Epic Win!

Today the Honorable Ellen Ceisler of the Court of Common Pleas found in favor of the appellants in Lewis, et al. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, et al., stating that there was no hardship and thus no reason for the variances to be granted.

The developers in question in this case had sought variances to completely demolish two historic yet dilapidated (but salvageable) marble bank buildings at the corner of Front and Norris Streets in East Kensington.  The developers sought to cram in a large, dense, multi-unit housing project for impoverished women and children directly under the El.  Furthermore, the local civic association had sold the parcel to the developer subject to a mortgage – a typical Philly move.  Thanks to a number of concerned neighbors who appealed the decision and my good friends the Fishtown Lawyers, the bank buildings remain. The banks were and continue to be a link to Kensington’s vibrant industrial past and a symbol of potential for the neighborhood going forward.  I am proud to have represented the local civic associations, East Kensington Neighbors Association and Fishtown Neighbors Association as well as another individual stakeholder, as amicus counsel in this matter.  Just part of giving back to a great neighborhood and proving that on occasion the system does actually work.

More coverage http://www.philadelinquency.com/?p=3142.


Big news

I’m proud to announce that I have joined the board of the Fishtown Neighbors Association! I attended my first meeting as a board member tonight after time spent helping out with the Zoning Committee and involvement in other FNA events. I look forward to continuing to help the community through board service going forward.


The tragedy in Boston yesterday had special significance for me despite being a proud Philadelphian and Fishtowner, as it no doubt did for the thousands of people across the country and the world who spent a good portion of their youth and early adult years in Boston.  I went to Brandeis University, which, for those unfamiliar, is a small liberal arts college smack in the middle of a post-industrial, blue-collar city called Waltham.  Waltham was about 10 miles outside the city, and was accessible by commuter train but not Boston’s famous “T” streetcar/subway.  Every year during college, and afterward when I lived in the Boston area, my friends and I would arrange to get to the finish line early to watch the Red Sox, bar crawl, and cheer on the marathoners.  Usually we were looking for various and sundry friends, acquaintances, or colleagues of ours to cross the finish line.  It was, invariably, a day off that we (as adopted Bostonians) simply could not fathom the rest of the country did not also observe.

Don’t get me wrong, 9/11 made me terribly sad.  But at that time I had no real connections to New York other than hating the Yankees (which I still do to this day).  But I lived in Boston.  I have strolled those streets, studied in the Public Library, enjoyed a beer and a steak at Division 16, smoked stogies and shot the shit at Gloucester St. Cigar … so the tragedy is so much more visceral for me.  It got, shall we say, very dusty in my office yesterday while following the marathon coverage.  You may leave Boston, but Boston never really leaves you.

it also inspired me to get out and start running again.  While I ran cross-country in high school, running fell by the wayside for me in college (outside Boston – synergy!).  I picked it up sporadically here and there since then but for various reasons did not stick with it.  Then I met the Fishtown Beer Runners, who encourage folks to join them on their runs and for a beer (or 2, or 10) afterward.  Thanks to FBR I picked up running again for a good period.  Through FBR I have met dozens of neighbors and others who I can genuinely count as friends.

When I left Fishtown in 2009, I didn’t exactly leave the FBR behind but I did have many logistical changes and once again running fell by the wayside.  Then, the broken ankle.  Now, the ankle is healed and the weather is finally pleasant.  Thus, I’m looking forward ot getting out on the road and (slowly) forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other until the miles start to build.  Same as like the law business, or life, if you think about it.  Who knows, maybe one day I will run a marathon? But I know I have to start small – get my ass off the couch and run one mile the first day.

Some of this stuff sounds like excuses and maybe some of it is.  But the fact is that from here on out, running – toward explosions to render aid, toward better health mental and physical, toward any goal large or not so large – is another form of asserting and defending the freedoms on which this country was founded.



My first foray into electoral politics was in high school, where I ran for student council treasurer on a platform that I have mostly forgotten (although I do recall something having to do with a Coke machine).  Despite being backed by the best campaign video ever (set to The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”), I ended up losing a close race.

Fast forward to my third year of law school.  I ran for class representative to the Student Bar Association (aka Law School Student Council) and won! Finally! I had won something!    My time on the SBA was spent largely planning budgets, addressing concerns of other students, and involving myself in subcommittees (the “social activities” subcommittee was pretty popular).  It turned out to be an excellent preparation for the networking side of law practice to which I would become accustomed.

Now, I have thrown my hat in the ring at the community level.  Fishtown is, by virtue of geography, part of the New Kensington Community Development Corp. (NKCDC).  NKCDC has a Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC), consisting of a number of neighbors throughout the boundaries of the CDC, which includes Fishtown and parts of East Kensington.  The NAC serves many purposes, primarily as the community outreach arm of the NKCDC.  I have decided to run for a position on the NAC in order to give something back to the community that I have adopted as my personal and business home.

How can you vote for me, you ask? Simply show up at NKCDC Headquarters, 2515 Frankford Ave., on January 16, from 4 pm to 8 pm and cast your vote.  It’s that simple!

Vote Slepner!