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Fear of More Renters Puts Civic Against Fairthorne Zoning Case

Zoning continuance granted until June 13.

An attorney for a property owner at 525 Fairthorne Ave. received a zoning hearing continuance Tuesday following opposition from a neighborhood group, which claimed it wanted to ward off more rental units.

The Ridge Park Civic Association requested the city deny a zoning variance from Daniel and Susan Negron that would permit a duplex at the property. 

"It's nothing personal against the homeowners. We have to be consistent," civic member Patti Brennan said. "Ridge Park doesn't have the same problems with renters as Wissahickon and Manayunk do, but it's creeping up here."

Bill O'Brien, attorney for the owners, said the property has existed as multi-family unit for 66 years. Citing documentation from a 1991 property sale and separate phone records, O'Brien said significant evidence existed that the city already treated it as a multi-family home.

Specifically, O'Brien said homeowners paid s $25 fee 21 years ago allowing the use—however, official certification is missing.

Brennan, on the other hand, said if the documents are true, "it proves that they lost revenue to the city all these years."

The property came before the Zoning Board of Adjustment Tuesday because the Negrons are trying to sell the property. O'Brien said the property will go into foreclosure if they don't. However, the proposed buyer has agreed to allow the current homeowner to stay on-board.

"The foreclosure isn't a reason this should be permitted. It should be legal because this has been its use for the past 70 years," he said.

Even if the current homeowners stayed in the property for the foreseeable future, a zoning change would allow someone to eventually rent it.

The ZBA granted a continuance for June 13. O'Brien has requested to be put on the Ridge Park Civic agenda for June 7.

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