We all know that zoning matters but that doesn't make its any easier to understand. The Chestnut Hill Community Association understands this and plans to read up on the new zoning code and later help us understand it. That was just one of the issues that came up at last night's Executive Board meeting.

But there was also a look back at how the community group handled its review of the 8200 Germantown Ave. project.

John Landis who co-chaired one of the committees that negotiated with Bowman Properties on its plan to build a grocery store complex to the heart of Chestnut Hill said in the end many people were disappointed with the process and felt left out.

The Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee (LUPZ) spent nearly four-months and won some concessions but for many who thought the project size was too big there was a feeling that the committee didn't do enough.

"All involved lost a lot of credibility," Landis said. he said in the future he would like to ensure that there is more public involvement.

Last month the CHCA Board endorsed Bowman's project, which helped Bowman Properties get zoning changes from the city.

 

Zoning code overhauled

The 8200 Germantown Ave. project was green lighted just as the city of Philadelphia updated its zoning laws.

This could impact CHCA's influence on future projects. Landis and other LUPZ members are now reviewing the new zoning code and plan to make a presentation at the next LUPZ meeting in February.

Landis wants to set up a sub-committee that would educate local residents in layman's terms exactly how it would them.

"The more that we can do to let the community know that we hear what they're saying, the better," Landis said.

A facilitator would be needed, as well as maps, a space and food to properly conduct these community meetings. Landis estimates the total coast at $5,000. CHCA President Jane Piotrowski agreed that these meetings would be a boon for the community to be involved in, and requested that the LUPZ write a proposal that would be presented at the next board meeting.

 

Other business

The recent Holiday House Tour was a huge success, generating over $24,000 for the CHCA. Last year's tour gained around $22,500.

The bi-laws committee is currently accepting proposals for changes. Any bi-law amendments would be up for a vote at the annual meeting on April 18. The first bi-law meeting will be held on January 19.

The CHCA is hosting a blood drive on Saturday February 11 at the Big Field House at Chestnut Hill Spring Site from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

A new bookkeeper was recently hired for the CHCA and will help organize the community group's funds. Selma Elbanna will work on a part-time basis and will start next week.

The next CHCA meeting will be on January 26 at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Chestnut Hill Library.


for NewsWorks