Zoning discussion at last night’s Frankford Civic meeting

Roughly 10 people showed up for last night’s Frankford Civic Association meeting – an unusually low turnout, as some attending members mentioned – to hear the latest on several zoning issues in the neighborhood.

Four properties in the neighborhood are all on the group’s list of ongoing, resolved and upcoming zoning issues.

The owner of 1522-24 Church St. is awaiting zoning on making the property a two-dwelling home. Neighbors in attendance reported seeing daily drug activity at the home, and are hoping the Dec. 9 continuance hearing will help shut down the property. Much to the board members’ delight, zoning was denied Aug. 18 for a car lot at 4334 Lepier St. Pete Specos, zoning officer of the Frankford Civic Association, said residents will be keeping an eye on the property in the near future, in hopes that the owner respects the zoning denial.

A third hearing for the owner of 1734 Harrison St. will take place Sept. 15 to determine the future of the property. The owner has applied for 14-person occupancy in the former nursing home, though close to 30 people currently reside there. When zoning for a recovery home was denied earlier this year, according to Specos, the owner then applied for a license to house women and children. Board members and attendees worry the owner, whom they say owns several other properties with serious code violations, will take advantage of the system to get zoning for multiple-family occupancy. Some reports say the home is operating in accordance with the law. Jeffrey Jackson, the owner, was not immediately available for comment.

“We’re going to have a tragedy before someone finds out what’s going on,” Specos said, about the potential dangers of young children living in the home.

Residents are also concerned about the Yum Yum House, a Chinese restaurant set to open next week at 4671 Frankford Ave. Specos said he believes the owners do not have proper zoning for a restaurant, since the location was previously used for a tax business.

Residents grew frustrated as the meeting became a discussion about how to prevent delinquent and potentially dangerous properties from settling in Frankford.

“It’s almost like the recovery houses have more rights than we do,” one neighbor said, as she lamented how tired neighbors are of not seeing results.

Jason Dawkins, a representative for City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, told the few in attendance their voices matter more than those of politicians’.

“You can’t depend on anyone but yourself and who you bring with you [to these meetings],” Dawkins said.

Specos ended the meeting by promising residents an agenda for the next meeting, Oct. 5, in an effort to make more people fully aware of the issues in Frankford. For now, he said in response to Dawkins’ comments about residents having more power than politicians, the issues are “falling on deaf ears.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.