applied for that variance in April 1986, but his request was denied because he had not proven a hardship, according to board Chairman Robert A. Bacine.
Wednesday night, Curcillo proved his hardship to the board and was granted the variance by a 5-0 vote with the condition that the southbound exit from the property be relocated as far south as possible.
Curcillo had put the property up for sale. According to Charles Walter of J. T. Jackson Realty, there were 40 inquiries between May and October. Thirty prospective buyers inquired about the property for commercial use, 10 for residential.
The commercial buyers weren't interested because they too would have to get a variance from the zoning board and the residential buyers disliked the school's proximity to the turnpike, the current turnpike construction and the high cost of renovation to make it livable, Walter said. One bid was received, but it was $70,000 below the asking price of $165,000, he said.
According to Frank Cox, who appeared as a real estate appraisal expert on behalf of Curcillo, the cost of renovating the 3,165 square feet would fall between $125,000 and $150,000.
"I don't think there's any market for this property to be sold as residential use," Cox said. "Another thing that is important in this property is the structure itself. It was not designed as a house, it doesn't function as a house and you can't make it function as a house unless you tear the walls apart."
Cox also said that a majority of the properties near the school were commercial operating in a residential zone. John P. Knox, an attorney representing Curcillo, said the previous use of the property was a law office.
Knox said the lawyer had occupied three rooms and the rest was used for his law practice and did not conform to residential use.
A concern of the board last April was the high volume of traffic on Bethlehem Pike and possible problems with entering and leaving the property.
John F. Bickel, a traffic expert, told the board that with traffic lights at Skippack Pike and Pennsylvania Avenue, there would be sufficient gaps in the traffic to allow vehicles making a left onto northbound Bethlehem Pike to cross the southbound lanes safely.