Somerton Civic votes in favor of zoning resolution

The Somerton Civic Association voted on a zoning resolution and discussed an airfield that may be worthy of a state historical marker.

SOURCE: SOMERTON CIVIC ASSOCIATION

The Somerton Civic Association last week held a rather brief meeting that included a vote on a zoning resolution, various updates and discussion of an airfield that may be worthy of a state historical marker.

During the last couple of meetings in 2017, the group spent an extended period of time discussing an affordable housing bill in City Council and how it may alter their neighborhood. At the civic’s last meeting of 2017, Councilman Brian O’Neill stated that this proposed piece of legislation would not affect the residents of Somerton and the Northeast, and believes it will mainly impact affordable housing in high-density zoning districts such as the neighborhoods located near Center City. Although O’Neill doesn’t see this to be a bill to fret over, he did suggest a zoning overlay for Somerton.

This overlay was added to the proposed resolution that has been discussed for months. It states, “when the Civic’s board receives notice of an appeal from a notice of zoning refusal for a commercial development, it will seek the developer’s agreement to restrict certain uses from the property by way of zoning provisos and deed restrictions.”

The civic has created two lists that include what type of development they see not fit for the neighborhood. The group voted 33–1 in favor of this resolution.

In addition to this Council bill, Somerton and various other civic association have their sights set on a Council hearing that will take place at the end of the month. Certain civic associations in Philadelphia have been targeted by “SLAPP lawsuits,” which has resulted in groups talking about getting insurance for their civic associations. “SLAPP lawsuits” are “strategic lawsuits against public participation.” The Council hearing on the matter is set for Jan. 31 at 10 a.m.

Capt. Michael Gormley, commander of the 7th Police District, delivered crime statistics to the civic about end-of-the-year numbers comparing 2017 to years past. Gormley was happy to report that crime had continuously decreased for the past couple of years, stating it’s been a “nice stretch these 2–3 years” and doesn’t see a reason for it to stop now.

In November, the civic voted to donate $1,500 to buy gift cards for three families that have children in local schools. The families received the gift cards in time for the holiday season.

At November’s meeting, George Washington High School principal Susan Thompson and Caitlyn Boyle, of the Mayor’s Office of Education, delivered updates on its status as a “community school.” There was a meeting set for Jan. 4 for Washington to deliver updates on the school, but it was canceled due to the snowstorm. The next meeting that will include updates for Washington will be Jan. 18.

The Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History recently submitted a nomination for a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker for Bustleton field, the site of the first U.S. Airmail Service delivery on May 15, 1918. There is also a field in Somerton that may be worthy of nomination. The Somerton airfield, run by Ernest Buehl, the “Flying Dutchman,” was believed to have opened in either 1928 or 1929. The Somerton Civic Association is thinking about nominating this airfield for a historical marker. Anyone with information on this specific airfield should reach out to the civic association at scanews1@gmail.com ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com