A pair of controversial projects appear to be moving forward in Somerton despite the residents’ objections.
Somerton Civic Association President Chris Bordelon told neighbors at the July 30 civic meeting that developers hoping to build on the Quartett Club property are planning to apply for permits in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the Zoning Board of Adjustment recently green-lighted a plan, twice rejected by the SCA, to build housing on Stevens Road in an area partially reserved for the long-talked-about Woodhaven Road extension.
Bordelon said the SCA board met with the prospective developers of the Quartett Club, 1075 Southampton Road, who told them they are moving forward with a plan to convert the entire 18.5-acre property into a housing development.
The first phase of construction would involve building on the open space that surrounds the Quartett Club, including the unused golf course and pool, Bordelon said.
Developing the part with the catering hall would be saved for last, he said. Some believe the building is a historic house, with parts of it possibly dating to as early as the 18th century. It would be incorporated into the new development in some way, Bordelon said.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Milillo Event Group, which owns the Quartett Club, had reached an agreement to sell the property to DeLuca Homes.
Representatives from both parties attended the April 9 SCA meeting, where DeLuca presented their plans to build either 44 or 31 homes on the site. The smaller development would allow the catering hall to remain operational.
Residents at the meeting voted overwhelmingly for the 31-house plan over the 44, but many also preferred no development at all.
Tenth District Councilman Brian O’Neill has said he would not support any proposal to develop houses while keeping a commercial business on the site. He’s also said any project must have community support.
“My position hasn’t changed,” O’Neill told the Northeast Times last week.
The property is zoned residential, so at least parts of the project can be built “by-right.” However, if DeLuca wants to add public streets or build on two “paper streets” that run through the site, the firm would need O’Neill’s help.
DeLuca Homes could not be reached for comment.
Ed Milillo Sr. said he was not sure if DeLuca has begun the permitting process.
“All I know is the agreement of sale says they have the right to pursue this,” he told the Times.
Milillo said DeLuca has to reach an agreement with O’Neil. If they can’t, the deal for the Quartett Club is dead, he said.
He also said his firm would like to continue operating out of the clubhouse, but the rest of the property isn’t making any money.
O’Neill said he fears the poll taken at the April meeting could come back to bite neighbors if the project has to go before the zoning board. The developers could use the tally as a basis for pushing through development, he said.
It should have been an up-or-down vote on the 44-house plan, O’Neill said.
As for Stevens Road, the ZBA on July 24 gave a developer the go-ahead to build eight homes accessed by a private street at 11934 Stevens Road.
In March, the SCA unanimously opposed a plan to build 18 twin homes on the property, and, a month later, voted overwhelmingly against 14 homes. The ZBA kept the case open, and SCA expected the developer to return again with revised plans, Bordelon said.
The property has only 33 feet of street frontage on Stevens and more than half of the parcel cannot be developed due to a PennDOT easement for a possible extension to Woodhaven Road.
O’Neill said he is planning to write an informal letter to the ZBA asking it to reconsider the ruling on the case and hopes the SCA or neighbors appeal the decision within 30 days.
In other news from the July 30 SCA meeting:
Residents heard a presentation about a zoning application for an auto sales business at 13410 Damar Drive but declined to vote on the matter because the applicants sent out incorrect notices to neighbors.
In addition, SCA bylaws require at least 25 members in attendance to hold a vote, Bordelon said, and there weren’t that many at that last week’s meeting. Normally, the meetings draw more than 60 people.
People who were there decided to send a letter to the ZBA asking the board to continue the hearing until September when a civic meeting with proper notice is held.
Zoning attorney Linda Brown, representing the businessowners, wanted the SCA to ask the ZBA to hear the case as scheduled and hold its decision pending community input. Her client paid $1,025 for accelerated zoning review and could lose $15,000 to $20,000 if the hearing is pushed back to the fall, Brown said.
She admitted they had sent out incorrect notices. The letters, which are required by law, had the wrong date for the public meeting and did not list a time.
The 7th Police District will hold its third annual Community Day on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the station located at Bustleton Avenue and Bowler Street. Police and fire vehicles will be on display, and the event will also feature information tables, refreshments and giveaways.
The Somerton Civic Association’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Walker Lodge of the I.O.O.F, 1290 Southampton Road. ••