East Torresdale residents offered an oft-maligned neighborhood restaurant and nightclub their support last week as they voted to allow the business to expand its footprint.
Maggie’s Waterfront Cafe, at 9242 N. Delaware Ave., will absorb two adjoining residential properties and construct a paved, 25-space parking lot under plans detailed during a Feb. 11 meeting of the East Torresdale Civic Association.
Zoning attorney Shawn Ward, who represents Maggie’s, told neighbors that the development plans hinge on whether the business can obtain five city zoning variances regarding land use and configuration. The city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment recognizes the ETCA as the registered civic association for the neighborhood, so the group’s endorsement is expected to weigh heavily in the ZBA’s evaluation of the plan.
Ward explained that the business will consolidate with 9230 and 9228 N. Delaware Ave. to form one large parcel at the 9242 address. The proposed parking lot will cover the existing 9230 and 9228 lots and will be paved. To maximize parking spots, less than 10 percent of the lot will be covered with landscaping in violation of the zoning guidelines. In addition, buffer zones (or “setbacks”) at the front of the lot and along one side of the lot will be narrower than required by the code.
Neighbors whose homes abut the business, including several with Germania Street addresses, insisted that lighting in the parking lot be directed away from nearby homes. They also asked that a rear fence and landscaping for the lot would not be so high it would block their views of the Delaware River.
Neighbors also asked that the business continue to observe a restriction on outdoor music or entertainment and that it not expand bar or restaurant service onto another adjoining property at 9250 N. Delaware Ave.
ETCA members voted 16-4, with one abstention, in support of the expansion plan. The positive vote represented a change of heart of sorts, as the same civic group had repeatedly opposed prior expansion efforts by the business.
Local auto repair shop owner Kevin Goodchild opened Maggie’s about five years ago on the longtime site of Mimi’s on the Delaware and other former bar/restaurant businesses.
Neighbors repeatedly have complained to the owner about noise and other disturbances they claim the business’ customers cause. Maggie’s is also known for hosting several block party fundraisers during warm-weather months to benefit police and fire charities and other causes.
In unrelated zoning matters:
• The ETCA approved a couple’s plan to build a three-story home at 5217 Arendell Ave. Maria and David Gonzalez said that the house would be built too close to property lines to meet zoning regulations. However, at 35 feet tall, the house would be three feet shorter than the maximum allowed by the code.
One neighbor said he is concerned that the house would still be too tall for the neighborhood, which has a lot of smaller homes. He’s worried that the new house will block sight lines and sunshine from his home.
• The ETCA approved another resident’s request for retroactive zoning approval on a new garage. The owner of 5225 Linden Ave. built a detached garage without zoning permits, according to the landowner’s architect. The new structure replaced an older garage that had begun to crumble with termite damage.
The new garage is taller and wider than the old one. If the owner can’t get zoning relief, the city might try to force him to remove the garage. Neighbors voted not to oppose the new configuration. ••
Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or email@example.com