Dec. 17: shooters, zoning 2012, RCO changes, OCF in historical hot seat, Bunting House demo

Good morning, Streeters. Here’s what’s making news this Monday morning:

Our hearts are heavy to start the week. While the nation struggles with what happened in Newtown, CT (and what to do about it) the Philadelphia Police Department searches for the teenage brothers who shot into a SEPTA train at 46th and Market last week (the second such shooting in a few months), and our city’s homicide rate climbs to what will likely be the highest it’s been in years. Will Bunch wonders if Newtown will be a turning point in America’s thinking about gun control.

Beginning this week, PlanPhilly is slowing down and spending some time looking back at 2012. First up is Jared Brey’s look back at the biggest zoning stories this year: City Council’s irresistible urge to alter the brand new zoning code, the fight over 50-foot riparian buffers, parking minimums, the showdown between Norris Square Civic Association and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez over the razing and redevelopment of St. Boniface, and new developments like 205 Race Street.

On the zoning-reform revision tip: Jared Brey reports that City Council voted in favor of changes to Registered Community Organizations advanced by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. Blackwell’s bill relaxed the requirements for RCO status, requires notice be given to all neighbors within a one-block radius of a project, allows council members to appoint more than one representative to the Civic Design Review Committee, and requires more than one meeting between developers and community groups. Blackwell says her changes will provide more community members with a greater voice in the zoning process, though nothing in the new zoning code would have suppressed that voice. Opponents of Blackwell’s bill say it will encumber the zoning process for all.

Developer Ori Feibush has been working to turn the old Mugshots location on Fairmount Avenue into one of his OCF Coffee Houses, but failed to get necessary approvals from the Historical Commission for exterior renovations. PlanPhilly’s JoAnn Greco reports that Feibush’s team had permission to remove stucco to assess the ground floor lintels, but they kept going and replaced historic windows with aluminum ones on the building in the Spring Garden Historic District. On Friday the Historical Commission unanimously voted against approving the work retroactively. “Now Feibush and his team will have to come back with a plan to un-do the damage.”

Contractors began to raze the Bunting House on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough Friday after a judge refused to block the demolition, reports Amy Z. Quinn for PlanPhilly/NewsWorks.  Though historic, the house was not protected through designation by the Historical Commission.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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