There could soon be fewer bar stools and a few more hotel rooms at the corner of Bustleton and Philmont avenues after neighbors approved a zoning application for Bull Shooters Saloon during the Somerton Civic Association’s monthly meeting on Oct. 13.
Citing an increasing demand for affordable short-term lodging, zoning attorney Shawn Ward outlined plans to convert a portion of the nightclub into six new guest rooms. Ward’s client, John Catagnus, owns the property at 14000 Bustleton Ave.
The changes probably wouldn’t actually affect bar seating. Rather, the owner plans to eliminate a performance stage and dance floor from the first floor of the property to make room for the new guest accommodations, including six bedrooms, one full bath, one half bath and a laundry room. Under city code, hotels must have at least one common bathroom per six guest rooms, Ward said.
There are already 40 guest rooms in the multi-story property. Most of those are on the second floor, which would remain unchanged. On the first floor, the nightclub area would be reduced from about 8,400 square feet to about 6,300. The new guest rooms will cover about 2,100. The first floor already has about 3,100 square feet of guest rooms and a 1,500-square-foot banquet room.
Ward and Catagnus said that the rooms are popular with out-of-town workers who may need an affordable, convenient place to stay while in town on temporary jobs. Like any other hotel, rooms are available by the night. There are also weekly and monthly rates. Catagnus said that he would not rent out rooms by the hour. The nightclub area and lodging area will have separate entrances.
The renovations would meet all city building codes, including new wiring, plumbing and fire sprinklers, Ward said. SCA members approved the zoning application 38–6.
In a separate zoning case, SCA members voted, 30–15, against a man’s application to open a smoke shop at 14230 Bustleton Ave. Though zoned residential, the property has long been used for business or commercial uses. It served as Congressman Brendan Boyle’s district office when he was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
In a third zoning case, neighbors approved a 105-foot Verizon mobile service tower at 10195 Northeast Blvd. The site is across the street from the George Washington High School athletic fields behind the school. In addition to the tower, the installation will have a shelter for a backup generator and be surrounded by eight-foot PVC fencing.
Guest speakers at the civic meeting included Congressman Boyle and his brother, Kevin Boyle, a state representative who is running for the state Senate next year, along with Lt. Steve Gonzalez of the 7th Police District.
Brendan Boyle said that he strives to offer the same level of constituent service now that he did during his three terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 2009 through ’14, although his U.S. House district now includes about 750,000 residents.
He also discussed his approach to overcoming partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill. He has worked with area Republican colleagues such as Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Meehan to craft legislation without much publicity, he said. He said his top domestic priority is to get the middle class growing again, an issue that played a primary role in his 2014 campaign platform.
Rep. Kevin Boyle spoke to endorse Judge Kevin Dougherty in his campaign for Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Boyle and Dougherty are neighbors in Bustleton. Depending on the outcome of the election, Dougherty could be the only justice among the court’s seven hailing from east of Harrisburg and could help mitigate the (anti-) “Philadelphia bias” in state government, Boyle said.
Gonzalez, the local police sergeant, said that residents can help stop the illegal use of ATVs on city streets and in public parks. Although police aren’t allowed to chase the off-road vehicles for public safety reasons, civilians can help by sharing information with police.
Witnesses should take note of descriptions of the ATVs and their operators. They can also note the license tags for any legal trucks that riders use to transport the recreational vehicles. Police could use that information to find out where the scofflaws live. Contact the 7th district at 215–686–3070 to report information. If you see law-breaking in progress, call 911. ••