Georgie Hannum Stapleton's heirs can build a driveway steeper than the township zoning code allows, the West Marlborough Zoning Hearing Board ruled on March 1.
The estate owns a 31.7-acre property in Newlin Township. It is landlocked, but there are two right-of-ways for a driveway leading out onto Apple Grove Road in West Marlborough.
The board decided that although the zoning code calls for a maximum grade of 8 percent, part of the driveway can have a 16 percent slope. However, for the first 50 feet back from Apple Grove Road the slope cannot exceed 4 percent, and from 50 to 100 feet the slope cannot exceed 8 percent.
James Fritsch, the engineer representing the estate, said the choice was made to situate the driveway on the eastern right-of-way (between the Berman and the Rothman properties) because it would involve less earthmoving and tree removal than the western one (between the Berman and the Corkran properties) and would give driveway users better sight distance when entering Apple Grove Road. The proposed driveway will enter the north side of Apple Grove Road east of Tapeworm Road.
Mr. Fritsch said that if the board didn't approve the variance and the owners had to comply with the 8 percent maximum slope, retaining walls up to 23 feet high might need to be installed on both sides of the driveway.
Mr. Fritsch noted that West Marlborough's slope limits are stricter than those of other townships: West Bradford allows 16 percent; Penn, London Grove, East Marlborough and East Fallowfield allow 15 percent; Highland allows 10 percent; Newlin does not specify a maximum.
For comparison, Joseph Huston, a member of the zoning board and an avid bicyclist, provided the slopes of township roads he rides regularly: Rosenvick Road, he said, has an 18 percent slope at its steepest, and Greenlawn Road runs from 11 to 16 percent.
The members of the zoning board asked Mr. Fritsch how stormwater runoff would be handled, and he said although the system hasn't been designed yet, the owners would comply with all zoning regulations to make sure that the runoff would have no impact on neighbors. He said the driveway will be paved.
Voting to grant the variance were all four zoning board members present: Joseph Huston, Elizabeth "Baz" Powell, Tom Best, and chairman Clayton Bright. In the audience were Apple Grove Road residents Joe Cassidy, Leslie Berman, and Terry Corkran (with her attorney), as well as Jock Hannum and three of Georgie Stapleton's children.