It’s been a NIMBY nightmare for Villanova. Like Drexel, Temple and Penn, Villanova has been pursuing its own plans for a renaissance to increase the quality of campus and student life. But the former three schools contend with less residential opposition than does Villanova, whose initial go at an expansion plan was rejected by Radnor Township due to concerns about traffic and density.
According to the Inquirer, the university was applying for a change in zoning so that it could develop more densely by building “new dormitories, a parking garage, performing arts center, and stores to the Lancaster Avenue campus.”
In rejecting the petition, planning officials said they were concerned the zoning change would not be restricted to the university. The Delaware County Planning Commission also said the plan should not be adopted, citing problems with setbacks, building lengths and heights, parking, and buffering.
So Villanova has made some alterations, including:
- Reduced size of garage from 1,800 to 1,200 cars
- Disperse remaining cars to parking garage behind old buildings on Lancaster
- Modify two campus garages to accommodate more cars (to help with overflow)
- Build new dorms at four floors instead of five
- Build new performing arts center at 50 feet instead of 65
Today the school’s representatives meet with Radnor Township’s Board of Commissioners. They’re hoping for a resolution:
Villanova says it needs the new buildings to stay competitive with other schools that have better housing and amenities. It also wants to bring back to the campus upperclassmen who rent apartments in surrounding communities – a situation that can lead to neighborhood-nuisance complaints.
They’re going to have to fight. When residents oppose something, they do so with passion — and sometimes without much logic.
“We’re happy they’re going to build something,” Leonardi said. “The problem is what Villanova wants to do is stuff 1,200 people in this area that if it had residential zoning would accommodate maybe 200 people.”
But it doesn’t have residential zoning, so residential zoning has nothing to do with it. If the university heightens its profile and refines its image, that can only be good for the city. It’s done wonders for other schools. Even NIMBYs would be silly not to see that.