Beginning March 25, 2013, community organizations and other nonprofits will find it easier to become registered community organizations for Philadelphia zoning purposes.
Community organizations have informally participated in Philadelphia zoning proceedings for decades, working with City Council members and speaking at Zoning Board of Adjustment hearings. However, the previous Zoning Code did not give community organizations a formal role. As a result, developers were not required to notify community organizations of developments that were taking place “by right” without need of a special exception or variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Under the current version of the Zoning Code that took effect in 2012, registered community organizations (RCOs) receive written notice of all projects within their boundaries that (i) require issuance of a special exception or a variance, or (ii) do not require a special exemption or variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, but are sufficiently large Or of a type that they are subject to Civic Design Review. In addition, developers of these projects must meet with all RCOs that are “local registered community organizations” for the area that includes the project site. (Under the Zoning Code, all RCOs are either issue-based or local. Issue-based RCOs include the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, whose geographic areas of concern are larger than a single neighborhood. Local RCOs include the Old City Civic Association and the Center City Residents Association; their geographic areas of concern consist of a single neighborhood.
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