NEWTOWN SQUARE–The Paper Mill Road issue was once again addressed at Monday night's Board of Supervisors meeting and an update was provided by Newtown Township officials to address the concerns of residents from Paper Mill Road and Paper Mill Lane.
The issue involves a new resident on Paper Mill Road who has made efforts to deny access to the neighborhood's old, defunct roadway, which is located at the end of Paper Mill Road and adjacent to the homeowner's property.
The roadway, which runs through Newtown and Radnor townships, was once used in the early 1800s as a thruway for traffic from Skunk Hollow to Darby-Paoli Road, and has been closed to traffic since then.
The residents of Paper Mill Road and Paper Mill Lane have been using the old roadway as a walking path to Darby Creek and trails in Radnor. The road has been maintained by the township since the 1970s.
Township's Position On The Issue
At Monday night's meeting, Township Manager Mike Trio stated that the township had made it clear to the new homeowner on the township's position on the issue. Trio said the road that leads from Newtown Township to Radnor Township, and stopping right before the "no trespassing" sign, in the middle of the long path, is considered to be a public road.
"I think we took a position right off the bat. It's mapped as a public road, unless it's proven otherwise, it's a public road," said Trio. "If you're in that 30-feet right-away, it's public access. I think we're very specific with the owner that our position is that it is a public right-away–whether it's paved or not."
Trio said Township Solicitor Rich Sokorai is currently working with the homeowner and the homeowner's attorney to work out the "nuances of the legal side."
According to Sokorai, Radnor Township confirmed they had no intentions of reopening their portion of that roadway from Paper Mill Road to Skunk Hollow. In addition, Sokorai stated during his research, they were unable to find any dedications or easements to indicate whether the road is in fact private or public.
The "no trespassing" signs around the path have been taken down by the homeowner after the township's request to remove them, said Sokorai.
At the last supervisors meeting, several residents complained about the homeowner's dogs who have been intimidating residents from accessing the path. Sokorai addressed this issue and stated that the township has told the homeowner that his canines must be controlled.
According to Supervisors Chairman Joseph Catania, the road will remain open and accessible to the Paper Mill Road neighbors until the township has made an actual legal position on the issue. "The best we can do in the interim is keep the pathway open so the use does not change."
The township could face a litigation battle, if things don't work out, said Catania.
In addition, Supervisor John Nawn, also a licensed engineer and traffic engineer, addressed the traffic situation around the Paper Mill Road neighborhood and said a "no outlet" sign and a "dead end" sign have been ordered and will be placed on the roadways in approximately 30-45 days. The "no outlet" sign will be placed on St. David's Road and Paper Mill Road. The "dead end" sign will be placed on Paper Mill Road and Paper Mill Lane.
Township officials reminded residents along Paper Mill Road and Paper Mill Lane that if any new signs are placed by the road denying access, to call the township office for immediate attention.