Board Puts Brakes On Parking-lot Plan Residents Want The Store Lot Off Residential Land. They Have Support On The Upper Darby Zoning Board.

Posted: August 29, 1994

UPPER DARBY — The Zoning Hearing Board will further study an application to demolish a house and make way for a parking lot on North State Road - a decision that pleased more than 35 residents who went to Thursday night's meeting to protest the request.

Simon Oulouhojian, owner of Speedway Auto Radiator on West Chester Pike, has asked the board to grant a variance so that he can knock down a house he owns at 15 N. State Rd. to add parking. The house abuts the shop. Three variances are needed, though the primary one would grant permission to put a commercial parking lot on a lot zoned for residential use.

Oulouhojian, 64, testified that the house was badly run down and that the only financially feasible action was to raze it. He said he had bought the house without looking at the inside, hoping to turn it into a duplex.

"I don't think it's feasible to rehabilitate it now," he testified.

But residents say he has allowed the house to deteriorate since he bought it in 1990, hoping to use it as extra space for his business. More than 100 residents protested the variance in a petition that was given to the board.

Upper Darby Councilman Rudolph A. D'Alesio, speaking on behalf of his constituents, testified against Oulouhojian.

"I feel it's encroaching on a residential area," he said. "It's not in the best interest of the people in the community."

He was joined by Republican Committeeman John McBride, who lives on State Road. McBride had been marshaling a campaign against Oulouhojian's request for several days.

"His driveway is the dividing line," McBride said. "Commercial is on one side. Residential is on the other. I think (Oulouhojian) has already crossed that line. We don't want a parking lot.

"The safety risk for children far outweighs the need for a parking lot. You cannot weigh the economic gain of one business against the welfare of the whole community."

Democratic Committeewoman Isabel Melvin, who has lived nearby all her life, also spoke against the request.

"This is our investment; this is our lives," she said. "It wouldn't be a very pleasing sight to see a parking lot out front of our houses. . . . I think you've outgrown the area."

Oulouhojian said in an interview that it would cost him between $55,000 and $70,000 to rehabilitate the house - more than the $52,000 he paid for it.

He called the protest "ridiculous" and added: "There was a lot of emotion, but the facts were on the light side. It's the usual neighborhood emotion."

Oulouhojian said he had allowed residents to park in his shop's lot at night and on weekends and would continue to do so if a new lot was built.

The board will rule on the matter within 45 days.

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