Due to a recent ruling by Philadelphia’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, Maggie’s Waterfront Café has moved closer to expanding its dining service by more than 40 seats.
Meanwhile, the East Torresdale Civic Association seeks assurance from the business that it won’t expand further. Otherwise, the civic group might appeal the ZBA ruling.
During the ETCA’s monthly meeting on Feb. 13, the civic group voted to file a formal appeal of the ZBA’s Jan. 17 ruling notwithstanding an agreement with Maggie’s. If the civic group and the bar/restaurant reach a compromise, the civic group intends to withdrawal its appeal.
General manager John Nagle represented owner Kevin Goodchild at the civic meeting.
Goodchild owns the business at 9242 N. Delaware Ave., in addition to four adjoining properties that city tax records classify as vacant land. All five lots have residential zoning. The bar/restaurant operates with a use variance. There are two structures on that parcel, including a primary bar/restaurant and a secondary two-story addition.
The zoning board last month allowed Goodchild to consolidate three of the lots into one, while extending the dining use variance throughout the rear addition and erecting an awning or “overhang” to cover a walkway between the two buildings.
The business also had been seeking to build another addition (primarily for new bathrooms) and to extend the use variance to an outdoor, rooftop deck. It withdrew both of those appeals due to community opposition, Nagle said.
“I’m not going to fight you for things I know you’re not going to give me and it’s not the good neighborly thing to do,” the manager said.
Neighbors remained skeptical of the business’ expansion plans, however.
Reflecting those concerns, ETCA president Lew Halas asked Nagle to commit in writing that Maggie’s has no intention to try to extend its bar/restaurant use to the adjoining “vacant” properties. Meanwhile, ETCA treasurer Alice Urbanski noted that the business continues to use the vacant properties illegally for parking, despite being cited by the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections for doing so.
An L&I hearing on the issue was pending as of the civic meeting.
The two lots involved in the parking dispute were not among those that the ZBA consolidated with the business lot.
Urbanski also said that the rear addition is taller and wider than Goodchild initially told neighbors it would be. Nagle said he was unable to comment on that the point because the addition was already completed when Goodchild hired him last year.
Nagle announced other measures to appease immediate neighbors of the bar, who have long complained about noise and rowdy patrons in the area.
The business will pay to have fencing built on neighbors’ properties that is meant to obscure the business from their view. It will also plant trees or shrubs as an additional buffer.
The business will move its trash bins toward the Arendel Avenue side of the property, farther away from neighbors, and it will erect a pen to contain the trash bins.
Further, the business will discontinue its controversial block party fund-raisers benefiting police and firefighter charities, as well as a Cerebral Palsy charity. Maggie’s began hosting the events three years ago. Neighbors have complained that the events are disruptive, attracting unwanted traffic and undesirable behavior by patrons.
The bar is locked into one more police benefit in March, Nagle said, but does not plan to renew the other block parties this year due to the criticism.
The next East Torresdale Civic Association meeting will be on Monday, March 12, at 7 p.m., at Liberty Evangelical Free Church, Linden Avenue and Milnor Street. ••EndFragment