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Developer, residents, state in limbo over State Line Road - Community News

Developer, residents, state in limbo over State Line Road

By Jesse Chadderdon
Community News
Posted Oct 09, 2008 @ 02:55 PM
Last update Oct 09, 2008 @ 04:14 PM
Brandywine Hundred, Del. —
State Line Road – a quiet country road off U.S. 202 that runs along the Pennsylvania border – can be found on maps dating back to 1814.
One ride along the narrow, residential road and you’d swear it hasn’t been maintained since.

The road actually was paved once, back in the 1950s. Efforts to get the Delaware Department of Transportation to do it were repeatedly rebuffed until eventually the road’s residents pooled their money together and paid to pave it themselves.

Now, half a century later, little seems to have changed. After 50 years, the road is in complete shambles. Pavement is eroded, potholes abound and the limited patching that was done over the years has done little more than make the road surface more uneven than before.

Ten years ago, in an effort to get DelDOT to revisit the road, residents signed it over to the state, stripping it of its status as a private drive. But the road has since gone untouched and now a developer building a 56-unit town home community in Bethel Township, Pa. wants to tie into the road in order to provide his residents access to Concord Pike.

On one hand, the idea of 100 more cars using the road each day does not please State Line Road residents. On the other hand, the developer, Joel Templin, has committed to repaving the road if his plan is approved.

That has the attention of Rep. Robert Valihura (R-Talleyville). Valihura has been petitioned by State Line Road residents to use his allotment of street improvement funds to have the road paved. At a community meeting Monday, Valihura agreed to pay to pave East Fulton Road – a spur of State Line Road – next year.

But he said paving the entire community - something Templin said would likely cost more than $250,000 - would bankrupt his street funds. And besides, he said, how could he justify using taxpayer dollars to pave a road a Pennsylvania developer has committed to doing?

“They’re not going to sell one house there without paving that road,” Valihura said. “I cannot in good conscience use taxpayer dollars to pay for something that someone else is going to do.”

But resident Wayne Brasure accused Valihura of stalling, and said he broke his commitment to have the road paved several times. He said that if approved, Templin's project wouldn't start for several years and the road would continue to deteriorate.

Templin told the Community News that indeed, he does not plan on starting work for "another year or two" because of the economy.
Others wouldn’t pin the issue on Valihura, but expressed frustration that their decision to designate the road as public hasn’t paid off.

“We all feel like we jumped through hoops to make the road public and we haven’t gotten anything for it,” said Donald A. Hanby, who has lived along State Line Road since 1947, when he was 2 years old.

Hanby’s son James, who recently purchased his mother Jennie’s home, found dozens of letters she exchanged with DelDOT in 1949 and 1950 about having the road paved. When that didn’t materialize, Donald recalled how the neighbors cooperated to get it done.

“We used to all get together and figure out a way to take care of things,” he recalled. “Now it’s gotten so a lot of people just don’t care anymore with all the fighting and all the nonsense.”

Residents are also frustrated that DelDOT has ruled out putting a traffic light at Concord Pike and State Line Road. Valihura said engineers have repeatedly concluded it’s an unsafe location, but residents think the state simply wants to avoid working alongside Pennsylvania officials to manage traffic at the border.

“I don’t know why the two states can’t get together and do something for the good of their citizenships,” Hanby said.

Keith Rolph, who lives on Husbands Drive off of State Line Road, said he’d like to see his street opened up to the Brandywine Town Center, which the owners there are willing to allow. He said that would not only give State Line Road residents signalized access to Concord Pike, but would also allow residents to hook into New Castle County’s sanitary sewer system.

But Rolph says he can’t get community support for it, because his neighbors fear the additional access will make it easier for the Pennsylvania town home development to gain approval, possibly without paving State Line Road.

Meanwhile, Jane and Chuck Green are exploring their legal options to try to stop the development. The developer owns the driveway that connects with State Line Road across her property – the drive he proposes to use as an access road to his community.

The Greens purchased their home in 1979 and the driveway was in place to allow the Owensby family living behind them to access State Line Road. When the developer, Joel Templin, purchased the Owensby home, he assumed ownership of the driveway as well.

But Jane Green says using the narrow roadway as an access road for a 56-unit community is a far cry from its original use as a driveway, and has hired an attorney to study the issue.

Valihura said he believed the only way the development might be stopped is if the Greens are successful in court.

“The only way to get this stopped is if the Greens get an order from the Chancery Court that 56 town homes is going to put an unreasonable burden on their easement,” he said.

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