More Changes Coming To Philadelphia’s Zoning Code ?

Additional Changes Proposed to Philadelphia Zoning Code Will Affect Developers and Property Owners
Philadelphia’s first new Zoning Code in decades, effective on August 22, 2012, was the culmination of a more than a four-year reform process, involving many stakeholders.  Elliott Greenleaf’s Rich DeMarco was a integral member of the Zoning Code Commission that prepared the new zoning code. The new Code is expected to streamline the zoning process and spur beneficial development in Philadelphia.

In the last two weeks, Philadelphia’s City Council began hearings on additional significant changes, which will affect developers and property owners, including City Council Bill Number 120656. This Bill significantly alters dimensional and parking requirements for multi-family dwellings within two very common zoning classifications that permit multi-family use, RM-1 and CMX-2, rendering it difficult, if not impossible, to construct triplexes on lots within these classifications. Because of the commonality of substandard lot sizes within the city and within these classifications, the changes in this bill will cause numerous new projects to require zoning variances, resulting in numerous cases requiring Zoning Board review. It would also encourage the construction of unfeasible duplexes with overly large units, especially if the developer wanted to proceed “over the counter.”

This proposed changes moved out of the Council’s Rules Committee with a favorable recommendation on October 31, 2012; however, a critical amendment offered by the Building Industry Association (which proposes to lessen the adverse impact of the changes) was not voted on by the Committee, and must be submitted on the Council floor at an upcoming Council meeting. The passage of this amendment will be critical to mitigating the Bill’s adverse impact on development.

Property owners in Philadelphia with plans to construct multi-family dwellings on their lots should immediately become familiar with Bill 120656.

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