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“Encroaching Amenities” Under Threat

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Homeowners whose properties back up to the Cobbs Creek golf courses could lose their decks or backyard sheds according to a letter sent from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Kathryn Ott Lovell to Cobbs Creek Foundation founding CEO Christopher Lange.

In the June 20, 2019 letter, obtained in response to a right-to-know request by Lawrence Szmulowicz, who volunteers as a Cobbs Creek Ambassador and with Cobbs Creek Environmental Justice, Ott Lovell answers a question about insurance and then turns to the question of neighboring properties encroaching onto the golf course property. “Several residential neighbors whose homes border the golf course maintain amenities for their use that encroach onto the golf course,” Ott Lovell writes. “As I’ve told you personally, City officials intend to work with Foundation officials to get neighbors to remove the encroachments as quickly as possible.”

Ott Lovell reminds Lange that those neighbors might not be aware that they have been encroaching on the golf course property, and that they might have spent “considerable money” on the amenities. She writes that the City must be sensitive in dealing with the neighbors as it tries to get them to remove the amenities. “Nevertheless, with the Foundation’s cooperation and assistance, City officials intend to work actively and earnestly to have neighbors remove their encroaching amenities from the golf course.”

As Grid has covered, the West Conshohocken-based foundation controlled by the billionaire Maguire family has removed over 100 acres of trees after the City signed a 70-year (including extensions) lease for $1 with the foundation. In November, Councilmember Curtis Jones introduced legislation to exempt the golf course from restrictions on cutting trees on steep slopes, rules meant to protect water quality and prevent erosion.

Although the letter seems to make clear that the City will be coming for the encroachments at some point, the clearing has not yet started. Grid reached out to Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) to ask how many properties have encroached onto the golf course and to learn about the City’s efforts to get them to remove their encroaching amenities. PPR communications director Maita Soukup responded by email that the City has not yet comprehensively assessed encroachments and that, “at this time, PPR has no plans to address encroachments on the course.”

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