by Brendan Sample

The Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee came closer to reaching a full agreement with the Woodward House Corporation and George Woodward Company at its meeting on Feb. 1. While discussions between the groups will remain ongoing for the foreseeable future, an agreement was made to establish a yearly meeting so that the Woodwards could provide updates on their properties.

The Woodward companies are the legacy of George Woodward and Henry Houston, a family that built hundreds of homes in Chestnut Hill and maintained ownership of many of them, which they leased to Chestnut Hillers since the late 1800s.

While the Woodward companies seek variances to redistribute their property lines, this latest development comes after both companies informed the LUPZ that they would not be able to fulfill two of the committee’s conditions for offering its support. Those conditions were that the Woodwards not put more than three properties up for sale each year for the next five years and putting a deed restriction on the properties so as to preserve the facades.

The LUPZ’s main concern in this matter is not with anything that the Woodwards might do, but rather with the potential plans of any future owners. The committee members expressed fears that future owners after the current generation of Woodwards could seek to make major alterations to the properties or even demolish them, which would hurt Chestnut Hill’s status as a nationally recognized historic district. Measures like a deed restriction, however, would ensure that the properties would stay the way they currently are for a set number of years, even if there is a change in ownership.

On the other hand, the Woodwards are hesitant to place such restrictions on their properties, in part because of a loss of tax benefits. If an official limit is placed on future sales, the IRS can then restrict future tax benefits on the properties in question. Carl Primavera, counsel to the Woodward Corporation, also acknowledged the complexity of implementing such agreements, ultimately preferring to institute a preservation strategy over time as opposed to immediately putting something into place.

There are more than 40 properties currently affected by the Woodward’s rezoning application. See list below.

In addition to establishing yearly updates at the April Development Review Committee meeting, the motion that the LUPZ passed also sought to reach a written agreement with the Woodwards on how to preserve the buildings’ facades. With the Woodwards’ hearing in front of the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment having already been scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 7, the LUPZ did not put an exact timeline on the discussions.

The next LUPZ meeting is set for Thursday, March 1 at at Chestnut Hill Hospital.

Addresses affected:

8011 Navajo St.

8013 Navajo St.

8008 Crefeld St.

8010 Crefeld St.

8012 Crefeld St.

8007-17 Lincoln Dr.

103-33 W. Willow Grove Ave.

42-52 W. Willow Grove Ave.

56 W. Willow Grove Ave.

58 W. Willow Grove Ave.

7915 Crefeld St.

7913 Crefeld St.

7911 Crefeld St.

7919 Lincoln Dr.

7921 Lincoln Dr.

7923 Lincoln Dr.

7925 Lincoln Dr.

110 W. Willow Grove Ave.

112 W. Willow Grove Ave.

116 W. Willow Grove Ave.

7920 Crefeld St.

7906-08 Crefeld St.

200 W. Willow Grove Ave.

224 W. Willow Grove Ave.

234 W. Willow Grove Ave.

300-04 W. Willow Grove Ave.

225 W. Springfield Ave. (aka 7902-06 Lincoln Dr.)

301 W. Springfield Ave.

303 W. Springfield Ave.

305 W. Springfield Ave.

307 W. Springfield Ave.

8014-28 Roanoke St.

7903 Crefeld St.

7907 Crefeld St.

8001 Crefeld St.

8003 Crefeld St.

8005 Crefeld St.

8007 Crefeld St.

8009 Crefeld St.

8011 Crefeld St.

8013 Crefeld St.

116 W. Abington Ave.

118 W. Abington Ave.