A Bustleton church probably will withdraw its application for a zoning variance that would have allowed it to rent classrooms to a charter school.
A hearing scheduled for July 6 before the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment was continued because the application became a non-issue a week earlier, said Hercules Grigos, attorney for St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
Representatives of First Philadelphia Charter School had told church members they were no longer interested in the Welsh Road property, Grigos said in a phone interview on Friday, so it was likely the church would drop its request for the city’s OK.
A variance was necessary because the church’s neighborhood on the 600 block of Welsh Road is zoned residential.
James Stanton, director of communications and community relations for First Philadelphia Charter School for Literacy, last week said the school was not in the market to rent classrooms.
It had been.
First Philadelphia had looked at several sites, Stanton said, because the school has plans to open a second campus. The charter wanted to rent space at St. Thomas for kindergarten and first grade for two years while it erects a new building. He said the classrooms on the church’s property were in excellent condition and were well-suited to the charter’s needs.
Currently, however, there is a cap on how many pupils a charter may have, Stanton said in a phone interview. He said the Tacony charter has a long waiting list and would have had no problem filling another school, but that cap has yet to be lifted, he said, so there is no reason to enter into a rental agreement with St. Thomas.
In May, Stanton told members of the Greater Bustleton Civic League that the charter expected 150 pupils would be in kindergarten and first grade. The 75 kindergarten pupils would be driven to the school. The first-graders could be bused, he said. The school would be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and have 15 to 20 employees.
In May, one resident said Welsh Road is dangerous in that area, and that many drivers speed down the street. He said he had replaced five mailboxes that had been hit by drivers. “We don’t need no more traffic,” he said.
A synagogue, Temple Beth Torah, had been on the property, and a Hebrew school had operated after-school classes there once, the civic league’s president, John McKeever, had said, but the building had not been a full-time school. ••
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org