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Zoning board members at odds with Haverford YMCA building plans

An attorney recently appeared before a hearing of the Philadelphia Zoning Hearing Board to ask for two variances for the planned Haverford YMCA. The YMCA wants to place large signs on the structure that it is currently constructing and dig deeper into the steep slopes of the Eagle Road property.

The township allows signs to be as large as 15 square feet, but the YMCA is proposing a much larger display at the former gum factory site. The Y's lawyer requested approval from the zoning board to install a nearly 200-square-foot sign on the building's north side. Another sign, nearly as large, is planned for the east side overlooking the parking lot and Eagle Road.

One of the zoning board's members felt the variance request was as oversized as the proposed signs. The board's vice chair said the YMCA was asking for "the moon" by hoping to get the supersized signage.

The Y's architect argued that the facility was not asking for larger signs than it already had on its buildings in other Philadelphia communities. He noted that the Y has already withdrawn a plan to put a 24-square foot sign above the front door.

The architect noted that other businesses in the township, including Super Fresh, also had large signs. He submitted pictures of those signs to the board. Hearing officials asked the architect to provide the exact dimensions of the comparable signs and advised that the Y give serious thought to scaling back its signage sizes.

Another variance the YMCA wants approved is permission to dig into the property's steep slopes. Township restrictions allow construction to disturb a maximum of 5 percent of extremely steep slopes. The Y's construction plan doubles the disturbance outlined in the ordinance.

An engineer informed the zoning board that the construction would include an environmentally friendly bioswail that would add nearly another 14,800 square feet of steep slope. He said the true slope disturbance might be as little as 7 percent.

Both issues concerning the Haverford YMCA will be decided in separate September hearings.

Source: Delaware County News Network, "YMCA sign a concern for Haverford zoning board vice president," Lois Puglionesi, Aug. 24, 2011

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