Zoning board approves East Falls rock wall gym, reschedules vote on Chestnut Hill school fields

Plans for a rock-climbing gym in East Falls are moving ahead, as the zoning board approved a needed use variance on Wednesday.

The Philadelphia Rock Gym will be located within a former industrial complex at 3500 Scotts Lane, and owned by David Rowland, who operates similar climbing clubs in Oaks and Coatesville. The facility will have the climbing area, along with locker rooms, an equipment sales and rental area, and offices.

Lucas Stoddart, general manager of Philadelphia Rock Gym, said the facility will be open to anyone. 

“Members have some extra hours and pay per month as opposed to per visit, but anyone can drop in and get lessons or climb based on their previous safety training,” he said. 

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The site lies within the area claimed by both the East Falls Community Council and the Ridge-Allegheny-Hunting Park civic, and both groups signed off on the plan. The EFCC voted to approve the use variance at a meeting in June and sent a letter to the zoning board; three representatives from RAH attended the Wednesday meeting and said they welcome the use.

“We feel this is a new and creative activity coming in to the community,” said RAH board member Ralph Winder.

In other Northwest matters before the zoning board Wednesday, consideration of the expansion of a Chestnut Hill school’s tennis courts was put off a month, as discussions continue with the Chestnut Hill Community Association.

The board delayed action on a set of variances needed by Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 585 Willow Grove Ave., to replace and improve athletic facilities, including a baseball field, fan seating, tennis courts, locker rooms and walkways on the campus. The matter was rescheduled until 2 p.m. Aug 22, at 1515 Arch St.

Attorney Peter Kelsen, representing the school, said the school was still fine-tuning details of the plans with the CHCA, whose committees have been hearing the plans in recent weeks. The CHCA’s Board of Directors could vote to support the project at its meeting Thursday night. 

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story noted that Philadelphia Rock Gyms are members-only facilities. We corrected the copy to indicate that the facilities are open to anyone. 

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