NLNA BOARD OF DIRECTORS MINUTES – Meeting of July 1, 2013

 

PRESENT: Matt Ruben, President; Don Phillips, Vice-President; Steve Richman, Treasurer; Rick Angeli; Michael Coyne; Larry Freedman; Lystra A. Harris; Katrina Mansfield; Frank Robertson; Chris Somers; Anne Waginger; Logan Welde (late); Sharon Richman; Monika Kreide

The meeting was called to order by the President at 7:08 p.m. Lystra Harris volunteered to take the meeting minutes in the absence of Janet Finegar, Secretary.

The President welcomed newly elected Board members, Monika Kreide and Sharon Richman.

Motion: By Steve Richman, seconded by Chris Somers: “To approve the minutes of the June Board meeting
as presented.” Passed 9-0-3

The meeting agenda was suspended for Katrina Mansfield to address old business by making a presentation on “Operation Street Sweep” with Lara Kelly, Quality of Life Coordinator/NLNA Office Staff, whom Katrina invited to attend the meeting for that purpose. Katrina referred to the Operation Street Sweep Strategic Plan she had sent electronically to Board members. Matt recapped that Strategic Plan for the benefit of the newly elected Board members:

Larry Freedman had secured 2 donations which will be used to pay for street sweeping one day per week. Lara will target areas to be cleaned based on neighborhood complaints, etc. In addition, business will be solicited to defray future costs for the street sweeping and to
maintain trash cans. There was substantive discussion about the various elements of Operation Street Sweep as proposed, i.e., trash can sponsorship by local businesses; targeting donated funds to special projects; web-based campaign for residents’ contribution and support; brochure printing and mailing costs.

Lara explained that the City of Philadelphia may not empty business-sponsored wire trash cans, so the businesses would have to be responsible for them. She also noted that there will be no pledge made to donors to clean specific locations. Lara stated that unclean streets (litter, dog waste, etc.) are the primary issues raised to her by the neighborhood residents.

Concern was expressed about general fund development and the designation of funds for special projects such as Operation Street Sweep. Concern was also expressed about the need of the Board’s successful fundraising efforts to be translated into some action or result for the neighborhood such as Operation Street Sweep.

The President thanked Larry Freedman, Rick Angeli and others for their fundraising efforts.

Motion: By Steve Richman, seconded by Frank Robertson: “To approve spending up to $400.00 in printing
and mailing costs for the Operation Street Sweep brochure.” Passed 13-0

President’s Report: Matt Ruben: written report attached and reviewed.

Treasurer’s Report: Steve Richman: written report attached and reviewed.

The Treasurer orally reported that he initiated discussions with 3rd Federal Bank, mortgage holder on the NLNA Community Center, about lowering our current mortgage rate, which is due to re-set in October 2014. The decision centers around whether to accept a new five-year rate now, or take a new rate until October 2014 and take another new rate then, keyed to the rate of the five-year Federal Treasury Bill. After some discussion, the President suggested that the Finance Committee review the mortgage rate matter, including the proposal made by 3rd Federal to the Treasurer, and make a recommendation to the Board.

Motion: By Frank Robertson, seconded by Rick Angeli: “To accept decision of Finance Committee regarding the mortgage rate adjustment proposal.” Passed 13-0

Motion: By Rick Angeli, seconded by Katrina Mansfield. “To accept the Treasurer’s report as presented.” Passed 13-0

Community Center
Larry Freedman orally reported that Phase III of the Community Center development plan for the empty lot adjacent to the existing Community Center building will be commencing soon. He expects to have a design and preliminary budget to present at the next Board meeting.

Election Committee
The President orally reported that the election of the two new Board members who ran uncontested occurred at the General Meeting in June. There was no written report.

Liberty Lands Committee Report: Janet Finegar: written report attached.

