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Bill Green has a timing issue with ZCC

Councilman Bill Green called the timeline to refer zoning code revisions to City Council “extraordinarily aggressive” at Wednesday’s meeting of the Zoning Code Commission. The ZCC is tentatively scheduled to vote on its recommended zoning code revision on February 9.

“I want to make sure everybody understands what the process in City Council is,” Green told the commissioners. “Within 45 days of this report being sent to City Council, we have to convene hearings. That’s it. We will. We’ll have one hearing. And it’s my expectation that nothing will happen after that hearing, until after the elections,” Green said.

“These are very complicated issues. You’re asking district councilpeople to give up power that they have, as a result of the enactment of the code. And this is going to be a long process. The process only ends, and it only comes back to this commission, after Council concludes its hearings and issues a report.”

According to the charter amendment authorizing the ZCC, City Council has 30 days to pass a resolution sending its comments and suggestions for revision back to the ZCC. Afterwards, the ZCC has 30 days to issue a final report to Council. If Council elects not to pass a resolution and to give less formal feedback, the ZCC has 60 days from the end of hearings to issue its final report.

But the time frame for a public hearing or hearings before council is not mandated by the amendment. Hearings—and their closure—will be scheduled at the discretion of City Council. “I can’t imagine real work will be done on this until the fall. And so I don’t feel a rush to get this out there, for that reason, if we can continue to make this better in the interim,” Green said.

At the same time, Green recognized that a substantial portion of ZCC’s work on the code revision is complete. “I don’t think we need to keep rehashing the same things. Eventually we have to make a decision. I personally don’t view February 9 as a drop-dead date where we have to take action. There are still significant open issues that I think are going to be issues at City Council,” Green said.

During the meeting, Green said he wanted to ensure that the public had the ability to comment on the revisions in the new change memo, some of which Don Elliott, lead consultant to the ZCC, described as “substantial.”

“My prediction is that this will be dealt with in the fall,” Green said.

The ZCC’s timeline has already been extended by City Council, to June 30 of this year. Should Council take more time with hearings, or should the code referral be substantially delayed, Council would have to authorize another extension.
At the end of the meeting, Green did leave open the possibility of a supporting a vote on February 9.

“If there are few or limited changes, I have no problem voting this out on the 9th,” Green said. “We have really taken care to go out to the public, to go to communities, to allow public comment, and I don’t want, from a political perspective, or any other perspective, for somebody to be able to say, ‘Well, this new thing came up in the final version, and they didn’t give us a chance to address that in a public meeting, to think about it and be thoughtful about it,’ prior to [the ZCC] voting,” he said. 

Contact the reporter at ngilewicz@planphilly.com

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