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City Council approves rezoning measure, which may delay development project

5/23/2012 | Real Estate Blog

Development projects, even those that are years in the making, often face major setbacks. Last month, we wrote about a dispute that arose between Philadelphia Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and the Norris Square Civic Association over a proposal to allow only single-family housing to be built in one section of the Norris Squire neighborhood.

As we noted, the zoning change would stifle the progress of the association’s ongoing plan to develop a 15-unit mixed-income housing cooperative on the site of what was formerly St. Boniface Church. The measure has been protested by members of the association because it will apparently drive lower-income people out of the area.

Last Wednesday, a hearing on the proposed zoning measure took place, with some residents of the area again claiming that Quinonez-Sanchez was attempting to limit the civic association’s development project. The hearing reportedly resulted in the unanimous approval of the measure, which now goes onto the full Council for approval.

The bill specifically proposes to rezone a section in the Norris Square neighborhood and to require more city oversight on projects converting single-family homes into apartments. The measure has gotten heat from some low income residents who own large Victorians and wish to earn extra income by renting out portions of their homes. If the measure passes, those individuals will have to face the scrutiny of the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

The Norris Square Civic Association initially had plans to get their development project underway this summer, but it isn’t clear if they will be able to go forward if the measure passes. At the very least, the project will face delays as city agents increase scrutiny of the project.

Source:, “Controversial Norris Square zoning change moves forward,” Valerie Russ, May, 17, 2012.