PRESENT: Matt Ruben, President; Steve Richman, Treasurer; Janet Finegar, Secretary; Rick Angeli; Michael Coyne; Larry Freedman; Monika Kreidie; Katrina Mansfield; Sharon Richman; Chris Somers; Anne Waginger; Logan Welde.
ABSENT: Don Phillips, Vice-President; Lystra Harris, Frank Robertson.
ALSO PRESENT: Jordan Rushie
The meeting was called to order by the President at 6:14 p.m.
Motion: By Rick Angeli, seconded by Steve Richman:“To approve the minutes of the August Board meeting as presented.” Passed 10-0-0
With legal counsel present, the meeting went into Executive Session.
At 6:50 p.m., the meeting left Executive Session.
President’s Report: Matt Ruben: written report attached and reviewed (see Adenda below).
Motion: By Steve Richman, seconded by Rick Angeli: “To ratify the board poll authorizing the hiring of Jordan Rushdie as legal counsel and expenditure of up to $2,500 for this counsel. Passed 10-0-0
Treasurer’s Report: Steve Richman: written report attached and reviewed (see Adenda below).
Motion: By Chris Somers, seconded by Katrina Mansfield. “To accept the Treasurer’s report as presented.” Passed 10-0-0
Steve reviewed the work of the Finance Committee on preparing a draft budget for Fiscal Year 2014. The draft was distributed and reviewed in detail. A final draft will be presented for ratification at the October board meeting.
Clean and Green: Katrina Mansfield and Rick Angeli.
Katrina and Rick noted that fundraising for Project Clean Streets has begun electronically and that Ewaste recycling will be October 5.
Liberty Lands Committee Report: Janet Finegar; written report attached and reviewed (see Adenda below).
Zoning Committee Report: Larry Freedman; written report attached and reviewed (see also Adenda below).
Motion: By Rick Angeli, seconded by Katrina Mansfield. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 233 Poplar Street, i.e.: ‘Thank you for your presentation. We appreciate the changes you created on the east side of the building. Please return with plans for a 3-story building and a design that does not depend on windows along the west property line for light and air in all living rooms and bedrooms as currently designed. Also, please provide a copy of documentation accorded in deed and agreement that confirms permanent use of the easement as a driveway for your residents as well as the parking access approval from the Streets Department Traffic Engineering.’”
Motion: By Anne Waginger, seconded by Michael Coyne. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 887-89 Orkney St., i.e.: ‘We cannot support the project as presented. Please return with plans for 1 or 2 house that are no higher than 38’.’”
Motion: By Steve Richman, seconded by Katrina Mansfield. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 219-21 W. George St., i.e.: ‘The project is approved as presented.’”
Motion: By Katrina Mansfield, seconded by Anne Waginger. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 818-24 N. 4th St., i.e.: ‘The adjustment to the previously approved plan for 818-24 N. 4th Street maintains 1:1 parking (14 spots) for the 13 apartments and 1 commercial unit, increases the height of the buildings on 4th Street by 3’ and 11’, and the 4th Street façade has changed from light, airy and transparent to solid, heavy and dark. Please consider using the warehouse/garage façade as in previous plans. The new commercial space is liked by neighbors, but the single store front should be prominent instead of the garage door being prominent. The reduction of the number of units is appreciated. We understand the parking change but want you to consider safety elements to mitigate danger to pedestrian and vehicular traffic upon entry into and exit from the garage. Please return to the Zoning Committee with plans that reflect the above and lessen the negative impact of the façade on 4th Street.’”
Motion: By Janet Finegar, seconded by Katrina Mansfield. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 939-41 N. Front St., i.e.: ‘We support this project as present with the following provisos: a) maximum occupancy is not to exceed 30 (clients and staff); b) there will be no massage; c) there will be no hot cooking; d) hours of operation 7 days/week will not extend beyond 5:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.’”
