One of the most important agenda items in the last five years

The June CDAG board meeting is Thursday June 8th, 6pm at the Society Hill Tower  meeting room. We have one of the most important agenda items in the last five years: Discussion of Councilman Mark Squilla’s pending bill that would amend the Central Delaware Zoning Overlay.

Councilman Mark Squilla has introduced a bill to amend the CDO (Central Delaware Zoning Overlay) in several ways. Most notably, the bill would increase the maximum allowed building height, and create a new height bonus for making “through connections” to the waterfront via quasi-public driveways and other passages run through private developments.

CDAG believes the CDO can be modified in positive ways, but has grave concerns about this bill, which in its current form would undermine the Central Delaware Master Plan and the CDO.

If you share these concerns, would like to learn more, and would like to dialogue with Councilman Squilla, please come out to the June CDAG board meeting Thursday, June 8, 6-7:30PMSociety Hill Towers  Community Room (285 St. James Place – in small shopping complex next to the towers). Councilman Squilla will be on hand at 6, and this will be the first item on the agenda.

And here is the meeting agenda:

  • 6:00 – Call to order
  • 6:05 – CDO AMENDMENT LEGISLATION, with special guest Councilman Mark Squilla
  • 6:50 – Zoning presentation, 120 N. Columbus Blvd (Holiday Inn – signage)
  • 7:05 – Approval of May meeting minutes, and officer reports
  • 7:15 – Old Business
  • 7:25 – New Business
  • 7:30 – Adjournment

We hope to see you there!

CDAG Board Minutes April 13, 2017, 6:00 PM

Central Delaware Advocacy Group (CDAG) Board Minutes

April 13, 2017, 6:00 PM

Society Hill Towers Community Room – Recorded Attendance Attached

First Draft CDAG Minutes from Irene’s notes

  1. Call to Order and Approval of Minutes 

*Chair Matt Ruben called the meeting to order at 6:15 pm. He informed members that Secretary Nina Zimmer’s husband, Louis Zimmer, died yesterday April 12 and the CDAG Board agreed to send flowers for the memorial service. Irene McNeil volunteered to take meeting notes and transcribe them.

*A Quorum was present and the minutes from the 2017 March Board meeting were approved as submitted. Motioned by Paul Nutaitis, seconded by Dianne Mayer.

*The Chair welcomed Felix Torres-Colon, the new Executive Director of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC). Torres-Colon replaces Sandy Salzman. The Chair also welcomed special meeting guest Sarah Clark Stuart, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia as well as Janet Kalter (Old City), Marsha Moss (Society Hill) and Frank McAninley (confirm spelling and from which organization if possible).

Officer Reports 

Chair/Vice Chair: See Updates Below. 

Treasurer: Jim Moss reported CDAG’s account balance of $4,400 (Jim will reconfirm). He noted there are late membership dues and that he will follow up with the members in question. 

Secretary: There is a quorum and the approval of the Minutes was noted.

III. Updates on Waterfront Issues and Projects: Matt Ruben and Joe Schiavo 

*”Festival Pier” site (www.festivalpierphilly.com) at Columbus Blvd near Spring Garden Street: Co-Developers, Jefferson Apartment Group and Haverford Properties, met with the Delaware River Waterfront Corp (DRWC) that controls the site, in November 2016 and late February 2017. DRWC is asking for more changes to the original plan before the project can move forward. The building architect is Cecil Baker & Partners and the landscape architect is Olin. No updates since the last meeting with DRWC.

*”One Water Street” (www.one-water.com) is the building north of/next to Benjamin Franklin Bridge: After paying $3.75M to the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund in lieu of promised affordable housing units, developer PMC Property Group faces more issues. The actual building is already in place and occupied; but, the reality of the finished building does not reflect renderings for certain elements including open public space that were used to qualify for additional height beyond the approved plans. In addition, there is lack of parking within the lot and the One Water Street residents’ cars end up clogging nearby streets and impeding emergency access. Joe Schiavo will follow up with a walk-through and with the City’s Planning Commission.

* “Liberty On the River” is the project on the vacant lot between the Sheet Metal Union building and Comcast:  Developer K4 Associates (contact Jeffrey Kozero) plans to build 2,000 apartments and a hotel with 10 proposed towers. The proposal has generated several community meetings, including a presentation at CDAG, that generated concerns about layout (entrance in particular) and lack of parking. The project is noted without new updates to report.

