A Google Maps photo with 121 W. Chestnut Hill Ave. noted by a black border. The driveway to the right of the house serves it and the two properties behind and to the right. The owners would like to place a circular driveway on the property to make it more safe.

by Brendan Sample

At its latest meeting, the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Land Use, Planning and Zoning committee took another step toward a final decision concerning a proposed circular driveway on 121 W. Chestnut Hill Ave. The plan is to replace the current driveway, which is used for three properties, because the homeowners, Patrick and Deborah Cannon, said they feel a circular driveway would be safer and more capable of handling the amount of incoming and outgoing traffic.

In particular, the Cannons said they have noticed that drivers are having a difficult time backing out of the current driveway onto West Chestnut Hill Avenue, which can cause further traffic problems on the street. By adding a semi-circular driveway, not only will drivers be able to go in and out of the property without backing up, but the owners also feel the new driveway will increase the overall value of the home.

Some LUPZ members said they would like to add a restriction on the property deed that would limit parking on the driveway. The restriction could limit parking during a certain time period or overall usage, but the committee members did want to have something in writing to ensure that it would not become a problem going forward.

“We’ve had a lot of problems with this,” said committee member John Landis. “Some broker may represent the house by saying, ‘Oh, there’s parking in the front yard.’ So we need to protect the community from future owners who are subject to a misrepresentation. If it’s in a deed restriction, a broker is bound to say, ‘Oh, by the way, you can’t park on this space.’”

A neighbor also living on West Chestnut Hill Avenue was in attendance to defend the current plan. He claimed that the house was initially designed for a circular driveway and that the current driveway was also never meant to be used for three properties. He expressed his frustration over the current design, which he feels is flawed due to being mismatched to the property and because the design is “ugly.”

After receiving further details on the project, including measures that would help manage stormwater and the look of an asphalt yard, several LUPZ members suggested that there may be a less costly way for the homeowners to achieve their goal. While they estimated that the current plan could cost between $150,000 and $200,000, a different method could be as little as $25,000.

The committee ultimately passed a motion for the owners to look into alternative designs and bring the one they felt would work best to the next meeting of the Development Review Committee on April 16. The DRC will make its recommendation between the two and the plan will move forward from there. Even if the two sides cannot come to an agreement on that date, there will still be time to potentially reach a solution before the Cannons’ scheduled hearing before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on June 19.

Traffic study suggested

Mark Keintz, co-chair of the ad-hoc Residential Parking Committee, was on hand to suggest a new traffic study in Chestnut Hill. Citing parking issues from the past 18 months, such as a lack of space around businesses, parking on the Jenks ramp and increased commuter traffic around the Water Tower pickleball courts, Keintz expressed his doubt over whether the current available traffic information would be enough to handle such problems.

While several committee members agreed that those issues and more deserved further consideration, there was also a sense that the group would need a clearer idea of what all the problems are and that such a study would actually lead to some concrete resolutions.

The LUPZ also discussed potential candidates for a new cochair, as well as continued options for new committee members. The group is looking to fill two vacancies and is specifically hoping to recruit design professionals and/or zoning attorneys. Anyone interested in joining or that has suggestions for potential members is encouraged to contact the CHCA.

The next LUPZ meeting is scheduled for May 2 at 8 p.m. in the Chestnut Hill Hospital.

Brendan Sample can be reached at brendan@chestnuthilllocal.com or 215-248-8819.

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