L.M. Meeting Preview: Palmer Seminary Rezoning, Clover Market Expansion

Wednesday's Special Board of Commissioners meeting will consider a half dozen or so building, planning, zoning and escrow decisions.

The Lower Merion Board of Commissioners sits in special session Wednesday evening to consider an amendment tp the Townhip's zoning code that would allow the Palmer Theological Seminary on Lancaster Avenue, near City Avenue in Wynnewood, to be turned into an apartment complex.

, developer Cross Properties of Center City intends to convert the historic, Horace Trumbauer-designed building into more than 130 rental units, in an area it considers underserved. The project is estimated at $30 million.

The meeting is scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m. Unlike the following issues, public comment is not listed on the agenda for this matter.

Block Grant $$

Immediately after, the Board's Grants & Community Development Committee will seek a waiver allowing an additional $20,700 to further rehabilitate a home for a low-income family in Bryn Mawr (Ward 10). The fugure includes a $8,700 contingency. The total cost of the work is $95,700, paid with Community Development Block Grant Residential Rehab Program funds.

"As renovation proceeded on this property, the full extent of the structural deficiencies became apparent," wrote Township Manager Doug Cleland, in a June 2 letter (Exhibit A) to Building & Planning Director Bob Duncan. "When the property does transfer, these funds will come back to the Township for use to rehab another home occupied by a low-income family."

Clover Market to Expand?

Duncan's department will then bring several other matters before the Board for consideration.

One is a recommendation to approve a request from the Ardmore Initiative to expand the Clover Market—to include a section of Cricket Terrace between Rittenhouse Place and South Cricket Terrace—on three Sundays in October and November this coming fall. Also to be considered: a waiver of the $60 per day fee to close a section of a public road for the market.

In a May 31 letter from Executive Director Christine Vilardo to Duncan (Exhibit B), no reason is stated for the fee waiver request.

McDonald's Upkeep, Improvements

The township is recommending the approval of the release of $145,700 held in escrow as "improvement guarantees" for the McDonald's on Lancaster Avenue in downtown Ardmore. (Exhibit A).


Other agenda items include a request by the property owners of 976 Idlewild Road, and their attorney, to amend the maintenance and operations plan for the Idlewild preservation area and development (Exhibit C) by erecting deer fencing. The property is a six-bedroom, 10.5-bathroom home built in 2001. On a number of points, the township staff does not recommend approval.

Idlewild is now a development of homes, yet is also an open space preservation district approved by the Board of Commissioners in 1997, part of the historic Idlewild Farm Complex and Gladwyne's Bridlewild Trails Association.


Seperately, it will also be recommended that the board approve an amendment to Idlewild's existing conservation easement, permitting the installation of signs at the intersection of Williamson and Black Rock roads in Gladwyne (Exhibit D), a move supported by the Natural Lands Trust.

Historical Commission

The Lower Merion Historical Commission will present further information to the Board of Commissioners about a request to demolish the main house, stable addition and pool house at 1316 Monk Road in Gladwyne.

The Historical Commission, "saddened to lose another historic resource in the Township," is not thrilled about this, for reasons beyond sentiment. It recommended on May 26 that the Board delay the issuance of the demolition permit until the applicant provided full documentation (required by the Township Code), to be reviewed by the Township and the Lower Merion Historical Society. The Commission also recommended removal of the property from the Historic Resource Inventory after demolition.

But in so doing, the Historical Commission indicated they "do not completely agree with the finding of the Historic Resource Impact Study, which indicates that the resource has suffered a complete loss of character." 

The applicant argues that keeping the resource would result in economic hardship, but the Commission said "insufficient information" has been provided to prove that argument.


The Historical Commission will again recommend approval for a request to construct an open front porch at 617 Williamson Road, another Idlewild Farm property, subject to certain conditions.


The next meeting of the Board of Commissioners is June 15 at 8 p.m.

Unless otherwise noted, all Township meetings are held at the Township Administration Building, 75 E. Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore.

Bob Guzzardi June 08, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Very good summary for the concerned citizen. This is very helpful.


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