Feb. 14, 2010
By Kellie Patrick Gates
The Philadelphia Planning Commission will Tuesday consider an amendment to the Central Delaware Overlay that would eliminate height restrictions on waterfront parcels between Allegheny and Oregon Avenues.
Most of the parcels have no height limits now, but the change would eliminate a 65-foot height restriction that the developers of the long-in-the-works Philadelphia World Trade Center called a major impediment to their project.
The amendment, authored by First District Councilman Frank DiCicco and scheduled to be introduced at the Feb. 23 committee on the rules city council hearing, was also discussed at Sunday's Central Delaware Advocacy Group meeting. It states: “Except for parcels of land zoned residential or C-2 commercial, no height regulations shall apply to any parcel within the boundaries of this District, including but not limited to the provisions of §14-1610 (“Old City Residential Area Special District Controls”).”
The Old City Special District limits building height to 65 feet.
CDAG voted Sunday not to support the amendment unless and until the planning commission can provide a list of all parcels that will lose height restrictions.
Powers was out of the office on business Friday.
The amendment would actually not change height requirements for most of the parcels within the Central Delaware Overlay.
The relatively few parcels zoned as residential or C-2 commercial – a designation that the planning commission's Jastrzab described as that of corner stores and other small-scale “mom and pop” businesses, would keep their current height restrictions.
Under city zoning code, parcels with higher-density commercial classifications – C-3, C-4, C-5 – have no height restrictions. It is only with zoning overlays that height restrictions have been superimposed. The amendment would override any other overlay that crosses into the Central Delaware Overlay, Abernathy said. But the only one he knows of is the Old City Special District overlay.
The commission has not yet received comment from the Development Workshop, the pro-development non-profit that originally asked the commission to delay its vote on the guidelines in January - or CDAG, Jastrzab said.