The Somerton Civic Association endorsed reconstruction of a fire-ravaged duplex but opposed another duplex owner’s zoning appeal during the community group’s monthly meeting on Sept. 11.
The first case involved a property at 10020 Bridle Road, near the intersection of Gorman Street. Fire destroyed a two-story twin-duplex on the site more than 15 months ago, according to an attorney and architect for the owner, who is identified in city tax records as Lev A. Kushner.
Kushner bought the burned-out property and the attached duplex at 10022 Bridle Road in April 2011. He lives in the surviving property along with relatives and hopes to rebuild the one that was destroyed. Yet, new city zoning regulations require him to get special approval because he has room for only one off-street parking spot, rather than the required two.
The new duplex will look like the one that was destroyed and will match the adjoining property as well as others on the block, which were built in the 1960s. The owner plans to rent out both floors of the new building.
SCA members voted 24-12 to endorse the project, which will be subject to approval by the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment.
SCA members took the opposite position on the other duplex proposal.
Jose Tavares owns the two-story property at 315 Ridgeway St. (Ridgeway and Nandina), which he remodeled without obtaining building permits. Specifically, he said, he sealed up a first-floor garage and converted it into interior living space.
Tavares bought the property in 2002, according to city tax records, and lived there until recently. When he moved, he applied for a rental license but was refused because the city had no record of the renovations on the property.
Parking is the main problem. The property is short on off-street spaces because the garage is no longer available. There is a driveway in front of the house, but the city’s zoning code does not classify the driveway as a legal parking spot.
SCA members voted 17-12 to oppose the owner’s efforts to legalize the garage conversion and a new parking configuration on the property.
In other SCA business:
• Carlton Williams, commissioner of the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, encouraged residents to report “nuisance signs” to the city via the 311 telephone system.
Williams described nuisance signs as those that appear on utility poles, trees and other public locations with promotional slogans such as “We buy gold” or “We buy houses.” Typically, these disposable signs have been posted illegally.
City ordinances require that any temporary or disposable signs receive L&I approval before they are posted. Legal signs will have L&I stickers or labels affixed to them. Generally, the city does not require stickers on political signs, but it will fine candidates whose signs are not removed soon after the election, Williams said.
• SCA president Dolores Barbieri encouraged all Somerton residents to attend the second annual Community Day on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Danny Boyle Recreation Center.
The civic group will honor military veterans, police, firefighters and, in particular, the parents of slain police officer Danny Boyle. The SCA will also recognize Suburban Pharmacy for its longtime service and contributions to the community.
The event will feature children’s games, face painting, balloon sculpture, a jug band, other musical entertainment, child safety kits and other attractions. All activities are free.
• Dan Lodise, chief of staff to state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.), reported that a controversial traffic circle recently installed at Trevose and Somerton roads is not in Boyle’s district.
Neighbors have complained, largely on the civic association’s Facebook page, that the circle creates a safety hazard. Formerly, there was a “T” intersection at the location, but it was reconfigured this summer as part of a new housing development nearby.
The intersection is technically in the Bucks County district of state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, Lodise said, although Somerton residents use the roads often. DiGirolamo’s office and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation determined that a circle or roundabout was a safer and less expensive option than a traffic light, Lodise said. Boyle was not consulted during the decision-making process.• The next Somerton Civic Association meeting will be on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m., at Walker Lodge 306, 1290 Southampton Road. ••EndFragment