“They snuck in,” Northwood civic president says of Volunteers of America

Disabled senior citizens were “snuck in on Christmas Eve” to a Northwood home bought in 2009 by Volunteers of America Delaware Valley, says that neighborhood’s civic association president.

“A year ago it was going to be a drug rehabilitation center and we fought it, now they’re putting the elderly in to get around the rules,” Northwood president Barry Howell told two dozen at Tuesday night’s meeting. “We’re not saying anything against the people they put in there, but we have a problem about them ignoring our deed restriction.”

The deed restriction, of course, is the decades-old Burk Deed Restriction that limits portions of Northwood real estate to remain single-family residences. It’s a zoning code add-on that has helped the neighborhood win nearly a dozen variance battles. Howell says the restriction will soon push the VOA operation at 4871 Roosevelt Blvd out, though it was partially city-funded and has government sanction as a necessary part of health services.

“Don’t let the word ‘volunteer’ fool you,” Howell said. “Don’t think for a minute that this will be good for our neighborhood.”

It’s clear that Northwood’s civic association, aided by the deed restriction, is fighting a tide of rehabilitation centers and other oft-maligned uses for big, multi-room homes in neighborhoods that have waning numbers of single families. A few residents spoke up, most to express assurance in Howell.

Howell encouraged residents to learn lessons from their neighbors.

“Look what happened in Frankford, they’d put 18 people in a two bedroom home,” Howell said, talking about that neighborhood’s battle with overcrowded recovery homes. “Don’t think it’s not about the money.”

Also at the meeting, Howell said that a previous deal with the Cancer Center of America had fallen through [YouTube video] and would be re-addressed, rumors of a dialysis center at Castor Avenue and Wingohocking Street and residents expressed concern over an abandoned property at 4712 Castor Avenue which recently had squatters.

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