* Development project on the vacant lot (previously the Foxwoods casino project) between the AAA building and the Comcast building at Reed Street: This property is actually divided in three distinct lots: Developer Bart Blatstein is proposing a residential development on one lot, a Super Wawa with gas station on the second lot, and a Lidl grocery store on the third lot.  There are on-going concerns about the position of the gas station. The project is noted without new updates to report.

*Piers 34 and 35 aka Emerald Piers: The developer Ensemble Group is planning to build a residential high-rise on Pier 34 and a public park on adjoining Pier 35. While the renderings and the details of the project have not officially been made public, the landscape architectural renderings were posted by Philadelphia University at https://www.behance.net/gallery/32180523/Piers-34-35-Philadelphia-PA. For these renderings, Ensemble hired landscape architect Groundswell that generated a special project with Philadelphia University. The project was noted without new updates to report.

* Registered Community Organizations (RCOs): City legislation was introduced to amend RCO regulations:

-The City’s Planning Commission would be able to revoke an RCO’s status for non-compliance;

– Political Wards would have to meet the same regulations as other RCO’s, as opposed to using their status as a substitute;

– Developers would have to announce a project(s) and/or alteration(s) to all neighbors within a complete 300 ft. radius, as opposed to 200 ft. on the same block and opposite side.

*City’s New Zoning Board Chairman: Though not officially announced, there is news the City will appoint former City Councilman Frank DiCicco as the New Zoning Board Chairman. DiCicco was instrumental in creating the Commission that modernized the Zoning Code in 2012.

  1. SPECIAL GUEST: The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Sarah Clark Stuart, Executive Director of The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, updated CDAG Board on the City’s and the DRWC Penn’s Landing bicycle rules as well as the challenges of enforcement. Ahead of her CDAG presentation, Stuart had talked with Karen Thomson, DRWC Planner/Project Manager and Jeannette Brugger of the City’s Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems (Otis).

  1. Bicycling Rules

City-Wide: According to the City, bicyclists over the age of 12 are not allowed to ride on the sidewalks, unless there are specific sidewalk-designated bicycle lanes.

Penn’s Landing: Bicycling rules on Penn’s Landing are not governed by the City; but, rather by the Authority governing the space, which is DRWC. The same type of local governance is in place at other Philadelphia parks. According to Stuart’s conversation with DRWC, bicycling on Penn’s Landing is not allowed after 10 am. She was told new outdoor signs were being prepared to better inform bicyclists. Also, she was told DRWC staff is aware of youth bicycling packs that are causing safety problems for pedestrians.

  1. The World of Bicycle Packs and Stunt Bicycling

Teenagers in bicycling packs are the main stunt riders. The advent of social media has propelled some of the stunt bicyclists to local, national and international fame. Top bicycle manufacturers cater to stunt bicyclists and offer free equipment.

While skateboarding parks are available, there are fewer parks to practice and show off bicycle stunts. Note from Irene: some skateboard parks are welcoming BMX bicyclists. BMX stands for bicycle motocross and they are used for off-road racing and stunt riding.

  1. Risky Behavior of Bicycle Packs and of Stunt Bicycling

The stunt bicyclists put themselves at risk as well as undermine the safety of nearby pedestrians and drivers.

Environmental factors: According to news reports, some parents prefer having their children doing risky bicycle stunts and putting themselves and others at risk rather than seeing them committing more serious crimes.

Police are reluctant to chase them because either they – themselves – are ill-equipped and they consider the chase to be a risk for the bicyclists and nearby pedestrians and drivers.

It is difficult to criminalize what bicyclists are doing unless a specific crime is reported. Bicycle injuries and crimes are not always reported and statistics are hard to come by. Note from Irene: In 2015, the City of Philadelphia published a Pedestrian and Bicycle crash report at http://www.phila.gov/health/pdfs/PedestrianBicycleCrashReport.pdf

  1. Prevention
  2. a) The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has created youth bicycle programs to foster healthy bicycling habits and to teach rules of conduct, for instance with the Cadence Youth Cycling Advisory Committee and with the City of Philadelphia-sponsored school bicycling education safety programs.
  3. b) Stuart recommended a continued conversation with DRWC.
  1. Future of Bicycling at Penn’s Landing and the Waterfront

With advent of the I-CAP and the I-95 improvements, designated bike lanes will be put in place and will provide safety for both bicyclists and pedestrians.

