Devon Yard, the splashy - and beleaguered - Chester County project promising to bring Urban Outfitters and Vetri restaurants to the Main Line, cleared one hurdle Wednesday night and now goes to the township despite opposition from some residents who packed Wednesday night's meeting of the Easttown Township Planning Commission.
After a long hearing that included testimony from some of the 100 residents in attendance, the commission unanimously endorsed the zoning changes the developer will need to build the shopping center and luxury apartment complex. The proposal now heads to the township's Board of Supervisors for approval.
The commission had recommended a similar ordinance in November, but developers submitted a new version late last month after their first plan was met with opposition during a public hearing in February.
The changes, which brought the apartment complex down to four stories from five, represented a "major concession" by the developers, said their lawyer, Lou Colagreco.
But residents who attended the meeting at Beaumont Elementary School said the plan still doesn't fit in with the area's current and historical character.
"They haven't gone far enough," said resident Avis Yuni. "Let's not fool ourselves that one floor is going to change anything here."
The commissioners, who remained largely passive as members of the public spoke, unanimously approved the recommendation after a tense meeting in which almost all the speakers were opposed to the project.
"We don't just play tiddledywinks when we have our meetings," Commissioner John McCarty said while audience members continued calling out questions. "We do our due diligence."
Plans for Devon Yard have gone through several iterations in the last three years.
It is slated to fill the prime real estate space on Lancaster Avenue once occupied by Waterloo Gardens, a Main Line landmark for decades before it shut down in 2013.
The new center would include Urban Outfitters brands Anthropologie and Terrain, and two Vetri Family restaurants.
Across Devon Boulevard would sit a four-story luxury apartment building targeted to empty-nesters and developed by Eli Kahn, who is responsible for similar projects in Malvern and West Chester.
The zoning ordinance proposed by developers was set to be voted on by the Board of Supervisors two months ago, but after that meeting was postponed, developers turned up with the revised proposal.
The new ordinance approved Wednesday sets the building limits at four stories and 100 units, and a height limit of 50 feet - reduced by one story, 35 units and 10 feet from previous plans. It would be built in an area zoned for single-family homes.
The changes to the ordinance were made in response to public concerns, Colagreco said.
While many opposed the apartment building and adjacent parking garage, most neighbors don't object to the shopping center portion, which is in an area that was already zoned for commercial real estate.
A public hearing on the zoning ordinance is set for May 5.