PHILADELPHIA – City Council yesterday voted to approve a bill introduced by Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker (9th District) that requires developers of mid- and large-scale projects to complete a form outlining the potential impact of their development on neighborhoods to better inform residents and businesses.
The Project Information Form will ask developers to provide a brief description of the potential impact on traffic, parking, and the environment, as well as key information about the project such as the proposed use, anticipated construction period, and job creation. The legislation will apply to any project that is 2,500 square feet or more and requires action by the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Civic Design Review Committee, or Council ordinance. Single-family homes, duplexes, and triplexes are excluded. The information provided in the form will not be legally binding and is for informational purposes only.
“The adoption of this legislation is a huge win-win for the community and developers. For the first time in the city’s history, all community groups, regardless of their size, technical capacity, or skill set, will receive a baseline of information when it comes to potential development in their neighborhood,” Parker said. “It also provides developers with a transparent tool to help prevent the spread of misinformation about proposed projects by making the information accessible to all parties.”
“The biggest obstacle for our organization in determining whether or not to support or oppose a project is a lack of information,” said Don Garecht, vice president of the Burholme Community Town Watch and Civic Association, a Registered Community Organization (RCO). “Despite our best efforts to communicate with applicants, on many occasions, we do not have basic details about projects until our community meetings. The Project Information Form will help educate community participants and further professionalizes the zoning process. The result of this commonsense legislation is a better working relationship between developers and residents.”
“The range of information provided to the RCO from the city and the applicant has varied from a statement of three lines or less that reflects little thought or preparation to full documentation and slide presentations,” said Bernadette Tanksley, a member of the Oak Lane Community Action Association (OLCAA) RCO. “As the community attempts to review applications it becomes clear that at the very least, an informed recommendation requires significantly more than is currently required. The Project Information Form addresses an extensive array of highly relevant information. It alerts applicants to items that deserve consideration such as job creation, community impact, and community benefit or detriment.”
Under the bill, applicants will be required to complete the form and submit it to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Civic Design Review Committee, or attach it to the Council ordinance or resolution. The city will also post the form on its website for public review.
The legislation will take effect in 180 days.
“I want to thank my Council colleagues, Mayor Kenney and his Administration, and the many stakeholders who took part in this historic legislation.” Parker said. “It has been a truly collaborative process, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to ensure smooth implementation.”
Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker represents the 9th District, which includes East Mt. Airy, West Oak Lane, East Oak Lane, Lawncrest, Burholme, Olney and parts of Oxford Circle and Logan. She is Chair of Council’s Committee on Labor and Civil Service and Vice Chair of Council’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.