Somerton Civic shoots down housing development, truck driving school

Zoning attorney Michael Phillips (left) gives a presentation about a proposed 18-unit
development on Stevens Road during the March 12 Somerton Civic Association meeting. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Residents at the March 12 Somerton Civic Association meeting voted to oppose an 18-unit housing development on Stevens Road and a truck driving school on Byberry Road.

A developer has filed a zoning application to build nine twin homes at 11934 Stevens Road on a 97,000-square-foot parcel that partially falls in the Woodhaven Road extension right-of-way. The homes would be single-family with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, representatives from the developer said.

The development would have only 33 feet of street frontage, with residents accessing their homes from Stevens Road using a driveway. Each home would have a one-car garage and a private driveway that could accommodate an additional vehicle.

Only 44,000 square feet can be developed because most of the lot is controlled by a PennDOT easement, zoning attorney Michael Phillips said at the meeting.

Phillips said the plan is to leave the rest of the property as open space, to be maintained by a homeowners’ association.

The property’s current zoning designation allows for only a single home on the parcel. Property records indicate the lot was sold at sheriff’s sale for $40,000 in 2017.

Residents raised concerns about traffic on Stevens Road and the density of the proposed housing. Some were worried first responders would have difficulty accessing the development.

After a discussion, civic members voted 64 to 1 to oppose a variance for the project. The issue is scheduled to be heard by the Zoning Board of Adjustment on April 3.

A proposal to operate a truck driving school at 2050 Byberry Road was also opposed by residents at the civic association meeting.

Attorney Richard DeMarco said the operator of the school wants to use part of the property to train drivers to get their PennDOT certification. He said the operator would be the only instructor, and promised trucks would not travel on residential streets.

He also argued the school should be allowed because the property is already zoned for industrial use.

DeMarco said the operator did not know he needed a special permit and closed the school after being cited by the Department of Licenses & Inspections. Civic member James “Skip” Montell said the school continued operating after the violation was issued.

Residents voted 40 to 11 against the permit. It will also be considered by the ZBA on April 4.

In other news from the March 12 Somerton Civic Association meeting:

  • Members voted unanimously in support of a permit to create an additional parking space at a home at 848 Centennial Square. The ZBA will hear the case on April 17.
  • The civic association and MaST Community Charter School are hosting a tree giveaway on Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. until noon at the school’s campus, 1800 Byberry Road. Twelve types of trees will be offered, but only a limited number of each will be available. For more information or to register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/somerton-civic-association-mast-community-charter-school-tree-giveaway-tickets-58511460353
  • The Somerton Civic Association’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, at the Walker Lodge of the I.O.O.F., 1290 Southampton Road. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com