Bustleton league wins zoning decision appeal

A judge has told the city’s zon­ing board to re­think a de­cision that al­lows a dent­al-im­plant man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness to tem­por­ar­ily op­er­ate out of a Hal­de­man Av­en­ue res­id­ence.

Com­mon Pleas Judge El­len Ceisler on Ju­ly 17 told the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment to re­hear a vari­ance ap­plic­a­tion filed by the own­er of 9997 Hal­de­man Ave., said Jack O’Hara, pres­id­ent of the Great­er Bustleton Civic League.

The prop­erty own­er, Flore An­dresi, didn’t show, as re­quired, that it was a hard­ship if he couldn’t use the prop­erty for his busi­ness, O’Hara said in an Aug. 8 phone in­ter­view.

A vari­ance is needed be­cause the prop­erty has res­id­en­tial zon­ing. An own­er seek­ing an OK for a non-per­mit­ted use usu­ally as­serts the prop­erty can not be used in any oth­er way and that it would be a hard­ship not to al­low the use even though the prop­erty is not zoned for it. Ex­cept for a few com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments, the block is all res­id­en­tial.

O’Hara said he re­cently learned that the judge res­cin­ded the three-year tem­por­ary vari­ance the zon­ing board had gran­ted to An­dresi on Nov. 13, 2012. Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill (R-10th dist.) said he learned Monday that the new hear­ing will be held on Aug. 21.

O’Hara said he’ll at­tend the hear­ing, but he’s try­ing to have it con­tin­ued be­cause of the short no­tice and be­cause many of his mem­bers are un­avail­able or on va­ca­tion.

Hard­ship is a tough sell, O’Neill said.

“The bur­den is on the ap­plic­ant to show why you can’t use the prop­erty as it’s zoned,” he said in a phone in­ter­view.

In late 2012, An­dresi’s at­tor­ney, Shawn Ward, said his cli­ent has op­er­ated his busi­ness on Hal­de­man Av­en­ue since he bought the prop­erty in 2009. He said An­dresi had a busi­ness priv­ilege li­cense but didn’t know he needed a zon­ing vari­ance un­til a city in­spect­or told him in mid-2012.

Ward had said it was a hard­ship for his cli­ent to be barred from us­ing his prop­erty for his busi­ness.

“Giv­en that this is a heav­ily com­mer­cial in­ter­sec­tion, the prop­erty might not be suit­able for purely res­id­en­tial use,” Ward said in 2012.

O’Neill said the prop­erty already has a res­id­en­tial use. He said An­dresi told him he lived on the prop­erty, the coun­cil­man said.

League mem­bers un­an­im­ously had re­fused to sup­port An­dresi’s vari­ance ap­plic­a­tion dur­ing their Oc­to­ber 2012 meet­ing.

Des­pite the neigh­bor­hood op­pos­i­tion, the zon­ers gave An­dresi a three-year vari­ance to op­er­ate his busi­ness. At the time, O’Neill im­me­di­ately en­cour­aged league mem­bers to fight the zon­ers’ de­cision in court. He said the zon­ers’ rul­ing de­fied lo­gic.

“This is not a minor case,” he said in Decem­ber 2012. “This is a ma­jor case. This could be the be­gin­ning of break­ing down a neigh­bor­hood that is solidly single-fam­ily homes.”

O’Neill said he felt tak­ing the ap­peal to court would be a “slam-dunk” for the league.

In a way, it was. The league got a fa­vor­able rul­ing from Ceisler after a very short hear­ing, O’Hara said. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus