An aerial view of 179 Hillcrest Ave. courtesy of Google Maps

An aerial view of 179 Hillcrest Ave. courtesy of Google Maps

by Wesley Ratko

A proposal to subdivide a two-acre property at 179 Hillcrest Ave. in order to create two lots and construct a second home has been withdrawn from the CHCA’s land development review process bythe property’s owners.

That announcement was made by Land Use Planning and Zoning committee co-chair Larry McEwen at the committee’s November 19 meeting. The issue will now be decided by the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment. The DRC will recommend to the board that CHCA oppose the proposal.

Representatives for the owners of 179 Hillcrest, first presented their plan to the Land Use Planning and Zoning committee last June, seeking support for a zoning variance that would allow the second lot. They were met with strong resistance from the surrounding neighbors, who worried that the location of the proposed building envelope for the second home would ruin their view of woods and a meadow, and that the unchecked flow of storm water off the property would turn turn Hillcrest and Meadowbrook avenues into “rivers.”

At the LUPZ’s July meeting, the Shobers’ representatives failed to appear as expected, leaving neighbors angry, which allowed them to express their frustrations to LUPZ members.

McEwen said a subsequent meeting between himself, the near neighbors, and the Shobers representatives – lawyer Carl Primavera and land planner Richard Collier, Jr. – failed to produce any agreement from the neighbors. A sketch plan presented by Primavera and Collier failed to move the neighbors, which prompted the decision to withdraw from the CHCA process and take their chances with the ZBA.

“We generally don’t want to appear to be a threatening group,” McEwen said, adding that the CHCA process is meant to help everyone by strengthening plans and relationships in the neighborhood.

“We want to discourage people getting the advice that it’s OK to skip our process,” said John Landis.

Philadelphia zoning regulations require a certain amount of a property’s border to abut the street along which it is located – what is known as the frontage. A property where only a small amount of that frontage abuts the street is called a “flag lot” and city rules are written to discourage them. The second lot at 179 Hillcrest will be a flag lot and without a variance from the zoning code, the city will reject the proposal.

The committee took no formal action on this matter.

Front Yard Parking

Late last week, members of the city council introduced a bill to amend the zoning code to allow residents to pave over their front yards and use them for parking. CHCA Community Manager Celeste Hardester wrote a letter to councilwoman Cindy Bass, urging her to vote against the bill.

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