Philadelphia Zoning Board Called Out for 'Municipal Dysfunction'

Ryan Briggs reports on the state of the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment—although zoning reform was a promise of Mayor Michael Nutter's administration, Briggs finds that inconsistency and mysterious politics still mar the board's decisions.
DMZ111 / Flickr

According to Briggs, Mayor Michael Nutter vowed to end the "municipal dysfunction" of the Zoning Board when he took office in 2008, "[but] six years, a “reformed” code and numerous board appointments later, the ZBA is still drowning in thousands of costly, time-consuming variance requests each year. The next ZBA meeting has 21 zoning cases scheduled, compared to just 13 at a session of New York City’s Board of Standards and Appeals on the same day."

"The issue is complex, but nearly everyone agrees that, intentionally or not, some board decisions are undermining the spirit of the new zoning code, adopted in 2012. That code was supposed to encourage less auto-oriented forms of development."

Briggs goes on to cite examples, including the recent controversy in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, that the board is both too strict with enforcement and too lenient with granting approvals to appeals. Worse yet, Briggs suggests that many members of the board might be disinterested.

Full Story: Why Philly's zoning board is still so dysfunctional

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