Lower Merion School District Forced to Withdraw Tax Hike

Photo Courtesy of User:ifly6 via Wikimedia Commons

Lower Merion High School. Photo | ifly6 via Wikimedia Commons

A Montgomery County Judge told the Lower Merion School District it couldn’t raise taxes as much as it proposed this year, claiming the school district has, for years, exaggerated multimillion dollar deficits to warrant tax increases.

In a taxpayer lawsuit filed by attorney Arthur Wolk, Common Pleas Judge Joseph A. Smyth ordered the district to withdraw its planned 4.4 percent tax increase for 2016-17.

The judge found that the district has increased taxes by more than 53.3 percent since 2006 to make up for supposed budget holes – but recent findings reveal that despite the district’s projected budget deficits, it has continually had a surplus at the end of each school year. Smyth has not yet decided whether or not those who already paid their current school tax bills will receive rebates – an estimated $1,400 per householdRead more »

Jawdropper of the Week: A Mediterranean Retreat in Penn Valley

44 Fairview Rd., Penn Valley, Pa. 19072 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

44 Fairview Rd., Penn Valley, Pa. 19072 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

For all you homebodies out there, this luxurious home in Penn Valley will ensure that the flak you get from your socialite friends is not for naught.

Think about it. Why drive into the city, battle with muggy summer heat and down drinks at Happy Hour in some overpriced restaurant when you have your own private retreat to enjoy at home instead? Especially when that retreat is a Mediterranean vacation in itself. Inside and out, architectural details ranging from large arched doorways to tile floors to stucco-clad fireplaces to Greek columns whisk you away to the lands of ancient charm and modern wonder. Read more »

LOCAL NEWS: Lower Merion School Board Unanimously Passes Trans-Affirmative Policy

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Lower Merion schools now have a transgender-inclusive student policy.

On Monday, the Lower Merion school board unanimously passed a transgender-inclusive policy that respects students’ names, pronouns, and personal identification in records and academic documents. The new policy also aims to ensure trans students are included in sex-segregated events and public spaces. “This policy is the icing on the cake,” Bruno Reiver, a trans student at Lower Merion, told the press. “As a graduating senior, I cannot express how grateful I am to have attended such a progressive, open-minded institution.” The Pennsylvania Youth Congress and local student groups helped to get the policy passed. Lower Merion is now one of five districts in Pennsylvania — Great Valley, Springfield, Upper Dublin, and Cheltenham are the others — to officially enforce a trans-affirmative policy. The Pittsburgh Public School Board plans to vote on a transgender student policy in June, while the School District of Philadelphia is currently reviewing a policy expected to reach the School Reform Commission this summer. Read more »

Police: “Anti-Semitic” Incident Outside Lower Merion Kosher Restaurant Wasn’t

The Dairy Cafe in Bala Cynwyd (photo via Dairy Cafe on Facebook)

The Dairy Cafe in Bala Cynwyd (photo via Dairy Cafe on Facebook)

Last week, Lower Merion was aflutter over allegations of anti-Semitic threats outside a kosher restaurant on Montgomery Avenue. But after days of investigation and involvement from the Anti-Defamation League, the Lower Merion Police Department says there wasn’t anything anti-Semitic about it. It was just two guys with a beef. Read more »

Here’s the Proposal for the Suburban Square Expansion

Macy's-Suburban-Square

Oooh, the Suburban Square expansion proposal appears to be chugging along. Per the Main Line Times’ Cheryl Allison, Kimco Realty received a recommendation for approval from the Lower Merion Planning Commission for their tentative sketch plans two days ago. Now, the Building and Planning Committee is scheduled to hear them later tonight.

