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Old zoning ruling at issue in plan for restaurant building

The current owners of Philadelphia's Wynnewood Shopping Center want to add a new restaurant building in the parking lot located at the back of the property. Some zoning laws and conditions of approval applicable to the property adopted some 60 years ago in 1953, however, may present an obstacle to that proposal.

Back then, the shopping center, which once featured the well-known John Wanamaker's department store, proposed to expand the shopping center by adding a two-story department store and 1,200 parking spaces. The current plan calls for construction of a 6,576-square-foot restaurant facility, complete with outdoor dining, to replace the current abandoned post office processing center occupying a smaller 4,052 square foot space.

Sixty years ago, Lower Merion zoning authorities imposed some limitations as a condition of approval of expansion plans. Those limitations included a ban on outdoor music and a very restricted number of hours of operation. This was needed in order to gain the approval of a civic group concerned about the impact on nearby homes. While these limitations were not raised during an earlier stage in the zoning approval process, it now appears they are still applicable to the property as they have never been repealed.

A number of area residents plan to testify at an upcoming zoning appeal hearing, voicing their disapproval of the current expansion plans and urging they be rejected.

The story of the proposal shows how important it is to have knowledgeable and experienced zoning lawyers to handle the approval process for any commercial project, and to look at the detailed history of past zoning issues concerning the property on which the project plans to build.

Mainline Media News, "60-year-old zoning decision new wrinkle in Wynnewood Shopping Center restaurant dispute" Cheryl Allison, Jul. 16, 2013

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