Motion: By Katrina Mansfield, seconded by Anne Waginger. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 117 Spring Garden St., i.e.: ‘Thank you for your presentation. Please return with plans for a building with a finished height that is no more than 50’ on the south half, and is no more than 38’ on the northern half of the property. Parking should provide 1 space per 3 units. Include a larger commercial space on the 1st floor along the Spring Garden side. Keep Hope Street pedestrian friendly. The new plans should include interior and exterior dimensions, exterior materials, a shadow study and contextual drawings that include I-95 and homes to the north.’”
Motion: By Janet Finegar, seconded by Katrina Mansfield. “To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 964 N. American St., i.e.: ‘Thank you for your presentation. Please go to the UDC to discuss materials, location of utility meters and condenser. A letter of support will be issued when we receive recommendations from the UDC and a copy of the refusal that agrees with the presentation.’”
Matt Ruben raised the issue of providing assistance to the neighbors affected by the recent Green Street fire without interfering with upcoming major fundraising solicitations for Clean Streets and the General Fund.
Motion: By Janet Finegar, seconded by Monika Kreidie: “To use up to $1,000 from the Charitable Reserve to provide $250 each to the four residents affected by the recent fire on Green Street.” Passed 11-0-0
It was further agreed that we should dedicate an upcoming General Meeting to educate neighbors on insurance options, including renter’s insurance.
Katrina mentioned that she is about to put out an electronic request for new volunteers for some specific tasks. In an ensuing discussion about the need for more volunteer participation, especially from the Board, it was agreed that Monika should establish a database with a system she has researched that can coordinate volunteers and needs.
The meeting was adjourned by acclaim at 8:05 p.m.
President’s Report, September 2013
1. PLANNING AND POLICY-RELATED ISSUES
- Mission – Don is ready to put the neighborhood survey online, after I review it with him.
- Casinos – No update. The PA Gaming Control Board is expected to issue a decision toward the end of the year, awarding a license to one of the six applicants.
- Central Delaware Master Plan – No update.
- AVI/Real Estate Taxes – The City is expected to implement Gentrification Protection regardless of whether the PA Senate finishes acting on a bill allowing the city means-test the protection. If the PA Senate doesn’t act, there will be no means test. This will slightly enlarge the pool of homeowners eligible for the protection. That, in turn, could result in a pro-rating of the protection, with homeowners receiving a percentage of the protection, rather than the full anticipated protection. It appears the pro-rate would still be quite high, with homeowners receiving something like 85-90% of the tax break they otherwise would have gotten.
- The NLNA still has not heard back from OPA on our first-level review requests for 700-702 and for 704 N. 3rd. For 704 it’s purely about the assessment since we’re tax-exempt on that parcel. For 700-702 our tax bill stands at just over $6,000. OPA has extended its response deadline from Aug. 31 to Sep. 30. However, given the Oct. 7 deadline for BRT appeals, we’ll likely have to file with BRT.
- Administration, Budget, and Finances – Budget update in the Treasurer’s Report.
- Street/Sidewalk Cleaning – Katrina and Lara have launched the new Operation Cleanup effort, featuring curbside and sidewalk cleaning, a brochure, and the online litter report form.
- Events – Don can provide a quick update at our meeting if desired.
- Spring Garden Greenway – In my capacity as chair of CDAG, I recently met with DRWC representatives, who gave a brief update on the greenway. In short, artistic design work is proceeding, and once that’s fleshed out, they’ll know what funds remain for sidewalk and streetscape improvements outside the area of the underpass.
3. DEVELOPMENT ISSUES AND DEVELOPER RELATIONS
- Piazza etc. – We continue to get some Piazza and Liberties Walk related complaints, primarily about trash around Liberties Walk Dumpsters. The new owners have replaced their local supervisor, and Lara is in touch with the new person.
