Neighborhood groups come to council to call for continued say in Philly development

Some Philadelphia community groups and residents are upset about who gets to have a say under the city’s new zoning code.

Under the revised code, developments as small as 25 thousand square feet need review by registered community organizations.

Kiki Bolander of the Design Advocacy Group says the goal is to make sure developments fit in a neighborhood.

“The new zoning code requires an applicant to contact local groups who need to work together to hold one meeting with the applicant,” Bolander said. “That, in itself. is a great step forward. It won’t always be easy, but the code is designed to have people work together and resolve their difficulties.”

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Elsie Wise of the West Powelton Concerned Community Council says the arrangement could allow longstanding groups to be excluded.

“I was not sure what I was supposed to do, but I was told if I did not register then Councilwoman (Jannie) Blackwell would put someone in my spot and I couldn’t see that. I’ve been head of my group for over 40 years,” Wise said. “I don’t think it was good for me to be pushed aside.”

Blackwell has proposed numerous changes, including requiring developers to meet with multiple community groups.

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