Neighbors drop their legal challenge to 8200 Germantown Ave. project

There are no major obstacles now standing in the way for Bowman Properties to begin constructing a major retail/residential complex in the heart of Chestnut Hill.

Last night at the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s board meeting, CHCA board member Richard Snowden speaking as the developer of 8200 Germantown Ave. revealed that 13 residents on Southampton Avenue have agreed to drop their legal challenge to the project.

The residents, represented by attorney Daniel McElhatton, had planned to challenge two City Council ordinances that changed the zoning for the site.

“Everyone in the neighborhood seems to be on board with the construction of the project,” he said, and added that he expects to file building permits before the Aug. 21 release date of the new zoning code.

The turning point was an agreement reached in a ‘good neighbors’ agreement called the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions.

It spells out what the Bowman Properties, the developer, will do to help make the project fit in better with its surroundings.

Attorney for the 13 West Southampton residents, McElhatton says adjacent neighbors won the right to take legal action against Bowman, should the developer violate the neighbor/developer agreement. An earlier version only allowed CHCA to take such action.

“If the Association doesn’t take action on any of those things, the near neighbors can step in, after a certain requirement, they can take some action. It effectively gives them standing,” said McElhatton.

While this agreement was reached earlier this month, the CHCA Board did look over a newer version of the agreement.

The neighborhood/developer pact revised

The CHCA Board approved the latest version, which included minor design changes. CHCA President Brien Tilley explained that adjustments to the covenant were slight, and that Thursday’s presentation was more for transparency than debate.

“It’s not earth-shattering information,” said Tilley. “It’s a way of letting the public know about this ‘good’ information.”

One example is Bowman Properties has added an additional 18 inches as a buffer between a small segment the town-homes will share with Hartwell Lane.

Richard Snowden, owner of Bowman Properties, said that while other changes are likely to occur in coming months, they will be minor in character, but will also be added to the declaration in the future.

Bowman Properties is planning to bring a Fresh Grocer to anchor a retail/residential complex at the former Magarity Ford site on Germantown Avenue.

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