The Zoning Committee’s main objective is to provide a forum for residents to learn about and provide feedback on upcoming development projects in the neighborhood. The committee acts as a mediator between neighbors, developers, and city agencies, helping ensure development remains viable while simultaneously addressing the issues and concerns of neighbors. The committee consists of professionals in architecture, zoning, law, policy, and development.
The Architecture Review Committee (ARC) meets to evaluate project use, open space, historical context, streetscape, and parking that fits with the community master plan and urban design best practices. The committee’s members include professionals with experience in architecture, zoning, development, and design.
If you’re interested in the zoning and development process, the Zoning Committee may be right for you. Our committee is comprised of detail-oriented individuals who spend at least 4 hours a month to become experts in the zoning code and attend monthly committee and work group meetings.
The ARC meets when necessary on the first Wednesday of the month at 7:00p.
The Zoning Committee holds its meetings on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:00p.
Resources for Neighbors
The Zoning Committee, a standing committee established by the SOSNA Board, holds monthly meetings to discuss all applications for zoning variances within the SOSNA boundary area.
A variance is required by the City of Philadelphia whenever the proposed size or use of a property does not conform to the Philadelphia zoning or building codes. A variance must be obtained from the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). Prior to appearing before the ZBA, applicants are advised to schedule an appearance before the SOSNA Zoning Committee as outlined below.
The purpose of the Zoning Committee Meeting is to provide a public forum for the discussion and review of all zoning variance applications occurring within the SOSNA boundary area. Through these meetings, residents of the SOSNA area are able to provide direct neighborhood input into this important civic decision-making process. All Zoning Committee Meeting attendees who reside within the SOSNA boundary area will have the opportunity to express their opinions by registering one of the following responses to each project: ‘support’, ‘not-opposed’ or ‘opposed’.
Zoning Committee Meetings are typically held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. Applicants should contact SOSNA at 215-732-8446 to request and schedule a spot at the next available Zoning Committee Meeting; as the meeting calendar often fills in advance, applicants are advised to plan ahead and reach out to our Executive Director to request to be put on the Zoning Committee Agenda. SOSNA will not add new projects to the Zoning or ARC agendas until the RCO Notice has been sent to our organization by the Planning Commission. The deadline to be put on the month’s agenda is the 1st Monday of the month or at the discretion of SOSNA. To view a list of upcoming projects to be presented, view our events calendar.
Applicants are to deliver the documents listed below to the SOSNA office or email by the last Friday of the month before your scheduled ZBA Hearing Date. SOSNA will likely reach out to your RCO Notice email with details on next steps and deliverables prior to this date.
Should the applicant fail to provide the documents as described by the date due, the applicant will be not be placed on the meeting calendar and the SOSNA Zoning Committee will request a continuance from the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). This will prevent applicants from being permitted to present their projects before the SOSNA Zoning Committee.
Prospective zoning applicants are strongly encouraged to contact SOSNA as early as possible to minimize the possibility of a request for continuance. If a timely meeting date cannot be met, SOSNA encourages the applicant to request a continuance of the ZBA. If an applicant refuses to present before the SOSNA Zoning Committee or cannot be contacted, SOSNA will ask the ZBA directly for a continuance. SOSNA will submit a request for continuance to the ZBA if a zoning applicant has not requested a meeting with the SOSNA Zoning Committee.
Deed or Agreement of Sale
Zoning Refusal, calendar listing number and type of proposed variances
Design documentation emailed to Programs Manager in PDF form, including the following:
Site Plan – at a measurable scale of 1/8” = 1’-0”. The site plan must dimension all site limits and the building footprint. The site plan must show the relationship of the application property to neighboring properties and to the closest street intersection.
Floor Plans – at a measurable scale of ¼” = 1’-0”
Elevations – street front, side (if applicable), and rear elevations must be shown at a measurable scale of ¼” – 1’-0”. Elevations must show the property in the context of the adjacent properties (a minimum of 2 in either direction). All elevations must be annotated to clearly indicate the materials of construction.
Site Photos – must show the application property in the context of neighboring properties.
4 (4) copies of items A, B, and C in an 11”x17” format
Near Neighbor Meeting Notice
In order to present at our community meeting, applicants must comply with the notice requirements from the Planning Commission and the RCO of this meeting. Applicants are required to provide notice to affected properties via regular mail within 20 days of receiving your RCO notice. All applicants must obtain proof of mailing in the form of a canceled certificate of mailing from the USPS to give to SOSNA (Applicants should be ready to furnish a canceled certificate upon request).
All notification (using either template) of nearby property owners must now be done by regular mail—no hand delivery of notice will be accepted.
Applicants must attach a copy of the refusal/referral to the written, mailed, public notice that is sent to nearby properties. [RCO Regulations 12.4.3].
Please send SOSNA 1) a photo of your posted orange zoning flyer and 2) proof of mailing in the form of a canceled certificate of mailing from USPS at least 7 days prior to your Zoning Committee meeting date to confirm that neighbors have received appropriate notice of the meeting.
The chair (or another committee member) will call the meeting to order by explaining that the purpose of the Zoning Committee Meeting is to provide a forum for the applicant to present his/her proposal and obtain input from the Zoning Committee and concerned members of the community who live within the SOSNA boundary area.
All attendees will be asked to sign in, providing their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Then, for each project, a voting sheet will be distributed for all attendees, on which they may indicate their ‘support’ or ‘non-support’. A copy of the voting sheets will be forwarded to the Councilperson to verify support or non-support for the project by community members.
The order in which applications will be heard is predetermined by the Zoning Committee Chair and shall be indicated on the published agenda. This order is typically based on the anticipated length of time required for adequate discussion. The Zoning Committee will introduce each applicant, read aloud the refusal explaining the variances sought, and ask the applicant to present their proposal to the Zoning Committee. A minimum of one property owner must represent the applicant property at the Zoning Committee Meeting in order to receive a vote. As previously mentioned, the applicant is strongly encouraged to have his/her architect, attorney, or other representatives present.
After the applicant, his/her attorney, architect, or other representative has completed their presentation to the Zoning Committee, the Committee Members shall have first opportunity to ask questions and or comment on the project. Once the Committee has no further questions, the chair will take questions and brief comments from others in attendance. In order for everyone to have a fair chance to participate, community members are asked to speak only when recognized by the chair. If a question or comment has not been addressed to the satisfaction of a community member, he or she should request the opportunity to speak again and not engage in dialogue with the applicant. Interaction between community members and applicants is expected to be conducted in an orderly manner at all times and not to become argumentative.