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.”
Jared Brey is a freelance reporter based in Philadelphia. His work has been featured in Philadelphia magazine, Hidden City, The Philadelphia Inquirer, City & State, and other publications. He covered development, zoning policy, historic preservation, and city government for PlanPhilly from 2011-2016.