Central Roxborough Civic Association Meeting Minutes
September 1, 2016
CRCA President Don Simon called the meeting to order and welcomed those present.
Statement from Pam DeLissio
Don then summarized a letter from State Rep. Pam DeLissio about what’s going on in Harrisburg. It is the 2nd year of a 2-year session with the end of the year coming on 11/30. Any legislation not passed by then would need to be reintroduced in the next session.
- Rep. DeLissio is hosting a Town Hall event on September 30th at 10:00 A.M. in the Wolcoff Auditorium at Roxborough Memorial Hospital.
- She is also hosting 2 document shredding events. The first is on October 15th at the Magisterial District Court at 901 Montgomery Ave. The second is on October 23rd from 9-11 A.M. at 4349 Ridge Ave. Call her office for more information on these events.
- Current pending legislation includes bills that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation, a bill to eliminate the statute of limitations on sex crimes involving children, a restrictive abortion bill, a bill to facilitate organ donation, and a bill to streamline single-payer healthcare in PA.
451 Green Lane (presentation by CRCA’s Corresponding Secretary Alex Fidrych)
At a special meeting in August, the owner of the property at 451 Green Lane (Fred Abrams) presented to the CRCA membership his proposal to completely demolish the existing structure on that site (which was originally a single family home) and construct a triplex in its pace. The Zoning Board of Adjustment held a hearing on the matter last week, despite requests by both the CRCA and Councilman Curtis Jones’ office for a continuance. The applicant opposed the request for a continuance and the hearing was held nonetheless. Because CRCA was not able to have an attorney present on the hearing date, they were not allowed to cross-examine the applicant or his attorney. CRCA has been given until next Tuesday (Sept. 6) to consult with its attorney and submit evidence for the official record, and the ZBA will not make a determination until Tuesday or later. CRCA is meeting with its attorney on Friday Sept. 2 to finalize what will go into the record. We will keep you updated on the progress. Councilman Curtis Jones is also opposing the application for a variance. The applicant’s argument rests in part on the dubious proposition that because a multi-family variance was granted long ago, that use would be continuing, just in a different structure. CRCA feels the complete demolition of the existing structure extinguishes the variance. CRCA also notes that the proposed “replacement” structure is approximately 150% the size of the home currently on the lot.
- Don Simon added that if the ZBA grants the variance, CRCA would then have to decide whether or not to appeal that decision to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. If the result of that appeal were not satisfactory, CRCA could then appeal the decision to the Commonwealth Court, where we would likely have a good shot at winning. However, all this costs money. The cost of retaining an attorney just for the ZBA is expensive – about $4,000. We have already received about $2,000 in donations, but of course more are welcome. Your contributions to CRCA are tax-deductible and we will be happy to provide paperwork documenting your donation.
- Please also send letters or emails to the ZBA letting them know how you feel about the proposed triplex at 451 Green Lane. Addresses and emails are on the CRCA website.
443 Shurs Lane (the Ugly Moose, presented by representatives of HOW Properties)
The owner of the Ugly Moose restaurant is closing and wishes to sell the property. The proposal would eliminate 2 existing structures (Ugly Moose & Deke’s BBQ) and replace it with a four-story commercial building and exterior parking lot with 57 spaces (larger than the existing lot, which holds about 40 cars when parked 3 deep). HOW Properties has been in touch with potential tenants, and they are interested in bringing a daycare/early childhood school to a 9,000 square foot space on the 3rd floor of the building with outdoor green space provided on the roof. Other tenants might include pediatric dentists and a 3,000 square foot fitness center. A restaurant space, most likely Deke’s would occupy a portion of the ground floor. The building is zoned CMX2, and the developers intend to use it entirely as a commercial space rather than add any residential.
- A neighbor commented that she would like to see some green spaces added so that pavement and buildings did not come right up to the side walk. The developer said they would look into doing that, but that providing adequate and code-conforming parking was a key priority.
- A CRCA board member asked about other projects HOW Properties has done, particularly in the area. They stated they were responsible for the renovation of the Watermill Apartments at Leverington and Main Streets, which has a commercial tenant (cat vet) on the bottom floor. They are also working on the renovation of St. Bridget’s School in East Falls into apartments. All commercial, all new construction is a little out of their norm.
- Another CRCA board member who lives on Kingsley Street commented that he hates siding and that all the homes on Kingsley Street are all brick. The developer responded that brick is expensive, but they will do some on their building.
- A CRCA member asked that subsequent plan renderings depict adjacent properties for clarity.
- Don Simon asked about the project’s timeline. The developer responded that it will be about 6 months before any work starts. Because the project is by-right and does not require any variances or a ZBA hearing, the primary task for the developers is finding tenants to lease space in the new building. They have reached out to a number of potential tenants and have “some form of verbal commitment” to cover about 2/3 of the rentable space.
- The building’s primary frontage will be on Kingsley Street. Shurs Lane is basically just a driveway.
- A CRCA board member asked about the possibility of underground parking. The developer responded that because the existing building lacks a basement and has a unique grade situation, digging down 10 feet or more would become prohibitively expensive. Another board member suggested using the grade to create a partial-underground parking lot, the top of which could serve as patio seating for Deke’s customers.
- A CRCA member asked about security for children on the roof. The developer responded that the state has very strict requirements about such things and mandates a six-foot tall partially clear but “bullet-proof” wall surround the roof.