Philly Council OKs bill allowing down zoning for Society Hill

Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously Thursday to pass a measure that will allow down zoning of much of Society Hill.

The bill, introduced in January by City Councilmember Mark Squilla, includes new strict height restrictions for buildings, increased parking requirements, and the elimination of bonuses and exemptions in the name of historic preservation.

Opponents of the bill said it will only serve to prevent any affordable, multi-family housing from being developed in the area, thereby preserving not just its historic character but also its largely white and wealthy residential makeup.

“Letting a handful of residents define Society Hill’s urban context, while ignoring its history of wanton urban renewal that demolished ‘nonconforming’ mid-rises, is the epitome of hypocrisy and the opposite of good preservation policy,” Benjamin She, a volunteer for the urban advocacy group 5th Square, said in prepared testimony.

Society Hill today is in large part the result of urban

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City Council to vote on new zoning rules for Society Hill

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council is poised to approve new, restrictive zoning rules for Society Hill this week, over the objections of critics, including the Planning Commission, who said the bill will thwart the city’s goals on affordable housing, historic preservation and climate change.

a large stone statue in front of Philadelphia City Hall

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“The staff believes that the bill creates unnecessary overlay restrictions and exempts one neighborhood from multiple historic preservation measures that were added to the zoning code by City Council after the two-year Historic Preservation Task Force process,” City Planner Paula Burns said, testifying against the bill at a Rules Committee hearing last week.

The bill would limit building height in the neighborhood, which runs from the Delaware River to 8th Street, between Walnut and Lombard. In some parts of it, buildings could not exceed 45 feet, limiting how much housing could be built there, decreasing the chances for creating

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