Posted on


Attention Philadelphians: You Are Losing Your Voice

Loss of Taxpayer Standing

In August 2009, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dealt Philadelphians a severe blow by ruling that taxpayers and community organizations no longer have“standing”or the right to appeal decisions made by the Zoning Board of Adjustments unless the taxpayer is detrimentally harmed and can show a direct and immediate interest.

Prior to this ruling community organizations and citizens were permitted to participate in Zoning Board hearings and appeal unjustified decisions.  This right is critical since Zoning Board hearings occur during business hours (9-5), and community groups could represent members and property owners who were unable to attend due to work commitments. While waiting for state legislators to restore standing through a legislative amendment, community groups should be prepared to defend their standing to participate in zoning board hearings. For more information, contact SCRUB.

Proposed Zoning Code Revisions Limit Public Review and Legal Processess in Land Use Decisions

This is a critical time for the public to pay attention to the newly released  Draft Recommendations for a Revised Zoning Code. Four meetings have been scheduled to get feedback from the public.  The process is moving at top speed and many residents have not had a chance to even read the proposed changes to the code.

Parkland is in Jeopardy

When the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter was amended last November to dissolve the FairmountPark Commission, it was replaced with an advisory board which will work under the direction of a newly appointed Commissioner of  Parks and Recreation.  Protecting the sale, lease or gifting of dedicated parkland to private interests for non-recreational use is a major concern for many Philadelphians. You have a chance to share these concerns with the new Commissioner Michael Di Beraditis during his visits to neighborhoods throughout the city where he plans to share the new vision for parks and recreation. Click here for information on dates and meeting places.

What do all of these changes mean and more importantly how do they affect you?

Philadelphia has the potential to become a vastly different place. Everything from the look, size, location of homes and businesses, commercial or industrial uses permitted in your neighborhood, population density, available parking, procedural time and expense associated with improving and reinvesting in existing buildings, notice and input regarding project developments and more is open for discussion. Since the Fairmount Park Commission has been dissolved, even the quantity and quality of public parkland is at issue.The loss of taxpayer standing in Philadelphia zoning matters could means more legal hurdles for community groups who choose to appeal a zoning decision.

Voice your opinion

Public input on policies affecting our public spaces are being sought by the Zoning Code Commission and the Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner. Public hearings and community meetings are scheduled throughout the city. Links to the dates and locations are available on our website. Plan to attend these meetings to voice your concerns and suggestions; be a voice that helps guide the reshaping of our city.