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Zoning & Land Use Committee


     CTR CITY OVERLAY BILL SHELVED – On November 21, 9 committee members met with Councilman Squilla and representatives from the Building Industry Association (BIA), the Planning Commission, and staffers from Councilpersons Clarke and Johnson to discuss an agenda prepared by the Crosstown re bill 140519’s proposals to revise the Center City Overlay.  The meeting centered on two Crosstown documents - Committee Chair Joe Schiavo’s spreadsheet detailing the bill and the responses of the Planning Commission and of the Crosstown and a density  analysis with graphics depicting the consequences of the bill’s provisions prepared by Sam Little.  At the meeting’s conclusion all agreed that the bill should be pulled from Council docket. For minutes click here.


       DIALOGUE W. DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY – Committee members have met with the Executive Directors of the Builders Industry Association and the Developers Workshop to discuss topics of mutual interest, see minutes,  including:


ZBA predictability                            ZBA procedures

Creating new zoning categories        Revising bonus tables

Proposed Planning & Development   PCPC practices



For minutes click here. 


     HEADWAY ON ZONING POSTING REVISIONS – There has been  progress on  the committee’s four suggestions to revise the zoning notices posted on properties:     


  • NO ON INFO RE REFUSAL ON ORANGE POSTER: The administration claims that it lacks the computer capacity to place the reason for the refusal on the zoning poster AND has not adopted the Crosstown suggestion that applicants be required to post this info. when they post the notice.


  • NO TO LINKING ORIG DATE TO POSTONED DATE ON E CALENDAR: The administration advises that it is unable to link the originally posted date to continued dates on the ZBA computer calendar.


  • YES ON REVISING REPOSTING NOTICES:  A revised reposting notice that will be distinguishable from the original orange notice is “in the works”.


  •  YES ON REPOSTING FOR ALL CONTINUANCES: The administration has placed in an amendments bill language that would require reposting on matters continued for less than 7 days which are not currently required to be reposted.



Council has not responded to Crosstown letters dated August 4 and September 15 requesting (1) more restrictive dimensional limitations on sound intrusion from Special Occupancy uses (i.e. entertainment facilities for 50 or more people) and (2)  auditory monitoring of such intrusions rather than by calibrated measuring devices (decimeters) which are rarely available on scene. Committee chair Joe Schiavo has requested a meeting with Councilman Kenney to discuss this initiative.


       BUS SHELTER BILL NEGOTIATIONS – Steve Huntington reached out to many Crosstown civics after two Center City Residents’ Association board members, David Rose and Chuck Goodwin, raised questions about bill 140897, passed on December 18, authorizing a 20 year renewal of the City’s bus shelter contract with Titan Advertising. The new contract also contains provisions re honor boxes and stand alone advertising kiosks. At a meeting with staffers from the offices of Council President Clarke and Councilman Johnson and representatives from MOTU (the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities) we learned:

  • Contract Still Negotiable: The Titan contract has yet to be signed. Consequently, “immaterial” changes can still be made without the necessity of returning to City Council.


  • Real Time Transit Information: The administration will ensure that the contract obligates Titan to make accommodations for future technology providing arrival times for next buses but advised that there were no current plans to embed this capacity and also stated that SEPTA’s technology could not currently support such a program.   


  • Complaint Information: The administration will revise the contract to specifically require that shelter signs direct maintenance/upkeep complaints to Titan.


  • Elimination of Unused Honor Boxes: With reference to concerns that the advance of the digital age may render honor boxes for free newspapers derelict,  the City has the right to request that Titan remove any honor boxes at Titan’s expense in five years.


  • Ad Content: The City refused to place restrictions on ad content in addition to those already within the contract’s Exhibit D dealing with alcohol, tobacco, firearms, sexually oriented businesses, and political campaigns, ballot measures.


  • Configuration of Ad Panels: The CCRA taskforce was concerned that bus shelter panels parallel to the street could be opaque so as to limit the security provided by eyes on the street. MOTU graphics showed these parallel panels intersected by an open air “doorway”  so that areas within the shelter and immediately surrounding the shelter would be within eyeshot.


        BILLBOARD LEGISLATION :  Bill 130656 introduced by Councilman Henon last year deals with non accessory outdoor  advertising (advertising not related to the premises on which the ad is placed). The original bill provided “amnesty” for billboards that did not conform to the land use laws. Crosstown representatives met with Councilman Henon to express opposition to the billboard amnesty agreement and, in its June meeting, the Crosstown Board voted to request that the administration not extend an expired agreement with the industry which limited the City’s rights to enforce billboard infractions. (click here to view letter). After the bill engendered opposition, it was placed in suspension last spring but was called up from the suspension calendar in early December. On December 11,  Council removed the original text and inserted entirely new provisions. (view Bill 130656). The amended bill eliminated the controversial  amnesty provisions but addresses topics of concern to all civics including digital signs, illumination, and swaps of traditional signs for digital signs.



        NEW ZONING CATEGORIES; Should the Zoning Code contain a CMX 4.5 to split the gap between the current CMX4’s 500 Floor Area Ratio and the 1200 FAR of CMX 5? Should other zoning classifications be created?


        BONUS TABLE REVISIONS: Should bonus tables be revised so that increased density is not provided as of right but only in return for project specific community benefits such as underground parking, public art, public open space etc?


        ANALYSIS OF PROPOSED OFFICE OF PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT: How would this reorganization which is to be placed on the ballot per bill 140721  affect the operation of the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Adjustment? Is there enough detail in the proposal to make an informed decision on its merits. 



Minutes - June 2, 2014


Minutes - May 12, 2014



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