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Radnor development proposal: A floor wax and a dessert topping

8/10/2013 | Real Estate Blog

Radnor Township has a dilemma. Ardrossan Farm is that rarest of things along Philadelphia’s Main Line: open land, more than 300 acres-worth. And the most pressing question about open land these days — especially open land so close to the city — is whether to preserve it or to build on it.

Ardrossan has been in the Montgomery-Scott-Wheeler family for more than a century. The estate originally boasted more than 800 acres and the 50-room Georgian mansion that still graces the premises. About six years ago, the family trust that owns the property began to donate land and to sell off parcels for development.

When it’s come to developing these last 300 to 350 acres, though, the township seems conflicted. At one point, Edgar Scott III — the grandson of Hope Montgomery Scott, the famed daughter of the house and reported inspiration for Katharine Hepburn’s character in “The Philadelphia Story” — proposed a development of 80 carriage houses on the estate’s northeast corner. The neighbors objected strongly enough to kill the project.

The town had a stake in the property at one point, as well. Hoping to preserve the property for open space, Radnor voters actually approved a $20 million bond in 2006. By the time the town was ready to make the deal, it could no longer afford it. In 2010, the Citizens Budget and Finance Advisory Committee recommended a moratorium on open space purchases, and the moratorium has not been lifted.

The only thing anyone can agree on, it seems, is that the house remain.

Scott’s new proposal would preserve the mansion and 10 acres surrounding it. It would also encourage homebuyers to preserve open space. The commission was skeptical.

We’ll explain why in our next post.

Source: Mainline Media News, “Radnor Planning Commission looks at tax advantages of Ardrossan development proposal,” Linda Stein, Aug. 6, 2013