City Avenue Should Be Topic A for Tomorrow's Election

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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The rezoning of the City Avenue corridor should be on people's mind when they go to the polls tomorrow.  The proponents are tired of waiting any longer and plan to enact the new ordinance into law on December 14; they have just been marking time until the election is over.   Requests for land use planning to underlay the ordinance and guide the redevelopment that will be allowed and enabled under the new law have been consistently rebuffed.  Requests for comprehensive planning that would take into account the relationship of possible new development along City Avenue, Presidential Boulevard, St. Asaph's Road, and Righters Ferry Road, to the new development the Township is encouraging at the bottom of Righters Ferry Road and Rock Hill Road have also been rebuffed. 

Few people disagree with the proposition that the current zoning along City Avenue does not do a good job.  But many disagree with the ordinance that will be enacted on December 14, believing its implications have not been fully analyzed and that it has not been well prepared for.  Traffic issues remain of paramount concern, of course, but they aren't the only ones.  The lack of realism about what presently exists in the corridor and what the market will provide is troubling.  A vision of a people friendly environment to live, work and play in is a pleasant one, but can this new zoning, as presently conceived, possibly lead to its realization? Somehow, the vision of City Avenue as Lower Merion's Champs Elysee seems pretty ludicrous.

Previous development initiatives don't provide much comfort.  These also were rolled out using the throw-it-up-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks methodology:  Ardmore MUST, Rock Hill Road Overlay District, the M District (written specifically for Brian O'Neill and resulting in a lawsuit by O'Neill against the Township). The results are not pretty.

 

In this connecton, what's up with the Main Line Times website?  They have a box for the "most discussed" articles, the ones with the most comments.  But they have removed the City Avenue rezoning debate from the front of their site and what is actually the "most discussed" article has disappeared.  You have to hunt for it to bring it up:

http://mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2011/10/27/main_line_times/news/doc4eaa23102ba59200610632.txt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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dmuth's picture
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carla's picture
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I love it when Darth Vader appears on the eve of election season!

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"Well behaved women rarely make history" - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

bobguzzardi's picture
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I would like to know the constituency that is supporting this mega project. It did not come from nowhere.

Frankly, although you make compelling points I think spending, the Ardmore Transit Solyndra project, are equally important.

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eyeingdevelopment's picture
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I would like to know the constituency that is supporting this mega project. It did not come from nowhere.

 

What are you hoping to find out that is not in comments or internet links that already are available at the SAC website?

 

Clarification:   At issue is not a "mega project."   It is a mega rezoning ordinance.  

The new ordinance will allow interior building square footage to triple over what is allowed in the area by the current zoning.   

About 12,000,000 square feet will be allowed if the ordinance is passed.   The Comcast building in Philadelphia is about 1,000,000 square feet.

The Lower Merion Commissioners who strongly support it intend to approve the proposed ordinance, make it law, on December 14th, 2011. 

The proposed ordinance came from the City Avenue Special Services District (CASSD).  

CASSD was formed in 1998.  http://www.lowermerion.org/Index.aspx?page=860

CASSD is a commercially- and institutionally-focused organization.    Its voting board members are from Philadelphia and Lower Merion Township.

Philadelphia approved a version of the rezoning ordinance in 2009 for the Philadelphia side of City Avenue.  

Bruce Reed reminded his former constituents in Lower Merion that Philadelphia got the job done in 2009.   "We" are lagging behind.  

CASSD CEO, Terrence Foley, negatively compared the political situation that CASSD has encountered in Lower Merion in response to its interest in having the rezoning ordinance approved to CASSD's experience with Philadelphia. 

Does anyone know who drove the inclusion of Lower Merion Township in CASSD and its formation in 1998?

About CASSD and Board Member Qualifications

Management

A 28 member of Board of Directors representing property owners and managers, institutional leaders and business owners governs the City Avenue Special Services District. Many elected officials serve as Ex-Officio members. Terrence Foley serves as President and CEO for the District.

The Board of Directors is composed of nine representatives from Philadelphia and nine representatives from Lower Merion Township. To serve on the Board of City Avenue Special Services District one must be a commercial or industrial property owner, or merchant in the District.

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eyeingdevelopment's picture
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I would like to know the constituency that is supporting this mega project. It did not come from nowhere.

 

What are you hoping to find out that is not in comments or internet links that already are available at the SAC website?

Here is one prior post 

The proposed rezoning ordinance originally came from the City Avenue Special Services District (CASSD)

http://www.lowermerion.org/Index.aspx?page=860

Welcome to the Township’s webpage focusing on projects involving the City Avenue corridor. This site will serve as the clearing house for information related to the proposed City Avenue District rezoning, and the proposed City Avenue Transportation Services Area (“TSA”) and provides a variety of information, reports, and announcements to help residents participate in the process and understand what is going on. While the proposed rezoning and the TSA are interrelated projects, they serve two very different purposes as explained below.

What’s Happening

The City Avenue Special Services District of Philadelphia and Lower Merion (CityAve) was formed in 1998 to address the unique needs of this multi-jurisdictional urban business and transportation corridor. Combining a primarily transportation oriented corridor straddling the western edge of the City of Philadelphia and easternmost Lower Merion Township, from the Schuylkill Expressway to 63rd Street/Wynnewood Road, the primary focus was to improve public safety, enhance the area image and shape and attract development. However, disparate zoning applications on either jurisdictional side of the corridor resulted in a disorganized development pattern.

