More than 950 people read my diary entry last week titled "Our Zoning Board Will Approve Anything." I saw quite a few opinions on Facebook afterward and no one who spoke up was pleased about Zoning's decision to allow 16 housing units on the 1/4 acre lot at 522 Cherry.
This weekend, I received a copy of the board's letter sent to Swede Street Associate's lawyer confirming their decision. The letter ended by saying that the "formal Opinion and final Order" would follow shortly, then "As you know any interested party may appeal the decision of the Board within thirty (30) days of the date the Board issues its final Order."
So I checked the Municipal site to find out how one goes about appealing a decision. The only thing I could find said "Appeals under § 320-163 and proceedings to challenge an ordinance under § 320-164 may be filed with the Board, in writing, by any officer or agency of the borough or any person aggrieved." It didn't say who to send the letter to, or if this means a court case. I'm sure a lawyer could figure out it out, but how many of us, even collectively, can afford to lawyer up?
I also wonder what they mean by "person aggrieved," which I define differently from "interested party." Someone who lives within a certain distance of the proposed development? Or can any resident appeal because we feel this kind of variance sets a dangerous precedent for the town as a whole? Would any resident not living close to the development be listened to? I certainly wasn't listened to at last week's hearing.
But, since this is supposed to be a democracy, if you think 16 housing units on a 1/4 acre shouldn't be allowed in Norristown, send a letter saying so to
Norristown Zoning Board
Municipality of Norristown
235 E. Airy St.
Norristown, PA 19401
Mention "Application 13-14" and "522 Cherry St." Say why you're against the development. Some key points are parking, trash, and excess strain to water, sewer and electrical infrastructure, but feel free to express your own objections. (If you live in 524 Cherry, you might want to think about the fact that no sunlight will shine on your house and yard ever again.)
It doesn't have to be fancy. Don't have a printer? Write a paragraph out longhand and sign it.
If the Zoning Board gets enough letters, even if it does no good this time, they might think twice before approving the next high-density development to come along.