THE ZONING Board of Adjustment shot down a proposal yesterday for a controversial project in Point Breeze by developer Ori Feibush, whose lawyer previously threatened to sue a woman who had spoken out against the development.
The decision comes two weeks after residents packed a ZBA hearing to oppose Feibush's plan to build four large single-family, three-story houses on 20th Street near Annin, including one for himself. The area is zoned for three houses.
Annin Street resident Haley Dervinis was thrilled the ZBA voted against the plan. Dervinis testified against the project a day after receiving a letter from Feibush's attorney threatening to sue her for libel and slander for what he said were "defamatory" comments she made on blogs.
"It just didn't meet the criteria," said ZBA chairwoman Julia Chapman, adding that Feibush has 30 days to file an appeal with Common Pleas Court.
But that's not the route Feibush wants to take, noting an appeal would be too costly. Instead, he plans to build three homes and work with area residents who opposed his original plan citing concerns about congestion, parking, changes to the block's character and possible increases to property taxes.
"I don't want to fight people. If we can appease neighbors' concerns, it's a win for everyone," Feibush said, adding the conversation ends when it becomes a "personal attack."
The Planning Commission and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson - whose district includes Point Breeze - opposed the project. Feibush will again have to go before ZBA and South Philadelphia Homes Inc., the registered-community organization in the area.