By Joe Holden

HAVERTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Petitions to block a self-storage project in Delaware County are gaining steam. Several hundred people have signed on to oppose the teardown of a funeral home on South Eagle Road in Havertown.

A developer interested in constructing a self-storage facility on Eagle Road in Haverford Township is seeking a zoning variance to change the property from commercial to industrial, and there is some opposition to that.

(Credit: CBS3)

A land battle is brewing in Havertown on the site of what is now a funeral home. Development plans submitted to the township call for a self-storage facility. The funeral home would be knocked down. Sean Knapp is spearheading the proposal.

“Things aren’t the way they used to be,” Knapp said. “People have more stuff and the same small houses is kind of what’s happening here. It is a service that we provide. Why should the residents of Havertown have to drive to Clifton Heights, to Darby, to Philadelphia, to store their stuff?”

But word of what would be a three-story structure has touched off debate. Haverford Township Commissioners Mario Oliva and Steve D’Emilio have publicly opposed the plans, each questioning the land use and things like parking.

“You can see houses all down here and they want to put an industrial usage here. It just doesn’t fit,” Oliva said.

“You want to promote business, but the right kind of business that fits in with the community,” D’Emilio said.

A man, who wouldn’t give Eyewitness News his name, asked that we not show the funeral home on TV. He wouldn’t take any questions, except to say his 100-year-old business would still be in operation.

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Neighbors on nearby Columbus Avenue didn’t exactly have a grasp on “for” or “against” the self-storage facility.

“Knowing that it’s going to be a three-story building, it’s going to be erected right in our backyard,” neighbor Sean Capkan said. “I don’t love the idea of it.”

“I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me. What’s it going to do, it’s storage,” neighbor Joe Marino said. “I got these big trucks back there now, you see them? They never bother me. I never hear anything from them. You ask this lady too, Linda, my next-door neighbor.”

And while Linda didn’t want to talk on TV, she wasn’t hot about the possible redevelopment right behind her home.

As for Knapp, he says he’s had success in educating people about his proposal.

“We’re looking to collaborate,” Knapp said. “This is the design phase right now and we’d love some input in terms of what can this look like, what can this provide for the community.”

The first phase of public review is Thursday night before the township planning commission. That’s only Step 1 in a long process.

Comments can be submitted to the township online since public meetings are only happening virtually because of COVID-19.