By one vote, a Philadelphia City Council committee approved a bill Thursday that makes alterations to the freshly minted zoning code, changing what kinds of businesses and other uses are allowed in neighborhood commercial corridors.
Because the bill is considered a "pending ordinance" for at least the next two months, the city must begin enforcing the changes immediately even though the full Council won't vote on the matter until sometime in 2013.
The changes would prohibit new businesses such as auto shops, car rental and sales, gas stations, personal care homes, single-room residences, and group living from locating in commercial corridors.
Uses such as transit stations, storage facilities, community gardens, and farmers' markets would be allowed by special exception, which means they would need to seek community input first.
Not all of the changes are necessarily contentious, but Mayor Nutter, some Council members, and some members of the commission that spent four years rewriting the zoning code have objected to making revisions less than four months after the code went into effect.
"I think there was a hope with all the effort that went in . . . that the code would be allowed to work for a little while," said Eva Gladstein, deputy executive director of the Planning Commission. "We had hoped there wouldn't be substantive changes this early in the process."
But the bill's sponsor, Councilman Brian J. O'Neill, said he could not wait to block some uses that he knew communities would object to having in their commercial districts.
"I'm not trying to gut the zoning code," he said. "I'm just trying to improve it."
O'Neill said he and the administration had been negotiating over the bill and would continue to do so in the new year.
"I'd say what went through this morning was probably 20, 25 percent of what I originally set out," O'Neill said. "We may do some more compromising."
Rules Committee members William K. Greenlee, Bobby Henon, Blondell Reynolds Brown, and Marian B. Tasco voted for the bill. W. Wilson Goode Jr., Bill Green, and Dennis O'Brien voted against.