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  • Writer's pictureDave Doll

720 Penllyn – Finally

Here’s the background… In late 2019, the owners of 720 Penllyn Blue Bell Pike (across from Boehm's Church, actually across from the church parking lot) submitted a proposal to develop their property. The complicated part is that the space is a combination of two lots. The lot with the house is about 1.5 acres and zoned residential (R1). Years ago, the owners purchased the lot next to the house with a small parking area (and ground around it) from Boehm's Church so they could have a horse pen. This lot is 2.4 acres, and since it was part of the church property, it was zoned Institutional (IN).

Based on R1 zoning, the total space would support approximately 4-5 houses/lots. However, in order to push for higher density, the owners submitted a plan for 11 houses (eleven!) and prepared a secondary plan for a Sober House as an “or else”. They provided a letter with a thinly veiled threat to try and get their density approved.

The plan backfired with the neighbors coming out in force against the proposal. The Board of Supervisors voted to actively oppose the submission. Facing such opposition, the owners withdrew the plan.

In early 2020, the property owners came back with a plan for 8 houses and/or another secondary plan for an ambulatory care facility instead of a Sober House. So similar tactics - high density with a threat, just not as dense or egregious.

Neighbors stayed opposed and so did the Supervisors. Eventually the plan was withdrawn, and the developer eventually began meeting with the neighbors to create an acceptable plan.

By the beginning of this year, there was a new submission. In February, the Zoning Hearing Board approved a plan with four beautiful lots for four beautiful houses. And it includes preserved land in the back to cover the wooded/wet area. The neighbors fought a bad plan (multiple times) and ultimately got a good plan. Congratulations to all involved.

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