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Pending Governmental Ordinance May Detrimentally Affect Property Development in Brewerytown and Beyond

Written by: Alan Nochumson



Modifying governmental rules and regulations under the Philadelphia Zoning Code for properties in Philadelphia is a time-intensive process. Typically, several months elapse from the initiation of an idea by a member of Philadelphia City Council to its passage into law. This prolonged timeline usually includes recommendations from the City Planning Commission about the proposed modification to the Philadelphia Zoning Code as well as hearings to gather input from the public regarding it.

As a result, the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections often finds itself grappling with decisions regarding zoning and land use applications received during the period when an ordinance is still “pending” but has not yet been signed into law.

In Pennsylvania, under the “pending ordinance doctrine,” an applicant may be required to adhere to proposed modification to the Philadelphia Zoning Code even before it has been formally adopted into law.

One important piece of legislation which may pull the pending ordinance doctrine into play is the proposed property development in Brewerytown-Sharswood Overlay Subarea, which has been read and passed by Philadelphia City Council, but not yet enacted into law. The bill establishes limitations on building heights on residentially zoned land and prohibits roof decks. The overlay specifies that the maximum height allowed must match the tallest building on an adjacent lot, with a limit of 35 feet or a height corresponding to the majority of existing buildings within the block if no adjacent building exists.

Ordinances such as the proposed property development in Brewerytown-Sharswood Overlay Subarea should put real estate developers and investors on notice to learn of any pending ordinances that may impact their ability to develop real estate in Philadelphia before purchasing it.

Please feel free to contact Alan Nochumson at either (215) 600-2851 or alan.nochumson@nochumson.com if you wish to learn if a property in Philadelphia is subject to a pending ordinance.