by Brendan Sample

Holding back-to-back meetings on Tuesday, Jan. 16, the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee and Development Review Committee heard from property owners in the area seeking to make changes to their properties. The LUPZ was initially set to meet on Jan. 4, but inclement weather forced a delay of two weeks.

The issue most prominently discussed at the meeting was that of relocating lot lines of properties owned by the Woodward House Corporation. Both the LUPZ and DRC have heard testimonies from representatives of both the corporation and the George Woodward Company in several meetings late last year, as the Woodward family is still not seeking to do any actual construction on its properties.

With official notices set to be posted around the properties the day after the meeting and a hearing scheduled in front of the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment on Feb. 7, the Woodward groups planned to make another presentation to both committees.

The current plans are to divide the eight existing Woodward properties into 43, a measure that both committees supported. Carl Primavera, counsel to the Woodward House Corporation, noted that he had not had any indication that any residents of the Woodward properties are unhappy with this process, since more than 200 people were notified directly of what was going on before posters went up.

The LUPZ brought up a few potential concerns about the Woodward properties going forward, particularly in regards to not wanting current parking structures to become residences and ensuring that no more than three individual properties are put up for sale every year. The Woodward parking buildings are currently classified as “secondary principal structures,” which could potentially allow them to be turned into full residences at some point in the future.

After hearing more details about the project, LUPZ voted to conditionally support the measures that the Woodward Company is seeking to put into place. The conditions include getting a confirmation that the parking garages will be officially classified as parking structures, that no more than three properties will be put on the market each year for the next five years and that the Licenses and Inspections Department will ultimately provide a written confirmation verifying the stipulations. The DRC unanimously approved a motion to reiterate the LUPZ’s terms.

Homeowners on Prospect Avenue went back in front of the DRC to continue discussing a proposed garage and studio to add on to their existing house. They are currently seeking to have L&I change the classification of the garage from a secondary principal structure to an accessory building, which would help allow them to get the variance they are seeking, but are still working on getting an exact date for a hearing. The DRC again unanimously voted to support the variance on the grounds that the garage not be used for occupancy of any kind.

The last proposal of the night that the DRC heard was in regards to a house on 8209 Saint Martin’s Lane, where the owners are planning to add an in-ground pool, patio and pool house. Bill O’Brien, an attorney representing the homeowners, was on hand to discuss the plans and provided the committee with literature that outlined all of the details. Finding the application to be satisfactory, the DRC unanimously passed a motion to support it as it was presented.

The LUPZ and DRC each meet monthly at Chestnut Hill Hospital. The next LUPZ meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, while the next DRC meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20.