Northeast Times

East Torresdale approves zoning applications

The own­ers of an apart­ment build­ing and a tav­ern each won the ap­prov­al of the East Tor­res­dale Civic As­so­ci­ation last week in sep­ar­ate zon­ing cases.

Rep­res­ent­at­ives of the De­Paul Group and of The Tag­gart House each de­livered zon­ing vari­ance re­quests dur­ing the civic group’s monthly meet­ing on Feb. 10. Res­id­ents voted un­an­im­ously not to op­pose either pro­pos­al.

The first is­sue in­volved the con­ver­sion of the former Har­bor View Re­tire­ment Home at 9503 State Road in­to an all-ages, mar­ket-rate apart­ment build­ing. Al­though there will be no ex­tern­al ex­pan­sion of the build­ing, which stands 56 feet high and has 135 res­id­en­tial units, the de­veloper wants to ex­pand park­ing from 133 spaces to 165.

De­Paul of­fi­cials said that the build­ing is va­cant of res­id­ents fol­low­ing the re­cent in­teri­or con­ver­sion that de­creased the num­ber of units from 191 to 135. The prop­erty is zoned as a mul­ti­fam­ily dwell­ing and sits between two oth­er De­Paul prop­er­ties, the River’s Edge Nurs­ing Home and the Wa­ter’s Edge apart­ments.

The own­er needs a vari­ance to ex­pand the park­ing lot be­cause the lot would en­croach to with­in 11 feet of the rear prop­erty line, where 41 feet is re­quired by the zon­ing code. That’s the bound­ary between two of the De­Paul prop­er­ties.

One couple from the nearby Baker’s Bay con­domin­i­ums said that they are con­cerned about the pro­posed park­ing lot be­ing too close to the condo com­plex, par­tic­u­larly homes on North Con­vent Lane. In re­sponse, the civic as­so­ci­ation will re­quire that De­Paul erect a pri­vacy fence and land­scap­ing as con­di­tions of the as­so­ci­ation’s en­dorse­ment of the plan.

De­Paul of­fi­cials fur­ther said that storm wa­ter run­off will be man­aged on-site so that wa­ter does not flood neigh­bors’ prop­er­ties. The Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment has ap­proved a con­cep­tu­al plan for storm man­age­ment. They hope that the city’s zon­ing board will grant the vari­ance dur­ing a March 5 hear­ing and al­low con­struc­tion to be­gin. The pro­ject could be com­plete by the middle or end of next sum­mer.

In a sep­ar­ate zon­ing case, the op­er­at­or of The Tag­gart House at 9661 Frank­ford Ave. also seeks a vari­ance for an out­door struc­ture. The bar op­er­ated as the City Line for dec­ades be­fore East Tor­res­dale nat­ive Sean Tag­gart bought the busi­ness al­most three years ago. In the years pri­or to the trans­ition, the former own­er built a covered patio in the rear of the busi­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to at­tor­ney Shawn Ward, who rep­res­ents Tag­gart, the patio roof does not meet city zon­ing re­quire­ments and there is no per­mit for it on file with the city. The roof is at­tached to the build­ing and meas­ures 16 feet by 24 feet. There are no walls to the patio, but the roof fea­tures roll-down plastic cov­ers on its three open sides.

Poquess­ing Creek runs along the bound­ary of the prop­erty. The side of the build­ing and patio are with­in about 28 feet of the creek em­bank­ment, but the zon­ing code re­quires a 50-foot buf­fer. So, in or­der to get a per­mit for the patio roof, the busi­ness must get zon­ing re­lief. Ward said that he no­ti­fied all af­fected neigh­bors of the zon­ing ap­plic­a­tion. Neigh­bors mainly are com­mer­cial prop­er­ties, such as a 7-El­ev­en, a SEPTA Route 66 bus sta­tion, a news­stand and two gas sta­tions. He also no­ti­fied the oc­cu­pants of two nearby homes.

Dur­ing the civic meet­ing, one neigh­bor said that his main con­cern with the prop­erty is the dan­ger­ous en­trance and exit to the park­ing lot. There is one curb cut on Frank­ford Av­en­ue, but mo­tor­ists’ vis­ion can be im­peded by the build­ing and news­stand. Years ago, there was a second curb cut, the neigh­bor said, but now there’s a stor­age box block­ing that en­trance.

Ac­cord­ing to Tag­gart, the busi­ness had to shut off the second en­trance due to erosion of the creek and be­cause there wasn’t enough clear­ance between the creek and the build­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Ward, the con­fig­ur­a­tion of the park­ing lot meets city codes and is not part of the zon­ing ap­plic­a­tion. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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