Plans for baseball batting cages stalled by zoning flap

Joe Brown swung and thought he had con­nec­ted, but in­stead, his hit got him in­volved in a dis­puted call.

The May­fair man told mem­bers of the Park­wood Civic As­so­ci­ation last week that he thought he’d gained ap­prov­al to put a soft­ball and base­ball train­ing fa­cil­ity in a McN­ulty Road ware­house, but now he isn’t sure it will ac­tu­ally hap­pen.

Brown said he has in­ves­ted a lot of time and money in es­tab­lish­ing his Slug­gers­ville In­door Train­ing Fa­cil­ity at the site at 12285 McN­ulty Road. The prop­erty is zoned for in­dus­tri­al use, which meant Brown had to ask the Park­wood civic group for its sup­port and then ob­tain a zon­ing vari­ance from the city Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment.

He got Park­wood’s bless­ing in May and notched the city zon­ers’ OK in Ju­ly. He thought he was head­ing for home with his base­ball ven­ture, but now the Phil­adelphia In­dus­tri­al De­vel­op­ment Corp. is threat­en­ing to sue him if he pro­ceeds, Brown ex­plained at the civic as­so­ci­ation’s Sept. 21 meet­ing at St. An­selm Church. 

City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill (R-10th dist.) also op­poses Brown’s plans.

So what’s the prob­lem with us­ing some empty ware­house space for a sports fa­cil­ity?

Over the sum­mer, the coun­cil­man and PIDC said there is a re­stric­tion on the prop­erty’s deed that re­serves it for in­dus­tri­al, not com­mer­cial, use. O’Neill told the North­east Times then that he doesn’t like to see in­dus­tri­al build­ings used for any­thing but in­dustry.

Brown said his at­tor­ney main­tains there are 15 non-con­form­ing zon­ing uses in the area. One is a bank, he said. Be­sides, he ad­ded, his zon­ing vari­ance is good for only three years. After that, if in­dus­tri­al use of the site were needed, it shouldn’t be a prob­lem, Brown con­ten­ded. 

He noted pre­vi­ously that he wouldn’t make any changes to the build­ing.

Slug­gers­ville would con­tain 10 “tun­nels,” or net­ted train­ing areas, with­in a space that meas­ures about 122 feet by 73 feet. He would in­stall turf and net­ting only.

Brown said PIDC is threat­en­ing to sue even though he had pub­lic sup­port and no one ap­pealed the zon­ing vari­ance he re­ceived.

O’Neill aide Anne Mar­ie Boyle said the coun­cil­man had noth­ing per­son­ally against Brown and hoped he would find a place that is prop­erly zoned.

“It’s rare that we sup­port com­mer­cial go­ing in­to in­dus­tri­al,” she said.

In­dus­tri­al jobs are bet­ter-pay­ing and have bet­ter be­ne­fits than jobs out­side of in­dustry, she said. Months ago, Brown told the civic as­so­ci­ation that the prop­erty has been va­cant for three years.

A few res­id­ents clearly were on Brown’s side.

There is no in­dustry, one man said.  ldquo;We need people back in the city.”


Liz Hae­gele, Pennsylvania Hor­ti­cul­tur­al So­ci­ety urb­an forestry co­ordin­at­or, said PHS has hun­dreds of trees that it will give — at no charge — to North­east res­id­ents for back­yard plant­ing.

A homeown­er or a renter who has land­lord ap­prov­al can get one or two trees, but ap­plic­a­tion must be made right away. The dead­line is this Sat­urday, Oct. 1. To get on the list, call Hae­gele at 215-988-1618.

Any­one who gets a tree must pick it up and plant it. That means hav­ing the right vehicle, be­cause the young trees are 6 to 7 feet. PHS will provide plant­ing in­struc­tions. 

The pickup point will be the Pennypack En­vir­on­ment­al Cen­ter on Ver­ree Road. ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or

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