Northeast Times

Baseball training facility approved by zoning board

A May­fair man’s plans to put an in­door soft­ball and base­ball train­ing fa­cil­ity in­to a McN­ulty Road ware­house got the city Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment’s ap­prov­al in Ju­ly.

But that might not be enough to make it hap­pen be­cause a City Coun­cil mem­ber in­sists it may not be leg­ally done no mat­ter what the ZBA does.

In May, Joe Brown re­ceived the Park­wood Civic As­so­ci­ation’s sup­port for his pro­pos­al to loc­ate his Slug­gers­ville In­door Base­ball/Train­ing Fa­cil­ity at 12285 McN­ulty Road, Suite 106, in an in­dus­tri­al park.

Slug­gers­ville would con­tain 10 “tun­nels,” or net­ted train­ing areas, with­in a space that meas­ures about 122 feet by 73 feet. Be­cause he would in­stall turf and net­ting only, Brown said there would be no phys­ic­al changes to the build­ing.

When he made his pitch to the civic as­so­ci­ation in May, Brown said there is no oth­er train­ing fa­cil­ity like his in the city. He said any­one who wants to go to an in­door base­ball fa­cil­ity has to go to Bucks County. He said chil­dren and adults, teams and in­di­vidu­als could use his fa­cil­ity. About 10 jobs could be cre­ated, he said.

Be­cause Brown’s pro­pos­al is not al­lowed un­der the build­ing’s zon­ing, a vari­ance was ne­ces­sary from the city’s zon­ing board. Brown said he had his zon­ing board hear­ing on Ju­ly 20 and his ap­plic­a­tion for a three-year vari­ance was ap­proved.

In Novem­ber, Brown told mem­bers of the Walton Park Civic As­so­ci­ation about an al­most identic­al plan for the 10000 block of Drum­mond Road.

Walton Park’s mem­bers seemed to like the pro­pos­al for a year-round train­ing fa­cil­ity in the North­east, but they were not sold on the idea of loc­at­ing it in prop­erty zoned for in­dustry. They wouldn’t sup­port the idea and sug­ges­ted that Brown look else­where.

He did just that and found space on McN­ulty Road.

Ac­cord­ing to Brown, Tony Rod, a broker for the build­ing’s own­ers, Bo­ston-based Cabot Prop­er­ties Inc., told zon­ing board mem­bers the prop­erty has been va­cant for more than three years and that there was more than 200,000 va­cant square feet in the in­dus­tri­al park. Ac­cord­ing to city re­cords, Cabot Prop­er­ties bought the build­ing for $3.58 mil­lion in Au­gust 2010. 

However, Brown said, Bill Ra­pone, an aide to City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill (R-10th dist.)  told the board that O’Neill was op­posed to the vari­ance ap­plic­a­tion and that the Phil­adelphia In­dus­tri­al De­vel­op­ment Corp. main­tained the prop­erty’s deed had a re­stric­tion that barred all but in­dus­tri­al use.

The coun­cil­man later con­firmed that he had sent Ra­pone to the zon­ing board hear­ing. He also con­firmed that there is a deed re­stric­tion on the prop­erty, so it didn’t mat­ter that the ZBA ap­proved a tem­por­ary vari­ance. A com­mer­cial en­ter­prise may not be put in the prop­erty.

“It is the own­er’s re­spons­ib­il­ity to know this,” he said.

A call and an e-mail to Cabot were not answered. ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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