Realtors' Statements Conflict In Kfc's Zoning Challenge

Posted: April 03, 1986

The testimony of Willow Grove Realtor Henry P. Jacquelin, who was the Hatboro council's only witness in a controversial zoning dispute, was called into question this week by a developer who hopes to build two fast-food restaurants and a car wash.

On Monday, the Hatboro Borough Council heard Jacquelin testify that the four acres at the southeast corner of York and County Line Roads could be developed for residential use.

Jacquelin's testimony differed from that of an Abington Realtor, Charles Kahn, who testified on March 17 that the corner tract was not suitable for houses because it is at the intersection of two four-lane highways.

Kahn testified on behalf of Kentucky Fried Chicken National Management Corp., which hopes to build a chicken outlet, an Arby's restaurant and a car wash on the property at the borough's northern border, now the site of a 112- year-old vacant Victorian mansion.

On Monday, the council held the third and final public hearing on KFC's challenge of Hatboro's residential zoning of the site. KFC wants the site zoned for highway-business use.

After Jacquelin testified, Elliot Goldstein, a Lower Gwynedd developer who owns several car washes and who hopes to develop the property with KFC, questioned Jacquelin's testimony. Goldstein testified that he had discussed the proposal with Jacquelin several months ago.

Goldstein said that Jacquelin had told him that highway-business use would be suitable for the site, but that it would be difficult to win the zoning change because borough officials appeared to be against it.

"He wasn't against highway-business," Goldstein testified of Jacquelin's opinion. "He said to me, 'You're getting a lot of opposition.' "

Called back to the witness stand, Jacquelin said he could not specifically remember the conversation with Goldstein.

Council President Alfred F. Zollers said the council would announce its decision on KFC's request at a future public meeting.

In his final statement, Willow Grove lawyer John Acton, who represents KFC, said that a Mobil station already on the site is an example of spot zoning in a residential zone. He said the station would prevent future residential use of the rest of the site.

He also said that the borough's comprehensive land plan recommended that the site be set aside for high-density residential use, such as apartments, or for office use.

He said the approval of a commercial use by the council would give the council control of the property and would prevent the construction of high- density "houses, which are not desirable."

About 40 residents attended the hearing. At the second hearing, residents testified that they were against the proposed commercial development because of traffic, litter, odors, noise and a possible decline in property values.

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