City could settle Roxborough dispute over townhomes

The fate of Green Tree Run, a stream in Roxborough, is now in the hands of Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr.

In 1980, the city approved development on the area northwest of Shawmont Avenue and southwest of Eva Street, which the stream runs below. But nothing happened until 2009, when Mayor Michael Nutter signed a bill that moved the right-of-way for utilities; finally assuring that the proposed Blair Meadows townhouses would go up. Then, in response to community members and environmentalists, Jones introduced a bill in September that would repeal the 2009 bill — thereby halting the project yet again.

There was a hearing for Jones’ bill on Oct. 20, and it’s sat on Council’s calendar since.

“It’s being held to give the community and developer time to meet and discuss a compromised solution,” said Shoshana Bricklin, Jones’ legislative counsel.

On Nov. 14, representatives from Roxborough Green Space Project, Upper Roxborough Civic Association, Toad Detour, Roxborough Conservancy and other community groups held a rally in support of Jones’ bill. According to them, Council passed the 2009 bill without any input from community members or environmentalists, who are concerned with protecting the area’s native species, such as the great horned owl. Additionally, the bill lacked a provision that would make the city liable if neighbors living downstream experienced worsened flooding or storm water runoff due to the construction.

The developer promises to create infrastructure that would prevent such problems.

The community is lobbying the city to purchase the land and incorporate it into the Fairmount Park system. Jones’ office hopes to schedule a meeting between the two parties in early December, and move forward from there.

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