Category: Zoning

Villanova Expansion Advances After An Emotional Late-Night Debate

villanova university main campus

A view of the main campus at Villanova by Alertjean via Wikimedia

At 1:10 a.m. this morning, the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners, by a vote of 5-1, introduced an amendment to the township zoning code that would permit Villanova University to proceed toward implementing a massive expansion program. The vote followed more than three hours of discussion involving the board, the professional staff of the township, and members of the community.

At times the debate became emotional and acrimonious. At one point Commissioner Jim Higgins had to intercede during a heated exchange between Commissioner John Fisher and Township Manager Robert A. Zienkowski. Zienkowski took offense to Fisher’s suggestion that the township planning staff was not up to the task of dealing with the university’s proposal. Fisher was advocating for Radnor to hire an independent planner for the project.

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Zoning Board to Consider Strippers and Strip Steaks. Plus: Photos of Rob Laflar’s Mansion

It was always a strange mix: exotic dance venue + steakhouse. But Christine’s Cabaret had more going against it than an odd business model. In fact, when the Zoning Board of Adjustments has a hearing to determine its fate a few hours from now, it will almost certainly be the most salacious ZBA hearing in recent memory.

The club was owned by the late Rob Laflar, who owned a number of like venues. He was charged with murder after a fight broke out in front of one of his clubs, but he overdosed before he could be tried. He was also being investigated by the FBI at the time. Now it appears to be owned by another upstanding citizen, as PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports:

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Dispatch: Could This Code Enforcement Strategy Work in Philadelphia?

Credit: Tim Kiser via Wikimedia Commons

Next City is hosting a live blog of the 2013 Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference, now ongoing in Philadelphia. This is one of Property’s contributions to that blog.

Every city wants to know the secret to effective, budget-friendly code enforcement. But if there’s a magic bullet, no one who attended “Creative Partnerships for New Municipal Approaches to Code Enforcement and Nuisance Abatement” on Tuesday at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference has yet discovered it.

The meeting room’s round banquet tables at the Pennsylvania Convention Center were crowded with people from Georgia, California, Mississippi — so many states and municipalities, all struggling to find a way to penalize absentee landlords and rid neighborhoods of vacant properties.

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Neighbors Invited by Bishop to Discuss St. Charles Re-Purposing

seminary

2 br, newly re-puroposed and renovated
Spectacular, Architectural-Digest-worthy historic building
Expansive drop-dead landscaping,
Walk to Overbrook Station – 10 minutes to 30th St.
LM schools.

Sounds nice doesn’t it? There’s only one problem. It’s not available yet. In fact, you might never see a listing like that; at least not for this property.

On the other hand, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia did announce (last March) that it wants to “re-purpose” the buildings and the land in the south east section of its 75-acre St. Charles Seminary.

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Morning Headlines: Zoning Board Says No to Ori Feibush

church of the assumption

Traces of the past on a wooden chair at the Church of the Assumption, now scheduled for demolition. Photo: Liz Spikol

Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush stirred some controversy this month when his lawyer, Wally Zimilong, sent a letter to a woman, Haley Dervinis, opposed to his latest project: four single-family homes around 20th and Annin. The letter cautioned her not to libel or slander Feibush with disparaging comments in an upcoming zoning hearing, and was, to our eyes, a fairly ridiculous cease-and-desist scare tactic. It worked–she was scared. The letter got press as a threat, and Feibush came off as a bully trying to censor her.

At the hearing, Dervinis was certainly not alone in her opposition, and now, according to Jan Ransom of the Daily News, the Zoning Board has denied Feibush’s petition to go beyond the current zoning, which is for three homes rather than four.

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New G-Ho Apartment Building With Retail Space Coming to 23rd and South

2300 South Street

The parcel in question. Google aerial view.

At tonight’s South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) zoning committee meeting, developers will present plans for a new five-story building designed by the architecture firm Plumbob. The new building would occupy the triangle that currently houses a parking lot and a beige brick building that was once a theater, according to Hidden City.

The developer is Jason Nusbaum, owner of Rittenhouse and South Square markets. He’s looking for approval for a five-story building with 4,600 square feet for ground-floor retail space and room for 24 one- and two-bedroom rental apartments above. One rumored ground-floor tenant? Starbucks. But Nusbaum tells Hidden City such a guess is “putting the cart before the horse” given that zoning approval hasn’t even been obtained.

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Backyard Chickens in Philly: Renegade Poultry Farmer Speaks Out

chicken coop

Photo: Virginia C. McGuire

Chickens are illegal in Philadelphia on parcels of land smaller than three acres. But as Philly Mag reported back in 2010, an urban chicken movement is gaining momentum in Philadelphia. It’s very possible that some of your neighbors are keeping a few discreet laying hens in the back yard. We spoke with a chicken owner in Germantown about her flock.

Meghan lives in West Germantown with her husband, two kids, a salt water fish tank, and a black labrador. She also has seven chickens living in a coop in her front yard.

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Manayunk to Get a New Co-Working Space, Plus the Wild West in Wash West

transfer station

Photo of Manayunk's upcoming co-working space via Transfer Station's Facebook page.

• CBS 3 gets podcasty to talk about the new two-day First Friday in Old City [CBS3] • A Piece Of Wild West History In Historic Wash West [Hidden City] • Collingswood loves its parklet [philly.com] • Two brothers propose innovative co-working vision for old Manayunk building [Newsworks] • At Maplewood Mall block party, opinions [...]

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Philly: “A City With a Rich History of Municipal Incompetence.” But for Once We’re Not Alone.

philadelphia building collapse

Photo: Bradley Maule

In Next City, Patrick Kerkstra makes Philly negative exceptionalists feel better by pointing out that while Philadelphia demolition regulations are, indeed, lax, it’s far from alone. His lede is priceless:

“In Philadelphia, a city with a rich history of municipal incompetence, there’s a natural impulse to assume the worst about city government when tragedy strikes…”

But that wouldn’t be fair, he says. In fact, Kerkstra analyzed 12 cities and found that Philadelphia’s inadequate supervision of demolition is typical of many large cities. So much so that this could, Kerkstra points out, happen anywhere.

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Philly Officials Will Not Crack Down on Airbnb Rental Hosts

airbnb rental

Here's an Airbnb rental advertised for the Golf Open at $850 per night.

Airbnb.com is a hot, Silicon Valley-based company that’s enjoyed phenomenal growth with a very simple business model: It acts as a market maker for short-term vacation rentals. The company has been in the news lately because an administrative law judge in New York City smacked an Airbnb host, as they’re called, with a $2,400 fine for allegedly running an “illegal hotel.”

Nigel Warren used the Airbnb website as his promotional tool and logistical facilitator to rent out one of the two bedrooms in his East Village apartment. The rental was for three nights at $100 per night, and his roommate was there for all three nights.

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