New BMNA President, old development controversy

Kevin Thompson was elected president of the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association (BMNA) at the group’s May 12 annual meeting. He ran unopposed after serving a two-year term as BMNA’s vice president. He replaced Kevin Johnson, who did not run for reelection.

When he is not chairing BMNA, the three-year Bryn Mawr resident is director of nursing at Lake Owasso Residence in Shoreview.

"I’ve taken the time to learn what the basic issues confronting the neighborhood are," Thompson said. "It would be hard for anybody to just step in [to the job]."

Thompson said the neighborhood’s most pressing issue is the development of Anwatin Woods, a 20-city-block-sized parcel at Xerxes, Washburn, Vincent and Chestnut avenues south. A developer has proposed a three-building, 18-townhome project. It would require rezoning because it is zoned for single-family homes. Such a rezoning goes against BMNA’s recently completed land-use plan. Currently, almost all the area is greenspace.

"The official stand of our organization is to follow our land use plan, which does recommend [single-family] development," Thompson said. "However, what’s good for the site may be different from what’s good for the neighborhood."

Thompson said that if Anwatin Woods is developed into 21 single-family homes, they would take away more greenspace than a townhome complex. However, he worries that allowing higher-density zoning would set a bad precedent wherein developers would buy three and four houses, and tear them down to build large condominium projects.

"Development is a relatively new issue in Bryn Mawr," Thompson said. "That is what is stirring up the most controversy."