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Planning commission grants variance for Point Breeze development

A controversial residential development on south Wharton Street moved one step closer to fruition when the Philadelphia Planning Commission granted a variance to the developer to allow residential structures in an area zoned for industrial commercial mixed use. However, the action is not likely to quell the real estate dispute that has surrounded this project since its announcement in 2013.

The project comprises two detached buildings, each having 23 residential units. The units are currently planned as market rate housing. Each three-story unit includes a roof deck, individual bike racks and parking spaces. The land on which the project is proposed to be built is currently zoned ICMX, industrial commercial mixed use. A variance was required to allow the construction of residential units on the parcel.

Neighbors entered the zoning dispute by forming Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze to lead their protest. According to members of the group who spoke at the planning commission hearing, neighbors fear that a market rate housing project will drive up property values, lead to increased real property taxes and drive out low income black families. The neighbors have instead argued for a commercial development that will stimulate small businesses and provide jobs for neighborhood residents. The next scheduled stop for the project is the Philadelphia Zoning Board, where the developer will seek final approval. The opponents of the project appear to be likely to continue their opposition in front of the zoning board.

Land use disputes such as the housing development in Point Breeze often draw many participants, some for and some against the proposal. Anyone participating in such a dispute may wish to consult an experienced land use attorney for advice on the many zoning and real estate laws that can apply and effective strategies that can achieve a successful outcome.

Source: Curbed Philly, "Controversial Point Breeze Development Approved for Residential Zoning," Melissa Romero, Jan. 19, 2016

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