If you’re going to spend money on anything, members of the Greater Bustleton Civic League were told last week, spend your organization’s dollars to preserve your neighborhood.
“Protecting your community is what your money is for,” City Councilman Brian O’Neill (R-10th dist.) told league members during their Feb. 26 session. “Don’t be afraid to use it.”
The councilman said decisions by the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment that are not “community friendly” will drive the middle class out of the city.
Property owners and developers frequently ask for the league’s support on zoning matters, and the league tells the zoning board whether its members are in support or opposition. The zoners don’t always see things the way league members do.
They didn’t in late 2012 when they had approved a temporary zoning variance that permitted the operation of a dental implant-manufacturing business in a home on the 9900 block of Haldeman Avenue. League members had voted overwhelmingly against the variance application. At that time, the councilman advised the league to challenge the zoners’ decision in court. The league did, and it won. Sort of.
Common Pleas Court, instead of overturning the zoning board decision on 9997 Haldeman Ave., sent it back to the zoners to rehear it on one issue — hardship.
The property is zoned for residential use only. The court found the applicant didn’t prove the house couldn’t be used as a home.
ldquo;We feel very strongly about this,” said Jack O’Hara, the league’s president. “This is breaking up residential neighborhoods.”
O’Hara said the new hearing has been postponed and postponed again.
State Rep. John Sabatina Jr. (D-174th) said it was his experience that zoners don’t always abide by the decisions of civic associations. Those local decisions should have more weight than they seem to have, but if zoners err and it costs associations time and money to battle the mistake, he said, the Zoning Board of Adjustment should be culpable for bad decisions.
City Councilman David Oh told members he has prepared legislation that would reduce the city’s wage tax and net profits tax by $100,000 over 10 years. He said the wage tax has caused a reduction in the city’s population.
“It hurts working families,” he said.
It also increases businesses’ spending because they have to offer higher wages to employees to make up for what they lose in wage taxes.
Oh also pitched ending the city’s Home Rule Charter requirement that public officials who hold city seats must resign if they intend to run for offices other than their own. This regulation prevents the city from having a greater influence on state affairs, he said, because city politicians don’t want to risk their positions from running for state offices.
Amy Kurland, the city’s inspector general, told members about her office’s investigations.
When she served as an assistant U.S. attorney, she said she prosecuted people from almost every city department.
“And it was really discouraging,” she said, “because I would prosecute the same thing over and over.”
Her mission, she said, is to boost confidence in city government by rooting out fraud and corruption.
Her office looks into supervisors’ conduct, fraud and works with law enforcement to prosecute criminal cases. Her office also works to enforce city policies, like those requiring participation by minority- and women-owned businesses in public contracts.
The league’s next monthly session will be 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, at the American Heritage Federal Credit Union’s Carriage House, Red Lion Road and Jamison.
The league’s hot line is 215-676-6890, and its website is gbcleague.org ••