Roxborough auto body shop site likely to be replaced with new homes

After a bit of back-and-forth, a portion of a Roxborough street will likely be rezoned to allow the building of eight new homes.

City Council approved a bill to change three properties on the 500 block of Dupont Street, just off Ridge Avenue, from the current R5 zoning to an R9A. Dupont St. Development LP wants to remove a defunct auto body shop and an empty house on the site and replace it with four twin homes.

The city Planning Commission last week recommended council delay action on the measure and let it work its way through the zoning process instead. An application for the change was pending before the Zoning Board on June 8, but tabled at the applicant’s request.

Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., whose district includes the new 551-555 Dupont St., had introduced the bill on May 12.

At the planning commission’s June 14 meeting, planner Martin Gregorski said staff didn’t have objections to the developer’s proposal or design, but the process and the bill.

“We don’t really have a problem with the plan, per se, the whole community is a mixed bag,” he said.

Commission chairman Alan Greenberger questioned why this project needed a “two-fer” or “double-team” approach, having both a zoning case going and a Council ordinance.

Stephen G. Pollock, attorney for the developer, said the project had been held from the zoning board because the hearing fell on the date of the Jewish observance of Shavout, and his client would not allow work to be done on his behalf.

Currently the site has one house, a driveway and the auto paint shop building; the properties slope toward Green Lane in back. Pollock pointed out that it doesn’t fit with the current R5 zoning, either, but has a pre-existing industrial use with the auto-paint shop.

In testimony, Pollock described the property as “near blighted,” and the plan would “recycle this neighborhood.” Though houses surrounding it are occupied and the site is clean, it stands out as an an industrial property on an otherwise residential block. The bill now awaits Mayor Nutter’s signature.

Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com

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