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Philadelphia still awaits change to zoning laws

6/16/2011 | Real Estate Blog

Whenever you have a construction or development project that you would like to undertake in Philadelphia, having an attorney on your side who is well versed in Philadelphia zoning laws can be vitally important to the success of the project. Zoning agencies can often seem like a thorn in the side of developers, and they can create obstacles that may seem insurmountable without help from a skilled professional.

Generally, zoning is the way state and local governments regulate the use of land. Some properties can be considered strictly residential, others commercial and others industrial. Additional zoning issues include development plan approvals, traffic considerations, environmental issues, use permits and variances.

Often, the process is very frustrating and confusing for real estate developers and builders who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of zoning law in Philadelphia. Presently, Philadelphia has a very complex zoning law. The city’s present zoning code fills a whopping 650 pages.

There has been broad political consensus that Philadelphia’s zoning laws are in need of an update. The city’s Zoning Code Commission was formed after a 2007 vote, and it has been working these past few years to update the zoning code to make it less confusing.

In May, the Zoning Code Commission approved its proposed new zoning code. The proposed code has been reduced from 650 pages to 384 pages. Advocates of the new code believe that the code will promote development in Philadelphia. In order for the zoning changes to become official, the City Council needs to give its approval to the changes.

The Philadelphia Inquirer is now reporting that the City Council has delayed a vote on the changes until the fall. Some Zoning Code Commission members have expressed concern that a delay in approving the code could harm the changes the new code is designed to bring about.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Philadelphia zoning-code update on hold for now,” Jeff Shields, 6/16/2011