Somerton group opposes gas station expansion plan

The Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation has re­jec­ted a neigh­bor­hood gas sta­tion own­er’s plan to build three auto ser­vice bays.

Dur­ing the SCA’s monthly meet­ing on March 11, op­pon­ents of the pro­pos­al cited traffic con­ges­tion in the area of Bustleton Av­en­ue and Ver­ree Road as well as a park­ing short­age as pro­hib­it­ive factors. Civic as­so­ci­ation mem­bers voted down the pro­ject, 23-16, even after the busi­ness own­er, Joseph Cheri­an, offered to re­duce the size of the planned con­struc­tion. The As­tro sta­tion oc­cu­pies a tri­an­gu­lar quarter-acre prop­erty at 10188 Bustleton Ave. and fea­tures four fuel pumps as well as a con­veni­ence store. Cheri­an said he re­cently bought the busi­ness and ap­plied for a per­mit to build three ser­vice bays near the Ver­ree Road side of the prop­erty. But the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tion re­fused to grant the per­mit be­cause the plans do not con­form to the zon­ing code.

A draw­ing of the pro­posed con­fig­ur­a­tion shows that the new con­struc­tion would meas­ure 36 feet by 25 feet and stand one story high. One corner of the new build­ing would sit about five feet from the busi­ness’ Ver­ree Road curb cut. The busi­ness would have to move its Dump­sters from the Ver­ree side of the prop­erty to the Bustleton Av­en­ue side, across the street from the Bustleton Branch Lib­rary and George Wash­ing­ton High School.

Cheri­an said that the re­pair shop would op­er­ate week­days from about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sat­urdays from 9 to noon. Mech­an­ics would per­form ba­sic auto main­ten­ance, re­pairs and in­spec­tions, but would not do body work or paint­ing. Cheri­an claimed that hav­ing the ser­vice bays would help the busi­ness to pre­vent teen­agers from loiter­ing in the park­ing lot. The busi­ness own­er’s draw­ing showed one cus­tom­er park­ing spot on the prop­erty, not in­clud­ing the spots ad­ja­cent to the fuel pumps.

Civic as­so­ci­ation mem­bers ar­gued that he would have to use on-street park­ing spots to store vehicles be­fore and after they were be­ing re­paired.

In an ef­fort to forge a com­prom­ise, SCA Zon­ing Chair­man Seth Ka­plan asked Cheri­an if he’d con­sider build­ing only two ser­vice bays in­stead of three and agree to sev­er­al oth­er pro­vis­os, in­clud­ing bans on auto sales and overnight stor­age of vehicles. Cheri­an agreed, but civic as­so­ci­ation mem­bers voted against the plan any­way.

Al­though the SCA will send a let­ter of op­pos­i­tion to the city’s Zon­ing Board, Cheri­an will still have an op­por­tun­ity to state his case to the board in hope of win­ning his ap­peal.

In an un­re­lated zon­ing case, the civic as­so­ci­ation passed un­an­im­ously a plan by the Somer­ton Cen­ter nurs­ing home at 650 Edis­on Ave. to build a 17-foot by 17-foot stor­age shed in place of two tem­por­ary stor­age con­tain­ers that now oc­cupy the prop­erty. The home needs the space to store oxy­gen ma­chines and oth­er non-haz­ard­ous med­ic­al equip­ment, ac­cord­ing to Ar­thur Ly­ons, the dir­ect­or of the home. 

City Coun­cil­man Dav­id Oh served as a guest speak­er at the meet­ing. The at-large Re­pub­lic­an touted two Coun­cil bills that he re­cently in­tro­duced. One bill calls for a $100 mil­lion re­duc­tion in the city wage tax over 10 years in an ef­fort to put more cash in work­ers’ pock­ets and in­ject that money in­to the loc­al eco­nomy. 

Oh has also pro­posed elim­in­at­ing the city’s “resign to run” law for elec­ted of­fi­cials. Un­der the law, politi­cians who hold elec­ted of­fices in city gov­ern­ment must resign if they want to run for an­oth­er of­fice on the loc­al, state or fed­er­al levels. Oh ar­gues that this puts loc­al politi­cians at a par­tic­u­lar dis­ad­vant­age in run­ning for state of­fices. As a res­ult, Phil­adelphia politi­cians lose clout in Har­ris­burg and the city’s in­terests suf­fer, ac­cord­ing to Oh.

Beverly Plosa-Bow­ser, Re­pub­lic­an, told SCA mem­bers that she is run­ning for the 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict seat that will be va­cated by gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate Allyson Schwartz. A re­tired U.S. Air Force col­on­el, she is run­ning on a plat­form of fix­ing the stag­nant eco­nomy, rein­ing in ex­cess­ive gov­ern­ment and heal­ing “the re­cent health­care de­bacle.” She will face Dee Ad­cock from Abing­ton in the May 20 Re­pub­lic­an primary. ••

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