PHILADELPHIA – Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker (9th District) introduced a bill Thursday that will require 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 about the potential impact on traffic, parking, and the environment, as well as key information 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, a Civic Design Review or Council ordinance, excluding single-family homes, duplexes or triplexes. The information provided in the form will not be legally binding and is for information purposes only.
“The Project Information Form is a communication tool intended to level the playing field by ensuring that all community groups, regardless of their size, technical capacity or skill set, receive a baseline of information when it comes to potential development in their neighborhood,” Parker said. “I am confident that this will not hamper or delay development, but instead provide a greater level of transparency and help prevent the spread of misinformation about proposed projects.”
David Feldman, executive director of The Development Workshop, said, “The Development Workshop is appreciative of the process that Councilwoman Parker undertook before introducing this bill, reaching out to members of the development community and representatives of neighborhood organizations to get feedback on her proposed legislation. As a result of this proactive process, the final proposed Project Information Form is consistent with the process and intent of Civic Design Review and the ZBA hearings. We thank Councilwoman Parker for this open and inclusive process prior to the formal introduction of her proposed legislation.”
Ken Weinstein, president of Philly Office Retail, added, “Once again, Councilwoman Cherelle Parker has anticipated the needs of her constituents and the residents of Philadelphia by introducing this forward-thinking legislation. I strongly support the addition of a Project Information Form because it prompts real estate developers and investors for the information they should be providing anyway to Registered Community Organizations when proposing a new project. Councilwoman Parker actively sought out the opinions of many stakeholders before introducing this legislation and it shows.”
“The Councilwoman has implemented an iterative process to collect feedback from various stakeholders over the last several months,” said Commerce Director Harold T. Epps. “The Administration is very appreciative of Councilwoman Parker’s efforts to allow ample time and input prior to introduction of the bill, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Councilwoman on her proposal as it formally enters the legislative process.”
Paula McKinney-Rainey, chair of the 61st Ward Executive Committee RCO, noted: “The Project Information Form will be a functional tool to lay out the main components of development projects presented to RCO’s and community-based organizations, and will encourage standardization and level the playing field across the City. We feel strongly it should be codified for larger projects as specified in the proposed legislation.”
“The impact of development is more than just a physical change to our built environment,” said Matthew Monroe, member of the South of South Neighborhood Association Board of Directors and a land use attorney. “It affects the overall feel, the quality of the environment and the economic viability of our neighborhoods. The Project Information Form seeks to level the regulatory playing field by giving all RCO’s answers to quality-of-community questions that development professionals on RCO boards are already asking.”
Applicants would be required to distribute the form to the District City Council office, RCO’s, and all residents and businesses within 200 feet of the property, as already provided in the Zoning Code, prior to any public hearing or community meeting about the project. The form would also be posted online by the appropriate City agency.
“While several groups have told us this legislation does not go far enough, we have worked hard to ensure that this bill does not stymie growth or development in the City, while at the same time providing a vehicle for richer dialogue between developers and the community,” Parker said. “I sincerely thank all of our stakeholders for providing valuable feedback as part of the drafting process, and I look forward to their continued input as we move this bill toward the goal line.”
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.