Development Workshop still pushing to eliminate design standards

Craig Schelter of the Development Workshop has sent PlanPhilly his group’s feedback on the referral draft of Philadelphia’s new Zoning Code. Submitted on January 21, the last day for written feedback on the the draft, the Development Workshop’s letter and comments reiterate its frustration that zoning revision is happening prior to the completion of a comprehensive city plan.

But perhaps in recognition that, even if delayed, zoning revision seems likely to be completed before the new city plan, the Development Workshop’s pragmatic criticisms group its concerns under the broader issue of clarifying and streamlining as-of-right development. Specifically, the Development Workshop, is still pushing to have some development standards removed.

“What you really need to do is to take out 703, 706 and 708,” Schelter said, referring to the sections of Chapter 14-700 that regulate form and design, open space and natural resources, and fencing and walls, respectively.

“You don’t have to do all that detailed design work up front before a zoning permit,” he said. “It represents a lack of understanding of how much work a developer will do on a project. He’s not going to do all this work up front if there are all of these standards we don’t understand, or seem very arbitrary, before he can get an as-of-right permit.”

In a December inteview with Schelter, he said that the previous round of comments—which are included in this set as well—brought together concerns articulated by, among others: Barbara Kaplan, former executive director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission; Richard Lombardo, another past PCPC executive director who frequently appears with Schelter at Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, and who advises Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll on real estate projects; Jerry Roller, an architect and the founder of JKR Partners; Robert Keppel, a partner at Cope Linder Architects; attorneys from Cozen O’Connor, Blank Rome, and Ballard Spahr; and some of Philadelphia’s largest developers including Brandywine Realty Trust, Liberty Property Trust, and Dranoff Properties.

Attached to this round of feedback are a seven-page memo from Jerry Roller and eleven pages of memos from Thomas P. Witt, an attorney with Cozen O’Connor. Click the link at the bottom of this story for a full PDF of the Development Workshop’s comments. For a ZCC summary of feedback on the referal draft, click here for a PDF.

Later today, the Zoning Code Commission will brief City Council on the new code. On Wednesday, February 9, the commissioners are tentatively scheduled to vote on a recommendation at the next meeting of the ZCC.

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