July 17, 2015
Philadelphia's Department of Licenses & Inspections has once again shut down the Point Breeze Pop-Up on Point Breeze Avenue.
The pop-up garden first tweeted about the closure late Thursday night. According to BillyPenn, Licenses & Inspections reportedly issued a second cease-and-desist letter to the garden, citing a recently filed appeal on the department's behalf that questions a municipal court ruling from July 10 handed down in the pop-up garden's favor. The pop-up has been operating under regular hours ever since but is now forced to shut down this weekend -- just in time for an art fair and fundraiser event for apprenticeship program Nia-Next hosted by Point Breeze Pop-Up with a goal of raising money to send young dancers to New Orleans for a retreat.
There is no word on when or if it will reopen.
At the center of the debate -- and what could eventually turn into a precedent-setting case on the state level -- is whether Licenses & Inspections has the authority to require John Longacre, who owns and operates the pop-up under property group LPMG, to have a temporary zoning variance. At present, the 30,000-square-foot lot at 1622 Point Breeze Ave. is zoned residential but exists in a commercial corridor.
Longacre's ongoing contention is that because he has a license issued by the state, in accordance with an Act 116 Amendment of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code for off-premises catering, his license supersedes any zoning variance requirements from the city. It's the same law that allows pop-up beer gardens across the city to operate as they do.
PhillyVoice reported earlier this month that the community's RCO, as well as 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, are supportive of the pop-up garden. One resident who lives across the street went as far as saying that the space was "a dump" before the garden arrived.
PhillyVoice has reached out to Longacre and Licenses & Inspections but has yet to receive comment from either.