Monday, February 6, 2012

Philly's new zoning code promotes sustainability


Although the new code will not officially be put into effect until August 2012, zoning reform advocates are stoked to see what it can do to simplify the process.

Since Philadelphia's current zoning code dates back to 1962, which was when suburban development was very popular, there were about 1,000 spot changes made to it during the last 50 years. Although the city thought they were doing something good by making changes when they were needed, it just complicated things even more.

When the zoning reform process began back in 2007, the Zoning Code Commission decided to focus on 7 different goals:
  1. Simplify base districts
  2. Simplify overlay districts
  3. Simplify approvals
  4. Improve readability and reorganization
  5. Protect neighborhoods
  6. Promote sustainability
  7. Promote quality and design
Although the first 4 goals, seem to be more complete than the last 3 goals (as of now), "Promoting Sustainability" seems to be one that has been focused on. In the new code, walkable development, solar/wind systems, and storm water management all play a critical role in getting city approval. Bonus space may even be given to developers who's project achieves LEED certification.

Needless to say, the new zoning code will be a huge improvement over what we have now.

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