When the reworked zoning code took effect last August, it redefined the names of all the zoning districts, but didn’t change the existing zoning classifications for the properties in town. In many neighborhoods, those old classifications are inconsistent with the way the area has developed and as such are out of touch with current or future desired uses.
In order to collect ideas about different locations in the Fishtown neighborhood where the zoning code does not reflect the current character of the neighborhood, like along Frankford Ave., a primarily commercial corridor that features some strange single-family home zoning, the Fishtown Neighbors Association, in conjunction with the Planning Commission, is hosting a community zoning remapping workshop on Thursday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. at the Fishtown Rec Center at 1202 E. Montgomery Ave.
“We are looking to make the zoning designations match the current uses,” said Matt Karp, FNA zoning chair.
The old designations make it difficult for builders to work as efficiently as possible because it can increase costs, according to FNA’s website, by requiring them to appear before neighborhood associations for simple projects, and it lengthens the time a projects takes, thus potentially slowing the redevelopment of a neighborhood.
Like at 1112 Shackamaxon St. a block shy of I-95, where developers want to remodel and create three new apartments in a blighted old building. The site is zoned for industrial use. So builders could by right knock it down and build an auto or machine shop up to 60-feet tall. But that would be entirely out of character with a part of the neighborhood which is now, thanks to development over the past decade, extremely residential. But developers had to appear before the FNA zoning board, something which took years, as they first appeared in 2007 (though of course the economy might be a factor in that timeline as well), for a variance.
By bringing together the community, FNA and the Planning Commission will look to create a more comprehensive and detailed understanding of sites in Fishtown that need to have their zoning designation changed to reflect current uses. At the same time, this will pave the way for a more smooth development process as new proposals continue to fill up the FNA zoning agenda in the years to come.