Mayor Jim Kenney has selected Confesor Plaza, a field representative with the Laborers’ Union Local 57, to serve on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the independent board that decides when to grant exceptions to zoning rules.
Plaza owns a house in Lawncrest and is up-to-date on his property taxes, according to city records. He doesn’t have a history of donating to political campaigns locally or nationally, though his union endorsed Kenney during the mayoral primary.
Plaza was selected to replace Greg Pastore, a former member of the Zoning Code Commission that rewrote the zoning code over the course of four years, culminating with the new code’s adoption in 2011. Pastore had served on the board since being appointed by former Mayor Michael Nutter in 2012.
Kenney will be making more appointments in the next few weeks, according to Karen Guss, communications director for the Department of Licenses & Inspections, which provides administrative support for the ZBA.
The board is currently chaired by Julia Chapman, a former aide to Michael Nutter. Other members include Sam Staten, Jr., the business manager for Laborers’ Local 332, and Carol Tinari, who serves on the boards of various civic organizations and is married to local defense attorney Nino Tinari.
Building trades unions have typically had at least one representative on the zoning board. Until recently, Sheet Metal Workers representative Gary Masino served on the board as well.
Pastore was, in many ways, an anomaly of an appointment. A landlord who had previously chaired Bella Vista’s neighborhood zoning committee, Pastore was knowledgeable about zoning rules prior to his appointment, which is rare enough. Rarer still—unique even—he was seemingly passionate about zoning, once suggesting to me that if Philadelphians treated traffic laws the way we treat zoning laws, we’d all be dead. In cases before the board, he often was the lone nay vote, doing his part to uphold the zoning rules that he had helped create.
Pastore didn’t want to comment on being replaced, except to say that he did not resign.
Guss didn’t specify which current members of the board, if any, would remain.