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Land Use & Zoning Archives

Urban Outfitters threatens to pull out of Devon Yard project


A long-pending proposal to redevelop Waterloo Gardens and adjacent properties with upscale retail and restaurants and apartments is facing some crucial decisions by the Easttown Township Planning Commission. It is also facing a threat by a prospective tenant to withdraw from the project - known as Devon Yard - if neighbors who object to the commercial real estate development elect to appeal an approval of the zoning overlay map that is currently before the Planning Commission.

Understanding development agreements in Pennsylvania


This blog has written repeatedly about the effect of comprehensive plans, zoning maps and zoning overlays on real estate development in Philadelphia. In virtually every such post, the issue was a conflict between the developer and either the municipality or a community group. A new type of land use control is being used to minimize these conflicts and provide municipalities a more flexible means of controlling commercial real estate development.

Chestnut Hill Association creates preservation task force


Philadelphia's older suburbs appear to be caught between two competing development phenomena: increasing population density and preserving historic older buildings. Increased population density brings with it demand for more housing and commercial services. The latter acts as a brake on development even if a new project is clearly beneficial. This conflict has prompted the Chestnut Hill Community Association ("CHCA") to create a task force to guide future rezoning and land use in ways that will preserve and protect the community's historic fabric.

Stormwater runoff seen as concern for school expansion


This blog has frequently written about the conflict between groups that wish to preserve Philadelphia's historic buildings and private developers who want to demolish or significantly modify such structures. The focus of such disputes is usually the conflict between the supposed economic benefit that attaches to residential and commercial real estate development and the unique culture represented by the city's finite supply of historic buildings. But other issues can cause similar disputes. In a case arising on the Main Line, weather has become the issue that divides two sides of a land use dispute.

Neighborhood Improvement Zone challenged in federal court


Philadelphia and many other cities in Pennsylvania provide economic incentives to persuade developers to construct new buildings. One of the most common of such incentives is the creation of a zone in which property taxes are lowered and low interest loans made available to prospective developers. Allentown created such a district and called it a Neighborhood Improvement Zone ("NIZ").

Philadelphia developers open to listening and compromise


This blog has taken note of a number of disputes involving neighbors' objections to the plans of developers that threaten an older neighborhood with what the neighbors view as unacceptable change. On several recent occasions, however, Philadelphia developers have listened to the neighbors, changed their plans and seen opposition turn to support.

Neighbors balk at moving women's shelter to vacant church rectory


The acronym "NIMBY" is familiar to many people in the Philadelphia area who get involved in neighborhood zoning disputes. The acronym stands for "Not In My Back Yard," and it refers to people who oppose the location of a controversial land use in their neighborhood. The latest NIMBY dispute involves a women's shelter in Montgomery County that wants to move its offices and facilities to a vacant church rectory in East Norriton Township and must obtain a rezoning to do so.

Razing older houses also raises questions


Philadelphia and its suburbs include many houses and other buildings that were built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many Philadelphians are proud of this heritage and want to preserve these historic buildings. Other residents of the city are less enamored of the past and see little or no harm in replacing older building with modern structures. An example of this conflict is causing problems for the zoning board of Narberth township.

Green roofs may allow developers to add units


The Rules Committee of the Philadelphia City Council recently approved a measure that would allow developers to construct more residential units in multi-unit residential buildings than are presently allowed by the zoning code if a building has a qualifying "green roof." The bill was introduced last month to encourage residential and commercial real estate developers to provide energy efficient green roofs by permitting an increase in density.

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