Philadelphia City Planning
The PCPC is responsible for guiding the orderly growth and development
of the City of Philadelphia. Three divisionsdevelopment planning,
community planning and urban designreview residential development
During the early stage of a project developers can meet with the Development
Planning Division for an informal review of plans prior to the public
filing. This division is responsible for:
- the preparation
of Zoning Code amendments and Zoning Map amendments; and
- reviewing the implications of a new development
with respect to the Land Subdivision Ordinances, federal and state
environmental regulations and other city
and state land use controls.
To understand the broad vision for a neighborhood
and learn about the historical uses in the area, contact the Community
Planning Division which is responsible for:
neighborhood planning and development throughout the City; and
- establishing and maintaining effective working
relationships with government officials
and neighborhood residents.
The Urban Design Division can assist you when
you are developing a specific site but have not determined the specific
product. The division is responsible for:
- advising developers on design issues;
- creating design concepts for public initiatives in
neighborhood renewal and the enhancement of the urban environment;
- reviewing urban design and architectural elements
of new projects and coordinating the Citys design approval process
with the Historical Commission, Art Commission and RDA.
PCPC 215-683-4615 Back to Top
L&I Zoning Unit
The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) Zoning Unit reviews
all plans for development. About 60 percent are granted over the counter.
Applications that do not meet the requirements
of the Zoning Code may be appealed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment
(ZBA) for a variance.
An appeal to the ZBA requires a public hearing. L&I has a development
services coordinator to assist you with the process. The goalto
come up with a conforming plan. Start here.
L&I Commissioner 215-686-2400
Zoning Unit 215-686-2430
Zoning Board of Adjustment
ZBA considers all applications for certificates, special-use permits
and zoning variances for any proposal that does not conform to the requirements
of the Zoning Code. The public hearing gives the community an opportunity
to be heard with regard to a proposed project. The process of obtaining
exceptions to the requirements of the Zoning Code is by appeal of a
refusal of permit to the ZBA. An appeal of any decision of the Zoning
Board must be filed within 30 days after the date of the decision. Fees
for zoning appeals: application fee $100 and appeal of a refusal $100
per single-family dwelling. When the Zoning Board reaches a decision,
it sends a written notification. If the ZBA rules in favor of a variance,
take the Notice of Decision issued by the Board to the Zoning
Unit. This Notice is necessary in order to process the permit.
215-686-2430Back to Top
L&I Building Permits
Developers must secure all required permits prior to beginning any new
construction or demolition activity. These permits must be posted at
the job site. L&I requires a building permit for:
- new construction;
- alterations, demolition or additions
to a structure;
- changes in the occupancy classification
(see Administrative Code Section A-701.1);
- for exceptions to permit requirements
(see Administrative Code Section A-301.2.1(R)); and
- separate permits required for
new or changes to plumbing and electrical systems. These permits must
be obtained by a licensed tradesperson.
For additional information about permits, visit
the L&I website. Application forms are available in the Municipal
Services Building Concourse or through the mail. The application must
be submitted to L&I.
Permit Manager, L&I 215-686-2471
L&I is also responsible for cleaning and
sealing vacant structures, demolishing imminently dangerous buildings
and inspecting buildings for code violations.
Councilperson - click here for a listBack to Top
Philadelphia Water Department
The City Planning Commission will identify projects requiring PWD review
and direct them to the appropriate department. The PWD Developers Committee
will work with developers to determine their water and sewer infrastructure
needs. In addition, PWD works with developers to implement low-impact
development features that may lessen the need for additional sewer infra-structure.
Stormwater management is a top priority for PWD. Developers must contact
- The site contains a Water or Drainage Right-of-Way
- The developer wants to install water or sewer lines
that will be owned by PWD.
- The developer wants to install a private water main
or sewer to more than one property or to a condominium or homeowners
- The developer wants to move, change or remove existing
PWD water and sewer facilities.
- The developer wants to install an on-site septic
system or pump station (regardless of ownership).
Developers Committee, PWD 215-685-6339
To connect to an existing water main or sewer 215-685-6270
To comply with PA Sewage Facilities Act 537 to plan adequate sewage
disposal (all developers) 215-685-6367
Opportunities for low-impact development 215-685-4944
The Philadelphia Water Department's (PWD) Developers Committee works with developers to determine their water and sewer infrastructure needs. In addition, PWD works with developers to implement low-impact development features that may lessen the need for additional sewer infrastructure. Stormwater management is a top priority for PWD. Developers must contact PWD when:
- The site contains a Water or Drainage Right-of-Way (ROW).
