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Woman proposes rooming house in Mt. Airy

A longtime resident of the Philadelphia suburb of Mt. Airy is seeking permission from zoning boards to transform one of three properties she owns into a rooming house. Her vision is to allow low-income members of the community to seek shelter at the residence, but first it must pass by board members of East Mt. Airy Neighbors.

The neighborhood currently is not home to a rooming house. The woman voiced her plans earlier this year to the civic association. At that time, the East Mt. Airy Neighbors decided to put off making a decision on the matter until now.

The woman is seeking a variance that would, under law, transform this particular property from a single-family home to a rooming home. The home would be comprised of seven units.

The woman argued that she would maintain her ownership of the property and would be fully responsible for the physical upkeep of the home. She also tried to quell any fears that board members might have by explaining that those seeking shelter at the rooming house were not allowed to smoke or do drugs. This, according to the woman, would ensure that the additional guests would not compromise the integrity of the community or create trouble for existing residents.

The woman brought it to the East Mt. Airy Neighbors for approval first before taking it to the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustments. However, the East Mt. Airy Neighbors still had concerns, arguing that a future owner might not have the same high standards as the woman. Some board members also thought transient residents could cause harm to the community.

They were divided on their vote to support the variance but said she could submit a letter to the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustments. If her petition is denied, the woman would lose the house.

Property owners must go through many governing bodies when they decide to make changes that could affect the community. These cases are generally high stakes and require the guidance of a qualified real estate lawyer.

Source: NewsWorks.org, "East Mt. Airy Neighbors divided over rooming house proposal," Carrie Hagen, March 7, 2013

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