A lively debate was held on the future of a proposed restaurant on Endicott Street in Somerton.
The Somerton Civic Association last week held an eventful meeting that included a couple of different zoning matters, a guest speaker and a lively discussion on the proposed restaurant that was voted on at last month’s civic association meeting, located at 15002 A, 15004 and 15004 A Endicott St.
Although the SCA typically starts its meetings at 7 p.m., members decided to begin the meeting about 15 minutes early due to the high number of matters to discuss coupled with the large number of people present.
At last month’s meeting, the Times reported on the proposed restaurant with dine-in and take-out options. The presentation was made last month by Brian Zanczuk, one of the part-owners for the planned restaurant, Culture. The proposal was for lot consolidation and use as a restaurant. The property is vacant.
Culture plans to serve a combination of Italian, American and Mexican recipes. The chef, Zanczuk, has experience in multiple other restaurants.
The proposed hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. Trash and recycling removal will take place twice a week.
When Zanczuk discussed the possibility of outdoor seating at the May meeting, a significant portion of the civic association and near neighbors present said it would not be best for them, so he decided to bypass pursuing the outdoor seating.
The other main concern those at the May meeting displayed was a lack of parking right near the restaurant.
The civic association voted to approve the applicant, 24–19, with a proviso that the restaurant does not include outdoor seating.
After the meeting took place, lively debate ensued on social media, specifically on different Somerton Facebook pages, with people arguing for and against this proposed restaurant.
A number of near neighbors decided to approach City Councilman Brian O’Neill, hoping to garner his support to oppose the restaurant’s proposal.
O’Neill said the neighbors who approached him were mainly concerned about the parking in the area.
“This is not a couple people,” O’Neill stated in an interview with the Times. “The entire block is overwhelmingly, they are against it.”
After being approached by these neighbors, O’Neill decided to oppose the restaurant’s plans.
“My concern is the people who are most immediately affected,” said O’Neill.
The hearing for Culture was held on June 6 by the Zoning Board of Adjustments. The ZBA decided to deny the requests made by those representing Culture.
After this decision was made known, people took to Facebook to engage in their opinions of what the ZBA determined.
Zanczuk decided to collect signatures for petitions to show the support the restaurant has in the neighborhood.
Zanczuk briefly spoke to the civic association at the June meeting to let the group know that although he was denied, he was collecting signatures to help change members’ opinion after an appeal of the decision.
In an interview with the Times, Zanczuk stated that he had two separate signatures, one from Facebook with over 450 signatures, and 60 signatures in support from those present at the June SCA meeting.
Zanczuk stated how he hopes this would change opinions of the proposed “family-oriented restaurant.”
O’Neill said despite agreeing with the ZBA’s decision, this was not “councilmanic prerogative.”
He reiterated his support for the near neighbors and said he would not change his mind.
The Times will continue to monitor the developing news in this ongoing matter and report on the appeal if/when it is completed.
In other news, after the lively discussion, a representative from the Rain Check program delivered a presentation. The program, run by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for the Water Department, is best known for allowing those who sign up in advance and attend one of its meetings to get a rain barrel delivered and installed for free at their home. ••
John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com