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December 2016 Archives

Understanding the role of RCOs in Philadelphia's zoning process

This blog has written about many conflicts between commercial real estate developers and neighborhood organizations regarding preservation of environmental amenities or sites with historical or cultural significance. Many neighborhood organizations in Philadelphia are merely informal groups of people who share a common attitude toward a particular development. These groups often do not realize that they can obtain special status under the Philadelphia Zoning Code by becoming a Registered Community Organization. RCOs are entitled to receive special notice of certain matters before the Zoning Board and to participate in these proceedings.

Understanding special exceptions in Philadelphia zoning code

The Philadelphia Zoning Code contains many specialized terms - variance, special exception and rezoning, to name just three - that can seem confusing or opaque. An understanding of these terms is necessary to evaluate the types of permits that may be required for any residential or commercial real estate development. This post will address the concept of special exceptions.

Navigating issues of eminent domain

Many people in the Philadelphia area do not realize that state and local governments have the power to demand a private citizen turn over his or her land so that the government can put it to a public use. When a government employee does come knocking on a person's door demanding the sale of the person's property, a Pennsylvania resident may have no idea what rights she has or where to turn for help.

Historical Preservation in Philadelphia

Philadelphia contains many buildings that were built over 100 years ago; some even date back to the early part of the 18th century. In 1955, the city created the Philadelphia Historical Commission (PHC) and charged it with preserving historically significant buildings. The PHC has two basic functions: identifying historically significant structures or parts of structures and reviewing projects that involve the modification or demolition of structures that have been or may be designated as historically significant.

Plan to develop Chester County farm sparks controversy

Crebilly Farm comprises 322 acres of rolling rural land in Westtown Township in Chester County, one of the Pennsylvania's fastest growing communities. Fifteen years ago, the town's comprehensive plan identified this land for future residential development. Now that the future appears to be here, township officials are having second thoughts about the kind and amount of development that should be allowed.

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