[would] already have part of the parcel in our pocket," said
board member Marilyn Reed while supporting Councilman Robert
Weiner's request that at least the farmhouse and barn on the
property be brought under the cover of an historic overlay.
her colleagues to "keep in mind this is an election year" and
there is no telling what a successor administration will do with
the present Gordon administration's pledge not to disturb the
structures while a decision on the ultimate use of the parkland
is yet to be made.
process of discussing the issue, which has been hanging for more
than two years, the board agreed to invite administration
officials to, in the words of board chairman Barbara Benson,
"give us an update on the status" of a proposal to establish a
resident curatorship program which would result in there being
live-in caretakers of structures like the Jester farmhouse.
said that, after County Executive Tom Gordon endorsed that idea
and said he would seek to establish a program, the Department of
Special Services prepared a report and submitted a draft plan to
Sherry Freebery, the county's chief administrative officer.
"That was over a year ago and there it still sits on [her]
desk," Weiner said.
that he did not know what the plan is because, "she has refused
to 'release' it ... [or] even let me see it." But, he said, he
is aware that at "about a dozen" people have submitted
applications to become resident curators. Under a program
currently in operation in Maryland, qualified curators receive
an open-end lease allowing them to live rent-free in an historic
house in return for renovating and maintaining the structure.
'half-loaf' actually is about a twentieth of a loaf.
said, at a board hearing on May 12, that he will introduce zoning legislation to put an overlay over
1.38 acres of the 25.8-acre property. He previously sought to
have the entire parcel covered, but did not bring the ordinance
that would do so to a vote in Council after the Planning Board
and Department of Land Use recommended against its adoption. The
Historic Review Board, an autonomous panel under the aegis of
the land use department, had recommended approval.
has final say over whether or not to impose a zoning overlay,
which does not change a property's basic zoning but adds some
protective conditions to the development plan approval process.
said he is confident he can garner sufficient support on Council
to enact the smaller Jester Park overlay. With previous
objection by the special services department likely to remain,
he said he could not secure approval of the larger overlay. The
department's objection is that historical protection of the
property would inhibit its ability to develop the park and some
future but undetermined time.
smaller overlay would cover a relatively narrow oblong strip of
land abutting the portion of the property leased to Hy-Pont
Dairy Farms as a grazing field for its cows. Fronting on Grubb
Road, the affected strip would extend back to embrace the unused
house and the barn. The farm is said to be typical of the small
farms which once dominated the Brandywine Hundred landscape.
review board voted five-to-one to recommend the smaller overlay
to the department, Planning Board and County Council. Council,
which deals with zoning ordinances only thrice a year, will not
get to vote on it at least until autumn.
board member Wade Catts sided with civic activist Lou Liarakos,
who said officers of civic associations in the area, represented
through the Grubb Road Alliance which he formed, did not want
partial coverage. "Once you split this [into] two parcels, you
are saying the Historic Review Board doesn't value the rest of
the property," he testified.
said he, too, would prefer having the entire property covered,
but was being practical in light of the political realities
which pertain to the issue. He promised, however, that he "will
someday come back for an overlay for the entire property."
Bruning, the planner who serves as the land use department's
liaison with the review board, said that might not be critical
vis-à-vis future development of the park. With the house and
barn protected by an overlay, any development plan would have to
pass muster regarding its visual and other effects on those
structures, she said.
county's long-range plan for parkland development calls for
Jester Park to eventually be used for active recreation. Weiner,
who sides with area residents who reportedly favor 'passive'
recreation for the site by a large margin, said he is seeking to
have the present designation changed.
event, Liarakos told the board, he and the civic associations
have been assured that no development of the site will happen
without extensive public participation in the planning process.
also apparently put to rest what Weiner said was a situation
which "has created a degree of community nervousness" -- a
permit to demolish the structures obtained by the special
services department two years ago. Bruning said that permit has
expired and the department would have to seek another one, the
granting of which, the review board could, at a minimum, delay
for nine months.