If you’re nuts about planning and/or development, you surely followed the process over the last few years that resulted in the establishment of a new zoning code last summer. Thankfully, our city leaders have had the wisdom and foresight to make some rapid amendments to the brand new zoning code, graciously ignoring their own directive to give the new code a year to work itself out before making any changes. Our favorite change to the new zoning code comes from 3rd district councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.
Under the new code, neighborhood groups had been required to file for something called “RCO (Registered Community Organization) status.” And oh man, the requirements! RCOs were obligated to fulfill extremely onerous conditions, like holding regular public meetings, choosing leaders through elections, and having a stated mission that involves some aspect of land use. Can you imagine?
Fortunately, the brave luminaries that form groups like Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze and the West Philadelphia Coalition of Neighborhoods and Businesses brought these awful requirements to Councilwoman Blackwell’s attention, and she set out to right this egregious wrong. In her bill, which was foolishly vetoed by Mayor Nutter after it was passed by City Council, the councilwoman greatly relaxed requirements for RCOs, required developers to notify near neighbors individually, and allowed for multiple meetings with different RCOs in a project’s general area. Fortunately, according to the Daily News, everyone but Bill Green, Maria Quinones Sanchez, and Mark Squilla voted to overturn the mayor’s veto. What a relief!
So with this bill coming into effect in about two months, we have an exciting announcement. Naked Philly is forming an RCO! Yes, we really feel like we need a seat at the table in development conversations in our narrow geographic area of interest. After all, as Claudia Sherrod so sagaciously put it, “Our voice has to be heard.”
So please, any developer that’s pondering a new project in this area that doesn’t conform to the zoning code, get an early jump on this. Give us a call, let’s talk about it. Because it would be a terrible shame if any of our extremely concerned neighbors weren’t properly notified, potentially holding up your project for months and costing you untold thousands of dollars in legal fees. Yeah, this would be a tragedy indeed.