With the attempt to have 10 E. Moreland Ave. designated a historic property recently denied by the city’s Historical Commission, construction is continuing on the future site of Chestnut Hill Dialysis and the location should be open by year’s end.
“This really doesn’t change anything, we’re just going ahead with what we’ve planned for a long time,” Carl Primavera, local attorney for German-based Fresenius Medical, said late last week. “I think everybody’s going to be pleased at the end of it.”
Initially, the plan to move the dialysis center from its current home in Germantown was met with little fanfare, and the developer agreed to limit hours of operation on certain days of the week. Once the ZBA granted a needed variance, however, Primavera sought, and was granted, a spot-zone ruling from Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller’s office removing the limits on hours of operation.
That move sparked protest from the Chestnut Hill Residents Association and turned into a battle of wills between near neighbors who said they felt lied to by the developer and excluded from the process by city officials. It also put on display long-standing tensions between the Chestnut Hill Community Association — seen by some as pro-business — and the Residents Association.
Ron Recko, founding member of the CHRA, called the project a fait accompli and said neighbors had no further recourse at this point. He maintains that neighbors were never against the dialysis center but wanted some guarantee that the facility wouldn’t operate around the clock.
“All the neighbors were looking for is some relief, and for them not to go 24/7,” he said, saying near neighbors were powerless to fight a combination of powerful lawyers, political connections and big money.
“That’s the problem with Chestnut Hill — you’ve got [developers] telling the people who could be impacted the most, what they should have,” Recko said. “When developers look at something, they’ve really got to look at the people who are going to be most directly affected by what’s going to be put right next to them.”
In a last-ditch effort to block the dialysis center, and after construction work was underway, neighbors applied to the city Historical Commission in December seeking to have the site, a 1920s industrial building formerly home to Glen Willow Ice Manufacturing Company, designated a historic structure.
On May 15, the commission denied the application, suggesting the move had motives other than historic preservation and saying the property had little architectural, cultural or historic significance making it worthy of protection.
Primavera said with that matter out of the way, construction crews will continue “pushing hard” to complete work and the dialysis center should be open within six to eight months.