- Finnegan’s Wake – The property is up for sale. According to Councilman Squilla (who didn’t have any advance knowledge of this either), the for-sale listing apparently is part of a negotiation/dispute between the current partners. It appears the property is not necessarily actually for sale.
- Club Aura – The NLNA, as well as Larry and I, are named among several other defendants in a lawsuit filed in federal court last month. We have retained legal counsel and the required initial response brief has been filed in court.
- Sound Garden Hall – Larry will provide an update in the zoning report. Parking – No update.
4. OUTREACH/EVENTS/GENERAL MEETINGS
- General Meetings – The September and October GMs are both going to be held in St. Michael’s Church, 4th & Fairmount. For Sept. we’re having a briefing on BRT appeals, and we expect larger-than-usual turnout (along with some neighbors from neighborhoods immediately to our north). We’ve lined up one expert, and have another one tentatively confirmed. I’m still looking for one or two others. If we can get four to six expert guests, we can then try to break out into smaller groups during the meeting.
- For Oct., the Planning Commission wants to do a working-group style meeting to go over proposed zoning remapping of the community. We may or may not have large attendance, but we’ll need to spread out and probably divide up into groups based on where people live and/or own property and businesses.
5. COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICITY
- Internet – The email list has surpassed 2,200, and the Facebook group is now well past the 500 mark. The Facebook group in particular is growing quite fast. A small percentage of requests to join the group seem to come from individuals and businesses seeking to use it as a free promotional venue. So far, we’ve been allowing it to be more open than our email lists, but I have deleted posts (and occasionally deleted members) who clearly are not based in NL and are posting repeated commercial solicitations.
- Web site – No update – no news is good news. It’s running smoothly.
6. OTHER ITEMS
- Board Polls – Ratification of any online or online board polls since last month’s board meeting.
TREASURER’S REPORT – SEP’T 2013
- 2012-13 Budget Update
- Through 11 months we have current income totaling approximately $137,400 and current year expenses totaling $151,800. That leaves us with a negative current year balance of $14,400.
- However, taking into account remaining available and budgeted prior year funding of $75,100, total net income is +$60,700.
- Of this amount:
- About $63,300 is in the General Fund;
- This positive balance is offset by a negative balance of $2,600 in other funds.
- The General Fund balance of $63,300 is a net figure and includes:
- Almost $16,000 in unprogrammed rental income from the lease of the renovated garage space.
- About $37,000 in unanticipated income from donations, fundraising and grants, including an additional $9,700 from the annual appeal, $3,300 from the winter fest, $900 from the plant sale, $400 from the spring fest, $3,100 from the recent 2nd st fest, $18,000 from corporate and individual donations, and $1,500 in grants. The budget anticipates we will net $2,500 from the fall music fest.
- An additional $10,300 from a combination of lower spending and higher fee and rental income.
- The negative balance in other funds (largely Liberty Lands) will be addressed by a budgeted end of year General Fund transfer.
- Assuming routine expenses this month and a successful fall music fest the association would likely end the year with a positive balance in excess of $55,000. Recent developments, to be discussed at the September board meeting, could diminish this amount somewhat. Notwithstanding the actual amount the plan is to:
- Transfer the rent paid by the mailbox store ($16,800) to the General Fund Reserve as budgeted and authorized by the Board;
- Carryover $7,150 in business donations to 2013-14 for Project Clean Streets; and
- Transfer the balance into the General Fund Reserve.
Liberty Lands Board Report
- The fall music festival wasn’t hugely attended, but was very pleasant and ended up making $3,000 (with the boost of a grant from PTSSD that covered expenses). A new group is going to work on booking bands and advertising because Ed Farnsworth, one of the music fest founders, has finally retired from the job. Many thanks to Ed for the years of great festivals!!!
- A committee headed by Kate Hawk has started working on planning the Fall Festival (Halloween festival) and has great plans for this event, which will be October 27th.
- Andrew Susser, our intrepid trash manager for the last two years, has also retired from that job. (Thank you, Andrew, for all the work!) We’ve found a new guy, Greg, who will start immediately.
