The City Planning Commission got its first formal look Tuesday at a proposal for a new townhouse neighborhood at the site of a notorious former nursing home in Roxborough.

Developer Stephen Goldner has proposed Kingsley Court, a neighborhood of 32 modular townhouses on a cul-de-sac just off Ridge Avenue. It had been the site of the Ivy Ridge Personal Care nursing home, 5627 Ridge Ave., which was shut down in 2009 and the site has been largely abandoned and fire-damaged since.

Planning staff member Brian Wenrich presented the preliminary plat, a first step toward subdivision of the 3.2-acre site between Walnut Lane and Seville Street, but immediately advised of a major suggested change to the plan, with a through street rather than a cul-de-sac.

"Staff has looked at this, and we have come up with an alternative scheme where [Kingsley] street would go through," Wenrich said, citing city development guidelines that advise against self-contained streets that interrupt the street grid. He showed an alternative plan, with a curved street that would connect Ridge Avenue with an existing portion of Kingsley Street.

Wenrich also said the city Streets Department also supported the through-street scheme, as it would disperse traffic throughout the neighborhood rather than forcing it all onto Ridge Avenue.

"We have encouraged the developer to pursue this alternative, however the cul-de-sac is deemed approvable by the commission," Wenrich said.

Joseph Beller, the attorney for the project, said the plan has been reviewed by the community and Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.'s office, and the cul-de-sac reflected their preferences due to traffic concerns. Beller said one fear was that cars looking to "beat the light" at Walnut Lane would instead cut through neighborhood streets, including Houghton Street.

"It's just a question of whether it could be successful from a neighborhood point of view, and from a traffic point of view," Beller said, adding they agreed on the need for a prohibition on left turns on Ridge Avenue out of Kingsley Court.

This plan has been before the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association in recent months, though the group has so far not taken a formal stance. Several nearby residents also attended the meeting, all in support of keeping the development a cul-de-sac.

"We're all here to say we support the cul-de-sac, and to say that we're appalled at the idea of a through street," one neighbor told commission members.

Planning Commission chairman Alan Greenberger said he understood the planning staff's through-street suggestion but was reluctant to go against the neighborhood.

"The road, at planning level, I think does make sense, the opposition will be very clear, I think it will jam things up and I think from our perspective, is this the place to make that battle, and I personally don't think so. What's proposed can work," Greenberger said.

Commission members voted to approve the preliminary subdivision plan, with the cul-de-sac, for Kingsley Court.

WATCH the entire hearing here

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