No amendments to stream buffer legislation yet

Two Northeast Philadelphia district Councilmen—Bobby Henon and Brian O’Neill of the 8th and 10th districts respectively—expressed support for a waterfront setback of 50 feet in conversations with PlanPhilly Thursday afternoon.

Both said that they’ve had no part in pushing for a reduction to the buffers, but that they would wait until the still-unscheduled hearings before ruling out any potential changes to the legislation introduced in September.

“I don’t see a problem with 50 [feet],” said Councilman O’Neill. “If it is a problem for somebody, I’m just not aware of it.”

O’Neill added that 50 feet may even be too small for some waterways in his district.

Councilman Henon said that he would keep an open mind about the size of the buffer through the impending hearings, but that he fully supports a 50-foot setback.

“I am going to entertain taking a look at what proposals are out there,” Henon said. “I haven’t made a decision on where I stand with anything less than 50 at this point. I’m OK with 50 for sure. That’s a definite. I want to take a look at the hydrology maps a little more. For me, it’s a complex issue, and I want to make sure that I hear all the sides in the hearing so I can better make my decision.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requires a minimum 25-foot buffer to new development on all waterways, and recommends a buffer of 100 feet. Philadelphia’s disbanded Zoning Code Commission settled on a 50-foot setback for all waterways that contribute to the City’s drinking water sources. The Water Department favors a 50-foot setback, particularly on smaller, non-river waterways which are more vulnerable to pollution and erosion.

The hydrology map prepared by the Water Department identifies all the water courses in the city, which caused Councilmen Henon and Green to delay the buffer provision’s effective date back in June. Over the summer, Councilman Bill Green’s office organized a working group of environmentalists, developers, and representatives of some district Council offices, which formulated the bill introduced earlier this month calling for a citywide 50-foot buffer.

Councilmembers Mark Squilla, Curtis Jones, and Cindy Bass all participated in the working group, and support the 50-foot buffer, according to others in attendance. In fact, Jones originally supported the 100-foot buffer, according to his press secretary.

Earlier this week, the environmental group PennFuture sent a message to its members saying that some unidentified Council members were pushing for a reduction to 25 feet for the setback. While it is yet to be seen whether any amendments will be attached to the setback bill, no amendments are being drafted currently, according to several members of City Council.

In other news, Councilman Bill Greenlee introduced a bill Thursday morning on behalf of the Nutter Administration making technical changes to the new zoning code. PlanPhilly will link to the legislation when City Council posts it.

Contact the reporter at jaredbrey@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @jaredbrey

Two Northeast Philadelphia district Councilmen—Bobby Henon and Brian O’Neill of the 8th and 10th districts respectively—expressed support for a waterfront setback of 50 feet in conversations with PlanPhilly Thursday afternoon.

Both said that they’ve had no part in pushing for a reduction to the buffers, but that they would wait until the still-unscheduled hearings before ruling out any potential changes to the legislation introduced in September.

“I don’t see a problem with 50 [feet],” said Councilman O’Neill. “If it is a problem for somebody, I’m just not aware of it.”

O’Neill added that 50 feet may even be too small for some waterways in his district.

Councilman Henon said that he would keep an open mind about the size of the buffer through the impending hearings, but that he fully supports a 50-foot setback.

“I am going to entertain taking a look at what proposals are out there,” Henon said. “I haven’t made a decision on where I stand with anything less than 50 at this point. I’m OK with 50 for sure. That’s a definite. I want to take a look at the hydrology maps a little more. For me, it’s a complex issue, and I want to make sure that I hear all the sides in the hearing so I can better make my decision.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requires a minimum 25-foot buffer to new development on all waterways, and recommends a buffer of 100 feet. Philadelphia’s disbanded Zoning Code Commission settled on a 50-foot setback for all waterways that contribute to the City’s drinking water sources. The Water Department favors a 50-foot setback, particularly on smaller, non-river waterways which are more vulnerable to pollution and erosion.

The hydrology map prepared by the Water Department identifies all the water courses in the city, which caused Councilmen Henon and Green to delay the buffer provision’s effective date back in June. Over the summer, Councilman Bill Green’s office organized a working group of environmentalists, developers, and representatives of some district Council offices, which formulated the bill introduced earlier this month calling for a citywide 50-foot buffer.

Councilmembers Mark Squilla, Curtis Jones, and Cindy Bass all participated in the working group, and support the 50-foot buffer, according to others in attendance. In fact, Jones originally supported the 100-foot buffer, according to his press secretary.

Earlier this week, the environmental group PennFuture sent a message to its members saying that some unidentified Council members were pushing for a reduction to 25 feet for the setback. While it is yet to be seen whether any amendments will be attached to the setback bill, no amendments are being drafted currently, according to several members of City Council.

In other news, Councilman Bill Greenlee introduced a bill Thursday morning on behalf of the Nutter Administration making technical changes to the new zoning code. PlanPhilly will link to the legislation when City Council posts it.

Contact the reporter at jaredbrey@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @jaredbrey

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