Here is what Kimco wants to do:

  • Construct four-level parking garage with 571 spaces at 75 St. James Place;
    garage would include 3,000 square feet of retail space at grade along Coulter Ave.
  • Construct two-story, 40,000-square-foot building at 100 Coulter Ave.;
    include first floor retail; second floor office space
  • Construct one-story, 3,445-square-foot addition to rear of Trader Joe’s
  • Demolish existing storage building with Class II historic resource (it was a former freight shed dating back to 1885)

Read more »

Arn Tellem and Franz Lidz Are Going to the Hall of Fame

Arn Tellem and Franz Lidz

Arn Tellem (left) and Franz Lidz (Photos: Courtesy of the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame)

Franz Lidz moved to Penn Valley in 1961 “during a legendary blizzard.” A year later, he struck up a friendship with a boy who had also just moved to the neighborhood: Arn Tellem. The two ventured into different careers — Lidz a respected writer for publications like Sports Illustrated and Smithsonian magazine, and Tellem a “powerful sports agent you can actually like” — but remained friends. On May 28th, they will both be inducted in to the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Read more »

Update: William Penn Inn in Wynnewood Plans Get Conditional Hearing

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 3.27.28 PM

William Penn Inn c. 1875 | Image courtesy of the Lower Merion Historical Society

So what ever happened to the William Penn Inn in Wynnewood? Last we heard, it had been saved from the clasps of demolition thanks to an agreement of sale between Rayer Builders and William Inn Partners LLC, a partnership that ensured the new development proposal for the parcel it sits on would, unlike the first one, preserve the historic structure.

Well, readers, we got an update. According to the Main Line Times’ Cheryl Alison, attorneys for the dual developers had a conditional use hearing earlier this week. They presented the developers’ project as having crucial “need for setback and impervious surface relief” if the building is to be preserved. Plans include converting it into three condos, as well as adding new homes on three new lots. Read more »

Owners Propose Historical Ardmore Buildings Be Demolished for Parking

The historical Ardmore properties in question as of 2012. | Photo via Google Street View

The historical Ardmore properties in question as of 2012. | Photo via Google Street View

Ooof, this is definitely not helping the already partially(?) deplored One Ardmore Place project.

As previously reported, Carl Dranoff’s planned mixed-use development has been mired with dissenters since its approval, going so far as to inspire a protest in November. More recently, the project was connected to a lawsuit filed by six local business owners against Lower Merion Township after the township granted the developer a historical road for his project.

Now, the Main Line Times’ Cheryl Allison reports the new owners of two historical properties on Cricket Avenue (47 and 53-55) have submitted a formal application for the demolition of their buildings. Their reasons for wanting the demo? Parking. 

More specifically, temporary parking to alleviate traffic during the construction of Dranoff’s One Ardmore Place.

Read more »

Spotted: Lower Merion Victorian with Turret Bathroom

TREND photo via RE/MAX Executive Realty-Bryn Mawr.

TREND photo via RE/MAX Executive Realty-Bryn Mawr.

Lest the above image dishearten you, take a look at the home in snowless weather in the gallery below because, ultimately, we think it’s a winner.

Some of its more striking elements? How about a heated greenhouse room (potential art studio?), generously-sized master suite (seriously, it has a sitting area, dressing room, and bathroom!), and turret bathroom. That turret, by the way, also houses a curved stairway with stained glass windows. Additionally, outside is a carriage house with 1-car garage.

Read more »

Morning Headlines: No Property Tax Increase for Lower Merion

home-for-sale
According to a release from Lower Merion Township, the 2015 proposed budget recommends no increase in property taxes. That’ll make it year number four without such an increase, which seems like a dream to Philadelphians — and helps explain why young parents find it tempting to cross City Line when they’re looking for a new home.

To get technical, the real estate tax millage rate is 4.19 in Lower Merion, and that’s where it would stay, though the entire budget is subject to debate at public hearings. The release says:

Despite incurring unexpected winter storm expenses of about $1 million in 2014, the year is projected to finish on budget. That has been accomplished with expenditure savings in other areas that helped to offset the extraordinary storm costs. This positive performance in 2014 is projected to allow the use of the unreserved fund balance to be kept below budget for the year, while setting a positive direction for the 2015 Budget.

Lower Merion’s Proposed Budget 2015 [via scribd]

Read more »

« Older Posts