Northeast Times

Greater Bustleton Civic elects board members

Great­er Bustleton Civic League mem­bers last week gave out cash and hon­ors, cer­ti­fied the elec­tion of board mem­bers, learned about new city san­it­a­tion reg­u­la­tions, heard about how bor­ing zon­ing could be be­cause of the spe­cial­ized lan­guage used in zon­ing cases, and then voted on a couple such cases.

Early in the May 28 ses­sion at the Amer­ic­an Her­it­age Fed­er­al Cred­it Uni­on’s Car­riage House on Red Li­on Road, mem­bers honored five loc­al pu­pils for their out­stand­ing schol­ar­ship, school in­volve­ment and vo­lun­teer­ism. The kids got more than ap­plause; they got cash, too.

The league awar­ded $100 to Jincy Math­ew of C.C.A. Baldi Middle School; Bryn Howe of Green­berg Ele­ment­ary; Jes­sica Barnes of St. Al­bert the Great; Ro­man Zhar­ovsky of the Anne Frank School; and Joseph Tar­ducci of Ma­ter­nity of the Blessed Vir­gin Mary par­ish school.

City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill (R10th dist.) talked about the zon­ing of med­ic­al of­fices and day­care busi­nesses, two top­ics that would come up for votes later in league’s meet­ing.

Un­der city le­gis­la­tion passed late last year over May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter’s veto, all med­ic­al prac­tices need vari­ances if they loc­ate in O’Neill’s 10th Dis­trict or in Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on’s 6th Dis­trict, O’Neill told mem­bers.

This re­ferred to a vari­ance re­quest to loc­ate a dent­al prac­tice in a med­ic­al of­fice build­ing at 2137 Welsh Road. 

“A year ago, a vari­ance would not have been ne­ces­sary,” O’Neill said last week.

In Decem­ber, City Coun­cil passed an or­din­ance that re­quires zon­ing vari­ances for med­ic­al of­fices and drugtreat­ment fa­cil­it­ies, such as meth­adone clin­ics.

Hen­on and O’Neill had in­tro­duced the meas­ure, known as the “North­east Zon­ing Over­lay,” on Oct. 24 and it un­an­im­ously passed on Nov. 21. O’Neill’s dis­trict is en­tirely in the North­east. Hen­on’s dis­trict runs from the Port Rich­mond in­to the North­east. The may­or ve­toed the meas­ure, but Coun­cil over­rode that ac­tion, 161.

Al­though the or­din­ance makes it more dif­fi­cult to open up a meth­adone clin­ic in the North­east, that’s not all it does. The meas­ure doesn’t spe­cific­ally tar­get drugtreat­ment clin­ics, O’Neill said last year. It re­quires all new med­ic­al prac­tices in the 10th Dis­trict or 6th Dis­trict to seek a zon­ing vari­ance, which is why 2137 Welsh As­so­ci­ates LLC had to seek the league’s sup­port for a vari­ance last week. A vari­ance es­sen­tially is a re­quest to do something on a prop­erty that the city’s zon­ing code does not per­mit. Vari­ance ap­plic­ants seek com­munity sup­port be­fore they go be­fore the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment, whose mem­bers vote to ap­prove or nix the ap­plic­a­tion.

A key part of over­lay is that vari­ance ap­plic­a­tions re­quire com­munity no­ti­fic­a­tion, O’Neill said in the fall.

“Med­ic­al prac­tices wouldn’t be al­lowed in­to com­mer­cial prop­erty un­less they talk to the com­munity,” O’Neill said last year.

After that talk­ing was done last week, league mem­bers voted not to op­pose Welsh As­so­ci­ates’ vari­ance ap­plic­a­tion.

O’Neill also talked about day­care reg­u­la­tions. Day­care cen­ters aren’t al­lowed in res­id­en­tial areas un­der the zon­ing code, the coun­cil­man told league mem­bers, but that’s just what An­thony and Kar­en Rug­giero want to op­er­ate at 811 Char­ette Road. Mem­bers listened to their re­quest for sup­port, but then voted un­an­im­ously, 320, to op­pose their vari­ance ap­plic­a­tion.

