City commissioner talks boundaries

Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt addressed the civic association about voting information and district boundaries.

Source: Al Schmidt / Facebook

Last Thursday, the West Torresdale/Morrell Park Civic Association welcomed City Commissioner Al Schmidt and the pastor of Gospel Light Baptist Church, and discussed one zoning matter for 9675 Academy Road.

Schmidt discussed the role of his office in the electoral process and fielded questions relating to voting from members of the civic. He explained the wide variety of offices on the ballot for Tuesday’s primary.

Schmidt explained Pennsylvania’s “closed” primary system, meaning you have to be a member of either the Republican or Democratic parties to cast your vote and can only vote in the elections taking place in the party you are registered for the primary.

Schmidt also took time to discuss the new congressional boundaries for Pennsylvania. The majority of Northeast Philadelphia was previously located in the 13th district with parts of Montgomery County. All of the Northeast is now in the 2nd Congressional District.

Schmidt also gave out 2018 citizen handbooks that provide contact information on all of the elected officials in Pennsylvania, along with ward leaders.

Representatives from the property at 9675 Academy Road spoke of their plans for a mixed-use building. The application includes the building of a new attached structure to include roof decks (at the third floor and penthouse level), roof deck access structures and balcony for a limited industria usel, retail sales of food, beverages and groceries and sit-down restaurant.

The applicant began by stating that this will not be “a bar, ever,” but a “commercial kitchen area.”

Members of the civic association expressed concern, specifically with the lack of parking in the immediate area. Councilman Brian O’Neill was in attendance and echoed the concerns of the civic association in regard to the lack of parking in that general vicinity.

Some neighbors also expressed concern about noise levels, but the applicant stated there is a plan to combat any noise issues.

The applicant was set to have a hearing the next week, but agreed to push it back to continue the dialogue with neighbors and try to find a solution to the parking dilemma.

Pastor Phil, Gospel Light Baptist Church, spoke to the civic association about a 6-foot fence put up around the perimeter of his property. Members of the civic association expressed their concern with the size of the fence and the look. The pastor explained his reasoning for putting up the fence, but doesn’t want the fence up there “forever.”

The next meeting is set for September, but if a zoning issues occur, the civic association can call for an emergency meeting. ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com