The Zoning Board of Adjustment is withholding a decision for a proposed Hertz Rent-a-Car office near Frankford and Cottman avenues, as neighborhood groups negotiate with the company.
A Hertz official, the property owner, attorney Shawn Ward and zoning expediter Tom Citro last week attended a joint meeting of the Tacony Civic Association, Mayfair Civic Association and Mayfair Business Association.
Hertz wants to move into a vacant spot at 7257 Frankford Ave., at the southeast corner of Frankford and Cottman. The agency would be in the rear of the space, which includes an AT&T mobile phone store.
Neighbors expressed concern about parking and traffic. They are happy with the AT&T store, which shines brightly at night. They are not as happy about an existing “cash for gold” store, a proposed Kids Parade Day Care and Learning Center and the pending opening of a Pennsylvania Women, Infants and Children office.
“That’s a high-volume area,” said Pete McDermott, zoning chairman for the Mayfair Civic Association.
There are signs in the windows that proclaim, “Welcome to the Mayfair WIC office.” The federally funded program provides healthy food and referrals to social programs for eligible pregnant women, new mothers and children age 5 and younger.
Hertz proponents explained that they are unconnected to the other tenants in a property that once housed Kiki Furniture, which moved a block away to Cottman Avenue and Leon Street.
“We have nothing to do with WIC,” Citro said.
Aides to state Reps. Mike McGeehan, Kevin Boyle and John Taylor and City Councilman Bobby Henon attended the Jan. 9 meeting, held at the John M. Perzel Community Center. Taylor plans to open a local office now that his district will include West Mayfair and Holmesburg.
Sandra Stewart, Henon’s opponent in last year’s election, asked Hertz to hire neighborhood people for the new office, and the company agreed.
Hertz can open under existing zoning laws but needs a use variance for storage of 13 cars inside the building.
The hours of operation would be weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Ventilation would be through the roof.
The company has agreed to place a “Turn right” sign as vehicles exit the property onto Cottman Avenue. It also agreed to save two indoor spaces for cars that are dropping off people who are about to rent a vehicle.
In addition to customers traveling to the site, Hertz employees sometimes pick up individuals at body shops or even accident scenes.
In lobbying for approval, Ward explained that the traffic volume would be less than other possible uses. Citro noted that Hertz is a Fortune 500 company.
“We’re not talking about Joe’s Rental Car,” he said.
Still, one man suggested that Hertz open in the long-vacant Cottman Beverage building at 7544 Frankford Ave.
In the end, residents voted 12-5 in favor of Hertz. Opponents pointed out that the votes in favor came from people living outside the immediate area of the site.
McDermott attended a Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing two days after the neighborhood meeting. The community groups will develop provisos that Hertz would have to agree to before gaining their final approval.
Following the meeting, officials from the Mayfair Civic Association, Town Watch and Business Association joined the heads of the Holmesburg and Tacony civic association to discuss the upcoming Shamrock Shuttle and Erin Express.
The gatherings bring hundreds of people to bars on and near Frankford Avenue and other areas of the Northeast. They are generally held on the first two Saturdays of March. This year, a third huge crowd is expected because St. Patrick’s Day is on a Saturday.
The community groups will meet soon with bar owners to plan for peaceful celebrations. ••EndFragment