Members of the Greater Bustleton Civic League last week supported, opposed and tied on neighborhood zoning questions, heard about the temporary closing of a local firehouse and said goodbye to the commander of the 7th Police District.
Capt. Joseph Zaffino is retiring on Feb. 28 after more than 32 years on the police force. He has been the boss at the 7th at Bustleton and Bowler for the past six and a half years.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better assignment,” the Northeast resident said. “I’ve had the help of so many people, which made my job easier. … I couldn’t have gotten half the things I did done without you.”
He told members during their Jan. 29 session at the American Heritage Credit Union that they should keep doing what they’ve been doing. “Keep fighting for your neighborhood.”
Zaffino, who always has been well-received at the civic league’s sessions, got a standing ovation at the well-attended meeting.
Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and Deputy Commissioner Derrick Sawyer told members about the temporary closing of the fire station at Bustleton and Bowler.
When work to replace the apparatus floor began in mid-January, Sawyer said, a subfloor was discovered underneath. Work, originally scheduled to be complete in about six to eight weeks, might now take another month, Sawyer said.
“The work that’s being done is necessary work,” Ayers said, “so the engine can keep serving the community.”
Ayers said En-gine 62 will be re-lo-cated to En-gine Com-pany 18 at 8205 Roosevelt Blvd. Lad-der 34 and Med-ic 6 will be in the En-gine 58 fire-house at 812 Hendrix St.
While he had members’ attention, the commissioner reminded them that they should have smoke detectors with 10-year lithium batteries in their homes, and suggested installing one on each floor. He also advocated getting carbon monoxide detectors.
IN THE ZONE
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery got members’ unanimous support for a zoning variance he needs to expand the kitchen of his home on the 9000 block of Jennifer Terrace,
McCaffery needs a variance because the 385-square-foot kitchen addition won’t have the required 15-foot side yard. The new part of the home will bump up against some undeveloped city-owned ground, said McCaffery’s attorney, Shawn Ward. After the 28-0 vote to support his variance application, the justice said he was expanding the kitchen so it is big enough to accommodate family holiday gatherings.
“This is costing me a boatload of money … just so I can have three dinners a year,” McCaffery said. “At my age, I should be downsizing … getting a little house in the suburbs. … But I’d rather stay in Bustleton.”
The justice also complimented members for turning out to decide zoning questions.
“This is what you need to do,” he said, “to keep Bustleton nice.”
That provoked a wry comment from his attorney, who frequently has appeared before civic league members on zoning matters and hasn’t always walked away happy.
“Believe you me, they’ve kicked my ass more than once,” he said.
In fact, in late 2012, members overwhelmingly opposed a variance application Ward presented for a client on the 9900 block of Haldeman Avenue. The client wanted a variance so he could legally continue operating a dental implant manufacturing business in a residentially zoned home at Haldeman and Red Lion Road. Despite the neighborhood opposition, the Zoning Board of Adjustment favored Ward’s client with a temporary variance. The league took the matter to Common Pleas Court, which tossed it back to the zoners because the owner didn’t prove hardship – show the property could could be used for only the purposes the owner wants.
A rehearing to determine hardship was scheduled for mid-January, but was postponed. A new date was not yet been set.
The owners of 9289 Darlington Road, Moua Vang and Xiong Kalia, did not get the league’s backing for a variance to build a 240-square-foot shed on the property. Zoning for the area allows only sheds that are 120 square feet, according to information provide by the league last week.
The shed as proposed would not have the required rear or side yards.
Members voted 11 for and 17 against supporting the variance.
Jack Bonner, the league’s recording secretary, said he discovered a dental implant business was being operated at the address. Zoning officer Carl Jadach said members were there only to consider the shed. He said the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections had been informed a business was in the house, which has residential zoning.
According to a check last week of Kalia Dental Lab’s website, its address is 9289 Darlington Road and it has been in business since 2005. The website said the business operates 12 and a half hours per day, six days a week.
The hearing for the variance is set for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, on the 18th floor of 1515 Arch St.
Members tied 11-11 on an application by St. Peter’s Church, 9948 Haldeman Ave., to build an extension and configure and expand its parking lot.
On Jan. 30, John McKeever, the league’s vice president, said ties could be broken only by the league’s president, who does not vote on zoning matters unless there is a tie. However, since league president Jack O’Hara was traveling on business when the meeting occurred, McKeever said, the organization will tell the zoning board a decision could not be reached. The Greater Bustleton Civic League’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the American Heritage Federal Credit Union’s Carriage House at Red Lion Road and Jamison. The league’s hot line is 215-676-6890 and its website is www.gbcleague.org ••