Northeast Times

Frankford Civic discusses zoning

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Mem­bers of the Frank­ford Civic As­so­ci­ation have voted to not op­pose two neigh­bor­hood zon­ing vari­ance re­quests, but strongly op­posed a plan to put a high-oc­cu­pancy room­ing house on the second floor of a Frank­ford Av­en­ue com­mer­cial prop­erty.

As­so­ci­ation mem­bers ded­ic­ated al­most all of their Jan. 5 ses­sion at Aria Health’s Frank­ford cam­pus to dis­cuss­ing three zon­ing-vari­ance re­quests.

Mem­bers eli­gible to vote un­an­im­ously said they would not op­pose Harry Cyril’s renov­a­tion work at 1619 Haworth St., a prop­erty ex­tens­ively dam­aged by fire in Ju­ly.

Pete Specos, the civic as­so­ci­ation’s zon­ing of­ficer and act­ing pres­id­ent, said the own­er had hired a con­tract­or who did not get prop­er city per­mits and ab­sconded with a large amount of the own­er’s money. Specos said the own­er and his fam­ily have been put up at loc­al churches be­cause the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions stopped work on the prop­erty.

A zon­ing vari­ance is needed be­cause the build­ing ex­tends 5 feet past its line. Mem­bers had no prob­lem with what the own­er is do­ing and voted to send the city Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment a let­ter of non-op­pos­i­tion to Cyril’s work.

Mem­bers also said they’d tell the zon­ers they do not op­pose Frank Roc­chino’s plan to build two large apart­ments on the south side of what was a ware­house at 4134-36 Orch­ard St.

Specos said Roc­chino, whom he de­scribed as a long­time and reput­able land­lord in Frank­ford, already had put two apart­ments in the north side of the build­ing. Roc­chino said each apart­ment would be more than 1,000 square feet.

Charles Mead­ow’s pro­pos­al to put a room­ing house on the second floor of 4325-27 Frank­ford Ave. was presen­ted by his at­tor­ney, Miguel Le­on, but not well-re­ceived by as­so­ci­ation mem­bers who have a long re­cord of op­pos­ing hous­ing for large num­bers of un­re­lated adults, es­pe­cially if the hous­ing is for re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts.

Mead­ows did not at­tend the civic group’s ses­sion. Le­on said the hous­ing would be for single men and ex­ist as a room­ing house, not a re­cov­ery house.

The civic group’s treas­urer, Tim Wis­niewski, poin­ted out that there were a few nearby fa­cil­it­ies that aid re­cov­er­ing al­co­hol­ics and ad­dicts.

“You can say it’s not go­ing to be a re­cov­ery house,” Wis­niewski said, “but for­give us if we’re skep­tic­al.”

Specos said he had poin­ted out to Mead­ows that the prop­erty, as it cur­rently is laid out, would be a fire­trap. If you stood in the hall­way at 2 in the morn­ing and the lights went off, you could not find your way to safety, he said.

Jason Dawkins, an aide to City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quiñones Sanc­hez, said L&I had found nu­mer­ous fire code vi­ol­a­tions on the prop­erty and that it had been op­er­at­ing as a re­cov­ery house be­fore and after Mead­ows bought it in 2008.

Mem­bers en­cour­aged Le­on to tell Mead­ows to come up with a bet­ter pro­pos­al for the prop­erty. They voted to op­pose a plan for a room­ing house. ••

The Frank­ford Civic As­so­ci­ation’s next meet­ing will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, in the second-floor con­fer­ence room of Aria Health’s Frank­ford cam­pus, 4900 Frank­ford Ave. 

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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