Zoning Committee Report: Larry Freedman. (with Committee Minutes)

1105 N. Galloway Street – RSA5 – Kevin O’Neil:  Proposal for one 4-story single family dwelling with parking.

A year and a half ago, this home (which was a bit smaller in scope) was proposed for 1103 N. Galloway Street.  The person for whom the house was going to be built (Ned Tucker) agreed to build his home at 1105 N. Galloway to accommodate the group of 5 houses that could be built at the corner property with the addition of the lot at 1103. The change in scope includes the addition of a 4th story rising to a total height of 42½ feet (not including pilot house) instead of 38 feet and the addition of a one car garage.  Utility meters are tucked away out of sight.  The plan proposes that the A/C compressor be placed in the rear yard. A combination of fiber cement and metal paneling was proposed for the exterior. The front door and garage were proposed as solid and opaque. The builder received refusals for the 4th story, 42½ foot height, 5 feet rear yard depth instead of 9 feet, open area of approximately 90 feet instead of 161 feet.  The Streets Department signed off on the curb cut.    Their Zoning Board hearing is scheduled for the end of July.  It is estimated that construction would take 5-6 months and likely begin in early September.

Discussion:  The group was concerned that about the street being narrow and dark and wanted lighting below the overhangs and suggested that there be some glass (clear or frosted) on the garage door and the front door.  Since the solid wall of the home will be adjacent to a rear yard of the next door neighbor, it was felt that it should be a hard wearing material. The height of the proposed home is consistent with the height of most of the surrounding homes and the approved 5-home project next to this project.

Motion (Joe) – 2nd (Ira): Vote 6-0

We will support the project with the following provisos:

1)   please add some glass (either frosted or clear) in the garage door and front door;

2)   outdoor lighting should be operated by a motion detector or a photo cell;

3)   utilities should remain hidden from sight as indicated on the plan;

4)   the A/C compressor should be located on the 4th floor roof; and,

5)   please meet with the UDC to discuss materials and a more durable material for the 1st floor walls.

A letter of support will be issued after receiving the UDC recommendation and receipt of signed and dated plans.

Motion: By Anne Waginger, seconded Katrina Mansfield. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 1105 North Galloway Street: i.e., ‘We will support the project with the following provisos: (1) please add some glass (either frosted or clear) in the garage door and front door; (2) outdoor lighting should be operated by a motion detector or a photo cell; (3) utilities should remain hidden from sight as indicated on the plan; (4) the A/C compressor should be located on the 4th floor roof; and, (5) please meet with the UDC to discuss materials and a more durable material for the 1st floor walls. A letter of support will be issued after receiving the UDC recommendation and receipt of signed and dated plans.’”  Passed 13-0

930 New Market Street – RSA5 – Ron Patterson:  Proposal for the legalization of an existing 4-unit family dwelling.

Many, many years ago, this property was turned into 4 separate apartments without getting the necessary city approvals.  The building is now in trust and the children of the owner are now managing the property.  It is located next door to Ben’s Iron Works, a dilapidated building that soon will be razed for the construction of 5 single family homes. The owner wants to restore the brick and cornice, replace the front door, repair or replace the front steps, put in new windows of the same style, replace the front gate and complete other cosmetic and structural aspects as required.  Utilities will remain in the basement.

The refusal was received for use as a 4-family structure in an RSA5. Their hearing is scheduled for July 17.   The need for 2 means of egress will be determined at the ZBA meeting.

Motion (Mike) – 2nd (Sharon): Vote 6-0

A letter of support for the legalization of an existing 4-unit house will be issued after the Zoning Committee receives the owner’s façade restoration plan (in text) for the work that will be done.

Motion: By Michael Coyne, seconded Chris Somers. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 930 New Market Street: i.e., ‘A letter of support for the legalization of an existing 4-unit house will be issued after the Zoning Committee receives the owner’s façade restoration plan (in text) for the work that will be done.’” Passed 13-0

719 N. 2nd Street (Green Eggs) – CMX2 – William Bonforte:  Proposal for outdoor seating.

The restaurant wants to add 2 tables seating 2 people at each table (total of 4 people) on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.  A retractable awning will be wall mounted 8’ above the tables that will extend 6’ at an angle to a height of 7’.  There will be no signage on the awning.

Motion (Ira) – 2nd (Tim): Vote 6-0

The Zoning Committee supports the outdoor seating plan as presented on June 24, 2013.

