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Despite opposition, Villanova gets zoning approval for expansion

A common factor in many land use disputes is local residents' desire to retain the vibe and culture of a particular town or neighborhood. While some parties want to keep things they way they are, others want a change of pace.

Recently in Radnor Township, a group of residents with noise and traffic concerns lost a fight against Villanova University, which plans to build a new parking garage, a bookstore, some dormitories and an arts center in the community. The plan that now has zoning approval is a scaled-back version of a previous plan that was rejected in 2013.

Opponents of the $300 million project attended zoning meetings to express concerns that the university's expansion would lead to a louder and more urban environment. However, the local commission voted 4-2 in favor of rezoning.

Included in the new plan is a pedestrian bridge that officials at Villanova claim will actually reduce traffic build-up for pedestrians and vehicles. Currently, students use crosswalks on the stretch of road where the pedestrian bridge would be constructed.

The dormitories are also expected to provide on-campus housing to about 1,200 students. Presumably, those students would drive to campus if not for the dorms. Final plans for the overall project have yet to be submitted to township officials, and the dorms aren't expected to open for at least another five years.

When residents and developers dispute over the look and feel of a community, it is important for the interested parties to have a legal plan. Much can be at stake in these cases, and often strong negotiations are the key to a favorable outcome.

Source: Philly.com "Villanova dorm plan gets nod from Radnor board," Laura McCrystal, April 1, 2014

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