Does Philly’s zoning code need an overhaul? City Council will consider that question

Pat Loeb
May 11, 2019 - 4:00 am
Philadelphia City Hall.

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia's zoning code is only seven-years-old, but at least two city council members think it's already in need of a major overhaul.

Philadelphia City Council president Darrell Clarke and Councilman Brian O'Neill co-sponsored a bill to create a zoning code review commission to evaluate the zoning code and recommend changes.

The goal, they say, is to put residents on equal footing with developers.

Clarke says he’s concerned by the persistently high rate at which the Zoning Board of Adjustment grants variances, and O'Neill objects to the board granting special exceptions.

“It either should be a variance or not a variance and there should be a burden on the applicant if they want to change things,” O’Neill said. “This special exception, I'm in the middle of trying to take all of them out of my district because one after another, it's problematic. If we need to put it in the code and it's not a matter of right, it should need a variance..

Clark also offered a bill to create Single Family Preservation Districts. The Board would be prohibited from allowing variances for multi-family housing in them.

The conversion of row homes to student housing near Temple University has been a concern in his district.