It’s not uncommon for a city zoning code to require certain kinds of businesses to obtain a zoning variance before setting up shop. Business groups can oppose the implementation of such requirements, but when they’re in place, a business owner or developer may have to appear before a zoning board to seek rezoning or a variance. It is a good idea, then, to have a real estate attorney on your side.

The Philadelphia City Council recently approved a measure designed to restrict the number of doctors’ offices in the northeast part of the city. According to two city councilmen, their districts are “inundated” with medical practices, and the council unanimously voted in favor of a bill that requires that doctors obtain a zoning variance if they want to start a practice on the upper northeast side.

As you might expect, medical professionals oppose the restriction. At a council meeting, a member of the Philadelphia County Medical Society suggested that the real intent of the zoning requirement is to keep methadone clinics out of Northeast Philadelphia.

The councilman who proposed the bill denies that intention.

He says he simply wants to give the community an opportunity to weigh in on the matter. A doctor’s or a dentist’s office could still open up in the area, but the zoning board would have to give approval first.

There is still a good possibility that the zoning plan will not be implemented. The mayor still has to give approval, and the Planning Commission has already recommended that he reject the measure.

Philadelphia residents with zoning and land use concerns may want to follow up to see how the issue unfolds.

Source: CBS Philly, “City Council Demands Zoning Restrictions on Doctors’ Offices in NE Phila.,” Mike Dunn, Nov. 21, 2013