§14-1615. Main Street/Manayunk and Venice Island Special District Controls. [348]


(1) Legislative Findings. The Council finds that:

(a) Major public and private investments have been made and continue to be made in and around the Main Street/Manayunk section of the City to preserve and protect the economic development potential, prevent declining property values, encourage investment and tourism, promote residential uses in and adjacent to this area of the City, and protect and promote the economic vitality of this area of Philadelphia.

(b) Substantial private investment within and immediately adjacent to the Main Street/Manayunk area includes the restoration, adaptive reuse and reconstruction of numerous structures as well as new construction, creating employment opportunities and new housing units within the area;

(c) The Main Street/Manayunk District is important to the economic vitality and diverse character of Philadelphia in that it serves as a tourist destination, as well as a shopping and recreation area for residents of the Philadelphia area;

(d) The Main Street/Manayunk District is an area consisting of a fragile and unique balance of residences, restaurants, and other retail development and light industrial[349] businesses surrounded by predominantly single-family residential areas within walking distance or a short commute;

(e) The narrow streets in this community, combined with the proximity to the Manayunk Canal and the Schuylkill River, place limitations on the availability of on-street parking;

(f) There are severe geographic conditions which place limitations on opportunities to provide off-street parking in this area of the City. The surrounding residential community is densely developed, the southwestern edge of the community is bounded by the Manayunk Canal and the Schuylkill River and the northeastern edge is characterized by a steep slope rising toward Ridge avenue;

(g) Experience in Manayunk and other areas of the City has demonstrated that restaurants and other entertainment type uses exhibit a greater need for parking than other retail uses occupying the same amount of floor area. Accordingly, the City has enacted parking requirements based on the legal occupancy of restaurants and other entertainment uses;

(h) There are over 30 restaurants and entertainment uses within the Manayunk commercial area between Shurs lane and Leverington street with a legal occupancy of approximately 3,000 people. While promoting the economic vitality of the area, the intensity of restaurant and entertainment uses has generated traffic congestion, parking shortages, increased noise and other public nuisances which negatively impact on the adjacent residential community’s quiet enjoyment of their homes and which can negatively affect the long-term economic viability of the commercial area;

(i) The resultant parking and traffic problems also pose a legitimate threat to the health, safety and welfare of residents, business owners and patrons by creating difficulties for police, fire, ambulances and rescue squads to maneuver and respond to emergencies;

(j) While the area between Shurs lane and the Ridge avenue & Main street intersection has experienced less investment and reuse, recent new construction of a high-intensity entertainment use and a restaurant at the southern end of this area[350] will generate additional traffic and congestion and may also be a catalyst for additional commercial development;

(k) This southern section of the Manayunk/Main street district is zoned predominantly light industrial (which allows for a variety of commercial uses), many of the properties are in or border the floodplain, and the area is adjacent to recreational uses;

(l) This southern section is characterized by larger buildings which may continue to be occupied with light industrial uses but which are also appropriate for commercial development and/or for development of commercial uses on the ground floors and light industrial uses on upper floors;

(m) The southern section also includes a number of sites where off-street parking is already provided or where off-street parking could be provided;

(n) It is desirable where feasible to extend the street scale, historical character and pedestrian friendly atmosphere of upper of Main street to the southern section of the Main Street/Manayunk district as development progresses to include this area;

(o) It is further desirable to extend the mixed commercial flavor of upper Main street to the southern section of the Main Street/Manayunk district;

(p) The Schuylkill River and Manayunk Canal are an important part of the historical fabric of Manayunk. It is desirable to maintain both physical and visual access for pedestrians to the Schuylkill River and Manayunk Canal;

(q) The city has implemented legislative and planning measures to preserve and promote the fragile and unique balance of land uses within the Manayunk/Main District including, but not limited to: acquiring land for parking lots; enacting parking requirements for certain new establishments; authorizing the creation of a special services district; and, funding a comprehensive parking and traffic flow study for the area. In addition, the preparation of a new comprehensive land use plan for the area was recently initiated and is in progress;

