Reject dialysis center rezoning

Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to members of City Council. The zoning bill was the subject of a Local story on Nov. 25 (“A City Council bill would make dialysis center legal”). The City Council Rules Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on this bill on Wed., Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. If the Rules committee approves the bill, it will be sent to full council for a future hearing.

On Wednesday Dec. 8, your rules committee will consider bill 100753 to rezone property about ½ a block from our home.  We urge you to reject this zoning change because:

The zoning of this site is currently before the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas under appeal by us (Burke and Burke vs. ZBA) because the ZBA’s reversal decision was reached behind closed doors at the instigation and, we believe, unreasonable influence of the parties represented by lawyer Carl Primavera.

These same parties have pushed this bill through Donna Reed Miller’s office in order to avoid facing us in the proper legal setting – this is an injustice to us. In early 2010, the parties sought a ZBA variance and now before the issue is decided in court they come to City Council to bail them out and get what they want through political influence.

To the best of my knowledge, neither Donna Reed Miller nor her office has sought input from neighbors.  In fact, one of her aids has been quoted in the press as saying it “should be beneficial to neighbors” – a condescending comment that shows no consideration of our concerns or the reality of the residential and small business activity in our neighborhood.

In addition, we ask that you reject the notion of “councilmanic courtesy” (an unwritten tenet that council people defer to the district councilperson on matters of zoning in his or her district) because the only side of this issue being considered is the one presented by the parties represented by Carl Primavera.  If a concept of councilmanic courtesy is applicable at any time, it should be only for a non-controversial issue and/or when there has been an unbiased effort to discuss and consider all sides of an issue rather than consider only one side as is happening in this instance.

Please support the residents of this neighborhood by voting no to this special interest legislation.

Peter and Susan Burke
Chestnut Hill

Dismayed by lack of process, politics

To my fellow Chestnut Hill neighbors (from the top of the Hill to the bottom).

I was at the CHRA meeting last Monday evening (Nov. 28) and am less than supportive now of what I thought was going to be a good thing for our community.  I am speaking of the dialysis center that is going to move into our rather quiet neighborhood.  I live at the top of the street where this facility is planned to be established and I don’t like what I am hearing on many counts.

First, the zoning law being changed by a bill in front of the City Council by Donna Reed Miller is an affront to the process that we should be seeing through. The zoning of that building is the subject of a scheduled March hearing before an appeals court. That appeal was filed by neighbors to overturn a Zoning Board decision to its initial ruling to honor a community request to limit hours. That reversal occurred without notice or community input,  a fact that is disturbing.

Second, the official CHCA letter supporting the center and the behavior of the CHCA members towards visiting members of the community opposing the facility is shameful. Imagine a group of community members not listening to the community?

Third, the most challenging part of this is Donna Reed Miller’s support of the big business in this instance and not the Good Food Market, a locally-owned business that tried to do good for the community before it was forced to close. I feel like this is the political favors game at its worst, and I will stand behind the community to fight this center every step of the way.

Please write to your local councilperson and call the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Appeal the submission of bill # 100753 to rezone the property. Reject this bill!

I’d much rather wait to find the right tenant than suffer the losses that may come from this. Hoping for the best – bracing for the worst.

Josh Haims
Chestnut Hill

Uphold original ZBA decision

Editor’s note: This letter, too, was sent to members of city council.

I write regarding the proposed Fresenius Dialysis Center in Chestnut Hill.  As I am sure you are aware when this issue was brought before the Zoning Board, the board came to a wise conclusion in which a good compromise was reached, with  both the neighbors and Fresenius being satisfied.  This decision was then changed. Why?

That this decision was overturned is disturbing.  It raises serious questions about motivations.  How that change occurred is disturbing.  That the decision was overturned without a hearing is outrageous.

I am a physician and am aware of the importance of medical facilities. The neighbors recognized this. However, a balance must be kept so that quality of living can be preserved for as many as possible, not just for those needing dialysis or for those standing to benefit economically.  Cities flourish primarily because they are welcome places in which to live, where laws and rights are respected.

I am a past president of the Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA). I recently was on the board of the CHCA, a potentially wonderful organization designed and developed to improve community life in Chestnut Hill by democratic means .

Philadelphia’s City Council importantly serves to make sure city government operates democratically, fairly and according to proper procedure.  I am sure that is what you want also.  I urge you to consider carefully which is the primary constituency you represent.  Is it not the residents of this city?

The original decision of the Zoning Board should be upheld.

George L Spaeth
Chestnut Hill

Holiday HouseTour: Inspired by the effort

Inspiration was everywhere this past Saturday when the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Holiday House Tour opened the doors to five wonderful homes here in Chestnut Hill.

We would like to thank the generous event sponsors, Chestnut Hill Hospital and Bowman Properties, and the gracious homeowners — Jane and Steve Piotrowski, Joanne Aponiewicz and Lee Foulkrod, Joni and Christian Thomas, Sherry Jordan, and Cathy and Gary Glazer – who allowed us in to create the magic and holiday inspiration that was presented to the 670 tour guests. Special thanks also go out to the 22 designers, florists and garden clubs who shared their holiday vision in all of these great spaces.

Every year the attendance grows, but not without a tremendous amount of work by the Holiday House Tour Committee members and the many other volunteers who worked on the day of the event. Special thanks go out to CHCA Community Manager Philip LeCalsey and Administrative Coordinator Noreen Spota for their incredible hard work to make this event so successful.

Bob Rossman
Vice President for Operations

Thanks and a clarification on the Arts Garage

We’d like to thank the Local for all the coverage you have given the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG) as we mark our first anniversary! We have, in the past year, continued to build on our foundations as a nonprofit art center. Our member base is growing (artists and art lovers alike), we have a new space at 11 West Mt. Airy Ave. where we are partnering in a design charette with Philadelphia University in our dream to build out a no carbon footprint space. And, we continue to inspire and create new dreams as we move forward in Phase 1.

We saw your Nov. 25 article that mentioned our doors would be open Dec. 1. Alas, that won’t be the case. We have our architect and others on board, but MAAG will more probably open in early Spring.  In the meantime, you can support artists of MAAG and “Party for a Cause!” this Friday, Dec. 10, at 7 pm at the Venetian Club at 8030 Germantown Ave. Artists will include Meei Ling Ng, Arleen Olshan, Doris Grey, and others. Proceeds will benefit United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia’s Children’s Services.

Hope to see you there. And don’t forget to visit and join us at

Linda Slodki
President and Cofounder
Mt. Airy Art Garage