Somerton Civic OKs reconstruction of burned duplex


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 

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