Preservation plan may be amended for Green Woods Charter School

The owner of an early-century Chestnut Hill mansion is looking to amend its conservation easements, which permanently protect the property from development, in order to make way for a school.

In February, Green Woods Charter School announced its plans to move from the Schuylkill Center in Roxborough to Greylock Manor, a mansion located at 209 West Chestnut Hill Ave. The Chestnut Hill Historical Society holds the property’s easements, which total 6.7 acres.

Jennifer Hawk, executive director of the Historical Society, says that the current owner, Greylock Holdings, LLC, has “indicated that it will be requesting amendments to the easements” on behalf of Green Woods.

If Greylock goes through with this, Hawk says it would be only the second time a property owner has changed its easements during her two-year tenure. When it happened the first time, the owner revamped their easement to conserve additional land.

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The 6.7 acres of protected space on Greylock account for almost 10 percent of all of the Historical Society’s easements, which total 70 acres. The mansion’s easements protect three sides of the facade and open space in front of the mansion from development, and provide restrictions on occupancy, parking and events on the site. The easements allow for some expansion of impervious coverage behind the building, which means that certain developments, like swimming pools and tennis courts, are allowed there.

Jean Wallace, Green Woods’ CEO, says she cannot discuss the proposed amendments until a March 15 meeting between the Chestnut Hill Community Association, the Historical Society and the school, where the architectural designs will be presented.

“Our desire is not to change the facade of the building, but rather to wrap ourselves in, around and behind the Manor in such a way that will not in any way detract from its majestic presence,” says Wallace, adding that the school’s proposed designs are “an exciting concept and we look forward to sharing [them] with everyone.”

Hawk says that the easement stipulates that any amendments be “net-neutral,” meaning that the conservation value of the property must remain unchanged or go up.

“They will have to find a way to accomplish their goals without depleting the resources of the property,” she says.

The Chestnut Hill Community Association meeting will be held on Tue., March 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the first-floor conference room of the Chestnut Hill Hospital.

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