Members of the Yorktown community, the section just south of Temple’s Main Campus that has been the topic of recent tenancy ordinances debates, met with landlords, lawyers and the Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday in a crowded courtroom on the 18th floor of a city building at 1515 Arch St.
The 18 pages of specific cases were documented and discussed, but the board seemed to fail in making any decisions about the stayed evictions of Temple students living in Yorktown. They did, however, decide to schedule another meeting sometime in March.
Represented by Pam Pendleton-Smith, the Yorktown Stakeholders Committee’s secretary, area residents said they wanted proper opportunity to seek legal council. Pendleton-Smith spoke at the beginning of the meeting and said she noticed posted signs announcing the public hearing’s date and time only one week prior to Jan. 28.
The board agreed to give residents nearly two full months to acquire representation but said community members had been given notice in December 2008. Board members said those who want proper representation would be given the chance.
When asked which – if any – of their goals had been reached by the public hearing, a group of Yorktown residents who wished to maintain their anonymity resoundingly said, “None.”
The first six documents filed in the case were petitions against the Department of Licenses and Inspection, and the last 12 were use variance applications.
Among the possible topics to be discussed during the next hearing is whether “student” is properly defined in the area ordinance, as it prohibits “student housing not owner-occupied.”
In students’ testimonies, which were also included in documents filed for the case, some said Temple’s on-campus housing policy is problematic as it does not provide juniors and seniors with housing.
However, there were no students who currently live in the residences in question at the hearing.
Lawyers questioned Michael Parkhill, a local landlord. He said he rents to no more than three Temple students, a stipulation of the area ordinance, in each of the homes he owns in Yorktown.
When Parkhill said he has received only one complaint from area residents, community members in attendance murmured to one another, creating a stir in the otherwise quiet courtroom.
In the last row of about 65 chairs in the crowded space, someone whispered, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
Attendees seemed to exceed the room’s limit of about 80 people, as many stood. Others had to sit or stand in the hall, listening to the proceedings as they unfolded over a loudspeaker.
As the public hearing came to a close, attendee Alexis Denny stood up and addressed the board, lawyers and community members. She said her father, whose vision, she said, was to provide opportunity for the African-American community, was involved in the neighborhood’s start.
Denny said after a recent visit, she noticed community members took better care of their properties than Temple students renting in the neighborhood. Current Yorktown residents applauded Denny’s statements.
“This is a model for the country,” she said.
Chelsea Calhoun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.