  1. Historical Designation of Pennsport Engine 46 Firestation Building

The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia (PAGP) contacted CDAG for support in preserving the Pennsport Engine 46 fire station building, located at 1401 S. Water Street. PAGP has documented the 1894 building, attributed to architect John Windrim, for its architectural significance. The building has a Flemish revival facade and castle-like tower from an era of flamboyant and high-style trappings erected by the City of Philadelphia in the early nineteenth century, making it one of the most iconic buildings in the Pennsport neighborhood. The Preservation Alliance has initiated a formal request to the Philadelphia Historical Commission to nominate and list the building on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. The 24-page application, including photos, was officially received by the Commission on March 9, 2017 and is available for viewing at http://www.phila.gov/historical/Documents/1401-S-Water-St-nomination.pdf The Preservation will send a draft of the support letter to CDAG for its signature and will confirm the date of the upcoming review meeting at the Historical Commission.

  1. Old Business 

* I-CAP City Funding

Board members received a copy of the letter from CDAG Chair Matt Ruben to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney praising him for “your vision and leadership in calling for $90 million of City funds to be invested in the capping of a portion of I-95 along the Central Delaware Waterfront.” Board members thanked Matt Ruben.

* Review of Proposed Bylaws amendments following the March CDAG meeting on Member Policies

The Board reviewed the wording of the most recent draft of the CDAG by-laws amendment regarding “Article IV – Constituent organizations” as follows:

It was noted that the previous month’s (March) draft update of the By-Laws, at C1 “That Civic Associations constitute at least 75 % of Board Membership” was NOT in fact the correct percentage, which was 60%, and that the 75% referred only to the vote required for new or restored membership. The typo would be corrected and be noted retroactively for March. To confirm the correct wording, here is the updated text:

  1. Organizations May Seek Membership on the Board. Subject to the limitations following, an organization may become a Constituent Organization of CDAG upon an affirmative vote of 75% of the total voting membership of the Board after consideration of the recommendation of the Membership Committee following the organization’s completion of the Board’s Procedures for New or Restored Membership.  The following additional conditions apply:
  1.   Limitation To Assure That Civic Associations Constitute at Least 60% of Board Membership.  No application for membership by a non-civic association will be considered if its approval would result in the percentage of civic associations on the Board becoming less than 60% of the total membership of the Board.

After reviewing the updated By-Laws, the Amendments were approved unanimously. Motioned by Joe Schiavo, seconded by Dianne Mayer.

  1. New Business

*  “Reed Estates” is the project on the site of the Freda Meats building at Front Street, near Reed: Billboard mogul and developer Dominick Cipollini plans to build twenty-six 3-storey 3 bedroom single-family homes with US Construction and JKRP Architects. There is considerable community opposition to the mega billboard Cipollini plans to install atop the residential building. The proposed billboard size (120 ft high) with digital lighting is meant for I-95 passing cars; however, it would also affect a large swath of the community. The group Scenic Philadelphia has spearheaded the billboard opposition campaign that has generated meetings, a petition and local news.

* “Piers 12, 13-15, 19 and 24” North of Benjamin Franklin Bridge, currently used by Dave & Buster’s, Hibachi, and Morgan’s Pier, have been sold by DRWC. As reported in the news, developer Durst Organization described the project as a long-term hold for an eventual apartment complex. Durst will let current commercial leases expire without amendments. Other than the sales announcement itself, no updates were reported.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 pm.

 

 

CDAG Board Minutes March 9, 2017, 6:00 PM

Central Delaware Advocacy Group (CDAG) Board Minutes

March 9, 2017, 6:00 PM

Society Hill Towers Community Room  

  1. Call to Order and Approval of Minutes

Matt Ruben, Chair, called the meeting to order at 6:10 p.m. A quorum was present.

It was noted that there was no February meeting.

The minutes from the 2017 January Board meeting were approved as submitted.

  1. Officer Reports

                                     Chair/Vice Chair: See Updates below

                                     Treasurer: CDAG’s account balance is $4300.00?

     Secretary: A quorum is present. 

III. Updates on Waterfront Issues and Projects: Matt Ruben and Joe Schiavo                               

Festival Pier Site: DRWC has chosen a developer and due diligence has been completed. It is moving       into the 15-month approval phase. Several interagency items are still pending.  A public       presentation will be made in Northern Liberties in April.

