Mt. Airy daycare center seeks to become event hall

Posted 7/27/23

Two zoning issues will be discussed at the West Mt. Airy Neighbors zoning committee meeting on Aug. 2.

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Mt. Airy daycare center seeks to become event hall


Two zoning issues will be the subjects of discussion at the West Mt. Airy Neighbors zoning committee’s in-person public meeting, scheduled for Aug. 2 at the Summit Presbyterian Church, 6757 Greene St. 

First, 5-7 W. Mount Airy Ave. applicant Kenniah Chestnut, and property owner LBS Realty Assoc LT, are seeking Special Exception Approval from the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment to convert what previously had been a daycare center into an event hall. The zoning board hearing is scheduled for Aug. 9.

A special exception is different from a zoning variance in that the proposed change in use is technically allowed, but would represent such a significant change that the zoning board seeks neighborhood input. 

According to Ralph Pincus, chair of the West Mt. Airy Neighbors (WMAN) zoning committee, the proposed change has sparked concern among neighbors who say the applicants have already begun using the space to hold events, without first having gotten ZBA approval to do so. In this case, the facility could include anything from amusement arcades and nightclubs to movie theaters, with potential on- or off-premises food and beverage services. 

In addition, Pincus said, neighbors have expressed concern about the stress that events in the space would have on neighborhood parking, which is already tight. 

“These are activities that involve people coming to these parties and parking,” he said. “Parking is a serious issue in the heart of Mt. Airy.”

In other business, the committee also will consider the property at 532 W. Ellet St., where owner Mark Lightfoot is contesting the zoning board's refusal to allow a single-family twin to be converted into a two-family residence. That appeal is scheduled for Sept. 19.