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Key Hearing for Zoning Reform

The four-year job of creating a new, easy-to-navigate zoning code for development and building in Philadelphia has come down to a few key moments in City Council, starting tomorrow.

The Whole Committee - which basically means all 17 Council members - will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on three bills that encompass the new code proposed by the Zoning Code Commission, the voter-created body that spent four years on the mammoth effort.

The process has been rocky at times, with Council members Bill Green and Brian O'Neill raising a number of issues and seeking a variety of compromises and changes. After weeks of negotiations, the ZCC approved a draft code in November with backing from the two members.

The draft must now survive the Whole Committee and an up-or-down vote from Council.

The target has been to pass the reform by Council's last meeting on Dec. 15. That's a tight window now, so any late-breaking objections could jeopardize the bills. The belief is that the reform must be completed by the end of the year, when six Council members are leaving.

Folks around City Hall have been expressing nothing but optimism about the reform's chances for moving through the legislative process, but one would be wise not to make any definitive predictions. One of Council's favorite saying about pending legislation is "everything's fluid around here."

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