Borough Council will hold open deliberations on the two applications made for the redevelopment of the former silk mill property on Welwood Ave.

 


Borough Council will hold open deliberations on the two applications made for the redevelopment of the former silk mill property on Welwood Ave.

Hawley Silkmill LLC has applied for a Conditional Use change and requested the Borough close a portion of Welwood Ave. and Belmont St. The local partners want to turn the large building into a mixed commercial/retail/education facility. The Conditional Use is needed to address a shortfall of parking and setbacks. Developers want to close Welwood to use portions of it for parking areas and the remainder along with Belmont as the access road to the building.

Ann Austin told the Council during the regular meting Oct. 14, she and others in town felt that the Council had already made up its mind to approve the requests. “Everyone said it was a done deal,” she said.

She said she was told by Council at a meeting that the proper place to ask questions about the project was at the hearing for the Conditional Use and Road Vacancy. At the hearing though, she said she was not allowed to ask questions directly. She said two council members helped her when they asked the same questions, but she said she received no answers.

She said she felt the hearings were held for legal requirements and that the Council had made up its mind. “Why is this being rushed?” she said, adding she was disappointed in how the process was handled.

Orlando Marrero asked if the Council had thought about lowering speed limits on Atkinson and Academy streets, both of which opponents to the road closure say will see increased traffic. He also asked what would happen to the plans if PennDOT did not give back the Right of Way.

Council Member Mary Sanders said the project approval would be contingent on developers getting the Right of Way. The Right of Way covers most of the triangle area in front of the silk mill. A good portion of the parking planned for the project lays in that area.

Marrero also asked if the road vacancy could be placed on the ballot as a referendum and if the Council had thought about requiring compensation for the portions of the roads which would be closed. Borough Solicitor Robert Bernathy said road vacancy issues remain solely with the Borough Council.

Bernathy said he wanted to ask Council to open deliberations on the ordinance and conditional use for the silk mill to the public. He explained that deliberations can be held in executive session, but the vote on the approval has to take place in public.

He said Council can hold those discussions in a public meeting if they chose.

Council voted unanimously to hold a special meeting on Oct. 28 at 6 pm for deliberations on the applications. That meeting is immediately before a budget workshop set for 7 pm.

Bernathy said the public is welcome to attend, but no comments will be accepted.