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Mayor's veto on zoning code bill overridden

Philadelphia's city council recently stepped in and saved a new bill from veto by the mayor that will effect the city's zoning code.

Under the new bill, zoning applicants and registered community organizations are forced to notify neighbors within one block of a project site about any pending projects. The bill will also make a number of meetings with registered community organizations over such projects a must. In the past, only one meeting with registered community organizations was required. Also, a committee compiled to offer insights on major development projects was expanded under the bill and the committee will now include a member of the city council.

While city council might have stopped the mayor from vetoing the bill, some councilmembers have aligned with the mayor's position on the issue. Detractors of the bill said that the new measures simply introduce more red tape that will hold developers back from finishing their projects, which can levy a blow to local employment numbers.

Under the new bill, a resident that wants to stall a project can simply lie and say they never received a notice from the zoning applicant.

That was not the only issue discussed at the recent city council session. The council also debated on whether or not they wanted to override another veto by the mayor. This one was made against a project that would see a large, digital ad placed on a building near a highway.

The council did not make a decision. The mayor chose to veto the project after learning from the Federal Highway Administration and PennDOT that the ad would violate the law because it is too close to the highway. This meant the city would receive less funding for its highways over the next three years.

As shown in these latest developments, zoning codes are constantly changing. Developers need to stay on top of them in order to avoid any costly missteps during a project.

Source: Philly.com, "Zoning the overriding issue with City Council," Jan Ransom, Jan. 25, 2013

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