In oth­er busi­ness:

• An­oth­er zon­ing mat­ter came up last week that re­ferred to a de­cision mem­bers made last month. In late April, league mem­bers had voted to ap­peal a per­mit to build a home on a wooded lot at 9785 Ver­ree Road be­cause they be­lieved the prop­erty’s street front­age was too small for a house. In the en­su­ing week, the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions sent out a “No­tice of In­tent to Re­voke Per­mit.” League Pres­id­ent Jack O’Hara said that doesn’t settle the mat­ter com­pletely be­cause the par­cel’s own­ers may chal­lenge L&I’s ac­tion. The own­ers have 30 days to ap­peal that no­tice, O’Hara said.

• Amer­ic­an Her­it­age Vice Pres­id­ent Rich Has­son said he was dis­ap­poin­ted in a de­cision by the cred­it uni­on’s next­door neigh­bor, B.J.’s whole­sale club, to in­stall gas pumps close to Red Li­on Road. He said po­s­i­tion­ing the pumps near the road will ad­versely af­fect the cred­it uni­on. Has­son ad­ded that the cred­it uni­on’s lead­er­ship has per­suaded B.J.’s ex­ec­ut­ives to delay ac­tion on the pumps.

In their April 23 meet­ing, league mem­bers listened to and dis­cussed the whole­sale gro­cer’s ex­pan­sion and mod­ern­iz­a­tion plans for its store at Red Li­on Road and Jam­is­on, and then voted to sup­port a plan to in­stall gas pumps near the front of the prop­erty. 

Dur­ing that ses­sion last month, league at­tor­ney Joe Guerra had told mem­bers that the com­pany is not seek­ing any kind of zon­ing vari­ance to put in the pumps. Rather, he ex­plained, B.J.’s is ask­ing for a spe­cial ex­cep­tion. That, he said, puts the bur­den on the neigh­bor­hood to show the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment reas­ons why the pumps shouldn’t be al­lowed.

• Mem­bers cer­ti­fied board of­ficers’ elec­tion. Nom­in­ated last month were O’Hara, the in­cum­bent pres­id­ent; John McK­eever, the in­cum­bent vice pres­id­ent; cur­rent treas­urer Joan Rhodes; and in­cum­bent re­cord­ing sec­ret­ary Jack Bon­ner. There were no con­tests for any of the of­fices, so those who were nom­in­ated re­tained their seats in the allvo­lun­teer league.

• New Streets De­part­ment san­it­a­tion reg­u­la­tions were re­viewed. The gist of those regs in re­gard to old mat­tresses and box springs is that they must be bagged when put out for col­lec­tion. Mat­tress bags are key weapons in the fight to curb the spread of bed bugs. Ac­cord­ing to in­form­a­tion sup­plied by the Streets De­part­ment, bed bug in­fest­a­tions have been on the rise na­tion­wide for the past 19 years. The small bugs are par­tic­u­lar prob­lems in urb­an areas. Bag­ging old mat­tresses helps man­age the spread of the in­sects and also pro­tects san­it­a­tion work­ers from get­ting them on their cloth­ing and tak­ing them to their own homes. Mat­tress bags’ costs can range from just a few dol­lars up to $20, de­pend­ing on where they’re pur­chased.

• Au­thors Car­ol Heil­ber­ger and Bob Toryak talked about their new zon­ing code dic­tion­ary. Heil­ber­ger, a Cen­ter City res­id­ent, and Toryak, a de­veloper, said the goal of Un­lock­ing the Zon­ing Code is to ex­plain the some­times con­fus­ing ter­min­o­logy used in the zon­ing pro­cess, which she said “can be dry and bor­ing and aw­ful.” Some of the terms used at zon­ing hear­ings have mean­ings in com­mon speech, the dic­tion­ary and the zon­ing code that have noth­ing to do with each oth­er, she said. “Cel­lar” and “base­ment” might seem to be syn­onyms, Heil­ber­ger said, but, in zon­ing cases, they dif­fer in that cel­lars are lower than base­ments. Even the no­tion of “lower” in re­gard to cel­lars and base­ments has to be ex­plained, she said.

The league’s next meet­ing will be at 7 p.m. on Wed­nes­day, June 25, at the Amer­ic­an Her­it­age Fed­er­al Cred­it Uni­on, Red Li­on Road and Jam­is­on. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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