Bustleton zoning variance proposal on hold

Bustleton residents, a couple of neighborhood business owners and their zoning consultant learned last week that the devil is often in the details when it comes to getting city permits.

During a March 23 meeting of the Greater Bustleton Civic League, members decided not to vote on a zoning variance proposal because the language contained in the application didn’t seem to match what the applicants said they wanted to do with a property at 9341–51 Old Bustleton Ave.

John Altimari told the meeting-goers that he’s owned the site for the last four decades. There are four buildings there, including a Goodyear tire and auto service center. Altimari rents the three other buildings to tenants who are also engaged in the auto repair business. All of those uses are already legal.

Altimari and Bensalem-based zoning consultant Linda Brown told meeting-goers that they are trying to get zoning approval so that each of their tenants will be able to conduct private auto sales from the property. Each tenant would be allowed to sell up to three cars at a time.

However, the language on his zoning application appeared to tell a different story. The application seeks approval to expand the auto repair activities at the Goodyear shop, as well as a second building.

Further, Altimari told residents that the occupants of two of the four buildings already have state licenses to sell cars, but the city zoning application indicates that auto sales are an “existing” use at just one of the four buildings.

Regardless of the language of the application, some GBCL members said they’re not sold on the idea of auto sales on the property anyway. Mainly, they don’t want to see the property turn into a used car lot. Altimari promised the cynics that car sales would remain low key and they would not become the primary use of the property.

GBCL President Jack O’Hara said that members would like to see a corrected application before voting on it. The next GBCL meeting is scheduled for the evening of April 27. Earlier that day, the Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hear the case. Brown and O’Hara said they would both contact the board to seek a postponement.

In other business:

• O’Hara said he has been trying to obtain more information about the status of the Catholic War Veterans Post 162 and the nightclub that it operates, Goodlife Lounge, at 9859 Bustleton Ave.

On Jan. 31, police were called to the scene after an employee reported that a shooting occurred in the parking lot. Three officers were allegedly assaulted as they tried to break up a melee involving dozens of people outside the club. Other disturbances have been reported at the same location before.

O’Hara said that he spoke with the state commander of the Catholic War Veterans who told him that the organization is investigating the local post and the alleged problems at the nightclub.

Meanwhile, O’Hara said, a member of the Pennsylvania State Police told him that the site is the subject of a state Liquor Control investigation. As a result of liquor code violations in the past, the leaders of the CWV post have been ordered to divest from the liquor license.

Despite these official investigations, the club appears as if it’s still open for business. It is in good standing with all of its required city permits, O’Hara said.

• Philadelphia Police Capt. Michael Gormley reported that the 7th district has seen a reduction in major crime categories except for thefts from autos. There were 19 cases reported in the Bustleton area in the last month, many of which involved the theft of airbags from Hondas.

In general, Gormley said, motorists should make sure that they never leave an unattended car unlocked.

Also, Gormley said, the 7th district recently took delivery of three new patrol cars and two new off-road motorcycles for patrol in parks.

Gormley added that officers in the district have been issuing a lot of tickets for illegal left turns at Grant Avenue and Krewstown Road. A lot of motorists have been making illegal left turns to enter the Wawa parking lot on the corner. ••