by Wesley Ratko

Two new signs planned to flank the main entrance to Chestnut Hill College’s campus at 9601 Germantown Ave, met with a promise of opposition from one neighbor at the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee on Thursday, Dec. 6.

Representatives Lauri Strimkovsky, VP for Financial Affairs for the college, and Lee Casaccio, an architect with the firm Casaccio and Yu, presented their plan for two new signs – one for the college on the right, and one for the Sisters of Saint Joseph mission next door on the left.

“We have two goals: prettier signage for the college, and an ID for the Sisters of Saint Josephs property,” Strimskovsky said.

The college is seeking support for a variance from the zoning code that requires the signs be placed 18 feet back from the property line. The proposed signs will be close to the edge of the property with the roadway, which is roughly the location of the current sign – a 10-foot long rectangle lit from inside.

The college plans to modify the stone wall that flanks the entrance to provide a seat for the signs, which will be metal and circular, measuring nine feet three inches in diameter with a portion cut out in the middle and raised letters with the name of the college along the top.

Comments from the public were limited to one Chuck Broadbent, of West Bells Mill Road. . Broadbent told the committee he represented both the Northwest Wissahickon Conservancy and the North Chestnut Hill Neighbors. He read from a prepared statement, which expressed both groups’ opposition to the signs.

“We are going to oppose the request for a variance before the zoning board,” he said. “We object to the additional signage and the precedent it may set for the Sugarloaf property.” He wasn’t accompanied by members of either group.

Strimkovsky assured him that the college does not intend to place any signs anywhere on the Sugarloaf property. The Sugarloaf estate is the 30-acre property located on the opposite side of Germantown Avenue that was acquired by the college in 2006.

“Our group has not seen this presentation, so I need to take this back to them,” he added, before reiterating his disapproval.

Broadbent said he believes the additional signage to be “inappropriate” and “detrimental to the residential character of our neighborhood.”

“Your group is against this, but they’ve never seen it?” asked LUPZ Committee member Larry McEwen. McEwen said that everyone was invited to attend the meeting, and questioned how both groups, neither of which were present, could oppose something they haven’t seen.

Broadbent again restated his intention to oppose granting the variances for the signs. He then left.

“We could propose a one-inch by one-inch sign and they would oppose it,” Strimkovsky told the committee.

A motion to support the variance was unanimously approved.

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