(r) Venice Island is a unique development resource with a significant historical past and a number of environmental constraints. At one time the island was home to intense industrial use. Today, with the exception of the northwesterly one-third of the island, the remainder is used for commercial parking and various recreational uses with several industrial buildings and vacant industrial land;

(s) Industrial reuse is unlikely on the lower two-thirds of Venice Island and any future development should be undertaken with recognition of the limited vehicular access available on the island as well as the significant amount of traffic that exists along Main street which parallels the island and which provides access to the island;

(t) Future development on Venice Island should only be permitted if it compliments and enhances diverse recreational use of the island and is done in a manner that allows for continuous public access to the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal. Future development should also be done in a manner that protects and enhances the wildlife habitat of the island;

(u) Development of Venice Island is further constrained by the fact that the entire island is located within the floodway of the Schuylkill River and is therefore subject to City and Federal flood plain regulations which limit the size and type of construction and the uses that can be placed on the island;

(v) Because of this limited access and environmental constraints, future development should be limited to low density residential uses, which will create the least amount of traffic impact on the island, and surrounding streets. This development should be limited to a height and scale which is consistent with the larger Manayunk community and should provide off-street parking at a level that exceeds the minimum requirements of the zoning code so as to provide for the needs of all residents and their visitors;

(w) A significant residential presence on the island will serve to enhance and protect the recreational use of the remainder of the island by placing 24 hour a day activity on the island;

(x) Therefore, special land use and zoning controls, providing for the prohibition of certain uses within certain portions of this area of the City, are required to preserve the integrity of the residential community, promote an economically viable mix of businesses, help guide new development, mitigate development on and near the floodplain, and protect recreational uses.

(2) District Boundaries. For purposes of this section, the Main Street/Manayunk and Venice Island Special District Controls shall apply to:

(a) all properties within the area bounded by Shurs lane, the rear property line of the properties fronting on the northeast side of Cresson street, Gay street, the rear property line of the properties fronting on the northeast side of Baker[351] street, Leverington street and the Manayunk Canal;[352]

(b) all the properties within the area bounded by the SEPTA Norristown Railroad, Shurs lane, the Schuylkill River, and a line described as follows: beginning at a point on easterly side of the Schuylkill River; thence extending from said point of beginning north twenty-nine degrees forty-seven minutes nineteen seconds east, the distance of one hundred five feet three and one half inches to a point, thence extending north sixty degrees twelve minutes forty-one seconds west, the distance of forty-six feet seven and three-quarter inches to a point, thence extending north twenty-nine degrees forty-seven minutes nineteen seconds east, the distance of one hundred forty feet ten inches to a point, thence extending south sixty degrees twelve minutes forty-one seconds east, the distance of ninety-two feet zero inches to a point, thence extending north twenty-nine degrees forty-seven minutes nineteen seconds east, the distance of sixty feet zero inches to a point, thence extending north twenty-nine degrees forty-seven minutes nineteen seconds east, the distance of ninety-two feet zero inches to a point, thence extending north sixty degrees twelve minutes forty-one seconds east, the distance of fifty-seven feet zero inches to a point located on the westerly side of Main street, thence extending north sixty degrees twelve minutes forty-one seconds east and crossing the bed of Main street (sixty feet wide) to a point on the SEPTA Norristown Railroad.

(c) All properties located southeast of a line beginning at a point located along the southeasterly side of the Manayunk Canal measuring approximately five hundred forty feet northwest of the northwesterly side of Leverington street thence extending the following bearings and distances: south forty-four degrees twelve minutes fifty seconds east one hundred seven and seven tenths feet and south forty-nine degrees twenty-five minutes fifty seconds west fifty-seven and three-tenths feet to the northeasterly side of Flat Rock road; thence along that side of Flat Rock road approximately eighty-eight feet; thence south fifty-nine degrees seven minutes fifty seconds west to the northeasterly bank of the Schuylkill River; and bounded by the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal.

