Somerton kicks in support for martial-arts studio

The Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation on Sept. 13 gave nearly un­an­im­ous ap­prov­al for the leg­al­iz­a­tion of a com­mer­cial mar­tial arts stu­dio in a light in­dus­tri­al prop­erty on Dam­ar Drive.

Premi­er Mar­tial Arts has been op­er­at­ing out of a 4,000-square-foot rent­al unit at 13440 Dam­ar Drive for sev­er­al years, but nev­er ob­tained a city use per­mit for the site, ac­cord­ing to the own­er and chief in­struct­or, Dav­id Pantano.

Speak­ing at the SCA’s monthly gen­er­al meet­ing, Pantano fur­ther told neigh­bors that the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions also cited the busi­ness for post­ing non-con­form­ing signs.

Now, Pantano is seek­ing the use per­mit and ap­prov­al for a flat sign to be pos­ted on the front wall of the busi­ness.

Neigh­bors voted 41-1 in fa­vor of the use per­mit. The op­er­at­or of a rival mar­tial arts stu­dio cast the lone dis­sent­ing vote.

In ad­di­tion to mar­tial arts train­ing, Pantano said he con­ducts lim­ited re­tail sales on-site. Spe­cific­ally, stu­dents may buy uni­forms and equip­ment for use in classes. When one neigh­bor asked if the equip­ment in­cluded weapons, Pantano replied that the train­ing devices in­clude blunt or wooden swords, but no ac­tu­al com­bat weapons are avail­able.

Neigh­bors were more con­cerned with the sign is­sue. Pantano ap­plied for per­mis­sion to post a 4-foot-by-8-foot plac­ard. SCA mem­bers voted 19-17 against al­low­ing the sign. Op­pon­ents deemed it too big. Pantano offered to re­duce the size of the sign. SCA board mem­bers said they would in­spect the site and con­tact him with a re­com­mend­a­tion.

The civic group voted on two oth­er zon­ing is­sues at the Sept. 13 meet­ing.

Mem­bers voted un­an­im­ously to al­low a wo­man to build a ves­ti­bule out­side her front door in the Tim­ber­walk com­plex at 10231 Murty Lane.

The wo­man com­plained that wa­ter floods the house dur­ing rain­storms be­cause the en­trance sits at ground level. She’s pro­pos­ing a 4-foot-by-8-foot covered en­trance­way that would shield her door from the weath­er. Neigh­bors in her com­plex already have sim­il­ar struc­tures on their units, she said.

The struc­ture would en­croach by 2 feet upon the min­im­um set­back of 8 feet re­quired un­der the zon­ing code.

In a sep­ar­ate is­sue, the civic group split evenly on an ap­plic­a­tion by the own­er of a home at 276 Ridge­way Plaza to leg­al­ize a con­ver­ted gar­age and shed ad­di­tion. The fi­nal vote on the gar­age was 19 for and 19 against.

Pre­vi­ously, res­id­ents con­ver­ted the gar­age in­to a fam­ily room and built the rear stor­age shed without per­mits. The house is a du­plex oc­cu­pied by a couple, their three grown chil­dren, their daugh­ter-in-law and their grand­child.

Some neigh­bors ex­pressed con­cern that the own­ers planned to use the con­ver­ted gar­age as a sep­ar­ate unit — thereby turn­ing the du­plex in­to a triplex. The ap­plic­ants as­sured skep­tics that the liv­ing space would merely be an ex­ten­sion of the ex­ist­ing home.

Neigh­bors fur­ther voted 20-17 against con­sent­ing to the rear shed.

In crime-re­lated news, com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer Rich Si­mon of the 7th Po­lice Dis­trict re­por­ted that Po­lice Ser­vice Area 3, which in­cludes all of Somer­ton, had 12 burg­lar­ies re­por­ted last month. So, res­id­ents should re­main vi­gil­ant about se­cur­ing their homes.

Doors and win­dows should be kept locked at all times, while res­id­ents should re­port sus­pi­cious activ­ity on their blocks to 911, Si­mon ad­vised.

The civic as­so­ci­ation an­nounced that it has ceased send­ing prin­ted news­let­ters due to the high cost of post­age. In the fu­ture, all monthly news­let­ters will be sent via e-mail. To add your­self to the e-mail list, send a mes­sage to

The next Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation meet­ing will be on Tues­day, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m., at Walk­er Lodge 306, 1290 Southamp­ton Road. ••

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or

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