Advocacy

Chestnut Hill feels like a village, but as part of the municipality of Philadelphia, we are regularly challenged with finding the best ways to advocate for the characteristics we hold dear in the face of change and new development. The Physical Division of the CHCA is on the forefront of managing change. Our volunteers work hard to help guide decisions that will have lasting impact for the community. Help us continue this important work. Make a donation to CHCA's Annual Appeal.

Attend Special Community Meeting on Monday, July 23, 2018

Philly2035
A special community meeting will take place on Monday, July 23, 6:00 pm, at Chestnut Hill Hospital (8835 Germantown Ave.) to present and review the draft District Plan and gather comments for submission to the Planning Commission. The draft plan will be available online on July 17 www.phila2035.org/upper-northwest. The public comment period starts on July 17 and ends just after Labor Day, September 4, 2018.
View the Upper Northwest District Plan Recap.

Members of the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Development Review Committee, the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, Chestnut Hill Business District, Friends of the Wissahickon, and other involved organizations will be at this meeting to review the plan with community members, answer questions, and take feedback regarding the draft plan. The draft plan includes items that will affect Chestnut Hill such as zoning changes, supporting historic preservation efforts throughout the district, and planning for transit-oriented development along the Chestnut Hill East and Chestnut Hill West rail lines.
 
Plan Development Process
The third and final public meeting was held on June 18 at the new Lovett Library on, where 185 attendees interacted with PCPC staff to learn about the recommendations. The Philadelphia City Planning Commission will be using the feedback from the meeting to improve and refine the Draft Plan. On July 17 the City Planning Commission is expected to certify the Draft Plan at its open public meeting. They will then post the draft online and receive comments officially until September 14. On September 18, they will present the final Plan to the City Planning Commission at its open public meeting for adoption. The presentation will include a summary of changes made during the comment period. Once the Commission adopts the plan, it becomes part of Philadelphia2035, the City’s comprehensive plan.









At the direction of the Chestnut Hill Community Association and the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, the Chestnut Hill Residential Conservation, Preservation, and Development Study was created to address community efforts to conserve open space in the challenged Wissahickon Watershed, improve the water quality of the Wissahickon, and inform community decisions regarding the protection of historically significant architecture and priority areas for new development.

One of the key deliverables of the study was a series of six maps that help to illustrate the lay of the land—a survey of what exists, and what’s at stake. 

Review the Maps. Click on each map to enlarge and view at full resolution in a new window. AerialZoningEnvironmental FeaturesProtect Our WatershedExisting Protected Public and Private Land, and Historically Significant Architecture.

Chestnut Hill Community Association: 70 Years of Development, Preservation and Conservation

We’ve been doing it longer than anyone else! The charm and visual appeal of Chestnut Hill does not happen by chance. It is maintained through the volunteer vigilance of the CHCA’s Development Review, Land Use Planning & Zoning, and Streetscape Committees.
No other organization in Chestnut Hill has been doing it as long as we have!  In 2018, we’ll mark our 70th year of careful stewardship of Chestnut Hill.
Thank you to the past and present volunteer professionals in architecture, landscape architecture, city planning, law, finance and related fields who make this possible over the years.

Make an Online donation to the CHCA
or mail a check to the Chestnut Hill Community Association, 8434 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118.
The Chestnut Hill Community Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax-deductible.


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 chca_rco@chestnuthill.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.

2018 Development Review Committee 
Lawrence McEwen (Co-chair), John Landis (Co-chair), John Romano, Patricia Cove, Amanda Yoder, Mark Keintz & Joyce Lenhardt (CHCA VP of Physical Division) 2018 Land Use Planning & Zoning Committee Cynthia Brey (Co-chair), Bradley Flamm (Co-chair), Lawrence McEwen, Steve Gendler John Landis, Joyce Lenhardt, Jean McCoubrey, Andrew Moroz, Larry Goldfarb & Ned Mitinger

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.

STREETSCAPE
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.

2018 Streetscape Committee
John Romano (Chair), Carolyn Simons & Kate O'Neill Support Celeste Hardester (Consultant) and Melissa Nash (Meeting Minutes)

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.

Fence options

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

Parking Photos












SPECIAL INITIATIVE

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.

Chestnut Hill Pocket Parks Partnership-An overview of the parks, programs, and green spaces throughout Chestnut Hill.