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Philadelphia developer modifies project, gets zoning approval

A recent action by the Chestnut Hill Community Association's Development Review Committee shows how a developer can modify a project to meet neighborhood and zoning board objections and obtain the necessary zoning approvals.

Patriot Real Estate Company announced plans to convert an existing residential structure that housed a dental office into a two-unit home and to build a two-story single family residence on the same land. The Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections initially issued zoning refusals because the planned structures violated setback requirements, called for two structures on the same lot, and changed the use of the land from commercial to residential. Neighbors also objected to the plan because the building was "just too big" and because it created too much shade in their yards.

The developer made numerous changes in the project to obtain the necessary approvals. The height of the building was reduced, and the building was moved as far as possible from the neighbors' yards, thereby reducing the amount of shade. The overall design was changed to reduce the bulk of the building. After making these changes and others, the developer sought final approval from the Development Review committee. At its last meeting the DRC voted unanimously to support the project, including variances allowing multiple residence buildings.

This project demonstrates how a developer can meet the concerns of local residents and the zoning board without fundamentally changing the nature of the proposed building. Anyone who is contemplating a project that may meet objections from a zoning board or neighbors may wish to consult an experienced real estate attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide advice on the effect of zoning laws and regulations and suggest strategies to meet any objections.

Source: Chestnut Hill Local, "DRC approves plans for 2 E. Chestnut Hill Ave.," Kevin Dicciani, May 23, 2016

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