We go to South Philadelphia HOMES meetings every month, and for better or for worse, they’ve been kind of boring of late. But not last night. Oh, no. While most meetings have been very lightly attended, this one featured a packed house.

At the meeting, tavern owner John Longacre presented a plan to add four outdoor tables, pavers, and a decorative fence to the garden space behind the one-year-old American Sardine Bar. Longacre purchased the vacant lot about a year ago, and has added greenery to the lot while cleaning it daily. Apparently, this lot was once commonly used as an illegal dumping site, and was, at times, strewn with neighborhood trash and construction debris.

In 2009

Today, in the rain

Longacre went to the neighbors on Manton Street and got many to sign a petition in support. Longacre indicated a willingness to work with near neighbors and to limit serving hours to maintain a quiet atmosphere during late night hours. He presented a rendering of a fence, but suggested that he would put up whatever type of fence the community asked for. A number of people who live nearby attended the meeting and seemed to be in support.

But there were a couple of “concerned citizens” at the meeting that were very vocal in their opposition and attempted to hijack the meeting with some familiar old tricks.

Longacre handed out packets with images of the site plan of the garden, possible fence concepts, and a site plan for outdoor sidewalk seating. At the beginning of his presentation, he explained that the sidewalk seating was for informational purposes only and that he would have to reappear before the community to garner support at a later time. A few dissidents seized on the sidewalk seating idea, purporting that the application was confusing, that nobody knew what they were voting for, that the neighbors were not properly notified, that another meeting was required to discuss the issue further, and that the Sardine Bar was a terrible neighbor.

Sardine Bar

When the yelling started, and as votes were ready to be cast, the individual running the meeting (mysteriously) asked for a show of hands to see whether the vote should be postponed. When only five hands were raised, a vote was taken which we’d suspect was in support.

Unless, of course, someone stole the voting sheets to alter the outcome…

Seriously, you can’t make some of this stuff up…