The CASSD Board includes several Lower Merion Commissioners as non-voting "ex officio"* members.

http://www.cityave.org/management.php

  • Commissioner George T. Manos, AIA*
  • Commissioner C. Brian McGuire*
  • Commissioner Brian A. Gordon, Esq.*
  • Commissioner Elizabeth S. Rogan*

The CASSD Board's ex officio members currently also include two former Lower Merion Commissioners

  • Lita Cohen*
  • James S. Ettelson, Esq.*

Former Lower Merion Ward 13 Commissioner and former President of the Board of Commissioners, Bruce Reed, previously was an ex officio member of the CASSD Board.

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eyeingdevelopment's picture
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                                                                         The Vision?

 

Lower Merion residents who followed the progress of the City Ave rezoning ordinance after it was opened for public input have heard a lot about "the vision."  

The vision of the City Avenue Special Services District (CASSD) group that developed the rezoning ordinance was a question asked at the first Lower Merion public workshop on the ordinance in June, 2010.

From CASSD website Mission and Vision section 

Positioned between the vibrant city of Philadelphia and the incomparable Township of Lower Merion, City Avenue’s unlimited possibilities for economic growth through community realization are extraordinary. It is a blank canvas with the potential to reveal a masterpiece.

Expansive vision. 

Mega vision. 

Enough vision to completely cover a blank canvas and with layers, upon layers, upon layers of paint in some areas:  200' of paint in some sections on the Lower Merion Township side of City Ave, 300' of paint on the Philadelphia side. 

It is said that nature abhors a vacuum.

CASSD put forward a mega rezoning ordinance to fill one in Lower Merion Township that mega and international commercial property development corporations evidently saw clearly.  

CASSD's vision for the part of the District in Lower Merion has been dutifully scheduled for delivery to CASSD Board Members (who include representatives of publicly traded  billion dollar real estate investment trust and international corporations) by Lower Merion Commissioner, Board President, and Chair of the Building and Committee. Elizabeth Rogan, on December 14, 2011.   

Elizabeth Rogan is counting on being assisted by Commissioners George Manos, Brian McGuire, Paul McElhaney, Jane Dellheim, Daniel Bernheim, Steven Lindner, and Rick Churchill. 

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bobguzzardi's picture
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To put it another way "cui bono" who benefits directly and financially from the mega rezoning of City Ave?

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carla's picture
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As per Main Line Media News in case people see funny election day stuff :

 

The Election Day team will be led by Deputy District Attorney Christopher Maloney. On Election Day, DDA Maloney can be reached at 610-278-3156. He can also be reached by e-mail at cmaloney@montcopa.org. The assigned prosecutors may also be reached through the County Radio Room at 610-275-1222.

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bc59's picture
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I am disappointed but not surprised at the outcome of the electiion. I believe that many simply voted party line against "Tea Party Jenny" and therefore missed a chance for a change of leadership in Wards 9 and 13 where the City Avenue Zoning proposal is the looming issue that will most affect our quality of live in the coming years...not the Cynwyd Trail, not the Library, not budget issues...this urbanization of City Ave has the most potential to permanently damage our quiet Bala Cynwyd neighborhoods. Perhaps there is still hope as neighbors and civic associations continue to oppose this Reed/Manos vision for City Ave through other channels. However, the Commissioners don't have a great track record of listening to residents, so I'm not too optimistic.

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eyeingdevelopment's picture
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                                                                              TONIGHT 6:30 p.m.

 

                         PLANNING COMMISSION APPROVAL FOR CITY AVENUE REZONING ORDINANCE SOUGHT

 

Planning Commission (Special)

Discussion of the City Avenue Rezoning Ordinance

Date: 11/10/2011 6:30 PM

Location: Township Administration Bldg - 2nd Floor Board Room 75 East Lancaster Ave Ardmore, Pennsylvania 19003-2323

Co-Chairs: Robert Gray & Alan Ritterband

Members: Charles Howland, Brian O’Leary, Anthony Vale, Brian Hirsch, Marc Vitale

SPECIAL AGENDA TONIGHT 6:30 p.m.

CITY AVENUE REZONING ORDINANCE

Staff will provide an overview of the proposed ordinance. Review recent amendments made to the ordinance as a result of public input.

 

** On Wednesday, November 16, 2011 the Building & Planning Committee will hold a special meeting to consider a recommendation to authorize the advertisement and scheduling of a public hearing for the City Avenue Rezoning Ordinance. If approved, a public hearing will be scheduled for December 14, 2011. **

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politeia's picture
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It's all a charade.

Just like the bogus public workshops on this disastrous rezoning. Reed/McGuire, Manos, Rogan and their cronies have been working behind closed doors with business interests on this for years, and it is that plan that is being shoved down our throats.

I'd be very pleasantly surprised if the Planning Commission does the right thing and puts the break on this. However, remember who appointed them...

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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It is the Liberals who are using political power to the advantage of behind the scenes property owners and developers. Maybe the "Liberals" are phonies and are secretly conspiracy with plutocrats. oh wait, it's out there for all of us to see if we want to.

Need I hammer the Ardmore transit issue.

Storm water management and pothole repair are secondary to the grand visions of the virtuous and wise Liberal leadership.

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bobguzzardi's picture
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Electoral brain freeze has its consequences.

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bobguzzardi's picture
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Electoral brain freeze has its consequences.

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