Zoning: illegal add-on at the Oak Lane Diner

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission declined to take action on a bill legalizing Oak Lane Diner’s one-story unfinished extension, which was built without a permit. It was the second bill of its type that City Council has introduced.


In November 2009, Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller penned the first bill, which would have made legal the one-story building on 6528 N. Broad Street, owned by ABEER, LP.


The Commission voted against it.


At a hearing for this first bill, Jihad Ali, a retired police sergeant who described himself as “heavily involved in construction in this city,” testified against it. “There was no plan obtained, there was no permits obtained,” he said. “I don’t even know if the contractor was licensed.  But as a result of this building being in place now, it seems to me that citizens are at risk, because this building is constructed not according to any recognized building standards.”


Miller countered, “All the city departments, the building owner, architects, engineers, etc. have been meeting to make this right. This is a very popular establishment … I’ve certainly been there a couple of times over the years for many, many years, and we would never want to have a structure that’s dangerous for the citizens of Philadelphia.”


In June, City Council then passed the ordinance.


But the Oak Lane Diner was never legalized.


These types of bills come with a $200 fee that must be paid by the property owner within 30 days, and ABEER, LP missed the deadline. This caused the bill to expire. According to Councilwoman Miller’s office, the owner attempted to pay his fine, but the proper city employee was not available.


So on November 19, Miller introduced another ordinance that would give a time extension to the original Oak Lane Diner bill, thus giving the owner more time to pay the $200 fee and become legal.


At Tuesday’s meeting, the Planning Commission took no action on the bill.


“Because the Commission recommended disapproval for the first encroachment, it decided to not take any action this time,” says William Erickson, a Commission staff member. “It didn’t want to legalize the structure after it’s already been constructed.”


Note: The above article is a corrected version. The original article and article title provided different information on which portion of the structure was found to be illegal.

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