Reprieve for Tulpehocken Station Historic District?
Almost two years ago the character of the Tulpehocken Station National Register Historic District, in the heart of Mount Airy, was threatened when the Unitarian Universalist House (UUH) announced plans to greatly expand its current extended-care facility from 37,000 square feet to 99,000. Many in the community were concerned that the site, size, and scale of the expansion would destroy the historic and aesthetic character of the historic district which encompasses many of the city's best examples of Victorian-era homes. Along with other deleterious effects, opponents said, the expansion would have loomed too close to two sides of the Ebenezer Maxwell House, a prominent house museum at the center of this Mount Airy neighborhood.
Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, Tulpehocken Historic District
When the city's Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) granted UUH the several variances it needed for the expansion, that decision was challenged in Commonwealth Court by West Central Germantown Neighbors, a community group. Along with other organizations, the Preservation Alliance provided written support of WCGN's arguments.
In early June 2003 the Commonwealth Court reversed the variances granted to UUH by the ZBA. Of the decision, WCGN president David Plante stated "The residents of the Tulpehocken Station Historic District have just won an important and pivotal decision in the Commonwealth Court. The judge's language strongly and unambiguously supports the protection of historic neighborhoods, and the careful enforcement of the zoning codes. The decision is empowering to all of us who are working to protect and maintain the historic neighborhoods that we all love."
The UUH has recently petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear its appeal of the Commonwealth Court decision.