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Council passes legislation ending Central Delaware height limits, granting planners more time

A bill ending height restrictions on all properties within the Central Delaware Overlay that are not zoned residential or light commercial awaits Mayor Michael Nutter’s signature.

City Council unanimously passed the bill at its meeting last week.

The legislation, introduced by First District Councilman Frank DiCicco, amended the overlay, a temporary zoning measure designed to protect the waterfront from development that goes counter to the city’s long-range goals until a master plan and associated zoning are in place.

The amendment also gives the city planning commission an extra two months to develop the guidelines that will govern the implementation of the overlay.

The Central Delaware Advocacy Group lobbied against passing the legislation unless another zoning category were exempted along with C-2 commercial and residential – Commercial Entertainment District, the classification that allows for casinos.

DiCicco said at the committee hearing on the legislation that he thought exempting the CED zones would be redundant, because part of the CED definition says it takes precedence over any conflicting law. But CDAG Chairman Steven Weixler said he’d feel better with an overt exemption, which CDAG believed would be insurance in any future court cases.

Bill Kramer, director of the city planning commission’s development division, said at the hearing that he would talk to the legal department, who would then advise DiCicco.

DiCicco’s policy chief could not be reached for comment Monday. Kramer said in a voice mail that he expected if the CED concern were to be addressed, it would happen through another piece of legislation. He said that because any project on property with a CED designation would have to go through a detailed Plan of Development process, that process would “take care of any height restrictions or height requirements” and nothing that exceeds what is within the CED zoning language would be approved.

For that reason, he said, “I don’t think it much matters” that the amendment to the overlay does not explicitly say the CED height limits still stand. 

Previous coverage.

-Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates

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