40th & Pine zoning case goes to Court of Common Pleas

Update: Oral arguments in the appeal of zoning variances for 400 S. 40th St., before the Court of Common Pleas, have been postponed until 2014, according to attorney Paul Boni. PlanPhilly will have updates when the arguments are rescheduled. 

The Italianate-mansion-turned-nursing-home-turned-vacant-shell is still standing at 40th and Pine streets, and next Wednesday, half of the legal battle surrounding its preservation will move into the Court of Common Pleas.

The arguments will center on an appeal of a Zoning Board of Adjustment decision to grant variances to developer Jonathan Weiss who, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, which owns the building, plans to tear down the historic building and build student housing in its place. Paul Boni, representing a group of neighbors who oppose the variances, and Matt McClure, representing Penn, will argue their sides before a judge Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., in Courtroom 426 in City Hall.

The battle is waging on two fronts. Neighbors are seeking to block not only the zoning variances, but have also appealed the Historical Commission’s finding of hardship for the property and subsequent decision to approve a demolition permit. That appeal took more than half a year to get through the Board of Licenses and Inspections, and it ended in a split 2-2 vote. Neighbors again appealed that decision—the tie favored the Historical Commission, and Penn—and arguments around the hardship finding are scheduled for February 13th, at 10 a.m., in Courtroom 426.

In the meantime, you can read the “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” from the Board of L&I Review case here.

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