- On the subject of trash, our need for at least one, probably two or three more wooden corrals is growing pressing. If anyone knows of someone who is handy with wood and could put these together for us (we have a design and will buy materials), it would be fabulous. Frank built us one (thanks, Frank!) but even more are needed.
- The Rock to the Future “flea market and kids’ bands” event on August 25 turned into a Dead Milkmen concert, as people probably noticed. While it seems to have been well handled and not a problem, we should talk at our winter community-wide meeting about how to handle the event policy so that another surprise like that doesn’t happen.
- The park committee has submitted a budget for the coming fiscal year that is essentially the same as last year’s, with the noticeable change that we’re taking in around $2,000 a year in reservation fees these days. This is a nice and easy contribution to the sustaining of the park and it’s great to see. Examining the budget also led to doing some things we should have done months ago, such as getting the park’s machines (bobcat and lawn mower) serviced, ordering the parts for a water pump to keep the Laurel Street gardens watered, and replacing the lock on the potty shed. Seth and his daughter also fixed the pump in the cisterns so that they are back in working order.
- Just for everyone’s information: on the advice of the Philadelphia Water Department, we stopped paying the “stormwater” bills that are being assessed to the park back in the spring and had those bills placed on Dispute status. PWD is working out how to not charge community gardens and parks for stormwater maintenance, but the process hasn’t been established yet. This is an issue that is being taken care of and is not a concern.
- I keep trying to get rid of the rubber mulch, but haven’t hooked a buyer yet. Yes, I keep lowering the price. It will be free to whoever gets rid of it for us soon.
- Weeders’ club is still happening every Saturday from 9 to 11 and manages to keep things better than they would be WITHOUT weeders’ club. . . but it’s still pretty overgrown. We should talk at the September meeting about some revisions to our policy for community gardeners who don’t keep up their plots and the surrounding plots.
- Movies are done for the summer. I’d be happy to hear comments about how they went.
- And finally, on Sept. 21 (International Day of Peace), we will be having a special workday at the park with neighbors and teens from the group BuildOn. It would be wonderful to have as much participation from the neighborhood as possible! 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
ZONING COMMITTEE MEETING
Members present: Larry Freedman (chair), Charlie Abdo, Ken Grono, Tim McDonald, Joe Mikuliak, Sharon Richman, Michael Simons, Ira Upin Members absent: Jonathan Sher, Chris Issacson,
233 Poplar Street – I2 – Rustin Ohler: Return visit with an adjustment to last month’s proposal for 12 residential units.
[In January 2013, an 18 unit (27 bedrooms) apartment house with only 9 parking spaces that negatively affected the seven homes adjacent to this property was unanimously rejected by the Zoning Committee.] [In July 2013 the developer returned with a proposal for 12 units, 10 parking spaces, small balconies for each unit, windows on the party wall and no legal document giving them permission to use the easement for access to their parking. The committee and neighbors continued to be concerned about the impact of the overall height, parking and balconies in the plan. We asked them to return with a plan that: – eliminates the 1st floor balconies of units #1 and #2; – screens on all east facing balconies to a height of 42” to obscure the view of the neighbors; – gives assurance that balconies cannot be used for storage of any kind or for trash, either in cans or bags; and, – eliminates the 4th story (eliminating Units #11 and #12). In addition, we will need a copy of documentation accorded in deed and agreement that confirms permanent use of the easement as a driveway for your residents as well as the parking access approval from the Streets Department Traffic Engineering.
This project is still 12 units. The 4th story (two units) was not eliminated, but it was set back 8’. First floor balconies were eliminated. The open rail system was replaced with a screened railing on the east side.They will be seeking a variance for windows on the property line of the west façade (affecting units 3, 6 and 10) on the west side of the property. If they do not get the variance, they will eliminate the windows and light and air will only come from the door located on the return wall of the balcony. If they do get a variance, a building along the west side could be erected which would abut the property line and leave the tenants with no light along the balconies in the living rooms and windows in the bedrooms. This concern was inadvertently not included as an issue at the previous meeting/presentation. Requested documentation accorded in deed and agreement that confirms permanent use of the easement as a driveway for the residents was not provided as requested.
