Surprising Numbers: Zero Zoning Presentations in September for Northern Liberties

We were kind of shocked to hear the news. Was the zoning chair of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association? The answer might surprise you.

Sunrise over Northern Liberties | Image by Rob Bulmahn, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

Sunrise over Northern Liberties | Image by Rob Bulmahn, via Flickr. Adapted and used under Creative Commons license.

Here’s some surprising news: the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association (NLNA) won’t have a zoning committee meeting for the month of September. This is a rare occasion, and one that is further underscored in this quick blurb from NLNA’s newsletter:

For the first time in six years, and only about the third time in 20 years, there are no pending zoning variance applications or presentations this month – and so there is no meeting of the NLNA’s Zoning Committee tonight or tomorrow.

That means there’s no splashy presentation from a developer looking to add a mixed-use development into the fold. No one is seeking a use change to add a vet clinic on North 2nd Street (that was last month). Hell, no one has even applied to pop roof deck on their home.

The neighborhood has been a hotbed of new development over the past two decades, shifting from a hipster haven on the outskirts of Center City into a lively upscale neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants and high-end new construction–large, medium, and small.

Larry Freedman, NLNA’s longtime zoning chair, said in an email that this was only the second time in almost 25 years that this has occurred, March 2009 being the other. “In the crazy time (1995-2005) [we] were doing about 10 to 12 [zoning applications] per month, the most in the city, lately about 6 [zoning applications] per month.

Admittedly, NLNA’s zoning meetings are some of the most informative, engaging and entertaining in the city, as evidenced here and here.  Needless to say, we were kind of shocked to see the announcement, but was Freedman?

“I’m not totally surprised – I think the amount of stuff that’s come through and the amount of space left is one reason and the remapping and new code is the other,” he said in the email. “I’m guessing that things should be slowing down – on to the surrounding neighborhoods that are ripe and better be ready.”

Don’t worry, zoning lovers. According to that very newsletter, the committee will meet again in October: “Next month’s meeting is slated for Monday, October 26 (and Tuesday the 27th if needed).”

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