Minutes from January 3, 2013 PSCA General Meeting @ Columbus Square Rec Center
Meeting began at 6:37 pm, ended at 7:33 pm. Attendance: Approximately 32.
Board Members Present: Zenzola, D’Ippolito, Anton, Morris, Emma, Fioretti, Knox, DiCapua, Geary, Wilder. Board Members Absent (excused): Knapp.
Welcome and Introductions: Pam Zenzola introduced the Board and had attendees introduce themselves to new neighbors.
Zoning: Tina Geary read the cases to be heard by the zoning committee on Jan. 8 at 7pm at SPOAC. These include:
- 600 Washington Avenue (Pool Hall): 3 year Temporary Permit up for renewal. Pool and Billiard Room not allowed within 500′ of protected uses. CA-1 Commercial zoning district.
- 1000 Washington Avenue (Sunoco): Legalization of signage. Proposed 14 signs at 559sf; ZBA previously approved 12 signs at 577sf. Refused for number of signs in C-7 district.
- 1212-1216/1218-1220 Alter Street: 5 year Temporary Permit up for renewal. Application for preparation, cleaning, and storage for vending cart operations with dwelling units above. Refused for use in CMX-3
- 1235 S. 7th Street: Application for a 3 story structure with cellar and roof deck for use as a single family dwelling. Refused for open area and rear yard area in RSA-5 zoning district.
- 1537 S 11th St. (Fond Restaurant): Application for outdoor seating. Requires a letter of support from the councilman who is seeking neighborhood input.
- 1215 Peters St. (2nd appearance): Application for a 4 story structure with roof deck and garage for use as a single family dwelling. Refused for open area, rear yard depth, and height. Off Street Parking requires special exception approval in RSA-5 zoning district. Changes to be presented based on feedback from the December zoning Meeting.
- 1412-1414 S. 7th St. (3rd appearance): Application for a 2nd story rear addition to an existing 2 story structure, 8 off street parking spaces for use as a 10 family dwelling. Refused for use, open area, rear yard depth, and number of ADA parking spaces in R10-A zoning district. A reduced number of units was presented at the November meeting with immediate neighbor opposition. Changes to be presented based on feedback from the October and November zoning meetings.
- 1218-20 South Juniper Street (2nd appearance): Application is for a two-family dwelling in an existing structure, which is not permitted in this zoning district.
Events: Ilene Wilder announced PSCA will try to have monthly happy hours, with one scheduled for late January, date TBD. PSCA will host an art silent auction on March 22nd at Theatre Exile, chaired by volunteer Aubin Clever. Please let us know if you would like to volunteer or if you know of artists we should contact.
Fundraising: Ilene Wilder reminded attendees of our ongoing annual appeal to raise money for the civic. Appeal letters were mailed in late November and were also available at the meeting. Also, you can now donate to PSCA through United Way.
Trash and Recycling: Carmela Fioretti announced that treecycling is this Saturday January 5 from 10am-4pm at 13th and Reed/Columbus Square. Still need one or two volunteers for the 12-2 and 2-4 pm shifts. Also, PARC’s cleaning contract with us will commence in March (after a brief hiatus for late January and February). The trash and recycling committee continues to meet, and is always looking for more volunteers, so contact them at email@example.com
Education: Pam Zenzola encouraged attendees, whether they are parents or not, to attend our Advocacy Training on January 26 from 10-12 at Circle of Hope on Broad Street.
Planning: Karin Morris reported that the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) will soon commence the Washington Avenue Roadway Design Study, investigating bicycle and pedestrian safety and a new roadway design for Washington Avenue from Broad to Christopher Columbus Boulevard (there is a separate Parking and Loading Design Study for the portion of Washington Avenue from Broad to Grays Ferry Avenue happening concurrently). There will be two public meetings where civics and neighbors can provide feedback. PCPC is also willing to give periodic updates on the study as it progresses at our PSCA general meetings.
