Holme Circle residents are gearing up for a long wait to formulate a new “District Plan” for their portion of Northeast Philadelphia.
During the monthly meeting of the Holme Circle Civic Association on Feb. 29, city planner Mike Thompson told residents that their neighborhood will be among the last that the City Planning Commission will review as part of its citywide Philadelphia2035 project. In short, it could be five years or more before it’s Holme Circle’s turn.
However, Thompson said, neighbors can get a head start on the process by reading up on Philadelphia2035 at phila2035.org, signing up for the Citizens Planning Institute and creating a “neighborhood strategies and goals report” specific to Holme Circle.
“I want to encourage anybody who has interest to come in, participate and give (the commission) ideas. It’s your plan,” Thompson said.
According to the project Web site, Philadelphia2035 is meant to be a comprehensive plan aligning the city’s forthcoming zoning code changes with “comprehensive and strategic planning.” With the citywide plan complete, the City Planning Commission is working with communities to prepare more-localized strategic plans for 18 regions or districts.
Holme Circle falls into the “Lower Far Northeast” district, which is bordered by Pennypack Creek to the south, Frankford Avenue and the Poquessing Creek to the east and northeast, the Byberry East Industrial Park to the north and Roosevelt Boulevard to the west.
Other Northeast Philadelphia districts include Upper Far Northeast (north of Pennypack and west of the Boulevard), North Delaware (along the Delaware River from Frankford to Torresdale), Central Northeast (Rhawnhurst, Fox Chase and Burholme areas) and Lower Northeast (Oxford Circle, Northwood, Lawndale, Crescentville and surrounding areas).
Two district plans are already complete — the West Park district in West Philly and the Lower South district in South Philly. The planning commission intends to do the remaining 16 districts in five additional phases. Lower Far Northeast will be in the sixth and last phase, mainly because it’s already considered a stable area of the city.
“This district is in the best shape,” Thompson said.
Plans generally take nine months to a year to prepare.
Neighbors and planning officials will assess the condition of and demands upon “capital facilities” — such as recreation centers, libraries and police and fire stations — along with streets and traffic patterns, while seeking opportunities to preserve and increase open space and the “walkability” of neighborhoods.
In the meantime, residents may enroll in an upcoming Citizens Planning Institute session. Operated by the planning commission, the institute teaches citizens how planning works and how they can take a more active role in determining future development in their communities.
Last year, members of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association — which borders the Holme Circle territory — attended the institute and led their community in developing a Neighborhood Strategies and Goals Report. The report is expected to influence the district plan for North Delaware, of which Upper Holmesburg is a part.
To register for the institute, individuals may contact Donna Carney at 215-683-4640 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Thompson said.
At the recent Holme Circle meeting, residents also discussed a current redevelopment issue.
John Parsons, co-owner of Northeast-based commercial builder BSI Construction, announced that he had bought the “Stokes House” at 2976-80 Welsh Road as a favor to troubled friend Samuel “Buzz” Stokes.
Stokes was an aide to former state Rep. John Perzel and has pleaded guilty to criminal charges connected to Perzel’s corruption case. He awaits sentencing. Stokes also is Perzel’s brother-in-law. Perzel pleaded guilty last year and is to be sentenced next Wednesday.
Neighbors are interested in the one-acre property because of its size and because of the potential historic value of a centuries-old farmhouse on the site. Last year, Stokes asked neighbors to support his plan to raze the house, subdivide the land and build numerous twin homes. But the civic group objected and Stokes withdrew the proposal.
Parsons reported last week that the house is in bad condition and restoration would not be cost-effective. The house is not registered nationally or locally as historic, he said.
Yet, he said he has no immediate plans for the property and is open to ideas, even from those who would like the house preserved.
The next Holme Circle Civic Association meeting will be on Wednesday, March 28, at 7 p.m., at St. Jerome School library, Stamford and Colfax streets. ••EndFragment