October 29, 2009


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The Chestnut Hill Local
8434 Germantown Ave.
Phila. PA 19118
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2009© Chestnut Hill Local
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IDD: bad for Hill

Those of us who choose to live in Chestnut Hill are well aware of the special nature of our community. This uniqueness, recognized nationally in Forbes Magazine, is not simply good fortune, but rather the result of countless hours of service volunteered by dedicated residents. The CHCA, for all its controversies, remains a stellar example of what neighbors with common interests can accomplish together.

If implemented, the Institutional Development District sought by Chestnut Hill College would deny this community the ability to review all plans for the development of the Sugarloaf site, including changes in traffic patterns, environmental impact and building heights. The petition for the IDD will be made before the City Planning Commission and ultimately awarded by City Council. Any future changes in the development plan would be reviewed by those two bodies.

Development of the Sugarloaf site over the next 25 years will be the single, largest and most significant change to occur in Chestnut Hill in our lifetime. Is this the time to cast aside the CHCA and its various committees and leave our community without a forum within which to communicate with the college?

Having observed the process thus far, it would seem that the college believes that its chances of achieving  its goals for Sugarloaf turn on shutting the community out of the process by implementing an IDD. This seems an unkind presumption, considering that the college was happy to have the help of the community in acquiring the Sugarloaf property in the first place.

The college is currently seeking support for its petition for an IDD from the CHCA and its various committees. I cannot imagine why any CHCA committee member would cast a vote to support the IDD, recognizing that it will forever render them irrelevant north of Bells Mill Road.

Joseph K. Beyer
Chestnut Hill


I was very discouraged to read last week’s Local in regard to additional store closings. Moreover, to hear that a Walgreen’s may open in place of Borders is disappointing and displeasing. I am personally very opposed to this idea. With a CVS down the Avenue, one in Erdenheim and a Walgreens in Flourtown, this seems completely unnecessary. Does the community simply want to fill an empty space with the first retailer who comes along or do we want what is best for the area?

Chestnut Hill, in my opinion, is not the right community for this type of store. Surely, a retailer better suited for the area, could be encouraged to open. Chestnut Hill would benefit from a large anchor store, which would draw people from various communities around the Chestnut Hill area. An anchor store such as Sephora, Blue Mercury or J. Crew would unquestionably be better suited to the area than a Walgreens. Additionally, Lily Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren (adult and children) and Olly Shoes would, potentially, do very well, while a Ruby’s Diner, with current locations in Ardmore and King of Prussia would be great for families.

Katie Bruton


Residents need the right representation

I certainly agree with the need for a Main Street Manager for the commercial district of Chestnut Hill, but only if he or she has the power and authority to recruit appropriate businesses and to locate them in the proper storefronts. Since I don’t live in the unit block of West Willow Grove Avenue, I think it’s great that a new food market has opened in Chestnut Hill. However, that location makes no sense for an active takeout operation. The former Chico’s store would seem to be more appropriate.

No urban planner would choose to locate the bulk of the restaurants at the lower end of the Hill where evening parking is tight and Parking Foundation lots are scarce, while the upper Hill has plenty of parking but little evening activity.

Variances exist as a means of obtaining concessions for the benefit of those affected by that particular applicant. If the vast majority of those impacted by a variance granted to a business are against it and can provide reasonable arguments to support their position, then they should be appropriately represented by their civic organization. This did not occur in the case of the Good Food Market and the ZBA agreed.

We need a community organization that represents the residents of this community and will support them against special interests that do not have to live with their decisions.

This is the reason why we need the Chestnut Hill Residents Association. All those who live in the 19118 zip code are welcome as members. We meet in a democratic non-threatening forum every fourth Wednesday at the Chestnut Hill Library from 7 to 9 p.m.

Joseph A. Pizzano
Chestnut Hill


Market variance refusal was the right move for ZBA

I am responding to the letter “Disgusted by GFM outcome” [Letters, Oct. 22].

As a resident of a unit block west of Germantown Avenue, I am not disgusted but relieved that the zoning board of adjustments upheld the law on the books and did not give the Good Food Market the variances it requested. 

I do not disagree that the loss of Wawa and Caruso’s were difficult for the community, but I do not agree that there is such a tremendous void. I have not lacked for coffee or anything else. I shop at Pathmark, Top of the Hill Farm Market, the Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop, the Farmers Market and the Farm Markets near Cresheim Valley Drive.  I buy wonderful coffee at 10,000 Villages that I brew at home.

My sympathy goes to Jennifer Zoga as a person, but zoning is not about personality or the money she spent on starting her business, which was a risk and a choice that everyone makes when opening a business.  I do not think that her investment supersedes that of any homeowner, you or me.

And why would we place the shareholders ahead of the homeowners, some of whom are also business people in the community? 

