Flood Fact of the Day

Double Duplicity--#3 in a Series

Michael Nutter Opposes Apartments but Introduces Bill

November 22, 1999

Mr. Thomas J. Kelly, Chairman
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Municipal Services Building, Concourse
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Re: Cal. No. 99-1284; 4601-45 Flat Rock Road
Cal. No. 99-1285; 4700 Flat Rock Road

Dear Chairman Kelly,

The above-referenced matter is scheduled for a zoning hearing on Monday, November 22, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. The applications are for the relocation of lot lines, demolition of existing buildings and erection of structures for conversion to a 160-unit apartment building with 160 parking spaces, fitness area, lobby and management office, and for an additional private parking lot with 54 spaces and a fence. The site in question is the former Namico Soap Factory located on a part of Venice Island in Manayunk and is currently zoned G-2 Industrial.

The Manayunk area community organizations request that a continuance be granted to allow further discussion with the applicant. I support the community in this request and would encourage the applicant to request and the Board to grant a continuance. If however, the Board proceeds to hear the case, then I am stating my opposition to this application.

The members of the Zoning Board are probably familiar with the events of September 16, 1999 when the City experienced an extremely heavy rainfall resulting from Hurricane Floyd. This led to severe flooding in many locations in Philadelphia, and especially in the vicinity of Venice Island and Main Street in Manayunk. The application before you was a site which suffered serious flooding and which is located with the floodway. I, therefore, question the wisdom in converting this former factory building to apartment units.

Local, state and federal laws and regulations prohibit certain structures and expansions of existing structures located in floodway. Furthermore, these laws and accompanying regulations specifically encourage actions which reduce flood loss and minimize the impact on health, safety and welfare in flooding occurs. Given the most recent event and location of this property, the Board should deny the application.

If this Board after full review of the testimony decides to grant the requested variances however, then I strongly recommend that the Board consider including the following provisos:

(1) Applicant shall prepare engineering studies which demonstrate that the proposed development will not result in any increase in the flood levels and will not increase the danger of flooding. Such studies shall be submitted to the Planning Commission for its review and approval prior to construction.

(2) Applicant shall secure any and all permits or authorizations required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for the proposed development prior to construction.

(3) Applicant shall prepare, in consultation with the City's Emergency Management Office, Police and Fire Department, an emergency evacuation plan prior to occupancy.

In summary, I encourage the Board to refuse the application. If the Board should approve the application, I am requesting that my suggested provisos - along with any other reasonable provisos offered by representatives of those neighborhood organizations adjacent to this site - be conditions of your approval.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or desire further information.


Michael A. Nutter
Councilman - 4th District

Michael Nutter Opposes Development in the Floodway and Traffic Congestion

21. Philadelphia City Councilman Michael Nutter strongly opposes grant of a variance. He describes the intersection of Main Street and Leverington Avenue, and surrounding streets, as "heavily used by employees and patrons of restaurants in the immediate vicinity as well as tractor trailers and other heavy truck traffic going to Container Corp and NAMICO." Appellant's proposed changes would, he suggests, add to existing traffic problems. Councilman Nutter additionally contends that Appellant has not provided adequate information regarding the restaurants and other uses which would occupy the property, or regarding the potential impact of proposed construction on the floodway, (Letter of Councilman Nutter to Chairman Kelly, dated March 19, 1997)

10. Finally, Appellant has not established that a variance would not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare. The area in question has changed dramatically in recent years as numerous businesses, and particularly restaurants, have located along the Main Street corridor. The changes have resulted in traffic congestion which the proposed expansion would only exacerbate. The subject property is located at a heavily traveled intersection with limited visibility and access to the site is limited. Even addition of another driveway will leave the property with only one lane of ingress and one lane of egress for vehicles parking or dropping off patrons or employees, for delivery trucks, and, if necessary, for emergency vehicles. Under these circumstances, the potential for negative impact on traffic, and a resulting negative impact on the public health, safety and welfare, requires denial of the variance sought.