Zoning code reform doesn’t sound very sexy. But all that esoteric talk of “allowed uses” and “C2 districts” can determine how bike-friendly a city is, whether a gun shop can open in your neighborhood, or how urban farms operate. Philadelphia’s Zoning Code Commission is currently finalizing a whole new draft of the city’s zoning code, which will go to City Council next year. In this short series, PlanPhilly will analyze how the new code affects neighborhoods in Northwest Philadelphia.
At least one aspect of zoning reform will seriously affect Chestnut Hill, and it’s got nothing to do with land use, building height requirements or anything else usually associated with planning.
It’s the Civic Design Review Committee standards. This committee — which doesn’t exist in the current code — will be comprised of architects, urban planners, developers and one member of the community where the project is being proposed. These members will provide a recommendation for projects with a significant impact, such as buildings with more than 100 residences or 100,000 new square feet — and it’s totally advisory. In other words, the Department of Licenses & Inspection, the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Planning Commission and City Council don’t have to listen to the committee’s ideas whatsoever. READ MORE