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Norris Square emergency zoning measure puts halt on neighborhood development project

4/23/2012 | Real Estate Blog

Last week, a dispute between Philadelphia Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and the Norris Square Civic Association reportedly arose when Quinones-Sanchez introduced a measure that would permit only single-family housing to be built in one section of the Norris Squire neighborhood.

The zoning change-which was approved 5-2-will put an end to the group’s plan to develop a 15-unit mixed-income housing cooperative over the summer. The development is set to go up on the campus of what was formerly St. Boniface Church. That property now houses a charter school and a day-care center, and an employment-training center is set to be build there as well.

The measure is being protested by members of the association as “spot zoning,” which would encourage gentrification. The civic association is apparently concerned that the measure will drive lower-income people out of the area.

The civic association asserts that the area is not due for rezoning until next year, as part of citywide zoning changes, and has accused Quinones-Sanchez of wanting zoning for the area changed prior to next year’s new rules

Quinones-Sanchez, for her part, says many people feel the Norris Square Civic Association’s involvement in the project is not proper.

Quinones-Sanchez was apparently integral to obtaining roughly $10 million in funding for the project back in 2007, though she claims to have been against the project even then.

As we’ve noted previously on this blog, development projects can run into all kinds of problems, including zoning-related ones. Having an advisor on such matters can be greatly helpful in avoiding unnecessary hang-ups or difficulties in such projects.

Source:, “Quinones-Sanchez ripped on zoning,” Valerie Russ & Jan Ransom, April 18, 2012.