The property owner of the Keewaydin estate, located at 540 W. Moreland Avenue, has appealed a Court of Common Pleas ruling that prevented the property from being subdivided.
The property owner of the Keewaydin estate, located at 540 W. Moreland Avenue, has appealed a Court of Common Pleas ruling that prevented the property from being subdivided. The initial ruling reversed the city’s decision, via its Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), that allowed the subdivision despite opposition of Chestnut Hill’s two primary registered community organizations – The Chestnut Hill Conservancy and the Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA). The lawsuit was brought by the Conservancy and near neighbors.
The neighbors’ attorney, Paul Toner, confirmed the appeal but declined to make further comment. Vern Anastasio, attorney for the property owner, Ganos LLC, declined via a secretary to provide comment.
The organizations’ opposition stemmed from the developer’s unwillingness to provide details on plans for the subdivided lot.
Ganos had initially planned to build an apartment complex on the lot, then abandoned those plans after the company was unable to gain support for a variance from neighbors. Residents felt that any new structures built on Keewaydin would not fit the character of that section of the neighborhood, which features stately homes and expansive lawns. The developer then abandoned plans to build the complex, due to a lack of community support. Instead, it opted to file for a variance that would allow the property to be subdivided, which, to the surprise of the community, was approved by the ZBA. The Court of Common Pleas then reversed the ZBA’s ruling.
According to the Court of Common Pleas decision, written by Judge Anne Marie Coyle, the hearing was “replete with evidentiary rulings by ZBA Chairman DiCicco that unfairly disallowed any reasonable inquiry into the potential impact to the community.” The ruling also said that DiCicco “excluded relevant evidence during the hearing particularly from concerned community members and neighbors.”
The appeal hearing has yet to be scheduled.