Northeast Times

Residents, tavern owner still at odds in E. Torresdale

Both sides should keep talk­ing, says the head of the city zon­ing board.

The own­er of a pop­u­lar wa­ter­front tav­ern in East Tor­res­dale wants to ex­pand his busi­ness, but neigh­bors want him to scale it back.

The out­come of their yearslong dif­fer­ence of opin­ion re­mained un­de­cided last week after two face-to-face meet­ings between the sides.

On Ju­ly 5, Kev­in Good­child, own­er of Mag­gie’s Wa­ter­front Caf&ea­cute;, at 9238 N. Delaware Ave., told neigh­bors dur­ing the monthly East Tor­res­dale Civic As­so­ci­ation meet­ing that he planned to move for­ward with a series of new zon­ing vari­ance ap­plic­a­tions, des­pite the loc­al op­pos­i­tion.

But dur­ing a spe­cial hear­ing in Cen­ter City the fol­low­ing af­ter­noon, Phil­adelphia’s Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment post­poned rul­ings on Good­child’s ap­plic­a­tions so both sides could have time to work on a com­prom­ise.

The busi­ness own­er and neigh­bors agreed to meet with one an­oth­er in the com­ing weeks to at­tempt to re­solve their dif­fer­ences be­fore re­turn­ing to the ZBA. The next hear­ing is ex­pec­ted to oc­cur in mid-Au­gust.

“In forty-five days, I’d like to see what the agree­ment is or is not,” ZBA chair­wo­man Lynette M. Brown-Sow told the sides. “You should have as many meet­ings as you need to have [be­fore then].”

Neigh­bors have long ac­cused Mag­gie’s of gen­er­at­ing loud mu­sic, rowdi­ness, il­leg­al park­ing and oth­er qual­ity-of-life prob­lems for them. The bar/res­taur­ant opened for busi­ness about three years ago on a res­id­en­tially zoned site pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied by oth­er al­co­hol-serving es­tab­lish­ments, in­clud­ing Mimi’s on the Delaware and Whis­key’s.

Good­child ac­know­ledges that he has been cited by the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions for al­low­ing his pat­rons to park on an empty res­id­en­tial lot that he owns next to his busi­ness. Pennsylvania’s Bur­eau of Li­quor Con­trol En­force­ment, mean­while, has cited the busi­ness for noise vi­ol­a­tions.

While still in the pro­cess of resolv­ing the li­quor li­cense vi­ol­a­tion, Good­child is seek­ing zon­ing ap­prov­al from the city to con­sol­id­ate the Mag­gie’s prop­erty with two ad­ja­cent lots that he owns, in­clud­ing the make­shift park­ing area. He also wants to build a roof over an ex­ist­ing patio on the prop­erty, a rooftop deck over the bar/res­taur­ant, new ex­ter­i­or stairs lead­ing to the deck and a new walk-in cool­er be­hind the busi­ness. Fur­ther, he wants to leg­al­ize park­ing on the empty res­id­en­tial lot.

Dur­ing last week’s zon­ing hear­ing, about six neigh­bors iden­ti­fied them­selves as sup­port­ers of Good­child’s plans, while about 10 re­gistered their form­al op­pos­i­tion.

One op­pon­ent, Delaware Av­en­ue res­id­ent Joe Car­son, sub­mit­ted pic­tures to the ZBA pur­portedly de­pict­ing Mag­gie’s pat­rons drink­ing and             ur­in­at­ing in pub­lic with­in view of nearby houses.

“Ur­in­a­tion, drink­ing in the street, squat­ting in the street,” Brown-Sow said as she paged through the pho­to­copied im­ages.

Good­child’s at­tor­ney, Shawn Ward, ar­gued dur­ing cross-ex­am­in­a­tion of Car­son that the pho­tos con­tained no proof that the people in them were Mag­gie’s pat­rons.

Lew Halas, pres­id­ent of the ETCA, test­i­fied that his or­gan­iz­a­tion had no prob­lem with Mag­gie’s when Good­child ini­tially pro­posed the busi­ness. At the time, however, neigh­bors were un­aware that Good­child would ex­pand activ­ity out­doors, in­clud­ing food ser­vice, drink­ing and mu­sic.

“Kev­in came to us and asked to open a fam­ily bar/res­taur­ant in the build­ing. So we were in non-op­pos­i­tion,” Halas said. “Since then, it’s been a night­mare. … It keeps snow­balling.”

An­oth­er neigh­bor and ETCA mem­ber, Alan Bab­new, claimed that he saw a Mag­gie’s pat­ron ur­in­at­ing on a fence sep­ar­at­ing his yard from the busi­ness, but Good­child’s em­ploy­ees denied that the in­di­vidu­al had been in the bar. Bab­new fur­ther com­plained about noise and loud mu­sic at the bar on weeknights and week­ends as late as 2 a.m.

At Good­child’s re­quest, ETCA mem­bers agreed in June to en­gage in ne­go­ti­ations me­di­ated by the city’s Hu­man Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion. The civic group formed a com­mit­tee, chaired by Car­son, on June 27 and no­ti­fied the busi­ness own­er on June 30, but no ac­tu­al ne­go­ti­at­ing ses­sions were held in ad­vance of last week’s zon­ing hear­ing.

The next pub­lic East Tor­res­dale Civic As­so­ci­ation meet­ing is sched­uled for Monday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m., at Liberty Evan­gel­ic­al Free Church. ••

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or bkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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