Before I get into today's topic, a reminder that there's a Council Budget Workshop at Municipal Hall tonight at 6 pm
Tomorrow night (Tuesday), the Zoning Board will conduct its monthly hearing at Municipal Hall at 7 pm. I noticed a few interesting items on the agenda (which you can read at http://norristown.org/userfiles/file/events/1129.pdf) that everyone should know about.
I'll start with the item that concerns me the most--yet another request for a variance by Cingular Wireless regarding the Montgomery Hospital parking garage. This time they want "a permanent facility that would consist of 12 panel style antennas which would be surrounded by a screening structure that would match the existing building. The height of the proposed antennas would be 90 feet and the top height of the screening structure would be 91 feet..."
In past proposals, the language always mentioned the roof of the parking garage, height above the roof, and total height. This time the roof isn't mentioned at all, making me wonder if this would be a free-standing structure. But if you look at a map of that block, you'll see that the only free area on the property is the wide, fairly nicely landscaped sidewalk that wraps around the garage on Powell and Fornance. Cingular doesn't say exactly where this permanent facility would be or how wide it would be.
Now, I've been meeting with a committee comprised of residents of that neighborhood, and representatives from the Norristown and County Planning Departments and Elon, the developer for the hospital site. We've been working very hard to come up with new zoning and a master plan for those blocks which will make the developer happy, the neighborhood better, and Norristown proud. What we've come up with ought to help stimulate retail development in the empty stores along Powell and Fornance. I'd hate to see all that hard work ruined by a 7 or 8 story ugly tower. Even if it's on the roof of the garage, it will still increase the height at least anther 3 stories.
There are 2 requests on the agenda to "allow for the operation of an
existing duplex" at 719 Belair Circle and 1137 Markley. The first is
located off of Selma Street between Oak and Elm, in a little isolated
group of houses built around 1959, with that one thing so rare in
N-town--lots of parking. The houses all have driveways, some wide enough
to accommodate several cars. 719 and its twin and a few other houses in
that development look as if they were probably designed to be duplexes.
Given all that, I'd be fine if it stayed a duplex.
however, is a twin built in 1920 for single family use. It's between
James and Harding Blvd, a VERY dense block to begin with. No off-street
parking and on-street parking is a nightmare only made worse by the new
construction and changes to the curb line. Previous owners (the new
owner just purchased the property) let the house deteriorate, which you
can see in this photo showing a porch wall leaning at
precarious angle and front steps that seem to have sunk down a bit on
the left side. This whole block is an example of the kinds of houses and
areas of town that we ought to be reclaiming as single homes instead of
encouraging higher density.
So that's the rundown. I know it's a busy holiday week, but get to
the meeting if you can, especially if you live in the 3rd District and
will be most effected by the antenna proposal and by the bad parking
situation (and potentially really bad traffic situation caused by it) at 1137
Questions about the hearing should be directed to Jayne Musonye, Director of Planning and Municipal Development, 610-270-0451.