Mayor Michael Nutter signs the new code into law

Philadelphia made the final step toward reforming its zoning code when Mayor Michael Nutter signed the new code into law at a bill-signing ceremony in City Hall on Thursday morning. There was standing room only in the Mayor’s Reception Room for the duration of the ceremony.

Nutter began his remarks by thanking Councilman Frank DiCicco, who jump started the zoning reform project four years ago by introducing legislation to create the Zoning Code Commission.

“This is one of the brightest commissions ever put together,” Nutter said. “31 people on the Commission from all over the city taking on a complicated, Byzantine, bizarre zoning code …”

Nutter said that the new code is a huge step for development in our city. “When we set our minds to it and we stay focused …” Nutter said, “We can do big things in the City of Philadelphia.”

Nutter was then joined at the podium by Councilman DiCicco, Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger, and Eva Gladstein, former director of the Zoning Code Commission. Each read a list of thank-yous honoring not only the 31 members of the ZCC, but also the myriad stakeholder groups and members of the public who have repeatedly weighed in on zoning reform over the past four years.

Greenberger said he was particularly proud that the Commission had conducted its business in near-complete transparency. Each ZCC meeting was open to the public–and filmed by PlanPhilly.

Gladstein was the true star of the ceremony, however. Her introduction by Mayor Nutter was met with a standing ovation. Natalie Shieh, the ZCC’s project manager, received special attention in Gladstein’s long expression of gratitude to those who brought zoning reform to fruition. Gladstein said that hiring Shieh was the best of the many decisions she made as director of the ZCC. Finally, she asked for the continued support of the former commissioners and the public as the new code is implemented over the next year.

“I learned that even though zoning codes are long and dry–400 pages over there–people get very passionate about them,” Gladstein said. “I also learned that people who develop buildings and people who care about development in their neighborhoods have a lot more in common than they think … We learned that zoning doesn’t control behavior, we learned that it will not cure the recession or bring the market back tomorrow, and it’s not even going to cure the common cold. But I do have … an appreciation for all the impact that zoning does have for everybody who lives here, who works here, and who visits here.”

Stay tuned to PlanPhilly for coverage of zoning code implementation and amendment over the coming year.

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