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1608 Walnut Street | 12th Floor | Philadelphia, PA 19103 | 215.546.6719 | email: centercity@centercityresidents.org

NEAR neIGHBORS mEETING pILOT pROGRAM


Are you a resident in CCRA territory about to go through the zoning process? Are you interested in participating in early, informal discussions with your neighbors to potentially resolve zoning disputes? CCRA is here to help!

Background
CCRA is the registered community organization (RCO) that represents the territory from the west side of Broad Street to the Schuylkill River, and from the south side of J.F.K. Boulevard to the north side of South Street. The Philadelphia Zoning Code requires that all applicants for Variances and Special Exceptions in our territory must present their plans to CCRA’s Zoning Committee before appearing at the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). In connection with the Variance process, CCRA must inform the ZBA whether we oppose or do not oppose each project.

Both CCRA and Variance applicants typically take the input of near neighbors very seriously.  However, there is no procedure under the law to allow applicants to meet with their near neighbors prior to making a formal RCO presentation. As a result, applicants may sometimes learn about serious near neighbor concerns for the first time at CCRA’s Zoning Committee meeting. When that happens, applicants often choose to go back to the drawing board to tweak their plans, and they usually seek a continuance (or multiple continuances) from the ZBA while negotiations with neighbors are ongoing. Under these circumstances, the applicant will also likely have to make a follow up presentation to CCRA’s Zoning Committee before finally going to the ZBA.  Not surprisingly, this process can be costly, time consuming, frustrating and can sometimes lead to a breakdown in neighborhood communications.

Pilot Program
In order to improve the process, CCRA is instituting a Near Neighbors Meeting Pilot Program where we will help facilitate communication between applicants and near neighbors prior to the formal CCRA Zoning Committee meeting to consider the application. The purpose is to allow applicants to get valuable input from near neighbors so that both applicants and CCRA can avoid expending time and valuable resources making or hearing a presentation that has the potential to be withdrawn mid-meeting due to near neighbor concerns. Under this Pilot Program:

CCRA responsibilities under the Pilot Program

1.    CCRA will provide space for an applicant to meet with near neighbors.

2.    CCRA will provide one or two neutral facilitators from our Zoning Committee to assist the meeting and provide limited feedback about the kinds of things the Zoning Committee will consider in making its decision to oppose or not oppose a project.

Applicant responsibilities under the Pilot Program:

 1.    An applicant will be required to notify near neighbors of the meeting.

 2.    An applicant will be required to cover the minimal costs incurred by CCRA for use of the space.

 3.    An applicant will be required to participate in good faith with near neighbors.

Disclaimer
CCRA is excited about this Pilot Program and we hope it will improve the Variance process for those who choose to participate.  However, please be advised that participation in this Pilot Program will NOT excuse any applicant from having to present to the CCRA Zoning Committee at a formal RCO meeting.  Moreover, participation in this Pilot Program will not guarantee that the CCRA Zoning Committee will vote in any particular way on the applicant’s project.

More Information
If you are an applicant (or expected applicant) who wants to participate in this Pilot Program, or if you want more information, reach out to CCRA’s Operations Manager, Travis Oliver, at either (215) 546-6719 or centercity@centercityresidents.org



The following area businesses help make
CCRA programs and activities possible with
 their financial and other support:



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1608 Walnut Street, 12th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215.546.6719 | Email: centercity@centercityresidents.org
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