Home News E. Torresdale Civic approves zoning application

E. Torresdale Civic approves zoning application

Sometime during the last 40 years, the city of Philadelphia screwed up the zoning for 9900 Lorry Place.

The property is on the northeast corner of Lorry Place and Frankford Avenue, directly across the avenue from Morrell Plaza. The two-story row homes in the neighborhood were built in the early 1970s. As is typical of end-of-row properties in the area, the one at 9900 Lorry Place is a duplex. That is, there are two separate apartments, one atop the other. They have separate entrances, separate utilities, separate everything.

But somewhere along the line, perhaps when the city controversially adopted a rewritten zoning code in 2012, 9900 Lorry Place was zoned as a single-family dwelling, RSA-4 to be exact. City records show that Kostas Sotirakis of Huntingdon Valley has owned the rental property much longer than that, at least since 2003. His son now manages the property.

Yet, when the son applied to the city for two rental licenses recently, the city turned him down. Now, the owner has been forced to seek a zoning variance to use the property for its originally intended purpose.

Members of the East Torresdale Civic Association voted 19–2 to approve the application during the group’s monthly meeting on May 11.

Despite the overwhelming majority vote, neighbors voiced some concerns about the property. ETCA Vice President Bill Kennedy reported that public records show that in 1985, a physician tried to legalize a medical office on the first floor. The city refused his application. He ultimately appealed the decision to a civil court but lost.

Further, an addition has been built to the front of the first floor, which now extends closer to the sidewalk than the facades of five other row homes on that side of the street. A couple of neighbors think the addition is unsightly. No information was offered at the civic meeting about the age of the addition or who was responsible for building it. When asked if he would consider removing the addition and restoring the building to its original state, the owner’s son replied that such a project would be cost prohibitive.

Otherwise, the few neighbors in attendance at the civic meeting offered generally positive assessment of the owner’s maintenance of the property. The Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hear the appeal on May 27.

In an unrelated zoning case, Kennedy reported that the ETCA board has received no new information about a proposed Philadelphia Federal Credit Union branch at Frankford Avenue and Academy Road on a portion of the James D. Morrissey Inc. site. The ETCA and Upper Holmesburg Civic Association have both voted to oppose the project, citing traffic congestion and other concerns. A zoning board hearing has been postponed indefinitely, Kennedy said. ••

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