My response after reading letters to the Local

A restrictive covenant was made March 30, 1990, “by and among the Chestnut Hill Community Association and five residential neighbors and the two owners of Yu Shiang and Alliance Properties, Inc.”

There are no commercial signatures, and at the time numerous businesses were within 750 ft – Mermaid Inn, Roxy Auto, Lehman Auto, Fillippi Bros., Kurtz Construction and others.

The stated concern was “grease, cooking and other odors.” The covenant – poorly written – was intended to protect five residential neighbors who unanimously support our business. The CHCA, the landlord or my partner did not believe a commercial entity had standing. The Trolley Car Diner/Ken Weinstein interpret a loophole to their benefit – the only benefit being restriction of competition.

We asked the CHCA – an original party to the covenant – to consider that Rita’s is frozen dessert and not fast food that would produce – “grease, cooking and other odors,” as outlined in the covenant.

We further investigated definition of various agencies that classify businesses.

Fast-food restaurants are completely different enterprises from a business such as Rita’s and classified as such by the North American Industrial Classification System. Similarly, insurance companies rate fast food differently than frozen dessert.

The CHCA reviewed presentations, conferred with the Chestnut Hill Business Association and the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee, the original signers and the community, and made a determination in our favor. It is logical that the CHCA – the entity that assisted in drafting the covenant, would have the right to interpret it. The Trolley Car Diner/Ken Weinstein disagrees.

There was an agreement to arbitrate. However, the scope and format for arbitration were not agreed. The Trolley Car Diner only wanted written briefs – no testimony from the originators that would clarify intent and parties with standing. Additionally, I was required to guarantee the landlord (a third party) to be bound by our arbitration. Any reasonable person would not accept these terms. In fact, an advisor referred to these terms as a “ruse” to delay process.

The issue is not Mt. Airy or Chestnut Hill – it is about the self-serving actions of the Trolley Car Diner and its owner.

The only issue is the Trolley Car Diner, never an intended party to the restrictive covenant, attempts to use it to restrain competition.

John Thain
Chestnut Hill

Empty is better?

Does the Trolley Car Diner feel it is better to have many empty commercial properties along Germantown Avenue than to allow Rita’s to open?

Being an East Falls resident, I find it laughable that Mr. Weinstein, a very wealthy developer, would accept great sums of money from public agencies through the assistance of the East Falls Development Corporation to open the Trolley Car Diner in East Falls, while trying to prevent a Bucks County-based franchise from opening in Chestnut Hill.

How come, as someone who lives in East Falls and reads the Chestnut Hill Local, I knew of the Rita’s plan back in December? Now suddenly, there is shock and awe from the Weinstein camp over Rita’s. Can there really be any question as to their motivation?

Mary Wilkinson
East Falls

Rita’s Water Ice: bad soap opera

So many ruffled feathers! So many sermons! Anguished cries of “another chain sucking up Chestnut Hill’s dollars!” The Rita’s Water Ice controversy heats up to epic proportions like a bad soap opera. You’d think someone was trying to open an X-rated book store!

Does Rita’s really pose a threat to other businesses? Will mountains of empty Rita’s Water Ice cups actually turn our quaint little village into an urban landfill? Does water ice really have an odor?

Once again, some local (and not so local) natives declare war on a new business. Once again, another reason to bring more shoppers to the Hill is shot down. Once again, the message is clear to potential new businesses (unless  you’re a cleaner or a nail salon) – it’s more trouble than it’s worth!

For the record, the only thing that I have against Rita’s Water Ice is the occasional bout of brain freeze.

Brian Reisman
West Mt. Airy

Contraception is not a right

It is obvious, from her article in the Feb. 23, edition of the Local, that 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass needs a lesson in constitutional law. I challenge her to cite  the provision that guarantees free contraception to any woman.

I have no quarrel with anyone who makes a personal decision, or “choice,” to use contraception. But to suggest that contraception is a constitutionally-guaranteed right to be provided at no cost (other than to those who actually pay federal taxes) is intellectually dishonest, disingenuous and makes a mockery of our Constitution.

Ms. Bass apparently does not understand the difference between a personal and protected “choice” regarding one’s own lifestyle and a government-guaranteed “right.”

This issue has absolutely nothing to do with “equality” or health care. Using her own words, Ms. Bass’ position is “ignorant and ridiculous.”

Sharon Reiss, Esq.
West Mt. Airy

Politicians on the job? I don’t think so

Thank you for Jeanne Andrews’ article on the traffic debacle around Allen’s Lane. Her frustration with different city agencies reminded all of us, I’m sure, of a thousand other conversations that are part of modern life.

Sometimes when you’re on the phone with a utility, or a bank, or any giant faceless outfit with an 800 number, you just want somebody to be a human being, and stop following the buck-passing script. Jeanne’s chronicle of her frustration documents a real problem.

Fortunately, our local politicians are on the job, cutting through red tape, creating more responsive government. But…but…but… wait! There’s Cindy Bass, our City Councilwoman, in the same issue, boosting President Obama and critiquing the Republican candidates bout contraception and health insurance. Really? I have to rub my eyes and make sure I’m reading right. It’s especially puzzling – it takes the prize – to hear Bass declare “war” on people who disagree with her. What does “war” mean? Is that appropriate rhetoric from a local leader, in a neighborhood newspaper?

There are complicated issues in the contraception and religious liberty debate, issues that need empathy and a sense for competing goods if we are going to discuss them wisely. The rhetoric of violence does not help. Think about how this rhetoric would sound if this were a different issue touching on a different religion; it would be ominous and chilling.

But putting her rhetoric to the side for the moment, why is our city representative even publishing about this topic? Her own vocation, her duty to our neighborhood, is honorable and sufficient. I would love to read about her phone calls to the various city agencies and her attempts to get them to talk to one another. What can she do about buck-passing bureaucracy and the traffic around Allen’s Lane?

Christopher C. Roberts
Chestnut Hill