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Even with commercial zoning, taco truck owner hits RCO snags

Registered Community Organizations, or RCOs, regularly have a say on zoning issues in Philadelphia communities. For example, if a person wants to open a business in a neighborhood, then the business owner is supposed to contact all of the interested RCOs, which can then support or oppose the zoning proposal at the zoning hearing.

However, business owners sometimes run into trouble by not contacting all of the RCOs with interest in a particular property. The trouble in many cases is that the RCOs may be so numerous that the business owner overlooks one, and the overlooked RCO can then show up at a zoning hearing and move to postpone it until after the RCO meets with the business owner.

That was the case for the owner of a vacant lot on Baltimore Avenue, not far from 51st Street. She is also the owner of a taco truck, and she sought to make the lot, which she found out was commercially zoned for restaurant use, the headquarters for her mobile restaurant.

To her surprise, the Cedar Park resident discovered that there were six local RCOs for her neighborhood. She says that she mistakenly didn't contact one of these local RCOs, and a representative from the organization came to the zoning hearing and requested a meeting, effectively holding up the zoning proceedings.

According to the taco truck owner, the ensuing meeting with the RCO representative did not go well.

To address some of the snags this business owner encountered, a city councilman has proposed a bill that would alleviate some of the burden placed on variance applicants. For more on the contents of that bill, please see the article we've linked to below.

For more on legal issues related to zoning and commercial real estate, please visit our real estate law website.

Source: Philadelphia City Paper, "Guac blocked: How overlapping civic groups can stand in the way of a simple taco stand," Ryan Briggs, Jan. 23, 2014

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