The Philadelphia Zoning Code includes provisions for ensuring that neighbors of proposed developments are notified and have an opportunity to provide input regarding zoning decisions that may impact them. This is accomplished through a standardized system of direct notification and through public meetings that are held in communities and convened by Registered Community Organizations (RCOs).
RCOs are provided notice by the Planning Commission whenever a zoning variance or special exception is requested, or when a development requiring Civic Design Review (CDR) is formally proposed, within their geographic boundaries. Where there is one affected RCO for a property, this organization convenes the public meeting that applicants are required to attend prior to being heard by the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA); where there is more than one RCO in an area, the District Councilperson has the option to select one or more RCO as the responsible party for convening the meeting, in cooperation with all other affected RCOs; and where there are no RCOs the District Councilperson can either choose to host the public meeting or assign an entity on his/her behalf to do so.
It is important to note that RCOs are recipients of early notification of zoning appeals and are not
given any special privileges before the ZBA. Individual community members and/or organizations are entitled to testify at ZBA hearings or to send letters to the ZBA regardless of RCO status. When operating in their capacity, RCOs are bound to a set of requirements outlined in detail below. The Planning Commission keeps an updated list and map of RCOs on this website. Registration for RCO status occurs in June of each year. Each RCO must renew their registration with the Planning Commission every TWO years.
2016 RCO Registration
The registration period for new RCOs and for the renewal of RCOs that originally registered in 2014 is now closed. Please check here for information about the June 2017 registration period.
On March 23rd, Councilmember Henon introduced Bill #170285, which would make several amendments to the legislation guides RCO registration and related neighborhood notification processes.
The text of the legislation can be found here
. On April 20th, the councilman hosted a Tele-Town Hall to answer questions and listed to feedback from the public. A transcript can be found here