Please don’t call me petty, because I am not, and I am sure that you are not either.  The number one reason people rise up is to protect their homes and loved ones. It is instinctive.  If you need a cup of coffee or snack, Baker Street is just around the corner, and for the half who live on the east side of the Avenue it’s closer and it didn’t need a variance.  And there are so many vacancies on the Avnue.  What would have been wrong with the northeast corner of Willow Grove Ave that has been vacant for so long?

There are many uses that neighbors would not object to. It’s hard to go through this kind of dialogue each time.  But that is how zoning works.

Janine Dwyer
Chestnut Hill 

A modest proposal

With the holidays quickly approaching our attentions turn to many things. 

With all the reveling and procrastination, we tend to forget about some of the important issues that still plague us during these holiday months. I am of course talking about the culling of deer in the Wissahickon.  I am not a big fan of firearms.  I’m barely able to pull the trigger at solicitors coming up my drive…

In the wild, the sick, the old, the slow and the stupid would be “culled” naturally by predators. It is an unpleasant means to ensure the health and survival of a species.

Perhaps we should carry this plan a little higher up the food chain and give natural selection some outside help. Only the blind could not see how the world would benefit. Some people might say this would amount to nothing more than  “genocide,” but I prefer the term “accelerated natural selection.” Instead of evolution taking thousands of years, it could be accomplished in a weekend.

Society would be strengthened if the innocent were left alone and the proper individuals culled. For example, people who have nothing better to do with their time than go to court and block the request of a very clean and much needed local market’s attempt to get variances to allow them to prepare and sell coffee and sandwiches would be culled, hopefully keeping “I have no life” gene from being passed on to future generations thus allowing businesses to flourish.  

A “culling program” might inspire those with too much time on their hands to find something better to do, like support a new business that is trying to rebuild the neighborhood and fill in an empty storefront. I fear, however, that with much of the short sightedness exhibited in Chestnut Hill that “accelerated natural selection” is a concept that few would be able to grasp.  

Charles Smith
Chestnut Hill


‘Soup exchange’ a success

This past Sunday, the Chestnut Hill Quaker Meeting had a “soup exchange” to raise money for Heifer International. Members, friends of the Meeting, and restaurants in Chestnut Hill all donated soup, which was then sold to raise $250.  Restaurants that kindly and generously donated soup included Bocelli, Osaka, Shundeez, Top of the Hill Market and Cake.

The “soup exchange” fundraising amount will be added to our fundraising so far this year, totaling $3,665.  Our congregation has a $5,000 goal for 2009 as a year-long fundraising project for Heifer.

Heifer donates pairs of animals to poor families in the US and abroad to help them become more self-sufficient, and the animals’ offspring are given to others in the community to pass on the gift.  Heifer also trains communities in sustainable farming.   A donation of a $5,000 “ark” represents 15 animal pairs, including cows, sheep, camels, etc., and Heifer chooses appropriate animals for each community.

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Sarah M. Whitman, M.D.
Chestnut Hill


Happy on the Hill

There are positive changes going on in Chestnut Hill. First the Center for Enrichment (Senior Center) moving into their new space has many benefits for me. My art class with Alex Forbes continues.

The Center while small, yet cozy, feels as if we are in the right place for now. It is a beehive of activities and interesting people. The programs that Mary and Sue put together continually amaze me. Six weeks ago, I took my daughter and grandson on the tall ship from Delaware. It was a beautiful morning and not too many things are more appealing to a 3-year-old than cannons, ropes, steps, flags and a crew dressed as Vikings. Of course, he wore his Viking hat.

I find that I am shopping more in Chestnut Hill because the Center for Enrichment is right on Germantown Avenue. What I saw around me last spring was the opening and resurfacing of the parking lot off of Highland Ave. What a big help that has been for so many of us. Then I noticed the renovation work happening on Bowman properties up and down the avenue. Thank you for that . . . and for all the beautiful flowers and clean streets and sidewalks . . . and the new garden at the Historical Society and Friends of the Wissahickon building. It has made such a difference. I look forward to seeing the continued work that so many of you have contributed to our community and for my being drawn back into Chestnut Hill.

Carol Tyler


So long to Chestnut Hill

My Iris and I will be leaving this wonderful community, Chestnut Hill, which has been home to  us for more than 10 years this December.

We will be living in the Philippines for the next two years, traveling Asia and volunteering to dedicate some of our resources and talents to support and nourish children within the program of the Salvation Army in Manila.

We will carry you in our hearts and daily prayers, being reminded and nourished of uncountable hours of your friendship, filled with laughter and kindness, receiving good advice and your generous forgiveness.

Remembering with thanksgiving your smiling faces; children singing Christmas carols and dancing to the tune of the chicken dance while I cranked the Hurdy-Gurdy in front of Robertson’s along the avenue, concluding with Stars and Stripes forever!

Thank you, for touching my life. “Aufwiedersehn.”

Orgelius Wolff
Chestnut Hill




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