Perhaps the most important task facing Narberth's government—or at least the one drawing the most public interest—is the impending borough-wide rezoning that will decide what buildings can look like and what they can be used for, depending on where they are.
The five-seat Planning Commission will be integral in that process, and at Monday's Borough Council meeting, members split over whether to fill the commission's one vacancy with an urban design planner, Todd Bressi, or a real estate developer, Jason Duckworth, president of Arcadia Land Company.
Council members considered both men highly qualified; "I think the county would be lucky to have either of them on their board," Councilman Bob Wegbreit said.
While Councilwoman Heidi Boise said, "Having a planner on the planning commission just makes the most sense," Council Vice President Aaron Muderick added, "Jason, as a developer would be a unique perspective ... a perspective that might challenge some of the ideas we have."
When it came to a vote, Muderick, council members Michael Alexander and Bob Weisbord and Council President Sam Quinn chose Duckworth, appointing him by a single vote over Bressi, the choice of Boise, Wegbreit and Councilwoman Andrea Deutsch.
Duckworth did not attend the meeting but later spoke with Patch about the appointment, saying the impending rezoning was the main reason he had made himself available as a candidate.
"I'm delighted to be serving Narberth borough. I'd like to see the zoning preserve the elements of Narberth we cherish the most, as well as add to the existing fabric," Duckworth said.
Arcadia had already planned to move Aug. 3 from Haverford to an office on Forrest Avenue in the borough, said Duckworth, who lives in Narberth with his wife and two daughters.
Duckworth acknowledged he would have to recuse himself from any Planning Commission discussions and votes of properties tied to Arcadia. As for the company's and borough's financial dispute over fees from the Narberth Arbors development at Wynnewood and Sabine avenues—which Quinn brought up before the vote—Duckworth said it would not affect his work on the commission.
The council also discussed the possibility of expanding the Planning Commission from five to seven seats but took no action Monday night.