Northeast Times

Will costly dispute lead ETCA and tavern to a deal?

Lead­ers of the East Tor­res­dale Civic As­so­ci­ation and the own­er of Mag­gie’s Wa­ter­front Caf&ea­cute; seemed to agree on at least one thing dur­ing the ETCA’s monthly meet­ing on Nov. 14.

Their drawn-out dis­pute over a series of zon­ing and op­er­a­tion­al is­sues re­gard­ing the North Delaware Av­en­ue tav­ern and res­taur­ant is cost­ing both parties a lot of money in leg­al-con­sult­ing fees.

That real­iz­a­tion might be the im­petus for new dir­ect ne­go­ti­ations between the parties to­ward a com­prom­ise on their dif­fer­ences.

“If you want to do it, we’ll do it the right way. We’ll sit down and talk about it,” ETCA pres­id­ent Lew Halas told Mag­gie’s own­er, Kev­in Good­child, dur­ing the civic group’s Nov. 14 meet­ing.

Good­child said that, if re­newed ne­go­ti­ations are to oc­cur, he would like them to be done “in a timely fash­ion,” con­sid­er­ing he has been un­able to op­er­ate the busi­ness at full ca­pa­city while his plans for ex­pand­ing the prop­erty and its li­quor li­cense re­main in limbo. Mag­gie’s is at 9242 N. Delaware Ave. Good­child also owns ad­join­ing va­cant lots at 9250, 9238, 9230 and 9228.

Since tak­ing over the busi­ness, which over­looks the Delaware River, about two years ago, Good­child has been at odds with nearby res­id­ents over myri­ad is­sues. Neigh­bors have com­plained about ex­cess­ive noise, un­ruly pat­rons and il­leg­al park­ing. Mean­while, Good­child has at­temp­ted to ex­pand the foot­print of the busi­ness, along with its food and bever­age ser­vice, to the roof and the ad­join­ing prop­er­ties.

In a re­cent rul­ing, the Pennsylvania Li­quor Con­trol Board denied Good­child’s ef­fort to ex­pand activ­ity per­mit­ted by his li­quor li­cense. Many neigh­bors test­i­fied against the ex­pan­sion, al­though Good­child says that oth­er neigh­bors sup­por­ted it. The busi­ness own­er plans to ap­peal the rul­ing to Com­mon­wealth Court.

In light of the im­min­ent li­quor li­cense ap­peal, Good­child said that both he and the ETCA would likely have to re­tain at­tor­neys for fur­ther work if they are un­able to reach an out-of-court com­prom­ise.

Halas said that the ETCA’s ex­ec­ut­ive board would have to ap­prove any fu­ture ne­go­ti­ations. The board was sched­uled to meet in ex­ec­ut­ive ses­sion on Nov. 28, as the Times went to press this week. It could choose to form a new com­mit­tee of mem­bers to en­gage in the ne­go­ti­ations with the in­ten­tion of re­port­ing back to the gen­er­al mem­ber­ship.

Mean­while, parties on both sides of the di­vide await a rul­ing by Phil­adelphia’s Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment on a series of zon­ing vari­ances sought by Good­child but largely op­posed by neigh­bors.

Good­child and his at­tor­ney presen­ted the spe­cif­ics of the zon­ing ap­plic­a­tion to res­id­ents at the ETCA’s June gen­er­al meet­ing. But dis­cus­sions between the sides faltered.

Dur­ing a Ju­ly 5 zon­ing board hear­ing, Good­child and his at­tor­ney presen­ted their ar­gu­ments for the sev­en vari­ances sought, while nu­mer­ous neigh­bors and ETCA mem­bers test­i­fied in op­pos­i­tion. The zon­ing board asked the parties to try again to reach a com­prom­ise.

On Sept. 26, the ETCA held a spe­cial gen­er­al meet­ing, in place of its usu­al ex­ec­ut­ive board meet­ing, dur­ing which mem­bers voted to op­pose five of the sev­en vari­ances sought by Good­child.

This month, Good­child’s at­tor­ney, Shawn Ward, sub­mit­ted a nine-page memo to the ZBA ar­guing in fa­vor of the vari­ances on nu­mer­ous spe­cif­ic points. In the doc­u­ment, Ward ques­tioned wheth­er the ETCA had provided suf­fi­cient no­tice of its spe­cial gen­er­al meet­ing to Good­child and to all af­fected res­id­ents and ar­gued that the vot­ing may have been af­fected.

An at­tor­ney for the ETCA then sub­mit­ted a re­but­tal memo to the zon­ing board. The zon­ing board has not an­nounced a date for its fi­nal de­cision on Good­child’s ap­plic­a­tion.

Dur­ing the Nov. 14 ETCA gen­er­al meet­ing, Good­child noted that the civic group had again failed to provide mem­bers with writ­ten no­tice. Typ­ic­ally, the group sends post­cards via U.S. mail to mem­bers each month. Those post­cards were not dis­trib­uted be­fore the meet­ing.

ETCA lead­ers ac­know­ledged that the latest post­card mail­ing did not oc­cur. But the group meets on the same day every month (the second Monday) and main­tains a Web site (east­tor­res­da­le­civic.com) where meet­ing dates and oth­er in­form­a­tion are pos­ted.

In un­re­lated ETCA busi­ness:

• The civic group an­nounced nom­in­a­tions for its ex­ec­ut­ive board. Elec­tions will be held at the Dec. 12 gen­er­al meet­ing. Nom­in­ees in­clude Lew Halas (pres­id­ent), Bill Kennedy (first vice pres­id­ent), Joe Dri­oli (second vice pres­id­ent), Con­nie Sif­fel (re­cord­ing sec­ret­ary) and Alice Urbanski (treas­urer), along with sev­er­al com­mit­tee chair po­s­i­tions. Ad­di­tion­al nom­in­a­tions will be ac­cep­ted un­til the elec­tion.

• The next ETCA gen­er­al meet­ing will be on Monday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m., at Liberty Evan­gel­ic­al Free Church, Linden Av­en­ue and Mil­nor Street. ••

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

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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