[Send the motion to: Landmark Architectural Design L.L.C., 1303 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.  vsmj@landmarkaia.com

Motion: By Steve Richman, seconded Anne Waginger. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 719 N. 2nd Street (Green Eggs): i.e., ‘The Zoning Committee supports the outdoor seating plan as presented on June 24, 2013.’” Passed 13-0

944 N. 2nd Street (Dmitri’s) – CMX2 – : Proposal for outdoor seating.

The restaurant wants 9 tables seating 2 people at each table (total of 18 seats) placed on the sidewalk along Laurel Street.  A 5-foot walkway will be maintained.

Motion (Ira) – 2nd (Charlie): Vote 6-0

The Zoning Committee supports the outdoor seating plan (9 @ 2 tops) with the proviso that there will be an 11 p.m. closing time for outdoor tables as presented on June 24, 2013.

Motion: By Rick Angeli, seconded Anne Waginger. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 944 N. 2nd Street (Dmitri’s): i.e., ‘The Zoning Committee supports the outdoor seating plan (9 @ 2 tops) with the proviso that there will be an 11 p.m. closing time for outdoor tables as presented on June 24, 2013.’” Passed 13-0

Larry Freedman will speak with the owner of Dmitri’s about improving tree maintenance in front of the restaurant

Operation Street Sweep was addressed at the outset of the meeting and discussed above.

The President noted that a plan for a parking garage structure is expected from the Kushner Companies, the new owner of most of the Piazza and most of Liberties Walk. He described the relationship between the NLNA and Kushner’s management team as going well, noting for e.g., that the condition of dumpsters behind Liberties Walk seems to have improved since that issue was last raised.

The Executive Committee consisting of the President, Vice-President and Treasurer (since the Secretary is out of town), will meet later this week to discuss the NLNA’s acting as a fiscal conduit for small grants which have been received by various community-based groups. The President noted that NLNA has previously served that function.

As for the community input on the mission statement for NLNA, the Vice President explained that he is figuring out “Survey Monkey” which will be used to enlist that input. He expects to get that done before the end of the summer.

Rick Angeli spoke with the former head of the neighborhood business owners’ association about possibly revitalizing that group. Matt summarized the history of the neighborhood business association. The Executive Committee will contact local business leaders to follow up on creating a business owners’ committee or other group to address local business owner concerns.

Chris Somers described the large ruts in the visitors’ parking lot across from the Rialto building owned by Tower which could damage a small car. The President agreed to contact Tower about the parking lot condition. Businesses should be encouraged to forward any complaints about the parking lot condition to the NLNA.

Rick Angeli suggested that the Board meet with Kushner staff. While there was agreement that such a meeting would be a good idea, Larry Freedman noted that it should not occur until the pending zoning appeal is resolved.

Steve Richman expressed concern about squatters in the Ortleib’s Brewery building. The exact address is needed for a complaint to be recorded with “311”.

Sharon Richman questioned whether house numbers are required to be placed on residences for emergency purposes. She will research the issue and report back to the Board.

The meeting was adjourned by acclaim at 8:33 p.m.

President’s Report, July 2013
1. PLANNING AND POLICY-RELATED ISSUES
Mission – Any updates from Don in Old Business.
Casinos – The PA Gaming Board hearings are over. A decision on which casino application will get the license is not expected until later in the year.

Central Delaware Master Plan – The Central Delaware Zoning Overlay was voted out of committee and passed by City Council. The Mayor will sign it sometime this summer. Since it was voted out of committee, it’s effectively been law, given the City’s “doctrine of pending legislation”: any new permit applications in the overlay area will now have to conform with the overlay.

AVI/Real Estate Taxes – City Council has passed AVI bills, and enabling legislation in Harrisburg has been passed or in some cases is nearing final passage. I will be working to create a primer for the community. The basics are: 1.34% tax rate; means-tested Gentrification Protection capping taxable assessment at 3X pre-AVI assessment for 10 years; a limited tax-deferral program; and improved options for paying taxes in installments, and for allowing the City to collect delinquent taxes.

The NLNA submitted first-level review forms to OPA for 700-702 N. 3rd (over-assessed in our view), and 704 N 3rd (assessed as a building, but has been a vacant lot for years). We still have not heard back from OPA. I did a little checking and while others have heard back, it’s not unusual that we haven’t yet heard anything. OPA has said everyone will hear back by August 31.

2. FUNDRAISING/FINANCES/ADMINISTRATION

We are thrilled to welcome new board members Sharon Richman and Monika Kreidie!

