PCPC gets more time on Central Delaware Overlay; DiCicco amends height limit

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission is likely to get a couple of months more time to pass a set of formal regulations related to the Central Delaware Overlay District.

Meanwhile, First District Councilman Frank DiCicco, who sponsored the overlay legislation, last week introduced an amendment that states there is no height restriction on buildings built within it. DiCicco called it a “clarification” of what has always been the legislation’s intent.

(The bill language is not yet posted. Just a summary.)

The overlay, which applies to land between Oregon and Allegheny Avenues, is meant to be a placeholder until the Master Plan for the Central Delaware is finished in about a year and half, or so. It establishes some guidelines, including a waterfront setback of 100 feet or 10 percent of a property, whichever is less. The regulations are meant to flesh out the regulations, establishing a set of clear standards that would show both would-be developers and those who would approve those developments what is expected.

The original deadline, set when the mayor signed the legislation which City Council passed  in June 2009, was Feb. 16.  The PCPC was set to vote on the guidelines at its January meeting, but representatives of a pro-development group, an anti-casino group and a preservation group objected, saying that the public had not had time to review them.

PCPC Executive Director Alan Greenberger said recently that he would ask DiCicco – who proposed the overlay – to introduce a bill that would give the PCPC “a couple of months” more time.

Brian Abernathy, chief of staff for DiCicco, said the Councilman would take planning commission guidance on how much more time was needed.

DiCicco and Greenberger do not think waiting another two months for the specific guidelines is a big deal. For one thing, both men said in separate interviews, the poor economy means there isn’t likely to be a lot of building proposals cropping up now. 

But the Planning Commission can also use its standard practices for plan of development approval, take additional guidance from the overlay language, and use “common sense,” Greenberger said.

One project located between Oregon and Allegheny – Waterview Grande at Brown Street and North Delaware Avenue – has received Planning Commisison approval without the guidelines. http://planphilly.com/pcpc-moves-ahead-stamper-square-waterview-grande

Gary Jastrzab, the planning commission’s deputy executive director, said the overlay language and the usual plan of development procedures were considered. He also noted that because Waterview is not on the water side of Delaware Avenue, some of the key provisions of the overlay, including the setback, did not apply, anyway.

Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates. Contact the reporter at kelliespatrick@gmail.com

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