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Source: Springfield Sun
Date: September 12, 2003
Byline: Joe Barron

Township OKs revised inn plan

Acting days after its review of the latest building proposal, the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to authorize a third development agreement concerning the Black Horse Inn.

The 5-to-2 vote authorized board President Robert McGrory to execute a revised stipulation agreement between the township and the Moreland Development Corp. of Rosemont

The agreement would incorporate provisions of the plan presented to the board Monday evening, which would leave the Black Horse Inn at the site it has occupied since 1744 and erect a pharmacy and a liquor store on what is now a 3.3-acre field.

Under the new plan, the developer would also deed the Black Horse itself to the township.

"I feel good about the fact that after 11 years, we have the Black Horse on the pike to work with," McGrory said before the vote.

Two previous stipulation agreements involved the relocation of the Black Horse, and commissioners were careful to point out that the only choice confronting them was between alternative development plans.

"It's not just a clear-cut, you vote 'no' and there's no development," Commissioner Marc Perry said.

The vote followed more than an hour of public comment, almost all of it in opposition to the plan. Township residents also argued against the development at a lengthy workshop meeting Monday.

Perry and Commissioner Ken Bradley, who voted against the proposal, both said the board needed more time to consider the questions raised at both meetings and to allow residents to meet with the developer directly.

"I believe the vote is coming too soon, that it's premature," Bradley said. "The most important land development [issue] I'm going to vote on, and it's moving more quickly than any one that I've seen."

Other commissioners argued the board's previous cooperation with the developer made the third, most acceptable agreement possible, and therefore approving the present agreement could lead to a better deal in the future.

Township Solicitor Jim Garrity added that the developer's timetable and financial arrangements required him to know as soon as possible which development plan to follow.

Moreland still has to undergo a formal and detailed land development process in which it will have to address questions such as traffic, landscaping, and drainage, Garrity told the Wednesday night gathering.

"What's important to understand is that this is not over," Commissioner Jane Fisher said after the vote.