Central Roxborough Civic Association Meeting Minutes
February 1, 2018
Don Simon announced that there is now a moratorium on demolition of properties on Ridge Avenue from the Wissahickon Transfer Center to the City line at Northwestern Ave. The purpose of the moratorium is to give time for the identification and protective designation of historic buildings along the Ridge. We recently lost a house built in the 1700s next to Wawa.
Zoning: 5900 Ridge Avenue – Request for Use Variance
Attorney Bill O’Brien presented with Cesira Ruggiero and David Plante. Ruggiero and Plante have made an offer to purchase the church building located at the corner of Ridge & Roxborough Avenue for use as the offices of Ruggiero Plante Land Design, a land design engineering firm currently based on Main Street in Manayunk. The firm consists of 28 people and was established in 1978. Because the property is zoned RSD-1 (single family detached residential), they will require a variance for commercial activity.
There are no plans for any material modifications to the church itself with the exception of one window that will become a door. There will be excavation done outside to place a sunken patio at the basement level of the church. The patio will not be visible from Ridge Avenue and will be connected to Roxborough Avenue via a flagstone footpath. The firm’s offices would be located in the front of the church, with studio space in nave.
The presenters showed boards with proposed landscaping which would beautify the exterior portion of the property.
Parking will be coordinated with the owners of an apartment complex being built adjacent to the church on Roxborough Avenue. Many of their employees live in the area and plan to walk or bike to work.
Ruggiero Plante plans to settle on the property in April and hopes to be moved in by September.
Zoning: 6156 Ridge Avenue – Request for “Nightclub” Variance
Executive Director Justin Nordell from the Philadelphia Folksong Society
(with attorney Max Weiss from Cozen O’Connor) presented a request for support of a variance that would permit entertainment and assembly of more than 50 people at the Folksong Society’s new home in Roxborough. The Folksong Society would like to host concerts in their home space as well as encouraging school field trips to take part in educational offerings at the location. The Folksong Society would plan to have 2-4 concerts a week, mostly on Thursday through Sunday.
The Philadelphia Folksong Society is willing to agree to a proviso or contract under which the “nightclub” use for zoning would be extinguished should the Society leave the location.
Petition to Exclude Roxborough and Manayunk from 10-Year Tax Abatement
Roxborough resident Judy Stefanowski circulated a petition she would like to present to Councilman Jones. The petition requests Manayunk and Roxborough be excluded from the current 10-year tax abatement for new construction. Ms. Stefanowski explained that the current system leads to overdevelopment, a loss of green spaces, and puts long-time residents at a disadvantage when they go to sell their house.
Josh Cohen from Councilman Jones’ office was present at the meeting and stated inquiries have been made to the City’s Law Department regarding this very issue, and they are awaiting the advice of the Law Department. It may not be possible to exclude particular neighborhoods entirely, but it may be possible to lower the time of the abatement from 10 years to something else in some districts.
Poll for Variance Support
As per CRCA policy, those before the group with request for support of a variance are asked to leave following their presentation. Members and neighbors then discuss the proposal and poll is taken to gauge community support for the idea. CRCA’s board, considering the vote taken at the general meeting, makes the final decision on whether to officially support, oppose, or not oppose the project in its recommendation to the Zoning Board.
- 5900 Ridge – unanimous support
- 6156 Ridge – unanimous support with a proviso/agreement that the zoning would revert should Philadelphia Folk Song Society vacate the premises; several people were still supportive of the proposal even without such a proviso/agreement.
Don Simon reviewed the activities of the CRCA during 2017, as required by the Association’s by-laws.
CRCA owns two properties, the first being a community garden on Monastery between Terrace Street & Manayunk Ave. The second is Edling Park, an undeveloped plot of land at Terrace Street & Shurs Lane which was donated to CRCA.
CRCA is a member of the Lower Northwest Coalition of Civics, a group of community organizations in Roxborough, Manayunk, and Wissahickon. We are also a member of the Crosstown Coalition of Civics with RCOs from across Philadelphia.
CRCA has done lots of work in the past year with the Planning Commission to re-zone the area to reflect the character of surrounding properties and prevent the construction of over-dense or inappropriate development by right. CRCA also worked to support the demolition moratorium for Ridge Avenue that is now in effect. This civic supported the Manayunk Neighborhood Council efforts to stop an objectionable development at St. Mary’s. After numerous public meetings and testimony, the developer has presented revised plans that are much more palatable. CRCA also supports Kay Sykora and others working on the Greening Initiative – they’re always looking for volunteers!
CRCA supported a request for a variance for 492-98 Roxborough Avenue with a deed restriction. The proposal called for the property at the corner of Ridge & Roxborough to be subdivided, with one parcel being developed for residential use (apartments) and the other (now known as 5900 Ridge) would contain the existing church to be redeveloped for commercial use, with a deed restriction that the church could not be demolished.
CRCA opposed a project at 451 Green Lane that would involve tearing down an existing single to be replaced with a triplex. The developer’s request was denied by the ZBA and the Court of Common Pleas upheld the ZBA’s decision on appeal. The developer has appealed the case up to the Commonwealth Court, where we are awaiting a decision. CRCA’s ongoing legal fees related to this project have been substantial.
CRCA was non-opposed to the request for an entertainment/assembly variance for Petite Fete at 6139 Ridge.
CRCA supported the proposal for a brew pub next to Pocket Park.
CRCA opposed a proposal for the construction of a semi-detached house with a front-loading garage at 330 Carson Street, but the ZBA granted the variance anyway.
Some programming at CRCA meetings in 2017 included Fair Districts PA (a non-partisan anti-gerrymandering group), a Candidates Night for those seeking elected office, and presentations from local schools.
CRCA Annual Treasurer's Report
The 2017 CRCA Treasurer's Report was presented by Neil Macdonell, Treasurer.
||Water Bill for Edling Park/Community Garden
||451 Green Lane Lawyer Fees
||Edling Park tree removal
||Crosstown Coalition Dues
||Online survey re: programming
||NCO toolkit development
||Retirement gift for leader of Crosstown Coalition
||Dues and Donations
||Donations specific to 451 Green Lane legal fees
||Community Garden Dues
So, CRCA is operating a deficit. Renew your dues! It’s only $10 A YEAR. You can also donate online with PayPal at crca.us.
Election of Officers
CRCA presented a proposed slate for community consideration as follows: President (Celeste Hardester), Vice-President (Don Simon), Treasurer (Neil Macdonell), Recording Secretary (Elizabeth Fischer), Corresponding Secretary (Alexander Fidrych) and Board Chair (Lynda Payne). The floor was open to other nominations but there were none. Upon motion, the proposed slate was approved without objection.