HomeNewsMayfair Civic votes not to oppose church’s request for fence

Mayfair Civic votes not to oppose church’s request for fence

Members of the Mayfair Civic Association must be real believers that good fences make good neighbors.

It’s not that anyone’s got a beef with the new Philadelphia Ghana Adventist Church at 7501 Frankford Ave., which is two blocks north of the Mayfair Diner. On the contrary, folks on both sides of the fence that surrounds the house of worship agree that opening up the property would only attract undesirable outsiders to the block, specifically rowdy teens, homeless people and assorted “bums.”

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That’s why the MCA voted unanimously not to oppose the church’s zoning application for the fence, which exceeds a height limit governed by the city’s zoning code. The civic group held the vote during a special meeting on March 2. The MCA’s regular bimonthly meeting is still scheduled for March 16, but that will be the group’s political candidates night, which is expected to exhaust a full agenda.

A dozen or more members of the Philadelphia Ghana Adventist Church showed their support for the zoning application during last week’s civic meeting. An architect speaking on behalf of the church reported that there was no fence when the group moved into the property. City records show that the Seventh Day Adventists bought the site, measuring one-third of an acre, in April 2012. Previously, the site housed the Life Victory Church.

Philadelphia Ghana erected the fence because indigents were using the rear of the property as a lavatory, while kids went there to party. The fence is tubular steel, painted black and six feet tall. It does not screen activity on the property from public view. The zoning code allows six-feet fencing on the rear property line, but the height limit is four feet facing the street.

Immediate neighbors supported the application, citing the same complaints about trespassers. The fence seems to have solved those problems, neighbors said.

Conversely, none of the Mayfair Civic members voted to support a local homeowner’s application to legalize a duplex apartment building in a former doctor’s office and single-family home at 2901 Cottman Ave. That’s on the northeast corner of Cottman and Brous Avenue.

Tom Citro, a zoning expediter representing the owner, reported that the house is similar to many Mayfair rowhouses. An end unit, it has two stories plus a walk-in basement. For decades under previous owners, the lower level was a doctor’s office, while the two main floors were a single-family home. The doctor did not live there, however.

When the doctor left, the owner at the time rented each of the three levels separately, albeit illegally. It was not zoned as a triplex.

In more recent times, a New York City woman bought the building and hired Citro to help her legalize the triplex. Neighbors opposed the idea. Last October, that owner sold the building to another woman from Griffin, Georgia, about 40 miles south of Atlanta. She moved here and settled in the Cottman Avenue house. She’s hoping to get zoning approval to rent the place as a duplex, with the upper two levels combined as one unit.

Citro confirmed that the owner’s ultimate plan is to move out of the building and rent out both units separately. The property already is configured with separate entrances and utilities for the two apartments.

But neighbors balked at the idea, citing their reluctance to legalize the subdivision of what is technically still considered a single home. The vote was unanimously opposed to the application.

The civic association tabled a third zoning case because the applicant was unprepared to make a presentation to the community. The owner of a gas station at 6300 Frankford Ave. wants permits to sell prepared, hot foods. But he didn’t post orange zoning notices on the property as required by the city code. The orange signs alert passers-by that a zoning hearing has been scheduled. They must be posted for 21 days. The owner also lacked schematic drawings of his proposed renovations. ••

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