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 firstname.lastname@example.org