Street/Sidewalk Cleaning – We have restarted this, thanks in part to a large donation Larry secured. Lara Kelly also reports we got a green-maintenance grant of $5,000 from the Water Dept., which we can integrate into our larger cleaning efforts. Katrina has produced a marketing brochure, and we hope to get local businesses directly on board as well.

Events – The Music Fest had decent, but not huge, attendance. However, the event was excellent in all respects, everyone had a good time, and including the Penn Treaty SSD sponsorship grant Don obtained, the event netted about $5,600. A job well done by Don, Larry, Ed Farnsworth, and all the performers and volunteers who made the event a success!

Spring Garden Greenway – DRWC gave a presentation at last Thursday’s general membership meeting. The consultant and lighting artist will have a more developed design for the underpass, and for streetscaping, in the early fall. Underpass work, and some streetscaping, are slated to be implemented and completed by mid to late 2014.

3. DEVELOPMENT ISSUES AND DEVELOPER RELATIONS

Piazza etc. – Larry and I had a productive second meeting with three representatives of the Kushner Companies, which now owns most of the Piazza, most of Liberties Walk, and one other former Tower parcel. Details at our board meeting. It is likely that Kushner will come in to Zoning in July or August to present plans for some kind of parking garage on Germantown Avenue, to accommodate Piazza parking.

Finnegan’s Wake – Larry and Ira Upin have had (or have scheduled) an initial, informal conversation with Finnigan’s, as a result of Finnigan’s reaching out and saying they want to withdraw their balcony proposal and focus instead on a shielded, open structure on the roof. Larry has made it clear to them, and to Councilman Squilla, that the first step in any renewed neighborhood process would be to amend and/or
repeal the laws that legalized Finnigan’s balconies in 2012. Any further updates from Larry at our meeting.

Club Aura – Neighbors continue to report any issues (and there appear to be some, mostly related to patron behavior outside the establishment during and after closing time), and to stay in communication with city and state enforcement officials.

Parking – Last month I reported that the Streets Dept. appears to have dropped the ball on the neighborhood’s request for traffic studies of 2nd between Liberties Walk and Laurel. More recently, I had occasion to confirm this when I attended a meeting on another matter at which the relevant Streets Dept. official was present. I reminded him he’d promised to do it, and he said he would.

4. OUTREACH/EVENTS/GENERAL MEETINGS

General Meetings – The June general membership meeting was not a full house. However, it was significantly better-attended than April and May, despite the vacation season and the extreme weather. I anticipate September’s and October’s meetings will be better attended still, particularly because it will be time for people to focus on property tax appeals to the BRT (and because it will be the end of vacation
season). I’d also like us to explore integrating local businesses further, perhaps with food, drink, and/or product samples from a local business at each general membership meeting.

5. COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICITY

Internet – The email list continues to grow towards 2,200, and to generate maintaining a 25-30% “open rate” on emails, which is very good. The Facebook group also continues to generate interest, with about a 25% increase in membership over the last few months. It’s now approaching 500.

Web site – No update – no news is good news. It’s running smoothly. One next step will be to generate a little revenue by using the advertising block Katrina has set up on the front page.

Liberty Lands Board Report – July 2013

The person who was going to buy the rubber mulch backed out (argh!) but there are two other buyers, both of whom think they can get it this weekend. Please cross your fingers for us. Janet will be gone for all of July. If you have a park issue, please direct it to Liz or Jen.

Weeder’s club is still happening every Saturday from 9 to 11 (with Frank’s help weedwhacking – thank you!). They would love to have a little help, especially on the hottest Saturdays. Iva Kelman donated several large hydrangeas from a property about to go under construction, and they are planted (not terribly happily, but hanging on) in the space between the rain garden and the gabions.

The Music Fest was quite successful. Thanks for the help.

More stuff is probably happening.

