Private school seeking zoning relief to operate at property along Butler Pike in Plymouth Meeting

Gemma Services is seeking zoning relief to operate a private school in Whitemarsh Township for the property at 5168 and 5200 Butler Pike in Plymouth Meeting (Whitemarsh Township). The property is owned by ECRI, which utilizes the two properties for an office building and parking. It will be sold to Gemma Services if the zoning relief is granted. You can view the application here (starting at page 37).

ECRI has owned the 5200 Butler Pike property since 1975. It purchased the 5168 Butler Pike property in 2017 from Lu Lu Temple. The temple used this property for parking and special events such as circuses, monster trucks, and a rodeo. The temple still owns and operates a facility on a neighboring property.

Gemma Services owns and operates the Martin Luther School at 512 Township Line Road in Plymouth Meeting (Plymouth Township). The school has approximately 225 students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Gemma Services isn’t just a school. It provides individualized services for those experiencing difficulties, including emotional and behavioral challenges. Some students live on the Martin Luther School campus and there are other students who live on the campus, but attend public school.

We spoke to a school representative and if approved the plan is to move the school to the Butler Pike property. The current campus off Township Line Road would continue to operate and provide services. The students who live at the school would continue to live at the Township Line campus. There are two residential buildings at the Butler Pike property, but no students would live there.

The existing office building at 5200 Butler Pike would become the school building and a gym would be constructed adjacent to the school. The property at 5128 Butler Pike would continue to be used for parking and the existing stadium would be torn down and replaced with a sports field. Basketball courts would also be constructed on the backside of the parking lot. Each property has a spot designated for a playground.

Regarding the zoning relief, Gemma Services is seeking a special exception to operate a school on the property. A variance is being sought due to a portion of the proposed gym falling within the floodplain soil.

The hearing is scheduled for June 5th at 7:00 p.m. at the Whitemarsh Township building in Lafayette Hill.