Automobile sales could be returning to the Holmesburg Shopping Center after the local civic association endorsed a zoning variance sought by the property owner last Thursday night.
Members of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association voted 24-3 in favor of the variance, although the property owner must still obtain approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment. A zoning board hearing was scheduled for May 20.
Paul Seo owns the shopping center on the 8400 block of Frankford Ave., at the intersection of Ashburner Street. According to the owner and his zoning consultant, Tom Citro, Seo’s family bought the strip mall in 2007 and inherited a lease agreement with a used car dealership, Davis Automotive. Last year, Davis Automotive terminated the lease and moved out of the shopping center.
Seo identified a new tenant for the 11,000-square-foot lot. But when the prospective tenant applied for city permits, the business learned that auto sales are not permitted under the site’s current commercial zoning designation. In fact, the city had no record of auto sales ever occurring at the property, Citro said.
Seo applied to the city for a zoning variance that would permit auto sales as well as accessory auto repairs. That is, the dealership will be able to fix its own vehicles, but not those belonging to outside customers.
During a dialogue about the shopping center, residents insisted that the new car dealer not park vehicles on the sidewalks along Frankford Avenue and Ashburner Street. They also asked the property owner to take better care of the entire shopping center lot by trimming weeds and cleaning litter regularly. Leaders of the civic association noted that Seo has been responsive to other requests in the past, particularly when residents complained about tractor-trailers being allowed to park overnight in the lot.
• In unrelated neighborhood business, a representative from Community Marketing Concepts told residents about new regulations for disposing of mattresses. Residents may still place old mattresses at the curb on regular trash pickup days, but the mattresses must be encased within a plastic cover.
The city is trying to restrict the spread of bed bugs, according to Rodney Moore, a spokesman for the marketing firm.
Mattress bags are available at home supply stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Folks who don’t want to buy a bag may take their old mattresses to the city dump at Ashburner Street and State Road.
Moore further reported that the city’s next household hazardous waste collection will be held at the Ashburner Street dump on July 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. City residents can bring old paint, solvents, gasoline and other hazardous materials there for safe disposal.
The city is trying to crack down on illegal dumping, too, Moore said. If you see someone dumping illegally anywhere in the city, call 215-685-9500 to report it.
• UHCA President Stan Cywinski reported that there has been little change in the status of the proposed redevelopment of the former Liddonfield Homes public housing site. Developers continue to meet with representatives from Holy Family University to discuss funding the construction of athletic facilities on the site and the university’s possible lease-purchase agreement for those facilities.
Cywinski said that the university’s retiring president, Sister Francesca Onley, has expressed her continued interest in the project, although the university is not in a position to fund the initial construction. Onley will step down from her office at the end of the academic year, but hopes to stay involved in the Liddonfield project on behalf of the university, Cywinski said.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Bobby Henon has remained closely involved in the negotiations and has been keeping the civic association informed, Cywinski said. The developers have a June 30 deadline to close their purchase of the Liddonfield site from the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
• Two candidates for Pennsylvania’s 173rd Legislative District seat addressed the civic association. Republican Mike Tomlinson ran unopposed in Tuesday’s primary election to earn his party’s nomination. Democrat Paul DeFinis was one of three contenders in his party’s primary. ••