Ardmore, Lower Merion Township, PA — The township of Lower Merion Planning Department received, the Lower Merion School District’s sketch plan for two Villanova properties: 1800 W. Montgomery Ave.and 1835 W. County line Road. The plan was received on April 29, 2019, and was made available online by the Department within hours of its receipt.

The Sketch Plan shows the construction of 52 surface parking spaces, a series of six, multi-purpose athletic fields and the installation of three stormwater management systems.   Improvements will be accessed via driveways from East County Line Road and Stone Ridge Lane.

The LMSD has asked for relief from Subdivision & Land Development Code Section 135-16.B(17) to not provide a historic resource impact study for 1835 County Line Road, which is listed as a Class II historic resource. The applicant proposes to maintain the historic mansion.

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All improvements on 1800 West Montgomery Avenue will be demolished. Lower Merion School District is the equitable owner and Fred Fromhold, Esq., authorized agent is the applicant.

The application has been tentatively scheduled for review by the Planning Commission on July 1, 2019.

The district invoked the use of a legal maneuver known as eminent domain to seize both of these properties from their owners.  Eminent domain is a legal way reserved for municipalities and other agencies as a way to seize or take properties. The thought is that the taken property is going to be used by the entity for the public good,

John A. Bennett, M.D. and Nance Di Rocco, the co-owners of the 1835 property have been fighting the taking in court.  The legal case is in the early stages of the case where the two sides are reacting to any pleadings or motions that the other side may have filed with the courts.  

The legal battle took a turn when fraud, collusion, and bad faith by the school district was alleged in court documents filed on February 7, 2018, by attorney Michael F. Faherty on behalf of his clients, township residents John A. Bennett, M.D. and Nance Di Rocco.

The school district has spent more than $150,000  for attorneys fees covering legalities of taking the property.

According to a TAPinto Freedom of Information request filed with the LMSD, the District reports spending more than $155,673 with Duane Morris a Philadelphia based law firm in regards to the property.  The lead partner on the case bills the School District $550 per hour and junior level attorneys are billing at rates between $365 and $405 per hour. Associates and paralegals do what is known as the grunt work of a case and bill at lower rates.  

The property at 1800 Montgomery Ave. which was initially slated to be taken by the eminent domain maneuver, would have had the school district seizing the property from the owner.  That property owners lawsuit was settled with the District and the owner coming to an arrangement of sale.

Here is the tentative sketch plan for the athletic fields for the new middle school.

The application has been tentatively scheduled for review by the Planning Commission on July 1, 2019.

A site map of the properties can be found here for 1800 W Montgomery Ave and 1835 County Line Road

A copy of the plan is on file at the Township at the Building and Planning Department counter. Should you wish additional information or to be added to the Building and Planning Departments email distribution for this application you can email hcolello@lowermerion. or call (610) 645-6271.

A copy of the plan will be available at the below link for 30 days:…