Advocacy THE CHCA IS THE VOICE OF THE COMMUNITY TO THE CITY
In order to protect the cultural and historical context of Chestnut Hill, we are in touch with city officials to make sure roads and structures are carefully maintained.
We are a Registered Community Organization in Philadelphia. This means that projects can not be heard by the city zoning board before it is approved or denied by our community association. We have been lauded by the city has having one of the most professional and stringent forums in hearing development plans. We have several steps to these processes.
DEVELOPMENT REVIEW COMMITTEE (DRC)
The first step is to download a Development Review Application
(download the pdf and fill out.)
You will then attend the DRC where your plans will be heard by a panel of local volunteer experts.
On the form you will be asked to provide the Development Review Committee (DRC) with complete information about your plans. This information is previewed by the CHCA Executive Director and/or Development Review Facilitator who, in consultation with the DRC Co-Chair(s), may suggest additional material to help you describe your project (e.g., charts, plans, photographs, etc.). If you have applied for a Building Permit from the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections and received a Refusal or Referral, you must provide a copy of these documents with your application. You will also need to file an Appeal with the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment in order to complete the DRC review. If you need assistance, please call the Executive Director at Town Hall (215-248-8811) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Completed forms are to be sent to the CHCA, 8434 Germantown Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19118 no less than 8 days in advance of the next DRC meeting, which is held on the third Tuesday of every month. The CHCA development review process provides opportunities for your application to be reviewed by professionals and community members alike, over the course of 3-5 regularly-scheduled meetings. The process typically spans 37-44 days. Occasionally, revisions are requested that can lengthen the process. Participation in the review process is the only way your application can receive a letter of support from the CHCA Board. We look forward to meeting with you, and helping you make a positive contribution to Chestnut Hill. Thank you.
LAND USE PLANNING ZONING (LUPZ)
The second step is to be heard and approved by leaders in various infrastructure organizations in Chestnut Hill.
If the project is approved, a letter, which holds tremendous weight is sent to the city.
This committee is designed to allow new businesses to conform to the exterior context of Germantown Avenue. This means they hold to standards in signage, color schemes and outdoor decor.
In addition to the above, the association helps form and strengthen partnerships with the city as an oversight major roadway, bridge, electrical, water projects in the area.
Germantown Avenue Design Guidelines
Fences and Zoning
Planning to Build a Fence?
As part of Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill is regulated by City zoning and building codes that apply to new and replacement fences. These regulations
pertain to fence location, height, and opaqueness (degree of visibility through the fence). The contracts provided by many fencing companies make the property owner solely responsible for obtaining any necessary building permits, and the contracts often do not mention the need to check for compliance with zoning provisions. Some Chestnut Hill residents have had fences installed that subsequently triggered zoning violation citations, with steep penalties. An existing fence that has stood for several years and does not comply with current code is not in and of itself illegal, but it cannot be replaced in kind. Such fences are not "grandfathered in." The photos below show examples of fencing that would be permitted in Philadelphia under current zoning code.
Residential Yard Parking
As part of Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill is regulated by City zoning codes that maintain visually open setbacks free of vehicles. These regulations pertain to setbacks in front, side, and rear yards that are free of development and vehicle parking.
Chestnut Hill, by tradition, includes many properties that have no on-site parking, thus maintaining its quality as a walkable and transit-accessible ‘green-country town.’ We are pleased that the Zoning Code supports this tradition.
Some conditions do exist that would not be granted a permit by current zoning code. The photos on this page show examples of blocks have remained free of residential parking within the front yard setback.
Learn more about what to consider when residential parking
The CHCA and the Chestnut Hill Conservancy are partnering in a special initiative to address development issues and future planning for Chestnut Hill. A steering committee of community professionals have come together to work on the “Residential Conservation, Preservation, and Development Study,” intended to help the community identify issues and priorities and select tools that can be used to guide decisions.
The Study will prepare the community for informed public discussions and decision-making, and it will be especially useful in the fall of 2017, when the Philadelphia Planning Commission commences the Northwest Philadelphia District Plan, one of the final elements of the city’s Philadelphia2035 Comprehensive Plan.
Read more about this initiative.