Deborah McColloch, Director: 1234 Market St., 17th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107
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Government

Every new or rehabilitated residential develop-ment in the City of Philadelphia requires liason and compliance with various government agencies. This page has been developed to provide you with information and contacts.

City Planning Commission
Energy programs
Fairmount Park Commission
Historical Commission
Licenses & Inspections
Stormwater Management
State Agencies
Streets Department
Water Department
Zoning Board
Zoning Unit

Click on a section for details

Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC)
The PCPC is responsible for guiding the orderly growth and development of the City of Philadelphia. Three divisions—development planning, community planning and urban design—review residential development plans.
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:

  • comprehensive 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; and
  • reviewing urban design and architectural elements of new projects and coordinating the City’s design approval process with the Historical Commission, Art Commission and RDA.

Contact:
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 goal—to come up with a conforming plan. Start here.
Contact:
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.
Contact:
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.
Contact:
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.
Contact:
District Councilperson - click here for a list
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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 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).

Contact:
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

Stormwater Management
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).

Contact:
215-685-6339
Developers Committee, PWD

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

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Philadelphia Streets Department
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 months.
Contact:
215-686-5540
Lighting 215-686-5560
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.
Contact:
Fairmount Park Commission 215-685-0113Back to Top

 

Philadelphia Historical Commission (PHC)
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
6. Rittenhouse-Fitler
7. Society Hill
8. Spring Garden
Contact:
215-686-7660
http://www.phila.gov/historical/contact.html
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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’ income.
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 homes.
Energy Star Homes features include effective insulation levels, energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, tight construction and ducts and high-performance windows.
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.
Contact:
215-988-0929 x 233
Energy Coordinating Agency: click here to visit the ECA website

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State Agencies
Department of Environmental Protection:
Information on energy programs, green buildings, watershed and pollution prevention grants.
Contact:
610-832-6021
Southeast Regional Office
www.dep.state.pa.us

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission:
Ensures safe, reliable, reasonably priced electric, natural gas, water, telephone, transportation service for PA consumers by regulating public utilities.
Contact:
717-783-1740
www.puc.paonline

PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation):
Construction specifications and environmental issues.
Contact:
Deputy Secretary for Planning: 717-787-2838
www.dot.state.pa.us

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