While Council hasn’t voted either way, they were leaning toward approving to request for the Hawley Silk Mill project after deliberating Wednesday night.


While Council hasn’t voted either way, they were leaning toward approving to request for the Hawley Silk Mill project after deliberating Wednesday night.

Council held open deliberations on Hawley Silkmill LLC request to vacate parts of Welwood Ave. and Belmont St. and the Conditional Use application. A combined hearing was held Oct. 1 on the two requests.

All Council members said they were in favor of the plans to develop the property and would approve the Conditional Use, however, most had some concerns about the issues of safety on other roads and stormwater management on the project.

As the meeting ran over time into a budget workshop, Council decided to hold another meeting to finalize a decision after reviewing a copy of the hearing transcript. The transcript was not ready for the Wednesday night meeting. That meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 2 at 8 pm in Borough Hall.

Solicitor Robert Bernathy said he wanted Council to review the transcript to ensure the Council’s decision is based on testimony presented at the hearing. He said that would help in case the decisions were appealed.

Bernathy suggested the Council first consider the road vacation ordinance decision. He explained that without approval of the ordinance to close the roads, the project as currently planned could not go any further.

He added that even if the Council approved the Conditional Use and closing the roads, they could still deny the developer’s Land Development plans, which will have to be approved or reviewed by the Borough Planning Commission, the Council, Wayne County Planning, The Wayne Conservation District and PA Department of Environmental Protection before work can start on the parking areas.

He added other Conditions for the CU approval could be added to ensure the Developers meet the Council concerns. Among those is the transfer of the Right of Way from PennDOT to Hawley Silkmill, LLC for the triangle area which will be used for much of the parking in the plans.

He added the closure of the roads would also hinge on the developers meeting the Council’s Conditions.

Bernathy said if the developers cannot meet the Conditions and choose a different plan for developing the project, then they would have to come back and start over.

Council President Donald Kyzer said he felt the project would be good for the community.

Council member Anna Allen said she was “thrilled with the idea” the developer has for the building, but was worried about the issues raised by Hawley residents. She said she wanted to ensure those concerns were addressed.

“I think the road is a hazard,” she added.

Council Member Carolyn Lorent noted she “hated the road” and was in favor of closing it. She said she had worries about the stormwater problems which already exist in the neighborhoods below the project and did not want to see this project make it worse.

She asked what if the stormwater systems being proposed are built and they don’t work.

Bernathy said those plans would be reviewed by engineers and a couple of agencies. He added if they systems don’t work, then property owners could sue the silk mill owners or the Borough could seek corrections if the systems were not built in accordance with the approved plans.

“There is a lot of opportunity.” Lorent said of the proposal for the silk mill.

Council member Dee Sabatino questioned how the Borough can determine what stormwater problems exist and which are new coming from the silk mill.

She added she was in favor of closing the road, but hoped the traffic being rerouted would split between Hudson St. and Church St.

Council Member Joe Fauble said his biggest concern was the stormwater. “If all the work is done right, the project will be good,” he said. He added he was in favor of it.

Kevin Hawk said he was in favor of closing the roads, but wanted to hear the Borough Planning Commission’s findings on the project. He added he had concerns about the stormwater as well.

The Planning Commission’s report containing 11 suggested conditions was passed out to members of the Council. Among the Conditions was one addressing parking, requiring the developers to come up with a plan to handle overflow parking from the college planned for the top floor and possibly the lower warehouse. The condition calls for using an offsite parking lot with shuttlebuses to bring students to the silk mill.

Council Member Mary Sanders said she was in favor of the project, but had several concerns over the road closures. She pointed to one neighbor who had raised issues with the turnaround at the north or lower end of the part of Welwood that will be closed.

Bernathy said the council had to be concerned with whether any residents would have their only means of access to their property blocked by the closure. He said that wasn’t the case.

When another Council member said the developers had told them they were discussing those issues with the property owner, Bernathy reminded Council, their decision had to be based on the record of the hearing and research which was conducted after the hearing.

He added that any claims for damages would have to go through a series of hearings and appeals and that one of the conditions for closing the road was that the Hawley Silkmill, LLC, would pay for defending against any claims and paying any damage claims that might be awarded. Bernathy added he didn’t think any claims would merit damages, but that the appeals system would decide that.

“This is a big project and its scary,” Sanders said. “I want to have all the “T’s” crossed. We don’t have the money to correct it later,” she added. She asked if the Road Vacancy Ordinance had been advertised.

Bernathy said it had and read part of the legal ad proof.

Sanders said she wanted to see the Conditions in writing before voting to approve either request. She noted sometimes what is said in deliberations for conditions comes out slightly different when written in the opinion.

Council discussed the conditions of Atkinson St. and how to limit traffic on the small residential street. The road is not wide enough for a lot of two way traffic, they noted. They discussed an ordinance banning through traffic and how could it be enforced. Council noted Atkinson St. and Academy had problems before the silk mill project was proposed.

Council also discussed existing traffic problems on Church St. and the effect of more traffic on that road.

Council also discussed the Emergency Access to and through the property. Sanders noted she would change her vote to no on closing the roads if emergency detours could not be made through the project’s entrance and onto Welwood.

Bernathy noted one of the proposed conditions was that an Emergency Access plan be approved by Borough EMS officials. He added those concerns would be addressed by that condition.

When asked who was responsible for correcting stormwater problems from the projects, Bernathy said the Borough would enforce its approval and make the developers correct the problems.

“I don’t want to correct a problem,” Sanders said. “I want to stop it before it becomes a claim.”

Council then reviewed the issues broached by residents during the hearings based on notes taken by Sanders, most of which Council brought up during the deliberations.