A decision about whether to grant a takeout variance to a Subway store that may come to 4533 Baltimore Ave. was put on hold until January 10, after a group of NIMBY neighbors and near residents came out in opposition last Wednesday at the zoning hearing. The Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) had written a letter of support.

Future Subway?

A Facebook post last week called for actions from local residents:

“Would any of you care to join me at a zoning hearing at 1515 Arch tomorrow (Wed) at 2pm to try to stop a Subway franchise from opening at the corner of 46th and Baltimore, right next to someone’s house and driveway?” wrote a near neighbor, “I don’t want Baltimore Ave to turn into a strip mall of fast food corporations.”

According to the Facebook thread, about 10 residents showed up to the meeting to oppose the chain coming to the neighborhood.

“I found it difficult to comprehend what they were saying,” said Barry Grossbach, SHCA zoning chair, about the voices of opposition. He said all the concerns raised by neighbors such as lighting, parking, cleanliness, hours of operation and engaging the local business corridor was addressed in a proviso released by the SHCA Zoning Committee. Grossbach said that members of the zoning committee do not make a decision based on whether an establishment is a chain or an independent business. Rather, on its track record and willingness to work with the committee and the community. He said opponents of the Subway talked about how they did not want a business to use a nearby alleyway to help conduct its operations.

The alley in question

He also said that zoning committee does not have a right to oppose something simply because it is a chain or because a small group of neighbors is in opposition. The committee’s decisions are to be more reflective of the community as a whole, he said.

The property is zoned C-2 for commercial use and sits along a commercial stretch of Baltimore Ave. A Sunoco sits across the street, suggesting that at least one chain has a presence on the street.

Row of commercial spaces

We’re not sure if this would be the best fit for Baltimore Ave., as it does certainly sit in contrast with the other restaurants along the strip, that range from Indian to Ethiopian to Vietnamese to organic. But isn’t more diversity a positive for the neighborhood?

Regarding neighbors concerned about parking- when you move to a home next to a commercial corridor, aren’t you necessarily trading off ease of parking for convenience to amenities?

And all arguments of corporations versus ma-and-pa aside, isn’t an inexpensive sandwich shop a good addition, especially in a neighborhood with a number of low-income residents?

–Lou Mancinelli