Motion (Tim) – 2nd (Charlie): Vote 7-0 Thank you for your presentation. We appreciate the changes you created on the east side of the building. Please return with plans for a 3-story building and a design that does not depend on windows along the west property line for light and air in all living rooms and bedrooms as currently designed. Also, please provide a copy of documentation accorded in deed and agreement that confirms permanent use of the easement as a driveway for your residents as well as the parking access approval from the Streets Department Traffic Engineering.
887-89 Orkney St. – RSA5 – Jeremy LeCompe – Return visit with a proposal to create 2 lots from 3 to construct 2 single family dwellings with frontage on Myrtle St. [In July 2013 the committee issued the following motion: We cannot support the project as presented. The neighbors felt the structures were too high. Please return with a plan for one single family dwelling compliant with RSA5 requirements including open space and height or build on the three lots. The revised plan for Parcel B (inner structure) maintained the original 41’ height, set back the 4th floor 8’, eliminated the pilot house and provided access to the roof deck by an exterior staircase. The curb cut for the garage in the front of the house was also retained. The revised plan for Parcel A (corner structure) eliminated the 4th floor and included a deck on the roof of the 3rd floor. The height of Parcel A adheres to code requirements. Parking in 17’ stall at the back of the corner lot will require a variance. Because there is no parking permitted on this street, the curb cut will not have a negative impact. Neighbors continued to be concerned about the height of Parcel B. It creates a massive wall facing an existing property.
Motion (Charlie) – 2nd (Mike): Vote 5-0-1 (abstention) We cannot support the project as presented. Please return with plans for 1 or 2 house that are no higher than 38’.
219-21 W. George St. – Stables – Ted Singer – A proposal to consolidate 2 lots into 1 for the construction of a single family dwelling (a change to the existing variance). The consolidation of lots 8 and 9 are located at the corner of George and American Streets. The façade of the single home was reoriented to be a corner property with more of a presence on American Street. Parking is available for 3 cars. There are no new refusals from the original proposal. Height is not increasing.
Motion (Mike) – 2nd (Ken): Vote 5-0 The project is approved as presented.
818-24 N. 4th St. – ICMX – Ted Singer – A proposal for 13 residential units, 1 commercial and 14 parking spots – 4 stories. (This is an adjustment to the previously approved project.) This was originally part of a project that spanned from 4th Street to Leithgow Street and from Leithgow to Lawrence streets. The lot is 120’ (from 4th Street to Leithgow) by 98’6”. The property is bisected (east to west) by an interior courtyard. The previously approved project provided 23 parking spaces for both the Lawrence St. side and the 4th St. side. The 13 apartments and 1 commercial unit will now be served by the 14 spots in the garage that will have one entrance/egress onto 4th Street via a 22’ curb cut. This project is comprised of two buildings that will be separated (north and south) by a 14’6” “breezeway, but will be joined through walkways on each of the 4 floors. Building height previously was 43’ and now is 46’4”. The height of the previously approved north building was increased by 11’ to equal 46’4”. There are 13 residential units in total comprised of 4-one bedroom, 4-two bedroom, 5-three bedroom (one of which is a penthouse). There is one commercial space on the first floor of the north building (currently a parking lot) with frontage on 4th Street. Neighbors were concerned about the shade created, the obstructed view of Center City, and the dark and looming appearance of the redesigned façade.
