stan Ab selling the property back to the borough two pieces at a time, once by June and once by the end of 2014, giving the borough enough time to seek grants from the country and the state.
This way, Turner said, the borough would have the time it needs to generate the funds for the purchase without having to impact its taxpayers.
“[This proposal] is virtually without risk or expense,” he said. “The borough has no obligation to do anything unless it receives money. If so, it buys the lot and preserves it. If it doesn’t, at some point, despite the fact that we all tried, the property is going to end up sub-divided and developed.”
The total cost of the deal, including a non-refundable $20,000 deposit, is estimated to cost between $1.2 and $1.4 million.
John Cottage, the chairman of the Barclay Grounds Preservation Alliance, spoke in front of the council, saying that he and his group supported the proposal.
“We’re very happy and very willing to sit down and bring together a deal to save the property,” he said. “We propose to getting around a table as soon as we can and making this deal happen.”
State Senator Andy Dinniman also appeared before council, compelling the council to “make a difference.”
“You have an opportunity to do something without any risk … you don’t have to worry about the borough providing the funds. As soon as the county comes forth with the funds, and I don’t question that it will, you’ll have the funds for it.”
Representatives from the National Land Trust and the Brandywine Conservancy appeared before the council and said that they felt the grant funds were available for the borough to make the land purchase, within the one year timetable laid out by the developers.
Council member Holly Brown spoke in favor of the ordinance.
“Obviously this is a property that, over many years, people have tried to maintain as an open space. The borough doesn’t have an interest in buying the property … [but] this is a good opportunity … to do it without spending borough money.”
The ordinance passed 6-1, with council member Charles Christy logging the lone vote against.
The next public hearing about the Barclay property is on Jan 15.