Somerton residents reject Stevens Road development a second time

A revised plan to build twin homes on a wooded area on Stevens Road was opposed by the Somerton Civic Association at its April 9 meeting.

Zoning attorney Michael Phillips speaks to residents at the April 9 Somerton Civic Association meeting about a proposal to build a housing development on Stevens Road. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Residents at last week’s Somerton Civic Association meeting again shot down a proposal to build twin homes on a wooded lot along Stevens Road near Byberry Road.

The developer returned with revised plans — cutting the number of units from 18 to 14 — after a near unanimous vote opposing the project for 11934 Stevens Road at the March 12 civic meeting.

“We heard a lot of the comments that you made, and we tried to address all of the comments,” said Michael Phillips, an attorney for the developer, Trinity Realty Partners.

Despite the changes, neighbors, citing concerns about traffic, parking and overdevelopment, voted 87-1 to not support a zoning permit for the project.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to rule on the case on May 22.

In addition to cutting the number of units, the revised plans also included larger front and side yards and additional parking spots for a total of seven homes.

As previously reported by the Times, the development would be unique in that it has only 33 feet of street frontage on Stevens Road and more than half of the parcel cannot be developed due to a PennDOT easement for the not-yet-realized Woodhaven Road extension.

If it was built, residents would have to access their homes from a private driveway off Stevens Road, and a homeowners’ association would be established to pay for the maintenance of the driveway and adjacent open space.

Phillips said his client would have been willing to enter into a community benefits agreement to prohibit future development on the Woodhaven right-of-way portion of the lot if PennDOT ever ditched the easement.

In total, nearly 53,000 square feet out of the 97,000-square-foot property is covered by the easement.

After the vote, which inspired the assembled neighbors to clap, there was a discussion about development in the neighborhood. Some residents said they feel there have been too many housing developments popping up, leading to the loss of green space and damaging the character of Somerton.

Somerton Civic Association President Chris Bordelon said the issue of open space could be addressed through a zoning overlay, which the SCA is pursuing. It would mandate certain zoning rules specifically for the neighborhood.

Zoning overlays can be adopted only through City Council legislation.

In other news from the April 9 SCA meeting:

Bordelon updated residents on the project to build a golf entertainment facility and strip mall at 12000 Roosevelt Blvd. on the former Nabisco site.

The Civic Design Review committee reviewed Provco Group’s plans for the property earlier this month and suggested several changes, Bordelon said. He said they continued the case to next month’s CDR meeting to give the developer time to consider the recommendations.

An axe-throwing fundraiser benefiting the Police Survivor Fund and local firefighters will be held Wednesday, May 15, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Mazhu Axes, 9806 Bustleton Ave. Food will be donated by Mission BBQ, Texas Roadhouse and Ateethi, and beer will be provided by Samsaric Brewery. Tickets are $10 and will be sold at the door.

The Somerton Civic Association’s next scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, May 14, at 7 p.m. at Walker Lodge of the I.O.O.F., 1290 Southampton Road. ••