TREASURER’S REPORT – JULY 2013

• FOR THE NINE MONTHS ENDED ON JUNE 30TH INCOME WAS $107,591; THIS WAS $25,100 MORE THAN PROJECTED. EXPENSES TOTALED $77,389, WHICH WAS ABOUT $3,700 LESS THAN ANTICIPATED. NET INCOME WAS $30,202 – ABOUT $28,800 MORE THAN PROJECTED. NLNA BENEFITTED FROM HIGHER THAN ANTICIPATED DONATIONS, FUNDRAISING, RENTALS AND GRANTS, AND FROM LOWER THAN EXPECTED ADMINISTRATIVE AND MAINTENANCE EXPENSES; COMBINED, THESE OFFSET SOME UNANTICIPATED CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT, EQUIPMENT AND INSURANCE
EXPENSES.

• SIGNIFICANT VARIATIONS FROM BUDGETED PROJECTIONS DURING THE FIRST EIGHT MONTHS INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING:

1. INCOME FROM FUNDRAISING ACTIVITIES IS $14,700 ABOVE BUDGETED LEVELS. SIGNIFICANTLY, THE $43,600 THAT HAS BEEN RAISED IS NEARLY $5,000 MORE THAN THE AMOUNT BUDGETED FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. THE ANNUAL APPEAL RAISED JUST OVER $18,700, MORE THAN DOUBLE THE AMOUNT BUDGETED; THE WINTERFEST, $7,300 ($3,300 MORE THAN EXPECTED), THE PLANT SALE, $5,900 ($900 MORE THAN BUDGETED), WHILE THE RECENT
SPRING FEST RAISED $5,900, $400 ABOVE EXPECTATIONS. IN ADDITION, WE RECEIVED A $3,000 DONATION FROM THE PTSSD — $1,500 EACH FOR THE SPRING AND FALL FESTS.

FINALLY, LIBERTY LANDS’ REVENUE NOW TOTALS ALMOST $8,800, EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS BY ABOUT $4,800; GRANTS, DONATIONS AND RENTALS EACH HAVE BROUGHT IN OVER $2,000 WHILE DUES/USER FEES HAVE RAISED ABOUT $1,750. FINALLY, NLNA RECEIVED AN UNEXPECTED DONATION EARLIER IN THE YEAR FROM THE UNITED
WAY OF $4,635. IN TOTAL, INCOME RECEIVED DURING THE FIRST NINE MONTH TOTALS 98% OF THE AMOUNT ANTICIPATED FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR.

2. SPENDING FOR ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT, MAINTENANCE AND SUPPLIES WAS LOWER THAN BUDGETED BY $7,400. ABOUT $1,800 OF THIS GAP RELATES TO PARK MAINTENANCE, BUT THIS IS LIKELY RELATED MORE TO TIMING RATHER THAN OVER-BUDGETING. MOST OF THE “UNDERSPENDING” (ABOUT $4,000) RELATES TO LESS TIME CHARGED TO STAFFING OUR QUALITY OF LIFE PROGRAM.

3. THESE AMOUNTS WERE PARTIALLY OFFSET BY UNBUDGETED SPENDING OF: ALMOST $800 FOR A NEW ALARM SYSTEM; $500 FOR ADDITIONAL HVAC IN THE COMMERCIAL RENTAL SPACE; NEARLY $1,100 FOR PRIOR YEAR LIBERTY LANDS UTILITIES’ COSTS; AND $800 IN ADDITIONAL INSURANCE COSTS.

B. New Funding and Commitments:
• NLNA EXPECTS TO RECEIVE $5,000 FROM THE PWD FOR A GREEN STORMWATER INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT AT TWO SITES – 3RD AND FAIRMOUNT AND 2ND AND SPRING GARDEN. NLNA WILL NEED TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH THE PHILADELPHIA AUTHORITY FOR INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT (PAID) FOR COMPLETION OF THE WORK. THE
PROCESS APPEARS SIMILAR TO THE ONE WE FOLLOWED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF MADISON MEMORIAL PARK. THERE IS ALSO AN ONGOING MAINTENANCE OBLIGATION TO THE GRANT.

• WE ARE STILL AWAITING CHECKS TOTALING $12,000 FOR THE FINANCING OF THE CLEAN STREETS PROJECT. TO DATE, WE HAVE DISBURSED $450 FOR WORK COMPLETED BY OUR CONTRACTOR.

• WE HAVE RECEIVED A CHECK FROM THE PTSSD FOR $3,000. THE MONEY IS TO HELP FINANCE THE SPRING AND FALL FESTS.