CPN Zoning Committee Support Letter for 5007 Cedar Avenue (Ahimsa House)


May 5, 2019

Frank DiCicco, Chair

Zoning Board of Adjustment

1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd. 11th Floor

Philadelphia, Pa. 19102

Re: 5007 Cedar Ave

Calendar # 36562

Dear Mr. DiCicco,

Cedar Park Neighbors (CPN) supports the application of Bryan Suchenski for the following temporary 2 year variance with the provisos listed below:

For a three (3) family dwelling in an existing three story semi detached structure

CPN held two public meetings with community residents and other local RCOs to review the proposed variance. The owner of the house operates a community-based outreach center in the first floor of the house, known as Ahimsa House. Ahimsa House offers various classes that are open to the public, performs food preparation, and distributes food to those in need.

At the March 19th meeting, many neighbors commented that there is a need in the community that Ahimsa House is serving; however, many neighbors also expressed concerns about the increasing scale of the operations that are being conducted in a residential block not zoned for this type of activity, and in a building zoned as a single family home. The owner, Margaret Ferrigno and her attorney, Bryan Suchenski, listened to these concerns from neighbors and the zoning committee members. At a second community meeting on April 16th, Ms. Ferrigno and Mr. Suchenski presented a set of provisos that they were willing to agree to, in order to limit the impact of Ahimsa House on near neighbors, and to provide for the safety of those who attend classes and other functions there.

The following provisos suggested by the owner of Ahimsa House and approved by the community are:

  • Ahimsa House activities and/ or other community outreach activities will only occur between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

  • No class or gathering will exceed 15 people

  • All exits will be labeled in accordance with the fire code

  • Food handling and temporary storage of food may occur provided:

    • At least one Serve-Safe certified individual is present on the property during food handling

    • Comply with food storage safety rules and regulations of the Philadelphia Code

    • Use of kitchen and/or storage space is strictly for non profit use

  • All activities will be managed by a legally recognized non-profit entity

  • The above provisos are limited to the current owner, Margaret Ferrigno, and only while 5007 Cedar Ave. is occupied as Ms. Ferrigno’s primary residence. The above provisos do not transfer to any subsequent owner(s) and do not apply to a non-owner occupied rental property

Forty-one people were present at the April 16 community meeting, including four members of the CPN zoning committee and two members of two other RCOs. The vote was 16 in support to 9 against. As per CPN policy, anyone associated with property requesting the variance is not eligible to vote, nor are residents who do not live within CPN boundaries. Attached are the sign in sheets for the April 16th meeting for reference. [Sign-in sheets omitted from website for personal information privacy.]


Shawn Markovich

Cedar Park Neighbors zoning committee



Bryan Suchenski, attorney

Timothy Cooper for Councilwoman Blackwell

City Planning Commission

Zoning Board of Adjustment

Garden Court Community Association

Kingsessing Spirit