Northeast Times

Holme Circle urged to plan for Phila2035

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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 donna.car­ney@phila.gov, 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. ••

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You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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