PKNA is a Registered Community Organization, RCO. The Philadelphia Zoning Code includes provisions for ensuring that neighbors of proposed developments are notified and have an opportunity to provide input regarding zoning decisions that may impact them. This is accomplished through a standardized system of direct notification and through public meetings that are held in communities and convened by RCOs. When a property is applying for an exemption or a variance* on the zoning code, PKNA as an RCO has the opportunity to voice our opinion. The city has a website with full information, click here for Applicant Notification Templates
* There is a threshold list for zoning variance requests that applicants must meet in order to be granted a special exception, a use variance, or a dimensional variance.
RCO territory overlaps. There are several RCOs that include Penn Knox.
Here is a recommended introduction text for zoning meetings.
Sample letters here from Queen Village RCO that demonstrate how you can include the request for (a) proviso(s). There is a new form but the letter version is nuanced and an effective response.
Councilwoman Bass' 8th District Zoning Policy
1. No Support Letters without community support
2. Continued Opposition to businesses prohibited by ordinance.
3. Businesses that will trigger Special Review
We insist that developers get community support for any project.. As such, any developer who contacts our office for a support letter will be refused and redirected to RCOs for a community meeting to begin the process.
Any businesses currently opposed by city ordinances in the 8th District (e.g. certain types of businesses prohibited by Lower and Central Germantown Special District Controls) will be continued to be opposed by our office.
Certain types of businesses, when up for zoning, will trigger a special review from our office:
-Car Sales/Repair Lots
-Barber Shops/Beauty Salons
-Group Homes, Boarding Homes, etc.
4. Communications between RCO and Council Office
Please note, that if any of the following are missing from the letter, or if any of the below criteria occur during an RCO Meeting or in an RCO letter, it will be subject to special review by our office.
-If there are 5 or less people in attendance at the RCO Meeting.
-If flyers for the RCO meeting are not distributed properly.
-If there are no adjacent neighbors at the meeting.
-If the case has been heard before, and therefore there are no conflicts with other overlapping
RCOs (to prevent RCO shopping.)
-Have RCOs received anything of value, or is any outside force influencing the RCO vote?
-If the RCOs are represented by any expeditor, legal counsel, or other individual.
Due to the nature of RCO setup, we understand there may be differences in the way each organization operates. However, we are asking RCOs, when submitting letters to our office, to list the following items as recommended by the PCPC letter template.
-Property Location and ZBA Calendar Number.
-Date, Time, and Place of the RCO meeting held.
-Names of any coordinating RCOs in attendance.
-The number of people in attendance.
-The number of adjacent neighbors in attendance.
-A description of questions raised
-The vote, separated by adjacent neighbors and all members in attendance.
There are more of the documents from a 2016-2017 series of zoning workshops, funded in part by the Bread & Roses Fund, developed and presented by Steve Masters from JustLaws.