Zoning discussed at Somerton Civic special meeting

An initial public presentation of a Somerton nursing home’s expansion plan was postponed last week, although the Somerton Civic Association voted on two other zoning cases during the group’s special meeting on July 12.

The presentation and possible vote on the St. John Neumann Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare likely won’t be held until Tuesday, Sept. 13, according to SCA President Seth Kaplan. The civic group and nursing home operator agreed to delay the presentation to allow the operator to modify the plan at the request of the home’s immediate neighbors. Officials from the home met privately with SCA officers, a representative for City Councilman Brian O’Neill and immediate neighbors in advance of last week’s public meeting, Kaplan said.

The 130,000-square-foot facility occupies an 8.1-acre tract at 10200 E. Roosevelt Blvd. It’s valued at $11.8 million, city tax records show. It’s zoned for residential use. According to a “notice of refusal” issued by the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspection, the Neumann administration has applied to expand the home to allow for additional single-occupancy rooms, although the number of residents will not increase. The home has 226 resident beds, according to U.S. News and World Report’s most recent nursing home ratings. The zoning application also seeks to create 22 parking spaces.

The applicant has appealed to the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment to obtain a “special exception” that would allow for the expansion. The applicant is required to present the plans at a public community meeting before the ZBA will hear the appeal. The ZBA hearing is scheduled for Sept. 14.

The Neumann home was one of six in the Philadelphia area sold in October 2014 by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to Center Management Group of Flushing, New York, for $145 million. Two adjacent parcels were also included in the deal: a half-acre property containing a single house and garage at 10100 E. Roosevelt, as well as a 2.1-acre property containing a parking lot and open field at 10400 E. Roosevelt. CMG has set up separate holding companies for each parcel.

CMG’s stated objective — — to reduce multiple occupancy rooms and create more single-occupancy rooms — — — echoes the company’s controversial plan for the Immaculate Mary Home in Holme Circle. The Holme Circle and Winchester Park civic associations have each voted to oppose CMG’s effort to expand Immaculate Mary. Neighbors have complained about the height of that proposed addition, its proximity to nearby homes and other issues.

Dozens of private residences are within 1,000 feet of the Neumann home, notably those on Haldeman Avenue; Greymont, Gorman, Kenwood, Sanford and Foster streets; and Tomlinson Road.

The Somerton Civic Association does not hold its usual monthly business meetings in July or August, but it hosts special meetings as needed to accommodate any timely zoning appeals. The Sept. 13 session is open to the public and will be held at Walker Lodge 306, 1290 Southampton Road, at 7 p.m.

Also at the July 12 meeting, SCA members voted to support the Somerton Youth Organization’s zoning application to erect a 135-square-foot, 17.5-foot-high, illuminated and animated scoreboard. The youth organization’s athletic fields have a residential zoning. The city code does not allow animated, illuminated signs within 150 feet of a residence. The proposed sign also exceeds allowable area and height limitations.

The civic group also approved a duplex owner’s application to install a prefabricated shed in his yard. The shed would be 10 feet wide and 20 feet long. The civic group voted in favor of the application on condition that the shed would have no electricity or plumbing and would not be used for vehicle parking. ••