Zoning takes precedence at Lawncrest Community Association meeting

Last night’s Lawncrest Community Association meeting began with a word about burglaries from 2nd District Community Relations Officer Mark Mroz, ended with a $49 50/50 ticket and was interrupted by  a birthday cake for dedicated LCA member Peg Kramer.

But the meat of the meeting was zoning. With no guest speaker plan, President Bill Dolbow breezed right through the agenda and let Phil Grutzmacher take the mic to discuss zoning. Five proposals were reviewed, but the first is a site that’s been a thorn in the LCA’s side for months.

300 E. Godfrey Ave. First a bakery then a Boscov’s, the property is now home to many businesses. Neighbors say one of those establishments is a nightclub that’s been keeping them awake until dawn.

Grutzmacher encouraged neighbors to attend the Jan. 25 meeting with the Zoning Board of Adjustment to oppose the variance request for a banquet hall a the property. State Reps. Dwight Evans and Shirley Kitchen have written letters of opposition to support the LCA.

557 Comly St. required little attention from the membership. The property owner was granted a variance for a basement storage extension after the LCA membership agreed at a previous meeting not to oppose the project.

550 Levick St. is an auto garage operating out of a property zoned only for residential use. Grutzmacher said the occupant was cited by Licenses & Inspections Dec. 27, but conflicting reports from neighbors and Town Watch members made it unclear if the shop is still operating.

The 3-1-1

Three Lawncrest Community Association  members have been trained as community liaisons for 311, meaning they can enter complaints into the city’s 311 system and track complaints entered by others.

These residents will be available to Lawncrest residents outside of regular 311 hours and can be contacted through the LCA.

6900 Rising Sun Ave. proved a big talking point among LCA members. The variance request for a “multi-service center” drew groans from members when they heard plans include a check-cashing service. By vote, the membership agreed to approve the center for insurance, bill paying, money order, cell phone and auto tag uses, but not for check cashing.

Grutzmacher said he’ll also ask the applicant to not use bullet-proof glass and to make the storefront attractive. “[Check cashing] is not an improvement to our avenue,” he said.

5901 Colgate St. was last but certainly not least on the zoning agenda. The proposal for a nail salon in the basement of the single-family home was first met with resistance until a neighbor spoke up commending the salon’s owner. The house, like many in the Northeast, used to have a corner storefront in the basement. The salon owner, who owns and lives in the house, is seeking a variance to legalize the business.

The LCA membership eventually agreed to support the variance request after neighbors testified to the salon’s cleanliness and decided using the basement as a business instead of living quarters, as many others tend to do, is a better use of the property.

At the start of the meeting, 2nd District Community Relations Officer Mark Mroz gave his monthly crime presentation. Despite starting off with positive news about recent events in the District, Mroz reminded residents once again to be on alert for burglars. You can see his full presentation in the video below.

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