Greater Bustleton Civic discusses ongoing zoning dispute

Greater Bustleton Civic League members last week listened to an ambitious plan for a large vacant Geiger Road property, but took no action. Members also decided to spend $1,500 to continue the league’s two-year legal battle with a property owner who is conducting a business in a Haldeman Avenue residence.

In fall 2012, members overwhelming opposed Flore Andresi, who had asked for the league’s support of his variance application. Andresi wanted to legally continue making dental retainers in his house at 9997 Haldeman and needed the variance because the property was zoned residential. Despite the neighborhood opposition, the Zoning Board of Adjustment granted the variance, but just for three years.

The organization almost immediately voted to fight the zoners’ decision in court, and won — sort of. Instead of simply overturning the ZBA variance, Common Pleas Court sent the matter back to the zoners. After a few delays, Andresi got another hearing in July, and the board vote did not go his way that time.

Jack O’Hara, the league’s president, on Sept. 17 told members Andresi in late August filed a Common Pleas Court appeal of the zoners’ latest decision. Members approved spending further funds to fight Andresi in court. O’Hara said the organization already has spent $3,000.

Developers of the vacant 242–246 Geiger property told members they want to use the industrially zoned warehouse property for two child daycare businesses, adult daycare, a dialysis unit and a medical transfer company. The league was asked for its support for a variance that would allow those businesses in the property. After many questions and occasional catcalls, representatives of the developer agreed to re-present plans along with more specifics at the league’s next general membership meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the American Heritage Federal Credit Union’s Carriage House, Red Lion and Jamison.

The zoning board was asked to delay a hearing on the variance until November.

According to the city’s online property records, 242 Geiger Acquisition LP bought the property in 2008 for about $1.3 million. The Office of Property Assessment valued the building and land at $1,467,400, almost five times more than it was valued in 2013. The company that wants to develop the property is 242 Geiger Road Acquisition LLC. Although the property owner’s name and the developer’s name are similar, “they’re completely different people,” attorney Michael Yanoff said.

Revenue Department records show there is a lien on the property for more than $20,000 in unpaid real estate taxes. In a Sept. 19 phone conversation, Yanoff said he is aware of the lien shown on the city’s online records, but added he applied for and got a certificate of tax clearance for the property. Such a certificate is necessary to even apply for a zoning variance.

In other business:

• O’Hara said zoners continued a hearing on a variance that would allow a daycare operation in 811 Charette. No new date has been set, he said. The league opposes the variance.

• O’Hara said a few new businesses have opened in Bustleton: Little Caesars Pizza, Grant Avenue and Welsh Road; PAWS pet care at Grant and Bustleton avenues; and L&H Bridal at 9355 Old Bustleton Ave.

• Rich Simon, the 7th District’s community relations officer, warned residents there is a new no left turn sign at Grant near Krewstown Road. Making a left into the shopping center before Krewstown is dangerous, and the prohibition will be enforced, he said.

• Simon also encouraged residents to call 911 when they see anything suspicious in their neighborhood. Some homeowners have reported aggressive or suspicious door-to-door solicitors. “Don’t be afraid to call 911,” he said. “We’ll come out and check their IDs.” ••