referring, in a letter to James Jones, president of the Friends
of Paladin, to a stone wall along Paladin Drive which several
residents allege was partly destroyed more than a year ago in a
surreptitious move intended to clear the way for a
not-yet-approved 20-unit townhouse development in the
southeastern Brandywine Hundred community.
entire wall has since been declared historic and, as Delaforum
previously reported, Charles Baker, general manager of the
county Department of Land Use, ordered the Pettinaro firm to
hire a stonemason to put it back the way it was. The firm had
previously been ordered to preserve the stones which were
removed, but it cannot be determined if it complied.
firm has appealed Baker's restoration order to the Board of
letter containing the rejection, read at a meeting of Friends of
Paladin on Apr. 4, was in response to several questions put to
Pettinaro at a private meeting with county officials arranged by
Councilman John Cartier. Officers of the Friends organization
were included in that meeting.
Cartier told attenders at the civic meeting that the meeting
with officials was arranged as part of his effort "to establish
a dialogue" in hopes of "finding some middle ground" to resolve
the controversy between residents and the developer. About 1,100
people live in the community; about 100 turned out for the civic
letter Pettinaro said also that "there are no current plans to
change the operation of the clubhouse or its facilities other
than the elimination of one tennis court." Part of the
controversy involves the future of the community's recreation
facilities, which residents consider to be amenities related to
their condominium ownership.
not asking for anything they did not promise us when we bought
here," Jones said.
Friends organization is attempting to have the community covered
by an historic zoning overlay. Cartier, who represents the area,
has agreed to sponsor the necessary legislation. The process
begins with a review of the request by the Historic Review
Board, the panel which declared the stone wall to be historic.
overlay provides a limited amount of protection to historic
properties, mainly by mandating some preservation efforts in the
event of development or significant change to their appearance.
request, according to resident Roy Jackson, is based on the
site's former identity as the estate of the William Sellers
family and as the Clifton Park Apartments, one of the first
suburban developments erected soon after World War II. A stone
house on the property is said to date to 1813. What is now the
clubhouse was a barn dating to 1904, Jackson said.
Although Cartier said it now looks as if the stone wall
controversy will have to be settled through a court suit, he
said that the political climate in the county "has come around
180°" since it was instigated.
present administration of County Executive Christopher Coons, he
said, "stands 100% behind the letter" which Baker sent to
Edgewood Village l.l.c. informing it of his decision to order
restoration of the wall. Political observers are generally
agreed that Pettinaro had considerable influence during the
previous Thomas Gordon administration.
Without being specific, Cartier agreed with Jones's comment that
"not all 13 [members of County Council] are in our corner."
Cartier said that issue is politically symbolic. "It's not just
about a wall," he said.
attenders at the meeting took issue with the hiring of lawyer
Wendy Danner to be County Council's attorney. Danner formerly
represented Edgewood Village and argued on its behalf during
administrative proceedings related to what happened with the
stone wall. As Delaforum previously reported, her appointment as
'counsel to Council' was a fait accompli before her
identity as an applicant for the job was made known to the
public. Coincidently, she began work in her new capacity on Apr.
Cartier referred to Danner as "a highly qualified land use
attorney" and noted that she has agreed to not participate in
any action before council which involves any of the clients she
had while in private practice. Earlier in her professional
career, she worked for the county law department.
another issue raised at the meeting was the fence which
separates Paladin Club from neighboring Courtyard Apartments,
which is said to be frequently cut by Courtyard residents
seeking a shortcut. Pettinaro in his letter said that, with the
completion of the 11th and final section of the condominium
complex, responsibility for maintenance of the wall is now the
responsibility of the maintenance organization established for
Edgewood Village acquired the complex several years at an
auction resulting from the bankruptcy of the former developer
and has restored what once was long-neglected Clifton Park into
an upscale residential community. The firm retains ownership of
some of the property. In addition to building the proposed
townhouses, it is believed likely to also develop the area which
includes the former Edgemoor School.
are proud of the improvements we have made to the property and
feel that the proposed development will be beneficial to all,"
Pettinaro wrote in the letter to Jones.