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Land Use & Zoning Archives

Historic church headed toward 'adaptive reuse' as daycare, condos


This blog has written about numerous instances in Philadelphia where an historic church has been slated for demolition or renovation only to encounter opposition from former parishoners or other preservationists. Another historic church may have been headed for a similar fate when a developer purchased the building and announced a redevelopment plan that preserved the "interior fabric" of the church. The plan has just received approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Jewelers' Row dispute moves to Historical Commission


Several weeks ago, this blog wrote about the controversy surrounding the proposal by Toll Brothers to demolish five properties on a stretch of Sansom Street known as Jewelers' Row in Philadelphia and replace them with a 16-story condominium tower. At that time, the city notified the developer that the commercial real estate project must be considered by the City's Design Review committee before demolition can begin. Now, the dispute has found a new forum - the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Commission.

More review needed for Jewelers' Row condo tower


Lying just one block from Independence Hall, Jewelers' Row is one of Philadelphia's most historically significant merchant districts. Since 1851, the district has been home to hundreds of jewelers. Now, however, a condominium development project will forever change the face of Jewelers' Row - if it receives approval from the City's Design Review Committee.

Denial of variance may force treatment center to close


In Philadelphia and its suburbs, zoning boards often operate under the radar. Their decisions on rezonings, conditional use permits, map overlays and other land use issues receive little publicity unless a decision threatens the economic well-being of another business. Such a dispute is just beginning in Easton, where the zoning board has denied a use variance request that may force an alcohol and drug treatment center to close.

New zoning overlay may lead to shopping center revival


This blog has on several occasions written about the efforts of neighborhoods to stop or significantly modify various development proposals in the Philadelphia area. Now, a decision by a local zoning board to approve a significant re-zoning to allow an expanded commercial real estate development appears to have the approval of all concerned parties - including the adjacent neighborhoods.

Justice Department sues Bensalem Township over mosque denial


Bensalem Township is Bucks County's largest municipality, and it contains temples, synagogues and churches; however, there aren't any mosques. In 2014 the township's zoning board refused to grant a variance to allow construction of a mosque, and it has now been accused of illegal discrimination in a lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice.

Developer and city settle affordable housing dispute


Two weeks ago, this blog discussed the controversy that resulted when the developer of One Water Place reneged on an agreement to provide a specified number of affordable units in the building. At the time of the post, the developer had not yet responded to the City of Philadelphia's accusation that it had violated the terms of the zoning permit granted by the City's zoning board. Now, the parties have settled the dispute with the developer agreeing to make a specified payment of $3.75 million to the City.

What are zoning regulations and what impact can they have?


Zoning regulations are important for many reasons and are important to understand but you may have questions and wonder what they are. In general, zoning laws govern the use of property; including land use; the height and size of buildings; property uses; the character and development of the property; parking requirements; population density; and the placement of signs.

Developer reneges on zoning deal after receiving height bonus


In our previous blog post, we wrote about how a developer used the height bonus provision in the Philadelphia zoning code to obtain permission to add 15 feet to its proposed apartment building by adding specified amenities. Now, the city is facing a different quandary regarding a height bonus that it granted for a commercial real estate development. After the city granted a height bonus based upon the developer's apparent agreement to include a number of below-market rate apartments, the developer has reneged on the agreement, even though construction is almost complete.

Height bonus for fresh food market allows developer to proceed


The Philadelphia Zoning Code is a long and very complex document. Sometimes, a detailed knowledge of its provisions can mean the difference between approval and rejection of a development plan, as demonstrated by a proposal to construct a mixed-use project at 601 Christian Street.

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