CHCA should enforce zoning on 2 E. Chestnut Hill

As readers likely know by now, commercial real estate developers have purchased at 2 East Chestnut Hill Ave. and plan to turn this property, which is zoned for a single family residence, into a condominium complex for four.

The entry into our community along Chestnut Hill and Germantown Avenues is graced with grand old houses set on equally lovely, appropriately scaled lots. It is in large part this sense of scale and space that help make our neighborhood such a desirable place to live. Thankfully much of Chestnut Hill, including this property, is zoned to preserve that very sense of space.

The CHCA is right now considering, apparently favorably according to last week’s Local, whether to support these commercial real estate developers’ request for four variances on this property – those variances include big issues that impact the neighborhood as a whole, such as whether to permit four homes on a lot zoned for one and whether to permit multiple buildings on a lot zoned for just one.

Leaving aside the practical impact such a development will have in the immediate area (which already faces significant issues regarding parking, congestion and pedestrian safety), the larger question of whether this community wants to have these large homes chopped up into multi-family condominium complexes is worthy of consideration for anyone who lives here.

Ironically, this is not the first time the CHCA has considered this property. Back in the 90s, the CHCA entered into an agreement with the then property owners. In that agreement the CHCA agreed not to contest the longtime use of the property by the dentist who had been there for many decades. In exchange, it was agreed that after that practice ceased, the property would turn back into its permitted use – that of a single family residence.

For those who own one of these grand old properties, live near one, enjoy walking by one or simply appreciate that they exist here, I encourage you to contact the CHCA right now and ask them not to cede the protections that the zoning code has afforded our neighborhood and ask them to oppose this massive development project on this property (which, ironically, is the smallest on the block). While the zoning code can rarely prevent a developer from tearing down these beautiful old buildings (as we fear just a few doors down at 30 West), the code can indeed make it less economically viable to do so when the only thing that can be erected in its place is another single family home.

We, as a community, should hang on to and seek to enforce those zoning limitations that exist to protect us as neighbors and our neighborhood.

Tia Burke, Jeremy Heep

Chestnut Hill

New tax would hurt families

Editor Pete Mazzaccaro argues that Mayor Kenney’s first budget is focused on helping families get ahead.

He isn’t taking into account, however, the real damage the Mayor’s onerous new tax proposal will have on small businesses owners like me.

My small pizzeria supports my family and the families of my employees. For decades, businesses like mine have served as a staple in the neighborhood, but our viability is threatened by the Mayor’s discriminatory tax proposal.

This burdensome tax on sugary drinks – 3 cents an ounce for bottled beverages and a ridiculous 4.05 cents on fountain drinks – would devastate mom-and-pop shops like mine that survive on small margins. And because fewer people will be buying these drinks, the city won’t get the money it needs to fund these programs.

We need to make things easier for our neighborhood businesses, not drive them out of business with unrealistic new taxes that hurt Philadelphia families.

Nick Staparonas

Owner of Nick’s Famous Pizza in Germantown

Kudos to columnist Jay McCalla

Even though Judy and I are living the dream in Delaware – minutes to the beach and miles from the ordinary – we still subscribe to the Local.

We are extremely impressed with the articles written by Jay A. McCalla. These revelations are well known and are the primary reason we moved out of Philadelphia.

On another note, it appears that the quaint village of Chestnut Hill is rapidly becoming something else. The new Fresh Market building – One West – has changed things for the worse.

Ron Recko

Past President, CHCA

New climate report is disconcerting

People are talking everywhere about the presidential race and the disconcerting antics of Donald Trump. We need to also include in our conversations the less entertaining but more disconcerting new report by Dr. James Hansen and other climate scientists, which concludes that the 2 degree centigrade limit on global warming agreed on in Paris may not be enough to prevent catastrophic sea level rise.

The report, “Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, and Superstorms,” says that there could be amplifying feedback loops between ice loss and ocean warming, that could mean a sea level rise of several meters in the next 50-100 years. This would mean a loss of coastal cities, a human and economic catastrophe.

Meeting this challenge requires that we take personal and political steps toward the solution – weaning ourselves from fossil fuels. Fortunately, one positive development is the recent initiative by Weavers Way Co-op, Philadelphia Interfaith Power and Light, and many other groups to create solar co-ops in Philadelphia. This is a great positive and practical step that we can take, among others – let’s create a Solar Philadelphia!

Judy Morgan

Chestnut Hill

What planet is baseball buff on?

As a diehard baseball fan who played the game in high school and still goes to about 10 Phillies games a year, even though it was about as much fun last year as being waterboarded, I read the article about Noah Goodman this week with interest (“GFS graduate to hit home run at Baseball Hall of Fame,” March 24).

Mr. Goodman says in the article that there is “no incentive” for team owners to bid against each other for players and that many young players are not making enough money. What planet is Mr. Goodman living on? I recall when pitcher Freddy Garcia was signed by the Phillies for $10 million for one year at the end of 2006, despite the fact that in 2006 he had a very high 4.53 ERA for the White Sox.

In his one year with the Phillies, this is what they got for their $10 million: one win, five losses and a 5.90 ERA, one of the highest in baseball. I’d be willing to work for a mere $1 million a year and produce super-lousy results, as Garcia did.

In late 2006, pitcher Adam Eaton got a three-year contract with the Phillies for $24 million. In January of 2010, pitcher Joe Blanton got a similar contract with the Phillies — three years for $24 million. If you don’t remember the results, please Google their names. A complete disaster in both cases. Both were among the five worst ERAs in all of baseball.

If I had the space, I could cite many, many other examples of players getting gigantic contracts, like Ryan Howard, and producing pitiful results for the money. Mr. Goodman’s sympathies are misplaced. Instead of feeling bad for the players, he should feel terrible for the long-suffering fans, especially Phillies fans.

Roderick Wilder

Wyndmoor

Why isn’t Keith Spencer famous?

I loved your article on Keith Spencer (“Computer geek has browsers lining up to see him sing,” March 24). I saw him perform in “Old Man River” at the Bristol Riverside Theater in 2013, and I remember wondering why he was not famous. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone better. He certainly has the looks, the charm and charisma and a fabulous voice.

I was delighted to see the article because I had no idea he was a local guy. I figured he must live in New York and sing in Broadway shows. I was also very surprised to find out that he has a full-time job in computers. A double threat. I just want to tell the readers that if you read anywhere that Keith Spencer will be performing in an upcoming show, go to see it. You will be glad you did.

Denise Lawrence

Mt. Airy

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