Bunting House Denied Request For Injunction (Updated With Analysis)

 

Photo: Christopher Mote

Photo: Christopher Mote

3:40PM Update

Anthony and Frank Giovannone, the owners of the Bunting House, in addition to the three blighted houses next door along Ridge Avenue, plan on tearing down all four properties–none of which is listed on the city’s Historic Register–and leaving them vacant for future redevelopment. They contend that they were unable to find a viable tenant for the 130-year-old house despite agreeing to hold off on demolition for 30 days to consider new offers. Some neighbors, though, questioned the owners’ intentions, alleging that several offers to purchase the house at its market value were never given full consideration.

Neighbors led by the Central Roxborough Civic Association formally requested injunctive relief after the 30-day pause had expired to allow time for their appeals to be taken up. Attorney Hal Schirmer presented the case that the city’s recently updated zoning code did not permit a vacant lot as an allowable use. He contended that the newness of the code merited a review before any demolition activity could commence.

However, Carl Primavera, the attorney for the Giovannones, countered that “vacant lot” was not a use in itself but rather the absence of a use. Deputy solicitor Andrew Ross, representing the Department of Licenses and Inspections, said that there had been no change in the code regarding allowable use and that the City had followed the correct procedure in issuing the permit to the Giovannones.

In denying the request for injunction, Common Pleas Judge Idee Fox appears to have decided that the new code did not present enough ambiguity to support Schirmer’s interpretation.

The neighbors’ appeals to the Board of L&I Review (concerning the demolition permit) and the Zoning Board of Adjustment (concerning acceptable use) are still pending. However, the developers are under no obligation to withhold from demolition activity before the appeals are heard.

The house takes its name from its first resident, Ross Richardson Bunting, a prominent Philadelphia physician. Bunting and his family are buried in the nearby cemetery of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church.

11AM

A Court of Common Pleas judge, Idee Fox, who ruled previously to allow demolition of the Church of the Assumption, has denied a petition brought by the Central Roxborough Civic Association to stay the demolition permit for the Bunting House in Roxborough.

For our previous stories on the effort to save the mansion, click HERE and HERE.

About the author

Christopher Mote covers stories of preservation, planning, zoning and development. He lives in South Philadelphia and has a special fondness for brownstone churches and mansard roofs.

Send him a message at: motecw[at]hotmail[dot]com



1 Comment


  1. I think it’s becoming evident that Idee Fox is no friend of historic preservation.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Historic Maritime Landmark Under Threat After Construction Mishap

Historic Maritime Landmark Under Threat After Construction Mishap

August 15, 2019  |  News

Deferred maintenance and a construction error endangers Edward Corner warehouse, one of the waterfront's last prominent reminders of Philadelphia's shipping history. Starr Herr Cardillo has the details > more

In Northeast Philadelphia, A Rich History Of Train Tracks And Acquisitions

In Northeast Philadelphia, A Rich History Of Train Tracks And Acquisitions

August 13, 2019  |  Vantage

Ed Duffy give us a panoramic view of railroad history in Northeast Philadelphia with this longform essay > more

Eastern State Penitentiary Illuminates “Hidden Lives” Of The Incarcerated

Eastern State Penitentiary Illuminates “Hidden Lives” Of The Incarcerated

August 9, 2019  |  News

"Hidden Lives Illuminated," an animated film project created by inmates of SCI Chester, debuts at Eastern State Penitentiary on August 15. Kimberly Haas went inside the state prison to speak with the incarcerated artists > more

Rittenhouse SoundWorks Keeps The Tune Ups Coming In Old Auto Garage

Rittenhouse SoundWorks Keeps The Tune Ups Coming In Old Auto Garage

August 7, 2019  |  Vantage

A Germantown couple bet big on adaptive reuse when they converted an old garage into a full-service recording studio in 2014. Today, they are sought out by musicians from around the globe. Stacia Friedman has the story > more

In Germantown, Saving A Neighborhood's Character One Renovation At A Time

In Germantown, Saving A Neighborhood’s Character One Renovation At A Time

August 2, 2019  |  Vantage

Emily Birdie Busch profiles nine renovation projects in Germantown that are keeping the neighborhood's architectural history within view > more

Thunderbird Lodge Museum Connects Arts & Crafts Movement With Utopian Community

Thunderbird Lodge Museum Connects Arts & Crafts Movement With Utopian Community

July 29, 2019  |  Walk the Walk

Joe Brin takes use out to Rose Valley, Pennsylvania where a new house museum puts the Arts and Crafts movement front and center > more