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Source: Springfield Sun
Date: February 13, 2004
Byline: Joe Barron

More visible walkway added to plans

Disappointed with plans for development behind the Black Horse Inn, the Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike met with the builder last month in hopes of gaining a few more compromises before construction begins.

In the end, they got a more visible pedestrian walkway, but nothing else.

The representatives of the group met with Joshua Petersohn, a principal of Moreland Development, at the township building Jan. 22.

State Rep. Larry Curry, D-154, and Springfield Township Commissioner Kathleen Lunn also attended the meeting, as did Petersohn's consulting engineer, Robert Blue, and his architect, H. R. Roller.

Moreland's plans call for a Walgreens pharmacy and a combined liquor store and office building behind the Black Horse. The Friends complained the development would generate an unsafe amount of traffic and it was too big to fit in comfortably with the surrounding neighborhood.

The Springfield Board of Commissioners approved the plan Jan. 14, frustrating the hopes of Flourtown residents to scale back the development. Members of the Friends immediately approached Petersohn and requested a meeting.

With the board's vote on his side, Petersohn had no obligation to meet with the residents and Lunn complimented him on his willingness to do so.

"The good thing was they were willing to meet," Lunn said by telephone Feb. 6. "They didn't have to."

The Friends presented Petersohn with a list of requests that included building the Walgreens nearer to Bethlehem Pike, to eliminate parking out front, and the use of sloping roofs and stone facades in the building design.

According to Lunn and Don Mitchell, a member of the Friends, Petersohn and Blue agreed only to the addition of a more visible walkway across the entrance to the development on Bethlehem Pike.

"They would not consider architectural changes," Lunn said. "They were very nice, but they were also not obliged."

The walkway would jog inward toward buildings, away from the sidewalk and consist of a paving material that would contrast with the blacktop of the parking lot, according to Mitchell.

The Friends also made several requests about landscaping, but the developer responded their landscaping plans already exceeded township requirements, according to Mitchell.

"It looks good," Mitchell said in a telephone interview Feb. 6. "We'll see what happens."

The developer also objected that the cost of a stone fašade would be prohibitive and refused to consider fake stone, according to Mitchell.

"In my opinion, I was happy to hear that," he said.

With the agreement on the walkway, talks between the residents and the developer appeared to end.

"I just don't know that there's anything else that can be accomplished at this point," Mitchell said.

Without a historic preservation ordinance, which is still under consideration by the Springfield Planning Commission, the township had no authority to insist on further modifications to the Black Horse development, according to Lunn.

"We don't have the legislation right now to do aesthetic changes," she said. "That's what we're working for."