LOWER MERION Lower Merion commissioners agreed Monday to settle a lawsuit with business owners to clear the way for One Ardmore Place, a multistory mixed-use apartment complex on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore.

The project has faced ardent opposition from residents and some elected officials who say it won't match the character of downtown Ardmore, and business owners who say the extensive construction will drive customers away.

The suit, which added a six-month delay to a project more than a decade in the making, challenged a township zoning decision and blocked Lower Merion from transferring ownership of the Cricket Avenue parking lot to developer Dranoff Properties.

Under the settlement, Dranoff will provide a $55,000 trust for the business owners to offset their costs or losses during construction, and $40,000 for the plaintiffs' attorney's fees. For the first five years, the garage will dedicate the same number of parking spaces - 133 - for public use as the Cricket lot currently provides. Those spaces will be metered for a maximum of four hours.

The business owners, in turn, would drop their appeal and agree not to further challenge the project.

The settlement still must be approved by the Commonwealth Court judge who is presiding over the mediation. - Jessica Parks