Introduction of Ordinance: Street Right-of-Way and Curb Cut Amendments to Central Delaware Overlay (Quotes are from the Ordinance):

  1. Impact on Festival Pier site: Two river-access streets, Spring Garden and Noble Streets, will count as one curb cut. “Where a river access street has been extended to intersect with the Delaware River, such extended river access street shall not be considered a curb cut.”
  2. Blocking Right of Way to Delaware River: “Prohibited Permanent Structures. Where a river access street, if extended, would intersect with the Delaware River, no permanent structure shall be constructed within the right-of-way of the extension of such street. For the purposes of this section, if the right-of-way has a width of greater than 70 feet, the right-of-way shall be deemed to include only a 70-foot-wide path located entirely within the boundaries of the street, as extended. If a single person or entity owns the entire extension of the street within the boundaries of this Overlay District, then such owner shall designate where the 70-foot-wide path shall be located, so long as it is located entirely within the boundaries of the street, as extended, and, so far as practicable, runs parallel to such boundaries. If a single person or entity does not own the entire extension of the street, the 70-foot-wide path shall be located equidistant from each of the two outer edges of the street, as extended.”

Reed St/Former Foxwoods Site:  The developer, Bart Blatstein, has divided the site into 3

subdivisions.  There is zoning for a supermarket with parking proposed for the north subdivision. A WAWA adjacent to Columbus Boulevard for the southern portion which would have adjacent gas pumps.  The location of the gas pumps is a concern and CDAG will continue to monitor this issue. The third portion would be residential.  The site would need a traffic light for a

      Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Legislation: This City Council legislation calls for higher density for increased development and less parking requirements if land   is within 500 feet of a transit stop.  The theory is that if more people live adjacent to transit hubs, more people will use transit more regularly. Some stations proposed as candidates for this overlay are the elevated Spring Garden Street and Girard Avenue and the Fairmount Avenue subway stops.

      New Townhouses Planned The plan for townhouses on Pier 35 ½ (old Trump hi-rise site) would be built with by-right zoning, and therefore not subject to special review and approval. Concern was expressed re the location of the entrance to the property and it was advised that Councilman Squilla be contacted.

The plan for townhouses next to Penn Treaty Park would also be in this category.

IV: Old Business:  Changes to CDAG Policy on New Member Groups

Based on previous discussions, the Board was presented with a series of questions related to new member groups.  These questions provided the direction for the issues and resulting motions addressed and voted upon below.

The following motions will require a revision of the CDAG bylaws and/or policies.  The CDAG Executive Committee will revise/re-write the related provisions which will then be brought before the CDAG Board for approval. 

  1. Groups Eligible to Apply for CDAG Membership:

Discussion: It was noted that CDAG is a private organization and, as such, has full discretion related to membership.  The original executive order for the composition of CDAG included some members that were not in the Central Delaware Overlay. Members were ongoing, geographically defined.  There was clarification that “eligible to apply” does not mean “automatically gets in.” CDAG always retains their discretion case-by-case.

    • Civic Associations: Approved with qualifier
      • Partially or Totally in the Overlay
    • Community Development Corporations: Approved
    • Homeowners Associations: Approved with qualifiers
      • If covered (share a boundary) by a civic association: with demonstrated minimum of 250 units and demonstrated 51% owner-occupied units
      • If no related civic association: minimum number shall not apply
    • Issue-Oriented Nonprofits: Approved
    • Tenant Associations: Approved with qualifiers
      • If covered by a civic association:  a minimum of 250 members
      • If no related civic association: minimum number shall not apply
    • Business Improvement/Special Service Districts: Not Approved
  1. Application Process

Homeowner Associations and Tenant Associations must:

    • provide evidence of requirements listed above.
    • detail relationship with home civic association
    • detail governance structure
  1. Admissions Process

CDAG shall require a 75% majority vote to accept a new member.  Approved

  1. CDAG Board Composition

New membership applications from non-civics shall be explicitly discussed with every new application. They shall be put on hold if the resulting percentage of non-civics in CDAG is more than 25%.  Approved

  1. Old Business: There was no old business.
  1. New Business: Penn’s Landing Maintenance:  This issue will be discussed the April meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:37 pm.