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September 2017 Zoning Committee Update

The GCCA Zoning Committee typically meets the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 pm in the Center for Culinary Enterprises (310 S. 48th St). The goal of the committee is to represent the community’s voice on all development projects that require a Zoning Variance, as well as to ensure that Garden Court is positioned to grow and change while maintaining the attributes that both drew individuals to, and kept families within, our neighborhood.

Negotiations are currently ongoing with the developers of the proposed development at 4900 Spruce St. As updates and proposals are submitted, they will be communicated to the neighborhood.

The Zoning Committee is also assessing the corrective zoning recommendations for Garden Court that are part of the “Philadelphia2035” district plan. Philadelphia2035 is the comprehensive plan for managing growth and development for the city.

Based on community feedback, a number of zoning changes were recommended for Garden Court in 2011 when our plan was completed. These changes would have prevented specific blocks of single-family homes from being sub-divided, ensured Barkan Park could not be sold and developed in the future, and would ensure that the density of certain blocks makes sense for our neighborhood. However, even though these recommendations were finalized 6 years ago, they can only be implemented through an act of City Council. The GCCA Zoning Committee is currently reviewing the recommended changes, and hope to activate the community to ask Council to finish the implementation of our plan. Please look to future editions of this newsletter for updates on this process. In the meantime, feel free to read our district plan (which includes other neighborhoods besides Garden Court).

Over the course of this year the Zoning Committee also is looking to be a forum for public comment on bills that are before City Council that impact zoning issues. Currently there are two proposed bills that are relevant, a bill for Inclusion Zoning (IZ) that requires low-income units be mandated in new large-scale projects, as well as a bill that would change Mandatory Parking Minimums. The normal monthly meetings include time to hear opinions on these bills, and we welcome all voices and thoughts on these matters.

DID YOU KNOW: There are two types of Zoning Variances? A Dimensional Variance is when a developer wishes to build a property that does not align to the zoning code; this may apply when there is a height limit, a front/rear/side set-back requirement, or a density limit. A Use Variance is when a project wants to utilize the space in a way not explicitly allowed in the zoning code; for example, if an apartment building zoned for residential use would like to put a restaurant in on the first floor. If either type of variance is being sought by a developer, there must be community input before permission is granted.

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