Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Success ... by a hair's breadth?

As if in a coda to my post the other day, Plan Philly brings news of the apartment project at 43rd and Baltimore -- across the street from Clark Park. It went before the Zoning Board seeking variances, doing so after:

  • Extensive community input shaping the development vision
  • Jannie Blackwell rejecting spot-zoning proposal
By the time it got to the ZBA, the project had racked up letters of support or nonopposition from every single involved party. Yet there were, in the meeting, two dissenters:
At a hearing in April, the developers sought variances for height, 35 feet more than the underlying zoning allows, and commercial space. It was supported by local civic groups and Councilwoman Blackwell’s office, but opposed vociferously by two neighborhood residents who live a few blocks from the property. 
Mary McGettigan and Larry Caputo, the opponents of the project, noted that the project didn’t conform to either the existing or proposed zoning of the property. They argued that the developers hadn’t made their case that the zoning designation represented a hardship on the property.
The ZBA voted to support this project. But it only did so by a 3-2 margin. This, despite the fact that the developers had gone above and beyond in incorporating the community voice in their design. It's fairly clear that -- had there been no dissenters who showed up at the meeting -- the project would have sailed through the ZBA.

Two dissenters.

That's all it took to nearly derail a small apartment building that is in scale with a number of similar buildings scattered throughout the neighborhood.

As if you needed any more evidence modern zoning is excessively restrictive!

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