"A Splendid Vision," embarked upon by Chatham University to turn the 388-acre Eden Hall farm into the country's first sustainable campus, took a major step forward Wednesday.
unanimously voted to approve Chatham's campus master plan, which Chatham titled "A Splendid Vision" in reference to a term used by Chatham alumna and environmentalist Rachel Carson.
The plan that Chatham University presented to the supervisors in Januaryhas been discussed, debated and altered after formal and informal meetings with neighbors of the Richland farm.
The planning commission also spent considerable time on the plan, refining it and attaching several pages of conditions before recommending that the supervisors approve it.
"I just want to say ... thank you so very much," Chatham University President Dr. Esther Barazzone said after the plan was approved. "We pledge to be a good neighbor ... and make Richland proud to have us."
The Rev. Dr. Richard Morledge said he has been a resident for 50 years and has "never been more proud than I am tonight.
"I believe in the providence of God," said the pastor emeritus of . "June 15, 2011, is a great historic day for Richland Township."
"You're excellent leaders," he told the supervisors, then referred to the planning commission as "superb."
"They put this university to the wall, and I'm glad they did" because it showed the process worked, he said.
Turning to Barazzone, he said, "Queen Esther, we welcome you to our community."
That comment prompted a few chuckles from the audience and a hug from Barazzone.
When the university first presented its plans to township officials, neighbors voiced a number of concerns, including the proximity of parking lots to their homes, increased traffic and the impact of the land's development on their wells.
Some of the plans were changed; other concerns were addressed in the conditions attached to the approval.
Richland Township Manager Dean Bastianini noted "this is not the end" to the township's involvement in the university's plans for the Eden Hall campus. For each phase of development, Chatham will need to bring a land-development plan before the supervisors for approval.
In the meantime, here are the highlights of the conditions approved Wednesday night:
- Ridge Road will be improved and widened to include a six-foot-wide bicycle lane. Improvements will include drainage, storm sewers and curbs. Those improvements will coincide with the different phases of campus development, for which no timetable has been set.
- Improvements to Glasgow Road also will be required when the Stanford Hill section of the campus off Glasgow is developed, which is not expected for years.
- Buffer yard plantings along the perimeter of the site will be installed to give the plants time to mature.
- A traffic signal will be installed at Bakerstown Road and Ridge Road/Faith Way, for which the township and Chatham University will split the cost.
- Chatham will pay $143,000 toward realigning and improving the site triangles at the Bakerstown Road and State/Grubbs Road intersection.
- Chatham will install speed tables to slow traffic on Ridge Road.
- Chatham will be allowed to use an on-site wastewater disposal system if it meets criteria outlined in the conditions. Otherwise, it must connect to a municipal sewage system or public utility system.
- Water will be supplied by the Richland Township Municipal Authority and/or rain harvesting. It will not be supplied through water wells.
- A conservation easement to protect open spaces will be established between the township and university when the first land development application is approved.