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Issuance of zoning permit angers Society Hill residents.

Society Hill is one of many historic districts in Philadelphia, and the grant of a zoning permit can invoke review by the city's Historical Commission and design review board. In some circumstances, the grant of a permit can also stir up the neighbors. The recent grant of a conditional use permit to replace a grocery super market with an apartment building has caused resentment among residents of Society Hill, even though the new use is permitted by the zoning code.

The developer, Alterra Property Group, recently announced that it was proceeding with plans to acquire the Acme Grocery Store and replace it with a 53-foot-high apartment building with 65 units. The conditional use permit also allows 43 underground parking spaces. The developer and the grocery store owner had been negotiating the terms of a lease renewal, but the negotiations broke down, leading the developer to obtain the zoning permit for a new structure. The lease expires in two years, and the existing tenant is expected to continue operations until the expiration date.

The president of the Society Hill Civic Association said that the group had been talking with the developer about the lease negotiations but that it learned about the new proposal only when the zoning-permit notice was posted at the site. The association objects to the new proposal because they believe that it is too large for the site and also because the new building will not be able to accommodate a full-service grocery store.

This dispute is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. The neighborhood association has already discussed legal action to prevent the new plan from going forward. Anyone who is involved in a similar land use dispute may wish to consult a lawyer who practices real estate law. Such a consultation can provide a helpful evaluation of the facts and law that apply to the case and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable outcome.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Developer gets permit for residential building at Society Hill Acme site," Jacob Adelman, Jan. 17, 2017

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