PHILADELPHIA-The city’s new zoning code that was intended to streamline the approval process, may now put roadblocks up for new projects instead.
The City Council last week approved a major change to the five-month old zoning code by overriding Mayor Michael Nutter’s veto of a bill sponsored by Councilwoman Janine Blackwell. The Blackwell bill requires zoning applicants and community organizations provide notice to every resident within one block of a proposed project, as well as adjacent blocks, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The change to the zoning code also allows for multiple mandatory meetings with “registered community groups,” or RCOs, instead of just one. In addition, it also relaxes the requirements necessary for a group to be considered a RCO, among other changes.
Blackwell said the purpose of her bill is to ensure “inclusion across the board.”
It is a real blow to development to have a whole third-party sector sort of jump in the ring as a third party when, honestly, they should have deferred,” said Kiki Bolender, head of Bolender Architects, characterized the changes to the zoning code as “a real blow to development. At a November hearing on the issue, he asked the council, “If you were a developer, would you even think of making an investment in a city with this requirement for possibly endless meetings, each with the potential to derail your project?” See story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.