Motion (Joe) – 2nd (Ken): Vote 5-0 The adjustment to the previously approved plan for 818-24 N. 4th Street maintains 1:1 parking (14 spots) for the 13 apartments and 1 commercial unit, increases the height of the buildings on 4th Street by 3’ and 11’, and the 4th Street façade has changed from light, airy and transparent to solid, heavy and dark. Please consider using the warehouse/garage façade as in previous plans. The new commercial space is liked by neighbors, but the single store front should be prominent instead of the garage door being prominent. The reduction of the number of units is appreciated. We understand the parking change but want you to consider safety elements to mitigate danger to pedestrian and vehicular traffic upon entry into and exit from the garage. Please return to the Zoning Committee with plans that reflect the above and lessen the negative impact of the façade on 4th Street.
Members present: Larry Freedman (chair), Charlie Abdo, Ken Grono, Chris Issacson, Joe Mikuliak, Sharon Richman, Jonathan Sher Members absent: Tim McDonald, Michael Simons, Ira Upin
939-41 N. Front St. – I2 – Tom Citero – A proposal for the legalization of a gym with accessory sale of apparel and pre-packaged food. “Crossfit” is a franchise specializing in one-on-one training. This type of business is not permitted in I2. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday: 5:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. This gym has been in business since November 2012. L&I cited the business. In June he got a refusal. No more than 12 clients exercise at any given time. There is no massage or cooking on premises. Prepackaged meals ordered on-line by clients are delivered to Crossfit and stored in their refrigerator until pick-up.
Motion (Joe) – 2nd (Sharon): Vote 5-0 We support this project as present with the following provisos: maximum occupancy is not to exceed 30 (clients and staff); there will be no massage; there will be no hot cooking; hours of operation 7 days/week will not extend beyond 5:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
117 Spring Garden St. – CMX2 – Ed Fink – A proposal for a 6 story residential bldg. with a small commercial area on the first floor. The proposed building is 60’ high plus an additional 10’ for the elevator. The architect mistakenly thought that this parcel would be given an ICMX2 designation after remapping. There would be 30 apartments, 7 units per floor (most with 2 bedrooms) plus 2 penthouses. [Room dimensions were missing on some apartments, a kitchen was missing from Apartment G and space plans were not included for Apartment F.] There would be only 12-14 parking spaces available at ground level, plus a bicycle parking area and a separate scooter parking area. The building would be set back on Hope Street. Landscaping is proposed along the north side of the building. Bay windows would be facing south. Solar panels will be placed on the roof. There would be an open area on the roof. Exterior modulated color panels (multi-color) are proposed for the exterior. This lot would be part of a Transit Oriented District in which proposed changes to Spring Garden Street would likely impact this project. The widening of I-95 might also impact this project.
Motion (Joe) – 2nd (Jon): Vote 6-0 Thank you for your presentation. Please return with plans for a building with a finished height that is no more than 50’ on the south half, and is no more than 38’ on the northern half of the property. Parking should provide 1 space per 3 units. Include a larger commercial space on the 1st floor along the spring Garden side. Keep Hope Street pedestrian friendly. The new plans should include interior and exterior dimensions, exterior materials, a shadow study and contextual drawings that include I-95 and homes to the north.
964 N. American St. – Donna O’Brien – A proposal for a 4 story single- family dwelling. Because the lot is small (14’8” x 24’6”) the builder is claiming hardship and building 4 stories to a height of 43’8” to the top of the roofed area on the deck. The roof parapet is even with the next door neighbor’s roof and deck lines. Actually, it is a 3 story building with a roofed pergola on the 3rd floor roof. The rear yard is 3’ deep. The roof deck is set back 5’ from the street. The A/C condenser will be located in the backyard. Some committee members expressed concern over the height of the window n the front of the house (“eyes on the street”) and the placement of the utility meters.
Motion (Joe) – 2nd (Ken): Vote 6-0 Thank you for your presentation. Please go to the UDC to discuss materials, location of utility meters and condenser. A letter of support will be issued when we receive recommendations from the UDC and a copy of the refusal that agrees with the presentation