Update on 147 Sumac Street

To the Community,

A number of people from our neighborhood came to protest at the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) hearing (February 12) in protest to developer James Maransky’s proposal to build seven (7) new homes on 147 Sumac Street.

Prior to the meeting I had an email that Matt Wysong of the Planning Board would support five (5) new homes on 147 Sumac. Josh Cohen, from Councilman Jones’ office, attended the hearing, bringing a letter from Curtis Jones that stated he would support five (5) new homes. I was disappointed with them both recommending 5 homes because my understanding was it was zoned for 2 maybe 3 homes by right, but we at the meeting were open to consider 5.

Our lawyer, Stanley Krakower, on a separate issue requested a continuance to have another community meeting, to bring that proposal to the community on the basis that the developer failed to post signs giving three weeks notice of the ZBA hearing.

  • The continuance was DENIED. During the hearing, despite our lawyer telling the ZBA that the community wanted the chance to hold another meeting with the developer, to consider a proposal with five (5) new houses, which was suggested by the Councilman and the Planning Board.
  •  The ZBA sided with Maransky when he voiced he didn’t want another community meeting and he would offer six (6) new homes.

The Zoning Board approved the developer to build six (6) homes. Just as soon as the Planning Board accepted the 6 homes at the hearing, the rest of the board approved the plan. They ruled against us as a community, against Councilman Jones, against the recommendation from the Planning Board, and against the zoning code itself.

I have asked Councilman Jones to review what happened at the hearing. Even though initially we thought 5 new homes were too many I feel we could have listened to a proposal of that number. Josh Cohen went to bat for us at the hearing and did an awesome job of suggesting a proposal of less density. Many thanks Josh.

We can consider filing for a “Reconsideration” with the Zoning Board, and we can discuss this, so if anyone has thoughts on that, email me. It has to be done soon, by next Monday, this would need funds, we are already short money to pay for legal services rendered. Perhaps we can plead to reconsider building fewer homes, but 147 will be sold, and homes will be built.  It’s the number of homes and the green space on the ground that we seek, not green space on the roof.

As to oversight on the Zoning Board, please call Councilman Jones, 215-686-3416; Kendra Brooks, 215-686-0461; Darrell Clark, 215-686-3442; and Helen Gym, 215-686-3420. Mayor Kenney appoints the Zoning Board, james.kenney@phila.gov, 215-686-2181; Ann Fadullon, Head of City Planning Board, planning.development@phila.gov.

We need an equitable zoning system, which follows the current zoning codes to prevent density.

Sincerely,

Lisa Wetzler
President WICA

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

Martin Luther King Jr.