Administrative Adjustment: A Guide to Amending Zoning Variance Permits Post-Approval

Written by: Alex Goldberg

It often happens that a client’s vision for a zoning variance project evolves from their original proposal, even after they have already been approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment. In Philadelphia, the Administrative Adjustment process is a structured approach that allows for modifications to previously approved zoning variance permits under certain conditions. 

We regularly obtain approval of such administrative adjustments, including most recently a modification in allowing the roof deck to be removed on a previously approved 6-unit apartment building at 3517 North 23rd Street, as illustrated by the rendering below. Act fast–these applications must be filed within 180 days of the date the Zoning Board of Adjustment grants the zoning variance appeal.

If you need assistance with this often complicated process, please reach out to Alex Goldberg at or (215) 907-7201, who can answer your questions about amending a zoning variance permit after it has already been approved. 


When considering an Administrative Adjustment, the first step is to confirm its applicability and eligibility. This means ensuring that the proposed changes impact a prior variance, special exception, or proviso and meet specific criteria related to timing and impact. 

Regarding timing, the application must be filed within 180 days of the date the Zoning Board of Adjustment grants the zoning variance appeal. Alternatively, if the changes are required by another governmental department or agency in Philadelphia, the timing criteria are met. 

The impact of the proposed changes is also crucial. They must fall within certain categories, such as reducing the size of a structure, lessening the impact of dimensional variances, decreasing the number of dwelling units or signs, or mitigating the intensity of the proposed use. 

Additionally, before submitting the application, the applicant must notify various stakeholders. This includes Registered Community Organizations (RCOs) within the property’s boundaries, the District Councilperson for the property, and all interested parties who participated in the previous hearings before the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Proof of notification must be provided to proceed with the application for administrative adjustment. 

Once the application is submitted, it undergoes a review process either in-person or online through the eCLIPSE portal, depending on the type of permit initially granted. The standard review time is 20 business days, and a filing fee of $200 applies. 

If the adjustment is approved, there are further steps to ensure transparency and fairness. A waiting period of at least 10 days after filing is observed before a decision of “Approved” can be rendered. After approval, all parties on the contact list are notified, and any party can request a hearing within 14 days if they disagree with the decision. 

Permits for administrative adjustments must be visibly posted on-site and can be appealed by affected parties. If the request is denied, the applicant has the option to appeal the decision to the Zoning Board of Adjustment following standard appeal procedures. 

If you wish to make modifications to a previously approved zoning permit that do not impact a variance, special exception, or proviso, you may be able to do so by way of a zoning permit amendment. Amendments to Zoning and Use Registration Permit applications must address the same subject matter as addressed in the original application (i.e. the height and area related to construction on a particular building, a change related to a particular use, or a modification of a parking configuration) and must include one of the following:  

  • Increase in building height which does not exceed 10% of the approved height, 10 feet or a single story, whichever is greater.  
  • Increases in gross floor area (GFA) not to exceed 10% of the original approval, when the zoning district is governed by maximum floor area. 
  •  Increase in building footprint not to exceed 10% of the original approval.  
  • Decrease in height, gross floor area or building footprint.  
  • Additions, removal or modifications of roof decks and roof deck access structures.   
  • Modifications to parking configuration, including a change in the number of spaces not to exceed 10% of the original approval.  
  • Modifications to legal signs.   
  • Removal of a use from a group of uses previously approved.   
  • Comparable changes that do not increase the intensity of the approved use. 


The amendment to the zoning permit may be filed in person or online through the eCLIPSE portal prior to the expiration of the applicable zoning permit. 

For more information on the administrative adjustment process and zoning permit amendments, please reach out to Alex Goldberg by email at or phone at (215) 907-7201.