May 4, 2013 |
What makes Philadelphia's new zoning code such a landmark policy is that it embraces the modern view of cities first articulated by such urbanists as Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte. They understood that cities couldn't survive with fortified streets and blank ground floors. In the spirit of that movement, the code took the bold step of banning a particular local scourge: garage-fronted rowhouses. Apparently, the Zoning Board of Adjustment never got the memo. The new rules went into effect eight months ago, and yet the board continues to conduct business as usual, handing out variances that allow rowhouse developers to install garages where the living rooms are supposed to be. Last week, it was a pair of houses at 19th and Catharine Streets.
May 1, 2013 |
MAYOR NUTTER appointed Julia Chapman, legislative director for the first two years of his administration, to chair the Zoning Board of Adjustment yesterday. Chapman, Nutter's longtime chief of staff during his City Council days, will replace Lynette Brown-Sow, who became chairwoman of the Philadelphia Housing Authority on Friday. "Throughout my many years of public service, I have been keenly aware of the critical role the Zoning Board of Adjustment plays in balancing neighborhood preservation and the economic growth of the city while insuring the integrity of the zoning code," Chapman said in a statement.
April 20, 2013 |
Mount Laurel Township, long synonymous with landmark court cases mandating affordable housing, can also lay claim as a town that pushed back against billboards. On Monday, the national beautification group Scenic America will honor the town's leaders and residents for successfully defending the right of municipalities to restrict billboards within their borders. The national organization's president, Mary Tracy, is to present its Stafford Award to the township at Monday's council meeting.
April 19, 2013 |
A meeting of the Conshohocken Borough Council erupted in applause Wednesday night after the council voted, 6-1, against a zoning amendment that would have allowed a Wawa store and service station on Fayette Street. Wawa requested the amendment to allow a convenience store and 10-pump station in an area zoned for residential and office uses. The company can push forward, but will now have to argue before the zoning board. The proposal generated heated debate over the last few months, with community groups forming to lobby for and against the store.
April 18, 2013
A decision on whether to grant a zoning variance for Patterson Farm in Lower Makefield Township to allow a veterinary facility on the grounds will be delayed until May 20, after testimony at Tuesday's zoning hearing lasted until the meeting's conclusion at 10 p.m. A husband and wife want to build a hospital for horses in a farmhouse on the site. The township bought the 234-acre farm, with two homes, in 1998 for $7.2 million. Several township officials have said they are concerned about the cost of maintaining the property.
April 18, 2013
THE ACTUAL Value Initiative shouldn't be treated like the only item in Mayor Nutter's proposed $3.75 billion budget. It's time to give serious thought to the budget for the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department. Nutter has pitched spending $51 million on parks, which is roughly how much the department is getting this year after a midyear boost of $2.7 million. It's not much more than the parks have gotten for decades. A recent City Controller report found that 40 percent of the recreation centers that they visited had expired or empty fire extinguishers.
April 17, 2013 |
Patterson Farm, founded in colonial times, has a rich history: The soil is among the most fertile in Bucks County, and patches of pumpkins, fields of corn, and heaps of fresh vegetables have grown there. For decades, Thomas and Alice Patterson owned the 234 acres in Lower Makefield Township and lived in the stone-covered Janney house, one of the property's two homes. The other - the Satterthwaite house, a large home made out of wood painted white - was built in 1760, according to Kaaren Steil, chair of the Lower Makefield Historical Commission.
April 10, 2013
The new novel from Inquirer columnist Lisa Scottoline, "Don't Go" (St. Martin's Press), is in bookstores now. Excerpts continue Wednesday in Style & Soul. Chapter Two Mike raised the scalpel, about to make the first incision. He always said a prayer before he cut, though his wife Chloe was the religious one. She'd given him a silver crucifix before his deployment, and he kept it in his ACU pocket with a picture of their baby Emily. He was about to send up his homemade prayer when he noticed Joe Segundo, their administrative medical service officer, looking at him funny from across the OR. Mike returned his focus to his case, telescoping the task at hand and ignoring the anguished moans of the wounded, the constant talk of the docs and nurses, the whop whop whop of the Chinook outside, and the crack pop of ordnance in the distance.
April 5, 2013 |
It is almost a year since Philadelphia's new zoning code became law. After 50 years the code has been simplified, clarified, and modernized. A huge amount of work was done by our political leadership and dedicated citizens. And no one will miss the old code. But it did provide for unforgettable moments that may never be repeated. As a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment working with the former code, I heard and read a lot about hotel development in Center City, billboards on Interstate 95, cellular towers sprouting inside and outside the "antenna farm" in Roxborough, and numerous other requests for homes, swimming pools, decks, signs, and fences.