Beautification: Andrew Emma announced that our next tree planting is in the spring. We are now taking applications for the fall 2013 planting (applications available on our website). Passyunk Gardens is looking for more volunteers. The committee is also interested in small beautification projects, so contact them if interested at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parks: Chris DiCapua mentioned that park activities, from yoga to kids activities, can be found on their respective websites. The Capitolo Advisory Council will meet Feb. 6 at 7pm, while Columbus Square Advisory Council will meet on Feb. 21 at 7pm. Gold Star Park is looking for new leadership. The Park has a master plan, a website, flyer templates, and documentation on past events that can be shared with a new leader. In general, the park does summer concerts, an annual Halloween party, and periodic clean-ups. The new leader can do as little or as much as they have time and inclination to do. Lastly, Columbus Square has received a grant through Councilman Squilla’s office to put in $70,000 of improvements, mostly new sidewalks and lighting, which should happen this spring!
Neighborhood Ambassador Program (NAP): Angel D’Ippolito reported that 12 volunteers have signed on to be Ambassadors, and their next meeting will be in late January/early February. NAP hopes to incorporate Town Watch into their program, and is looking for more volunteers.
Presentation: Joel Palmer from Scioli-Turco Inc. http://scioliturco.org/cms/ discussed their nonprofit’s (501c4) mission to renovate abandoned properties in numerous city neighborhoods, under the auspices of PA Act 135, to improve neighborhoods while increasing tax revenues to the city. Act 135 is “An Act providing for court-appointed conservators to bring residential, commercial and industrial buildings into municipal code compliance when owners fail to comply.” Act 135 provides an expedited means of alleviating blight and making derelict properties habitable and taxable.
Working with Scioli Turco, neighbors or a non-profit community organization identify nearby properties that are vacant, blighted, and not offered for sale in the 60 days prior to the petition. Scioli Turco will help neighbors and non-profits petition the Court to appoint Sciolo Turco as Conservator to manage and rehab the property. Sciolo Turco will manage the petition process from beginning to end. When the Court appoints Scioli Turco as conservator, they will begin the rehabilitation process, assuming all responsibility for the property including liens, taxes, and mortgages. They will also partner with interested developers. There are no expenses incurred by the petitioner, and the conservator (Sciolo Turco) advances all funds. Rehabilitation costs can range from $25,000 to more than $150,000, depending on the size of the property and its condition. Scioli Turco is then reimbursed when the property is sold. As conservators, Scioli Turco charges a developer’s fee for its work and expenses. Funds remaining post-sale are returned to the owner. If the owner cannot be located, the court sends the remainder to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as unclaimed property to be held in trust.
The property must meet all of the following four conditions: the building has not been legally occupied for at least the previous 12 months; the building has not been actively marketed during the 60 days prior to the date of the petition; the building is not subject to an existing foreclosure action; the current owner fails to present sufficient evidence that he/she has acquired the property within the preceding six months.
The property must also meet at least three of the following conditions: the building or physical structure is a public nuisance; the building is in need of substantial rehabilitation and no rehabilitation has taken place during the previous 12 months; the building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use; the condition and vacancy of the building materially increases the risk of fire to the building and adjacent properties; or the building is subject to unauthorized entry leading to potential health and safety hazards.
Recent rehabs by Sciolo Turco include 753 S. 8th Street, 744 St. Albans, and they are currently working on 1314 Sigel and 1331 Alder.
PSCA has set up a survey on our website (http://www.passyunksquare.org/townwatch/abandonedproperties/) whereby anyone can nominate abandoned properties for conservatorship, and we will forward those addresses to Sciolo Turco for their review. Interested parties can also contact Sciolo Turco directly.
A question was asked about whether Act 135 applies to abandoned vacant lots. The Act does not cover lots, but may be amended in the near future to include that.
Other: Pam Zenzola announced that PSCA will be partnering with the Fire Department on Martin Luther King Day of Service (Jan. 21) to help clean out/straighten out a room at the Jackson School, and we’ll need 8-9 volunteers willing to give a few hours of their time.
–Submitted by Karin Morris, PSCA Secretary, January 4, 2013.