Campaign to preserve the history of our Town

Berwyn Issues

Berwyn

Berwyn Issues

In 2013, Easttown Township adopted zoning changes to create new districts in the Village of Berwyn. There is a business district, a residential district, and a transition district with different restrictions.

The township records of the 2013 rezoning reveal no public presentation of the most drastic change that was made at that time; repeal of the 8-unit per acre limit on multi-family development with no specific unit limit in its place. The same repeal is now being proposed for the Devon area by the same outside consulting firm, Glackin Thomas Panzak, who were hired for the 2013 Berwyn project.

Handels Ice Cream is the proposed site of a massive apartment building

Moreover, the repeal of the 8-unit limit is not found anywhere in the Village of Berwyn sections of the zoning ordinance; It is buried in another part of the zoning ordinances under supplemental regulations for multi-family development.

In 2018, the Township adopted its new Comprehensive Plan. (Click here for the Comprehensive Plan chapter on Berwyn).  We support the goals of the Comprehensive Plan to preserve and enhance the village atmosphere of Berwyn, including keeping building heights at two to three stories, and promoting a mixture of retail, dining, and public space in the business area.

In 2019, a developer submitted a proposal for the block on Route 30 between Midland and Woodside Avenues where the Handel’s ice cream store and old township building are located, for a large, five-story, 120 unit apartment building with a 218 car parking garage, as well as some retail space, called Berwyn Square. The project could not be built under the existing zoning so the developer sought several variances from the Zoning Hearing Board, which requires proof of an unnecessary hardship.  

Many people in the immediate neighborhood and other parts of the township opposed the request for variances and took the position that there are many appropriate, allowed uses in the ordinance for this property, including a smaller size apartment respectful of the scale of development in Berwyn and the existing laws.

 

4-story Berwyn Square Proposal

Many Berwyn neighbors participated in the zoning hearings, and presented reports of expert land planners.  (Click here for the report / critique of Comitta Associates submitted by the neighbors).  We submitted a petition signed by more than three hundred Easttown residents opposing the requested variances. Thirty neighbors were granted party status by the Board to participate in any appeals to the courts.

In February 2020, The Zoning Hearing Board decided by a vote of 3 to 0, to deny one of the requested variances relating to loading areas and parking.  The Board voted 2 to 1 to grant a different request relating to the height of the building. The developers have appealed the Board’s decision on the loading issues and the neighbors have appealed the height’s decision.  No schedule has been set yet by the court in West Chester.

In July 2020, it was reported that the same developers have submitted a new plan for the site for a convenience store and gas station. A gas station is not an allowed use in Berwyn Village and again the developer will need to seek a variance under a claim of hardship.

The Berwyn Square proposal for a 120 unit apartment on a 1.7-acre lot shows the undesirable consequences of the 2013 repeal of the 8 unit per acre limitation. As a result, a group of Berwyn neighbors has filed a petition to reinstate the 8 unit limit (which applies everywhere else in Easttown Township) for Berwyn.

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