July 1, 2014
LAST WEEK'S U.S. Supreme Court ruling eliminating safety barriers between protesters and patients at clinics where abortions are performed in Massachusetts was insensitive and insulting, yes - but hopefully narrow enough to have limited impact at other clinics. The court banned 35-foot buffer zones around the state's clinics, ruling with the plaintiffs that the enforced distance prevented them from exercising their free speech and providing "counseling' to women entering the clinics for abortions.
June 13, 2014 |
DREXEL UNIVERSITY is now poised to purchase the old University City High School property in West Philly, following an amendment to a zoning bill that was adopted in City Council yesterday. Pressures from the cash-strapped school district and its immediate need to pay its bills before the fiscal year's end pushed Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and her team to negotiate with neighborhood community groups who had expressed concerns over Drexel's proposal. A deal was struck in the hallway outside chambers just minutes before the zoning bill went before Council for approval, clearing the way for the university to purchase the 14-acre parcel from the school district for $25 million.
June 8, 2014 |
After nearly a year of intense debate, Cheltenham has granted zoning approval for a Wawa store and 16-pump gas station on Route 309 in Wyncote. The proposal drew fierce opposition from residents of the adjacent townhouses who feared Wawa would bring excessive noise, traffic, and environmental risk - and might reduce property values. The proposal spurred 11 Zoning Hearing Board meetings, many of which ran more than three hours. An attorney for the residents called witnesses to testify that the 3.7-acre plot would be better suited for a hotel or offices, as it was originally zoned.
June 5, 2014 |
CITY COUNCIL moved forward yesterday with zoning changes for the sale of one shuttered West Philadelphia high school, but blocked the sale of another. Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell unleashed a tirade on an attorney representing Drexel University, the interested buyer of the empty University City High School. Zoning changes that would pave the way for that project were put on hold during yesterday's Rules Committee meeting. Blackwell accused the would-be developers of not communicating with her, her staff or community members who would be affected.
May 24, 2014 |
With significant changes and the passage of time, a onetime controversial redevelopment zone in quaint Mullica Hill has quietly gained township approval. Harrison Township officials established the redevelopment zone - referred to as Block 64 - on Monday, months after a public outcry squashed original plans. Mayor Louis Manzo said the vote came amid "a little less fanfare" than the township's first attempt - in large part because the 50-acre plan no longer includes properties along North Main Street.
April 30, 2014 |
Come October, when discount designer-apparel chain Century 21 opens an outpost at the Gallery at Market East, Philadelphia will gain a part of a New York City retail institution known for both its business acumen and its community engagement. The department-store company last week signed a lease with mall owner Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust to fill 100,000 square feet, mostly on the second floor of the old Strawbridge & Clothier store at 801 Market St. In announcing the agreement, Joseph Coradino, PREIT's chief executive officer, called Century 21 an "iconic" retailer that "meets or exceeds the sales of any luxury department store in most malls in this country.
April 25, 2014 |
Four environmental advocacy groups filed to intervene formally in Sunoco Pipeline L.P.'s application for public utility corporation status, which would exempt its 299-mile Mariner East pipeline to Marcus Hook from local zoning codes. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Clean Air Council, the Pipeline Safety Coalition and the Mountain Watershed Association filed requests by Monday's deadline with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to intervene in the case. The advocacy groups argue that Sunoco does not meet the legal standard for classification as a public utility corporation and should not be exempt from the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
April 22, 2014 |
MOUNT HOLLY On paper, the map of Mount Holly's latest redevelopment zone resembles a squiggling salamander. But to many of the affected homeowners and business proprietors, the map appears to be a battle plan that targets their land. Left alone for decades to carve out a living in this hardscrabble Burlington County town, 119 property owners are now subject to eminent domain if their buildings interfere with the Mount Holly council's vision and sense of aesthetics. "This hits home," Karl Konen, owner of Foreign Car Services, said at a recent meeting, his voice trembling.
April 16, 2014 |
MOUNT HOLLY The township council voted, 3-1, Monday to create a redevelopment zone, after listening to concerns expressed by about a dozen residents and shop owners who worry that their properties may be seized through eminent domain. The 30-acre zone includes 120 businesses and homes in the central part of the township, not far from Mount Holly Gardens, which was declared an "area in need of redevelopment" more than a decade ago, sparking litigation that headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
April 14, 2014 |
MOUNT HOLLY The memory of bulldozers ripping apart rowhouses and menacing the holdouts in a neighborhood that was deemed blighted a decade ago now colors the debate over plans to declare another large area "in need of redevelopment. " The owners of 120 properties in a 30-acre section that borders the Mount Holly Gardens neighborhood recently received certified letters and notices that labeled most of their homes and shops dilapidated, substandard, obsolete, or outdated. The properties would be included in a new redevelopment zone.