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Henderson Group Hosts ‘Coffee Chat’ to Garner Support for Chadds Ford Project

The Henderson Group, a commercial real estate development company, hosted two coffee chats in Chadds Ford Township to discuss the Loop Road completion project as well as the age-restricted, luxury multifamily development they have proposed to help finance finishing the road.

The events were a chance to build support for its project, which has run into obstacles.

The project is an opportunity for Chadds Ford to complete the Loop Road System that surrounds Routes 1 and 202, which diverges at Chadds Ford Township (on the west) and Concord Township (on the east). That becomes one of the busiest crossroads not only in the Delaware Valley but also in the state and can lead to unprecedented accessibility issues along with traffic delays, Brian Coyle, CEO of the Henderson Group, said in his presentation.

Since 2015, the Henderson Group has worked with elected officials, local businesses, and residents from the township along with other government agencies to develop a financially feasible plan to complete the project.

By completing it, the developer hopes it will make the community a safer place for local businesses, drivers, pedestrians, and residents, Coyle said.

“We want to think outside the box and offer a creative solution on this issue for the community instead of sitting on the sidelines,” Coyle explained. “We fully understand that there will always be some pushback, but we must make the best of the current situation.”

Rep. Craig Williams and volunteers cleaning up the corner of Routes 202 and 1 recently.

The land within the proposed Loop Road system can be divided into four quadrants, with the two western quadrants encompassing a 115-acre parcel called the Chads Ford Gateway in Chadds Ford Township. That also includes the two eastern quadrants surrounding a 90-acre property in Concord Township.

The Henderson Group has received all permits and approvals associated with the Loop Road completion project said Coyle. It has already completed the first parts of the project by adding a traffic circle at the intersection of Evergreen Drive and Hillman Drive.

The Henderson Group is a private enterprise that has volunteered to finance and complete the construction of a public infrastructure project which would otherwise fall on taxpayer dollars. To finance the rest of the project’s components, it needs to provide investors with a return on their investment, Coyle pointed out.

“The total cost of completing this project is $7 million and when we went to PennDOT, we obtained $2 million in grant funding for a three-year window,” Coyle said. “The $2 million we received is about as good as it gets because we originally expected half of that amount. There’s only so much money PennDOT can send for this project because there are many issues like this one that they receive throughout the state.”

However, the Chadds Ford Township Planning Commission, an appointed advisory board, unanimously voted to reject the text of a zoning amendment last June. That amendment is needed to allow for a development like Greene Station at Painters Crossing.

Planning Commission Chairman Craig Huffman didn’t support the plan because “of the wetlands on the property and the proposed number of parking spaces as well as being concerned that changing the text amendment could have future consequences,” according to township records.

But a planning consultant for the developer said the Army Corps of Engineers found no wetlands on the property.

Lisa Vonderstruck of Brandywine Antiques, Eric Garner of Harvey Lane, and Estates at Chadds Ford resident Spencer Kierman spoke against the plan at the planning commission meeting.

Matt Baumann, township manager, sent a response on behalf of the township. “The Henderson Group is seeking a zoning change that is inconsistent with our Comprehensive Plan to allow for dense residential development. The land in question is environmentally sensitive and there were concerns raised by the Township Planning Commission and professionals about the proposed density of the project, its impact on the environment, pedestrian connectivity, and the soundness of the design. Perhaps a new plan will be forthcoming in the future for the township to consider.”

The Henderson Group argued the development of 240 age-restricted units at Greene Station at Painters Crossing is permitted under Chadds Ford Township’s zoning ordinances and Open Space Plan that would provide funds for the Loop Road completion project.

“This is certainly a complex project with a lot of money involved along with other factors, but it’s important to stay patient during this process and continue our work until the job is finished,” Coyle said.

State Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) sided with the township.

“My understanding is the township determined there are environmental problems. I do not intend to let our much-needed road project be delayed further in light of that decision,” Williams said.

Coyle asked residents who support the project to write the Board of Supervisors, sending a copy to him. Coyle will be speaking at the April 4 supervisors’ meeting at 6:30 p.m. and asked supporters to attend it (10 Ring Road, Chadds Ford).

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Rep. Craig Williams Campaigns With Senate Candidate Dave McCormick

Republican state Rep. Craig Williams teamed up with U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick to knock on doors Saturday in the Garnet Valley neighborhood of Chadds Ford.

Williams said he enjoys meeting his constituents in person and typically knocks on more than 2,000 doors during his campaigns.

“My favorite part (of campaigning) is knocking on doors,” said Williams.

McCormick also enjoys talking to potential voters and has made in-person campaigning, whether knocking on doors or pressing the flesh in diners and American Legion halls, a trademark of his campaign.

Rep. Williams and Dave McCormick, along with volunteers pose with a Harley Davidson motorcycle. A TV commercial shows McCormick riding his Harley Davidson Fat Boy. And when the weather is nice, he often rides it around Pittsburgh.

“I love it, I mean, I love it,” said McCormick. “If you knock on 10 doors and talk to one or two people, you get the connection.”

McCormick likes to hear voters’ opinions, telling him what they like or hate.

“It’s perfect,” he said. “I love it. I love being with (Williams). He’s a great guy. This is a great part of Pennsylvania that I need to spend more time in. I’m really devoted to spending time here in the southeast. It makes sure my message is out there.”

And it was a family affair, with McCormick’s wife, Dina Powell McCormick, who was a deputy national security advisor to former President Donald Trump, accompanying him and Williams’ 12-year-old son, Cole, also along, as well as campaign volunteers and staff.

McCormick, who is vying for the lead in the Republican Senate primary race with television celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and commentator Kathy Barnette, also has ads blanketing television screens, either from his campaign or a Super PAC that supports him. A former hedge fund CEO, he comes across as a down-to-earth, regular guy.

“I hope to get your vote,” he says to homeowners after a brief exchange and introduction from Williams, who has an app that tells him which houses belong to registered Republicans. Only Republicans or Democrats can vote for their respective candidates in the May 17 primary.

“We’re still really undecided,” homeowner George Kent, told the Delaware Valley Journal after shaking hands with Williams and McCormick and listening to their pitches.

Dina Powell McCormick, Cole Williams, Rep. Craig Williams and Dave McCormick.

His wife, Debbi Kent, said, “He keeps saying, ‘the stakes are high,’ and we agree. We want the best person in the Senate, and I was very unhappy (with Sen. Pat Toomey). I want to learn more.”

She was “surprised but appreciative” that McCormick came to her door. “That shows he’s serious and wants to meet the people.”

Another resident, Joe Dailey, said that he was from Bloomsburg but did not know McCormick, who went to high school there when his dad was president of Bloomsburg University and chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.  The family also owns a Christmas tree farm nearby that has been featured in McCormick’s TV commercials.

McCormick, 56, graduated from West Point, where he was on the wrestling team and served in the first Gulf War with the 82nd Airborne. He also served in several positions in the George W. Bush administration, including as Under Secretary of the Treasury, and he holds a Ph.D. in international relations from Princeton. In the private sector, McCormick was CEO of a software company in Pittsburgh and most recently held the CEO post at Bridgewater Associates.

During a talk at a VFW Post in Bensalem, McCormick said the Biden administration’s botched handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal led to his decision to run for the Senate.

“I’ve seen his ads,” said Dailey. “I’m a big fan of his. I like what he has to say. And Craig (Williams) is the best guy we’ve ever had here. Good luck to you guys. I will vote for you.”

Williams (R-Chadds Ford) also served in the military. He spent three decades in the Marines, retiring as a colonel.  The two candidates bantered about which of their rival branches of the service was best as they walked the neighborhood.

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