Debating signs and closing times in Manayunk

On Wednesday, the Manayunk Neighborhood Council exerted its sway over both a versed corporate lawyer and a comparatively unfledged small-business owner.

Two zoning issues were up for debate at the monthly meeting: Enterprise Rent-A-Car requires a use variance permit in order to move into the vacant building at 114 Leverington Avenue, and Whirled Peace needs the same to set up a frozen yogurt shop at 4321 Main Street.

The Council was fine with Enterprise’s flat signs, 11 parking spaces and 6-foot-high fence; the thing that irked them was its proposed 15-foot-high, free-standing sign. And though Enterprise had bowed to the neighbors’ concerns in a prior meeting by lowering the sign from 20 feet to 15 feet, that wasn’t enough.

“It’s a pretty ugly sign,” said one neighbor.

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“You’ll only be able to see it from 50 feet away,” said another, referring to the blind spot on the curvy street. “Why do you even need it?”

Enterprise’s attorney, William Kerr, agreed right then and there to eliminate the free-standing sign from the application.

Next up was Jesse Frank, owner of Whirled Peas in Paoli, who hopes his “environmentally- and socially-friendly” frozen yogurt shop can stay open until 3 a.m. The neighbors had none of it.

“You just walked into the hottest issue on Main Street,” said John Hunter, the Council’s vice president. “We’re trying to actively deter people from staying out late.”

In the end, Frank agreed to close his doors at 1 a.m., but the Council was even split on that, and voted to make a final decision on the matter at a later meeting.

Both businesses are now in the process of appealing to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, since the Department of Licenses & Inspection denied their use variance permits. They do not need the neighbors’ approval to obtain permits, but since the Council writes an advisory letter to the Zoning Board, it can help.

Enterprise’s hearing before the Board is on Dec. 8 at 2 p.m., and Whirled Peas’ has yet to be scheduled.

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