- The developer wants to install water or sewer lines that will be owned by PWD.
- The developer wants to install a private water main or sewer to more than one property or to a condominium or homeowners association.
- The developer wants to move, change or remove existing PWD water and sewer facilities.
- The developer wants to install an on-site septic system or pump station (regardless of ownership).
Developers Committee, PWD
To connect to an existing water main or sewer
To comply with PA Sewage Facilities Act 537 to plan adequate sewage disposal (all developers)
Opportunities for low-impact development
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The Department of Streets reviews all development proposals for street
layout, vehicular and pedestrian access and safety, traffic regulations,
adequate lighting, curb cuts and where necessary, street closures. Permits
are required for sidewalks/street closures, curb cuts and paving. Establishing
new streets involves a legislative process which may take six to nine
months: road and sidewalk repair proposals can be completed in three
Roadway Repair 215-686-5508
Signs, Traffic Signals 215-686-5530
Special Permits 215-686-5524
Fairmount Park Commission
The Fairmount Park Commission has jurisdiction over all park and street
trees in the City. Contact the Commission before planting, removing
or pruning work on street trees. Working with PCPC, the Commission must
approve all development proposals that involve tree planting. Section
14-2104 (13) of the Philadelphia Code requires street trees be planted
in all residential and apartment house subdivisions including land abutting
any street previously opened. Developers must send three copies of the
proposed plot plans to Operations and Landscape Management, Memorial
Hall, 4231 N. Concourse Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19131. The District
Arborist evaluates the site, contacts the developer and sends a site-assessment
letter. The cost is $300 per tree planted. Funds are escrowed. After
planting, the District Arborist inspects the site and, if approved,
issues the Refund of Escrow. Trees must be planted within two years
of the issuance of the Building Permit or the escrow is forfeited.
Fairmount Park Commission 215-685-0113Back to Top
Any work that changes the appearance of a property listed on the Philadelphia
Register of Historic Places must have the approval of the Philadelphia
Historical Commission (PHC) before L&I will issue a building permit.
PHC staff approve most permit applications within a few days of submission.
If the scope of work exceeds staff jurisdiction, the application must
be reviewed by the Historical Commission and its Architectural Committee.
PHC encourages applicants to meet with staff before the formal filing
of a permit application.
PHC staff provides technical assistance regarding historic preservation
and materials conservation. PHC can provide information on the architectural
history of Philadelphia, federal, state and local preservation regulations
and the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (see page 27). All
PHC services are free.
PHC meets on the second Friday of every month in City Council Caucus
Room, 401 City Hall. The Architectural Committee meets on the last Tuesday
of every month in the PHC office, 576 City Hall.
In addition to individually listed historic properties, the City contains
eight local historic districts:
1. Diamond Street
2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park
3. Girard Estates
4. Old City
5. Park Mall
7. Society Hill
8. Spring Garden
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Energy Office Standards
Under the Uniform Building Code in Pennsylvania all homes must meet
the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Energy Star standards
are only slightly higher than the IECC, making an Energy Star rating
an achievable goal that will provide increased market recognition and
value. Built-in energy-saving features increase revenue on every qualified
home and may allow buyers to afford upgrades, increasing builders
To participate in the free voluntary partnership:
Complete a simple Partnership Agreement form.
Work with a local energy rater to ensure your homes are designed
and built to meet the Energy Star guidelines.
Fix the Energy Star label on each qualifying home.
Use Energy Star promotional materials for your energy-efficient
Energy Star Homes features include effective insulation levels, energy-efficient
heating and cooling equipment, tight construction and ducts and high-performance
Verification is accomplished by using on-site inspections and diagnostics:
1) A Home Energy Rater uses the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) to
evaluate home plans and specifications.
2) Builder Option Packages (BOPs) offer a set of construction specifications
for a specific climate zone that enables a home to qualify for the label.
215-988-0929 x 233
Coordinating Agency: click here to visit the ECA website
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Department of Environmental Protection:
Information on energy programs, green buildings, watershed and pollution
Southeast Regional Office
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission:
Ensures safe, reliable, reasonably priced electric, natural gas, water,
telephone, transportation service for PA consumers by regulating public
Department of Transportation):
Construction specifications and environmental issues.
Deputy Secretary for Planning: 717-787-2838
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