After 50 years, Philadelphia gets new zoning code

After years of planning, Philadelphia’s new zoning code will go into effect Wednesday. The code has implications for the developers of big projects as well as city residents who just want to put a new deck on their row home.


For Tina Makoulian, a Philadelphia lawyer who focuses on land use issues, the new zoning code is a big deal.

“It is the modernization of a code that has essentially remained in the same condition for 50 years,” she said. “So it is the city’s attempt to bring the city into the 21st century.”

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Her clients have been asking a lot of questions about the new code, and Makoulian said there is one big change.

“With respect to larger projects, the code now requires that applicants undergo a civic design review process and it is much more involved than any sort of review that had ever been conducted under the old code,” she said.

Philadelphians should care about the new code because they run into code issues regularly, according to Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development.

“If you have a house and you want to build a deck on it, you need to expand it by a room to accommodate a growing family, the ways you can do that are all defined in the code because they’re all related to land use,” he said.

Greenberger says the new code, which streamlines the zoning process, is the product of years of planning that included dozens of public meetings.

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