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Could 'Grandmother's Suite' Yield Future Renters?

Roxborough civic association weighs options of new building on Leverington Avenue.

Although Central Roxborough Civic Association members generally backed the plans for Leverington Avenue homeowners to build a backyard grandmother's suite, the question of future renters lingers.

Dan Denham lives at 537 Leverington Ave. with his wife and children. He seeks to build a backyard cottage to house his parents. He needs a zoning permit, which would allow a multi-family use on the single-family property.

"I'm not a developer and I'm not making money on the property. We just have an old home we like, and we'd like our parents to live with us," Denham said.

However, the civic association must decide if allowing another building could entice future renters.

"No one is concerned about your parents, but some people might have a problem with potential future use," resident Kevin Smith said.

President of the Manayunk Neighborhood Council, Smith and other neighborhood leaders—through the Coalition of Civics—have undertaken a stance to combat illegal renter properties and potentially slow the uptick in multi-family properties detrimental to the area.

Although the Denhams said they have intentions on staying in Roxborough for the long haul, the civic association must decide if potential future harm counters the project.

Denham, and his father Robert, presented the plan Thursday to civic association members. Robert and his wife are retired, and want independence but also to be able to help with their grandchildren.

The footprint for the backyard cottage covers 493 square feet. The Denhams propose a one-story structure with a loft and a total height of 20 feet, according to site plans. The cottage is set back 88 feet from the existing three-story home. They also propose a three-foot-wide sidewalk to link the driveway and cottage. 

In addition to a zoning variance for the multi-family use, the Denhams also need setback permission as its currently under 8 feet. No new parking spaces are planned.

Legally, the Denhams said they could build an addition to the house but prefer not to. In addition to giving their parents space, the homeowners want to preserve the existing trees.

The civic association will survey neighbors and render a decision on the property before any zoning hearing.

rich October 09, 2012 at 10:46 AM
The future use of this property is clearly a rental. You can build an addition and replant new trees. Drug dealers and addicts have have taken over this section of the street and i don't think this family intends on staying very long.
Debbie Thomas October 09, 2012 at 12:21 PM
The methodone clinic on Green Lane probably helped bring drug dealers and addicts to the neighborhood. Wasn't there any kind of hearing to get feedback from the residents? I know that when they tried to put this sort of clinic on Frankford Avenue in Mayfair, there was so much protest from the neighbors that it was decided not to put it there.
Anne G. October 09, 2012 at 01:49 PM
What methadone clinic? Please tell us where it is and when it opened if you know. Thank you.
Sandy Sorlien October 09, 2012 at 02:21 PM
This is a great solution to allow families to stay together in the same neighborhood. Young people and seniors have a hard time affording decent places to live. So do middle-aged people for that matter. This can actually lead to more stability and continuity in the neighborhood, not less. Even if it becomes a rental, if the code says the principal building must be owner occupied, the property is more likely to be taken care of. Win-win for Roxborough.
Sam Fran Scavuzzo (Editor) October 09, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Hey, Rich. Thanks for commenting. This folks seemed like they are in it for the long haul, but you never know. I'd argue that they are so committed to staying that they want to make their property more comfortable for them.
Debbie Thomas October 09, 2012 at 05:16 PM
According to what I read and heard, it's in the building on the corner of Green Lane and Ridge.
rich October 09, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Sam, i hope they are in it for the long haul . That doesn't seem like an area that people want to settle when drugs, addicts,and a methadone clinic plague that street..This was very nice street at one time but not anymore. If they do get approved i wish them the best,but i don't buy their story based on the issues on the street.

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