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Fox Chase skeptical of Medical Mission plan

The Fox Chase Homeowners Association expressed plenty of skepticism last week about the proposed development of the Medical Mission Sisters property at 8400 Pine Road.

Sister Frankie Vaughan, the order’s unit and mission coordinator, addressed the crowd. So did Aquinas Realty Partners president Len Poncia. FCHA members and Poncia sparred during portions of the meeting. About a dozen Sisters were in the crowd.

The 69-acre site can be developed by right and would feature 135 single-family homes and other units.

However, Aquinas is seeking to build 549 units: 216 one- and two-bedroom apartments; 118 three-bedroom, 2½-bath townhouses; 135 age-restricted, one- and two-bedroom independent living apartments; and 80 age-restricted, one-bedroom assisted living apartments.

Poncia noted that he expected the market rate units to also be “age targeted,” meaning they would attract active older adults. He added that the project would preserve plenty of green space.

The Sisters’s Motherhouse will remain. The order wants to sell the property to care for ailing, aging Sisters, who have an average age of 84, and to pay for its mission in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Neighbors argued that the additional housing units will lead to more traffic on already-congested Pine Road and Shady Lane. They were also concerned about rainwater runoff.

FCHA is demanding independent studies of the impact of traffic and water runoff. Some members also want input from adjoining Abington.

Some people seemed to prefer a single-family home development.

“It’s zoned for that for a reason,” one woman said.

“There’s too many apartments already in Fox Chase,” another said.

The Sisters are expected to return to a future meeting, perhaps with a revised plan.

“We want a development that does good for the neighborhood as well as us,” Sister Frankie said.

Meanwhile, FCHA is already dealing with apartment proposals at 448 Rhawn St. and 518 Hartel Ave. The group voted to spend $5,000 on lawyer fees in those cases. City Councilman Brian O’Neill will match that figure.

In other news from the Oct. 13 meeting

• The group heard from two 2nd Police District representatives, community relations officer Mark Mroz and victims assistance officer Danielle Walsh.

Mroz spoke of a recent carjacking at a gas station on the 7900 block of Verree Road. He also said the district has received complaints about a sign at a home on the 700 block of Rhawn St. that says, “F— Biden.” The “u” and “c” are covered with an American flag.

Walsh sold purple light bulbs on behalf of Morgan’s Light, a group that shines a light on unhealthy teenage relationships. The nonprofit was formed after the murder of Morgan McCaffery, an 18-year-old Nazareth Academy High School graduate who was stabbed to death in July 2020 at a train station in Meadowbrook by her ex-boyfriend. Gil Newtown was convicted of first-degree murder last month and sentenced to life in prison. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

• The Lawncrest Youth Council will hold a Halloween celebration on Saturday, Oct. 30, from 4-8 p.m. at Trinity Church, Oxford, 601 Longshore Ave. There will be a trunk or treat, music, arts and crafts, a costume contest, games and prizes. Admission is free. Costumes are encouraged. Email lawncrestyouthcouncil@gmail.com.

• Fox Chase Homeowners Association will meet again on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m. at Cpl. John Loudenslager American Legion Post 366, 7976 Oxford Ave. ••

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