by Kevin Dicciani

The board of the Chestnut Hill Community Association voted unanimously at its October meeting both to approve two residential zoning variances and to support a motion to reduce the size of signage at the new Fresh Market under construction at 8200 Germantown Ave.

The two variances concerned the two-story apartment building at 7912-14 Ardleigh St. at the corner of Benezet St. where a gas main explosion occurred this past February. The building has been under reconstruction since then, during which time the Department of Licenses and Inspections has refused two permits that were submitted to restore it to its original state.

L&I refused the first permit on the grounds that it was a two-family residence in Chestnut Hill’s residential zoning district, in which there are restrictions that limit primary dwellings to one-unit. The second refusal pertained to a staircase that led to the second-floor unit.

Larry McEwen, vice president of the CHCA’s Physical Division, said the building has always been a two-unit dwelling. He said the Development Review Committee saw no issue with allowing it to remain as such. The staircase, however, which he said is currently outside and open, must be enclosed. McEwen said neighbors fully supported the project.

Both variances were unanimously approved on the condition that the staircase enclosure is reviewed and approved by the CHCA’s Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee.

The motion involved signage at the Fresh Market currently being built at 8200 Germantown Ave. The three signs, which are in view of the street, are each 15 square feet in size, and the Germantown Avenue Guidelines state that signs cannot be larger than 12 square feet. McEwen said representatives from the Fresh Market development group were receptive to the request to reduce their size. As of now, McEwen said, there has been no response from the market owner.

McEwen’s motion to support the proposal put forth by the LUPZ and DRC to reduce the signs from 15 square feet to 12 square feet in size to comply with the Germantown Avenue Guidelines passed unanimously by the board.