The Uncanny Valley

Notes on art, culture and preservation

ZBA releases findings in Kensington textile bank appeal; oral arguments pushed back to June

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As I reported last week, the scheduling for the neighbors’ appeal of the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s decision to grant a variance for WCRP’s Nitza Tufino Homes was originally expected some time in the spring. However, appealing attorney A. Jordan Rushie says he asked the Common Pleas Court for an extension after the ZBA failed to submit its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law before the court-ordered deadline. The extension was granted, and so the appeal schedule has been effectively postponed two months. The deadline for appellant briefs has been moved from February 4 to April 4, and oral arguments should be heard at some point after June 1.

In the meantime, the ZBA did finally release its version of the events that led to its approval of the WCRP project. Those findings — that the site of the project cannot support retail, that the historic bank buildings cannot be saved, and that the housing development does not signify overcrowding in the neighborhood — are, of course, likely to be forcefully challenged by the appellants. It should also be noted that other neighbors did speak in approval of the development, referring to the banks as a blighting influence on the neighborhood, and that WCRP presented a commissioned study that measured the impact of the project on the surrounding area — something the Board clearly took as a sign that the developer in this case did their homework. (Dissenting neighbors, however, allege that the study was based on out-of-date information and did not refer to the specific intersection of Front and Norris.)

Will this delay affect WCRP’s financing? The organization has received tax credits for other projects, so it has a reputation for getting things done. It remains to be seen if the PHFA will be inclined to award tax credits while an appeal is underway. Interestingly, the ZBA’s findings mention PHFA as a supporter of the Nitza Tufino Homes, although they don’t specify if that support was conditional based on ZBA approval — especially seeing how PHFA has declined to fund this particular project in the past.

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Written by cwmote

January 31, 2013 at 1:02 am

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