In an effort to improve the transparency of the activities and decisions of our zoning committee we will begin posting the meeting minutes and the decision that the committee made on each application. Our July 2014 meeting was held on Thursday the 17th at the 1st District Police Station at 2301 S 24th St. We heard a proposal from the representatives of Anthony Lambrusciano, whose property on 2444 Durfor St was re-zoned residential from mixed use commercial when the zoning code changed in 2013. Below is a copy of the meeting minutes, the second part of this post will be the commitee's decision, vote tally and a copy of our letter that was sent to the ZBA which explains our commitee's decision.
WEST PASSYUNK NEIGHBORS ASSOCIATION
ZONING MEETING MINUTES
July 17, 2014
A public zoning meeting hosted by the Zoning Committee of the West Passyunk Neighbors Association (the “Association”) was held at 7:00PM at the 1st District Police Station, 2301 S. 24th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145. In attendance were committee members Peter Curran, Jennifer Harrison, and James McMillan (the “Committee”), the applicant Anthony Labrusciano (the “Applicant”), the applicant’s representative Kristine Phillips of Willig, Williams & Davidson (“Representative”), the business operator Marcellus, and members of the public.
The issue addressed was consideration of the zoning application concerning 2444 Durfor Street. The application was for a zoning variance to allow for the continued operation of the facility as a tire repair shop.
Committee member Mr. Curran began the meeting by introducing the issue and noting that attendees present must live within the Association’s boundaries to vote on the issue. As a disclaimer, Mr. Curran informed those present that he is a member of a city employee’s union that happens to be represented by the same firm for which the Representative works. He then opened the floor to the Representative and Applicant.
The Representative began by stating that the Applicant had originally purchased the property – a set of 4 garages of which he owns 12 total along the block – in 1985 or 1986. She stated that he obtained permits to allow the property to operate as a tire repair shop. The zone CMX-2 is mixed-use commercial. According to the representative, as recently as February 2013 the use was permitted. Their desire was not to change anything or modify the current structure, but to keep using the building as it has been used so far. She stated that it did not make a lot of sense that right up the block there is an auto repair service, and asked to allow these men to make a living. When the Representative had concluded her presentation, questions and comments from the Committee and then the public were heard.
Ms. Harrison inquired if there was access to sanitation services and water. The business operator replied that there was access to water and a portable toilet was available on the premises.
Mr. McMillan asked for clarification on the usage of the garage units. The Applicant responded that units 3 and 4 are for tire repair, and units 1 and 2 are for private storage.
A citizen and friend of the applicant stated that he goes by that area a lot, that they are very kind and courteous to him there, and that he keeps it very clean.
A citizen asked if the owner was going to do the same thing to the other garages. Mr. Curran informed him that this hearing was about the current property only. The citizen then stated that when her husband’s car broke down right in front, they were able to fix it. Otherwise they would not have been able to get home. She also stated that the change in the zoning code bothered her.
A citizen commented on the Representative’s earlier comments, addressing the comparisons between the garages at 25th and Snyder and this garage. The citizen stated that the main difference was that the subject property is in a residential neighborhood.
A renter of one of the Applicant’s other garage spaces commented that he has been renting from the Applicant for years just to keep a nice car in the garage. He stated that the business operator just does a “brake job here, a brake repair there”.
In response, another citizen asked exactly what the wording of the variance was, because he had heard just then of brake jobs and brake repairs. The Representative then read the contents of the variance. The citizen then commented that a strict reading of the variance would allow any motor repair to occur on the premises. The Applicant stated that he would add an addendum on that point if he could.
A citizen asked when the last time the portable toilet was cleaned, as they never saw anyone cleaning it. The business operator responded that he cleans it himself, since he has three daughters that may be there and therefore needs to keep it clean. The citizen also commented on a previous issue of tires being present in the back yard of the property, not thinking that anyone wants to see that in the neighborhood. The business operator responded that he keeps the back yard locked. A second citizen asked if those tires were from him or a prior person. The business operator responded that those tires are the ones that he puts there. Addressing the first citizen, the business operator asked if building a shed to contain the tires would be satisfactory. The citizen responded that they did not agree with that being there.
A citizen asked if the tires in the back yard are a fire hazard. The business operator responded that the tires in the back yard are stock tires that he puts there and tries to sell. Other tires he pays a few dollars to have disposed. The Applicant commented that if someone thinks there are too many tires to let them know and they would remove them. The business operator also reiterated that they will be chained and locked and fenced. Another citizen commented that the neighborhood may have to accept that tires may not be the best to look at but if someone is going to sell tires they need to have a place to store them. The business operator stated that he has a dog to slow down any theft and protect the tires in the back yard. He hoped that if someone hears the dog barking that someone would call the police. He stated they also have a camera system as well.
The business operator commented that he is not trying to do any harm. This is the first time he has owned his own business and it has been quite an experience. He has been doing it for a while. He is open 7 AM to 7 PM, not on Sundays, for convenience to customers’ schedules.
A citizen asked who to contact if there are any issues. The Representative responded that if there is an issue, the Applicant and business operator will work with them to make sure you know when the toilet is cleaned or when the tires in the back yard are cleaned up. The business operator responded to let him know personally.
No further questions or pertinent comments being forthcoming, ballots were cast by eligible members of the public present on whether to support, oppose, or remain neutral regarding the Applicant’s application. The results of the public vote were eight opposed, six supporting, and three neutral. No further business being required, Mr. Curran adjourned the meeting. After the meeting, the results of the Committee vote were all three supporting.
James McMillan, Secretary