Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

 
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Brightside Farm

Brightside Farm - October 18, 1999 Meeting

 
The following is a summary of the Monday 10/18/99 special meeting of the Board of Supervisors which was devoted to the Brightside Farm issue. I prepared this report myself and would welcome reports and comments from others who attended the meeting.

Last night's special Brightside Farm meeting of the Board of Supervisors was attended by approximately 100 residents plus members of various groups there to explain possible uses of the 55 acres being sold by the Great Valley School District. The goal of the meeting was to inform residents of possible uses of the farm and possible sources of funds for its purchase and operation. It was also an opportunity for residents to express opinions regarding the possible purchase and uses of the property. A third goal was for some discussion of the overall long term strategy of the Township regarding the preservation of open space.
One new element of the Brightside Farm issue is the fact that the Great Valley School District was expected to pass a resolution the same evening whereby they would keep the 55 acre tract off of the market for 90 days during which the Township would have the opportunity to decide whether or not to purchase the property and if so, to negotiate an agreement of sale with the GVSD. In the meantime, the School District would proceed with getting appraisals of the property's market value.
Each of the possible uses of the property (some of which would likely occur concurrently) was presented by an advocate of that use, with limited time available for in-depth explanations. The only use not discussed previously in an open forum (see "Presentation - Charlestown Farm Committee" in the official minutes of the Aug 2, 1999 Board meeting) was for an 18 hole championship golf course, a use proposed last night by John Panizza of General Residential Properties. The golf course proposal would encompass the 55 acres under discussion as well as the 90 or so acres already owned by GRP on the southwest side of Yellow Springs Road, currently known as the "Deerfield Development". The course would be privately owned but open to the public. The construction of 12 - 15 homes (total) on three separate 2 acre plots is an integral part of the golf course proposal, as is a "donation" of an unspecified amount of money to the Township.
The golf course proposal generated the most discussion of the uses described, the other uses being a Community Supported Agriculture farm, an equestrian center, the Pickering Pony Club, general "show grounds" available for horse shows, dog shows, antique car shows, and similar (weekend) uses. An "Active Recreation" park as well as trails were other possible uses. If the Township purchases the property, all of the uses with the exception of the golf course could co-exist on the 75 acres the township would then own on Yellow Springs Road. Since the uses other than the golf course were not as comprehensively explained as they have been at prior meetings, you might find the information on those uses in our special Brightside Farm section of particular value.
Concerns were expressed by several residents on a variety of issues, including effects on the viewshed, impact on traffic in the area, water sources, water drainage, water levels in existing area wells, use of chemicals on the land, use of loudspeakers for weekend events, and budgetary and tax impacts.
The last 30-45 minutes of the meeting focused on funding the purchase of the 55 acres. Speakers addressed the various grants that may help with such a purchase, the funds available from the Township's current liquid assets, funds available through taxation, and borrowing options. With the 90 day limit for a decision, it would apparently be possible to purchase the property with a special kind of funding that would allow the subsequent refinancing as grant monies and other sources of funds were worked out over a longer period of time. Similarly, the exact uses of the property do not have to be determined before the 90 day limit as long as it is felt that some mix of the proposed uses could be arrived at that would be viable.


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