May 3: Council ok’s ads on city buildings | ZBA hands out garage variances | Dilworth progress update | Wissahickon adventure course stalled | EPA gives NJ & NJ millions

Happy cool, sunny Friday, Street team!

City Council approved legislation allowing advertisements on City buildings and trash trucks. NewsWorks reports that Council President Darrell Clarke spearheaded the bill in hopes that the ads will generate critical revenue. Clarke said he hopes this advertising push will generate as much revenue for the City as similar ad sales have generated for SEPTA. Given the recently released, in-depth study of SEPTA’s financial woes, one might question the wisdom of the City looking to SEPTA for financial guidance. 

In Inga Saffron’s column today she charges the Zoning Board of Adjustments (ZBA) with “effectively setting its own planning policy” by allowing developer after developer to install ground floor garages. In doing so, ZBA goes against the City Council approved zoning code, which banned garage-fronted row houses to prevent blank ground floors. Saffron said it is particularly distrubing to see ZBA issue garage variances in cases where the Planning Commission, neighborhood association and councilman have all voiced opposition. “Everyone of these faceless garage doors is like a dagger in the body of the city,” Saffron writes. 

After months of working below grade, Dilworth Plaza crews will surface next month and begin work above ground, the Inquirer reports. Much of the below ground work, including utility relocation, new passageways and elevator construction, has been progressing since the project broke ground in January 2012. Center City District, which is overseeing the $70 million project, hopes it will be complete by July 2014.  

After public outcry against the proposed Wissahickon tree top adventure course, the Parks and Recreation Department has put a hold on further action and discussion. This will give the department time to conduct an “internal re-evaluation of the concept,” NewsWorks reported Thursday. 

The EPA announced it will give New Jersey $229 million and New York $340 million to fund projects that will help prevent sewage spillage during storms like last fall’s Superstorm Sandy. According to a study released this week by independent Climate Central, 11 billion gallons of sewage seeped into waterways and city streets in the Northeast during Sandy. More than 10 billion of those gallons can be traced back to New Jersey and New York. 

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