Skip to Content

News & Resources

City Council to hold hearing on contentious aspects of new zoning code

10/26/2012 | Real Estate Blog

On Monday, October 29, the Philadelphia City Council will hold a hearing on the issue of the city’s new zoning code, under which neighborhood block organizations no longer have any input into zoning decisions. The new law reserves that task to Registered Community Organizations instead, which must claim a service area of at least five blocks.

Unlike the old zoning code, the new one-which went into effect toward the end of August after years of debate and research-actually spells out what it means to be a community organization in the context of having input on development. The old system, as our regular readers may know, required a zoning variance for almost every project, which is something that has been updated and corrected.

Under that system, nearly anybody could claim to represent the community’s interests. This led to developers complaining that they were forced to negotiate with parties who had little sense of direction and tenuous authority.

The new zoning code, as we noted above, requires the Philadelphia City Planning Commission to establish the status of Registered Community Organizations that can testify on zoning matters. It has also made community negotiations clearer, simpler, and less frequent since it permits more development “by right,” meaning the approval of neighbors is required less. This makes matters easier for real estate developers.

The latter change has been an unwelcome one to some, though, and some activists have begun voicing complaints about the new code. In a future post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, and hopefully update readers on what takes place in Monday’s hearing.

Source: The Philadelphia Record, “Who’s A Community Group? Hearing Will Ask Who Can Speak On Zoning,” October 11, 2012