Arguments over zoning laws are regularly heard when neighbors oppose a commercial venture entering a residential community. In Philadelphia’s South Street neighborhood, however, business leaders are against having residential neighbors.
A proposal made by Toll Brothers to erect condominiums and townhomes in the 2400 block of South Street upsets what one organization calls “the continuity of commercial spaces.”
The South of South Street Neighborhood Association and the South Street West Business Association have informed the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustments that they do not want the proposed residential building to go up on South Street.
SSWBA and SOSNA convinced city officials that a garage on the proposed project site should remain intact. The groups have no use for the garage, but want demolition to be stalled to fend off efforts to build homes in the commercial district.
Toll Brothers needs a zoning variance to move ahead with plans for 59 condos and 66 townhomes, plus parking. The developer will approach the zoning board with the request in mid-December.
SOSNA Zoning Committee members met last month with Toll Brothers to go over plans for the residential development. Since then, a letter opposing the zoning change has been drafted.
The letter states that SSWBA “only supports applications that establish commercial use” and fears a residential project placed among businesses would shortchange the “commercial viability of South Street” by discouraging new business development.
The organizations are worried about losing the city’s good graces, after Philadelphia officials allotted $3 million to beef up the exterior appearances, sidewalks and street lights for businesses along South Street West.
If a residential property is allowed into the commercial district, the groups say businesses already there may lose opportunities for future city funding meant for a commercial district.
SSWBA and SOSNA felt that Toll Brothers would benefit from the residential project far more than local businesses. The groups called the developer’s idea “short-sighted.” It will be interesting to see how this dispute is resolved.
Source: Weekly Press, “SSWBA Opposes Toll Brothers,” Nicole Contosta, Nov. 15, 2011