Philadelphia City Council may decide Chestnut Hill zoning request

A zoning change needed for Bowman Properties’ proposal to turn the old Magarity Ford site into a mixed-use development could come before City Council as early as October, even as the Chestnut Hill Community Association continues its review of the plan.

The developer will seek a bill, expected to be introduced by Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, that would rezone the two parcels comprising the 8200 Germantown Ave. site to allow for a supermarket, retail shops, condos and a row of townhouses on Shawnee Street fronting Pastorious Park.

Current zoning on the site would require multiple variances to make the plan work, and Bowman’s attorney has said they would instead seek the zoning change — from the current R5 and C7 to R10b and C3, with some deed restrictions — through legislation.

Joyce Lenhardt, a co-chair of the CHCA’s Land Use, Planning and Zoning committee, said project manager Seth Shaprio told her at a meeting Thursday they expected the bill to be introduced in October. LUPZ members met Thursday night to update the progress of ongoing negotiations with Bowman over details of the plan.

While several members have expressed concerns with the project’s density, height, building massing and overall economic viability, talks with developer Richard Snowden and project officials indicate it’s unlikely the plan will change much at this point, Lenhardt said.

“They said they are not changing their program, they said they think they can get the votes on the [CHCA] and that they can get the votes in City Council,” Lenhardt said.

Seth Shapiro, Bowman’s project manager for the 8200 proposal, said while some building locations and other design details could shift somewhat, major components such as sizes, number of units and other major elements are in place.

Meanwhile, as the CHCA seeks to have its place as the dominant civic association in town codified by an amendment to the Registered Community Organization (RCO) portion of the proposed new zoning code for the city, Bowman’s council gambit could take some power out of the association’s hands.

Regardless of the ongoing CHCA review process, “Richard was going to go his own way,” said LUPZ committee co-chair John Landis. “There’s a bunch of games going on here.”

Based on the discussions at Thursday night’s meeting, the sub-committee will make a report to the LUPZ committee, then to the CHCA’s Design Review Committee, at meetings in September and October, possibly after the zoning bill has been introduced in council.

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