Zoning tweaks introduced for Northeast Philly

Like many others, Councilman Brian O’Neill is finding changes he wants to make to the city’s year-old zoning code.

But unlike others, and unlike his own previous efforts to change the uses allowed in neighborhood commercial corridors, O’Neill’s latest proposals would affect only his district. Last week, the Councilman introduced a bill that prohibits certain automobile-related uses in portions of his 10th District, in Northeast Philadelphia.

The bill would prohibit gas stations, vehicle paint shops, and vehicle maintenance and repair shops in light-industrial (I-1) and medium-industrial (I-2) zoning districts in the 56th, 58th, 63rd, and 66th wards. It would also prohibit personal vehicle sales in medium-industrial districts in the same wards.

The changes are relatively narrow.

While City Council was preparing to pass the new code a year and a half ago, Councilman Jim Kenney compared the effort to cleaning out the boxes in the basement of a home—reducing as far as possible the number and variety of neighborhood- or property-specific regulations in favor of citywide policies. Kenney said at the time that the proverbial basement is bound to be re-cluttered before the next zoning code reform happens.

So, go ahead and mark this box “auto-related uses in Northeast Philly.”

About the author

Jared Brey, Zoning and development reporter

Jared Brey writes about development, zoning policy, and city government for He wasn't interested in being a reporter until halfway through a master's program in journalism at Temple University that he intended to parlay into an academic career. His work has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, City Paper, Business Journal, and Metropolis. 

Jared grew up in Montgomery County and moved to Philadelphia in 2005. He has since lived in Brewerytown, the Italian Market, North Central, Bella Vista, and East Passyunk. He believes he will stay in South Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @jaredbrey, or send him tips at

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