Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Zoning Agenda - 2 Thumbs Down

315 Arch. 
Not sure if there's a Zoning Board hearing tonight or not, since we didn't get the amount of snow predicted. The Municipal offices are opening 2 hours late today, so I'd guess it's probably still on, though I'd call before going. Here's what's on the agenda.

315 Arch Street -- This is located across Arch Street from La Michoacana, between Main and Airy. The owners want to put a carpet warehouse and storage facility there. The building was originally a Quick Stop Food Market. Looks okay to me, as long as the street isn't blocked by trucks loading and unloading.

638 Markley
638 Markley -- This is Wright Auto Sales and Service, between Marshall and Elm, next to CubeSmart, across from the train tracks. Their request is a very long confusing paragraph that seems to boil down to them wanting a special exception for off-street parking and loading for an auto showroom. Currently, traffic on Markley often has to inch around trucks parked out in front of their place. If this request means more of that, or if they want customer parking on the street, I hope the Zoning Board says no. The building has a driveway leading around back to what appears to be a lot (their service lot perhaps?). They have a lot in front which they already seem to use for car sales. Furthermore, since Wright S&S bought the building decades ago, they've let the appearance of it deteriorate. If they're going to improve the appearance, maybe there's some room for negotiation, but they don't have a good track record coming in.

638 Kohn
638 Kohn -- A company calling itself 638 Kohn St. LLC, owned by Marta Martin of Collegeville, bought this property last October. The house was built in the late 19th century and as you can see from the photo, it's a small rowhouse, only 1960 square feet. It looks well-kept except for the sidewalk. The new owner wants to turn it into a duplex. There does seem to be parking off the alley in the rear, but in my opinion, the house is too small and the neighborhood, too crowded. The well-kept look won't last long if it's a duplex, not to mention extra trash, extra cars and extra strain on infrastructure like water, sewer, electric, etc. Martin obviously could care less about the impact on the neighborhood. This would be a violation of new zoning ordinance that says if a house is single family, even if it was a duplex in the past, it has to stay single family.

Marta Martin bought at least one other house in Norristown last year, at 820 Kohn, but there's no search criteria in the county records letting me search on the owner's home address, so possibly Martin owns more houses here under LLC names. The LLC name is done for liability reasons--I get that. Still, I think we need to be able to more easily keep track of how many houses each landlord owns in our town, especially landlords from out of town.

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