The Council Committee on Rules passed Councilwoman Cindy Bass’ Registered Community Organization (RCO) Protections Bill out of committee on Tuesday. The bill seeks to establish guidelines for the zoning process and adds protections for RCOs, developers and neighborhood residents.
“This bill is about notification,” Councilwoman Bass said at the hearing. “I would certainly hope that everyone could understand that this is about consumers and consumer protection, and this bill protects both the RCOs and the developers.”
Bass’ RCO Protections Bill seeks to amend the Philadelphia Code to improve the zoning process by:
- Extending the “One Year Rule,” to require zoning applicants to wait one year before refiling dismissed, withdrawn or denied zoning applications,
- Requiring that zoning applicants notify the appropriate RCO and affected property owners of public meeting dates and times using a certificate of mailing,
- Improving the visibility of notification signage for zoning hearings, and;
- Extending the amount of time zoning hearing notices must be posted.
“Councilwoman Cindy Bass is our person of the year,” said Rev. Chester Williams, chair of Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club. “For those who do not know and work with RCOs, this is a crisis for us…. This proposal is a great blessing. We need this now!”
Said Eric Brice of the Logan Civic Association, “On the whole, I think these amendments are good, they’re positive, to make a less than perfect process better. When you’re talking about communities who are invested stakeholders, being notified properly in a way that’s cost effective is beneficial to both parties.”
Bass’ bill also requires the City Planning Commission to notify property owners when their property’s zoning classification has been changed.
“This bill ensures that developers are protected from any accusations that they did not properly notify residents by putting clear notification protocol in place,” Bass said. “It protects RCOs and neighbors by ensuring they receive ample notification and information about any development that may affect their neighborhood. This bill is an exact reflection of conversations I’ve had with neighbors, RCOs and developers, and it will improve the zoning and development process citywide.”
Said 13th Ward Leader Charles Carn, “We concur with your amendments. The 13th Ward RCO and around our area, we appreciate you.”
The bill will be reported out of committee during the City Council stated meeting on Thursday.
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Councilwoman Cindy Bass represents the 8th Council District, which includes Germantown, Mt. Airy, Nicetown, Tioga, Chestnut Hill, portions of Logan, and West Oak Lane. She is Chair of Council’s committees on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Public Health and Human Services.