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Development Plan for 32 Roxborough Homes On Hold

Wissahickon Neighbors and other residents discuss development proposal at vacant property.

Citing a need for more information, neighbors pushed deciding on a plan, which could bring 32 twin homes to Roxborough.

"Thirty-two homes on 3.5 acres is a lot in that area," said Theresa Marvasso of Walnut Lane. "I'd love to see the nursing home go, but for 32 houses, I need certain guarantees."

Stephen Goldner presented to members and residents at the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association Monday a plan to turn the vacant Ivy Ridge Assisted Living into 32 twin homes with a new street off 5627 Ridge Ave. Located next to , the complex has seen and vandalism.

Often drawing chuckles during his presentation, Goldner said he "tries to be a good neighbor, and I want to have less impact on the neighborhood." One example he said was building a new cul-de-sac, as opposed to continuing Kingsley Street between properties.

Overall, he intends to build and sell twin four-bedroom, 3.5 bath homes for around $320,000. As the property is zoned R-4, Goldner will eventually need several variances and will be more like R-5 properties. He does promise a 20-foot setback, which is proper zoning.

Neighbors raised concerns, though, over property boundaries, tree preservation, traffic impact, and the project's scope.

Largely at issue was the status of a dirt road that borders the property and neighbor backyards behind Walnut Lane. Though original issues were resolved when Goldner said he'd keep the road, it was unclear to residents where the property ends, how many of the trees shading their yards would be moved, and how close they would be the new homes. 

"My biggest fear is that you come in, clear cut it and you don't finish building. Then, I just see the back of the 711," neighbor Jon Perry said.

Residing nearer the Shurs Lane side of the road, Anna Kirmas raised traffic questions.

"Ridge Avenue is a cluster at 8, 9 a.m., and I don't think you have a reality of the impact on that neighborhood," she said.

Many objected to 32 new homes. Goldner said it was the only way to be profitable, and he felt his plan was better than the alternative of building 50-plus townhouses.

The property itself has an interesting background. Originally a horse farm, the complex was operated as an assisted living community until it was closed in 2008 due to criminal negligence. According to city records, Rosalind Lavin, who was fined $700,000 in federal fines, still owns it. Civic President Andrew Bantly said this was the third developer to approach the group about that property, and that Goldner's plan was the most in-depth.

Goldner said he secured a deal to purchase it if neighbors would be willing. Though the civic ultimately decided to push a decision, no one voiced flat out opposition. 

After the meeting, Perry emphasized that his concerns were just that—concerns.

"Actually, I don't think I'm against it. The reality is that it will be developed someday. I just think (the neighbors) need some more information," Perry said.

Marvasso echoed his sentiments.

"I'm not saying I'm against it. I'm saying I want to see the stickers in the ground, and see where we stand," she said referring to surveying marks.

Goldner agreed to meet any neighbors at the property before the next meeting. Others may email the civic with questions for the developer, at contact@e-wnca.org.

Keith H. April 17, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Certainly homes would be better than an ugly empty shell of a building and with proper landscaping, nobody would have to look at the back of the 7-11.
L.Kaiser April 17, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I think they should stop building in Roxborough. The neighborhoods are getting congested, traffic is getting complex and parking is starting to become an issue like that of Manayunk. Enough is Enough.

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