(3) Use Controls. Within the Main Street/ Manayunk and Venice Island District and notwithstanding any other section of this Title, the following uses, regulations, prohibitions and/or controls shall apply to the following noted areas:

(a) For the area described in paragraph (2)(a) above the following uses shall be prohibited:[353]

(.1) Athletic and drill hall, dance hall, and other entertainment of guests and patrons as a main use;

(.2) Private clubs;

(.3) The expansion of existing restaurants;

(.4) The expansion of existing take-out restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and other similar establishments for the sale and consumption of food and/or beverages, with drive-in or take-out service; (sale of food and/or beverages to be consumed outside the confines of the premises);

(.5) Retail sales of products or food through a window or aperture which opens directly onto the sidewalk, a public arcade, or public entranceway into a building; and

(.6) Tattoo and body piercing establishments.

(b) For the area described in paragraph (2)(b) above the following uses shall be prohibited:

(.1) Any regulated use as listed under Zoning Code § 14-1605;

(.2) Athletic and drill hall, dance hall, and other entertainment of guests and patrons as a main use;

(.3) Automobile repair shop; automobile sales lot; automobile service station; installation of auto, boat, motorcycle or truck parts;

(.4) Bath house and indoor swimming pool as a main use;

(.5) Bottling and/or distributing of liquids for human consumption;

(.6) Central heating plant;

(.7) Courtroom or courthouse building;

(.8) Delicatessen; restaurant, cafe or soda and ice cream fountain which dispenses food at retail through a window or aperture which opens onto the sidewalk or public arcade area; restaurant which serves patrons who remain in their automobiles; take-out restaurant; restaurant which exceeds 4,000 square feet in gross floor area;

(.9) Motion picture theater; theater; open air motion pictures; open air theater; other open air entertainment; outdoor amusement parks, athletic and sports fields; outdoor swimming pools and day camps;

(.10) Night club; private clubs with a license from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for the sale of alcoholic beverages;

(.11) Penal and correctional institutions;

(.12) Public garage and public parking lots as a main use except when such parking garages and/or parking lots serve uses located within 1,000 feet of the parking garage and/or parking lot;

(.13) Radio or television transmission tower but not including satellite dishes or telecommunications antennas;

(.14) Dry cleaning establishment; self-service dry cleaning establishment; self-service laundry but not including laundry pick-up agency and/or dry cleaning pick-up agency;

(.15) Retail sale of packaged beverages as a main use and/or the retail sale of malt beverages for take out as an accessory use;

(.16) Sales of live poultry, live fish, or live animals for human consumption;

(.17) Tattoo and body piercing establishments;

(.18) The use of outdoor sound systems for entertainment;

(.19) Trolley and cab stations, bus terminals, car and bus barns;

(.20) Uses customarily accessory and incidental to the uses above;

(.21) Uses of the same general character as the uses specified above.

(c) For the area described in paragraph (2)(c) above only the following uses shall be permitted:

(.1) Attached, semi-detached and detached dwellings;

(.2) Group dwellings;

(.3) Private dwelling garages as accessory uses;

(.4) Any type of recreational or cultural use subject to the use qualifications and/or restrictions of the underlying zoning classification.

(4) Facade Controls.

(a) No building shall be erected nor any facade altered on any building or land fronting on any street located within the area described in paragraph (2)(b) or (2)(c) above unless plans of the facade have been approved by the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission shall have 60 days to take action, after which its approval shall be presumed;

(b) Any building within the area described in paragraph (2)(b) above which is constructed to comply with the requirements of § 14-1606, (Flood Plain Controls), shall be constructed so that a building facade is maintained between the ground level and the first occupied floor along all street lines.

(5) Building Set-back Line.

(a) Any newly erected building on Main street or Ridge avenue within the area described in paragraph (2)(b) above shall have no set back from the street line;

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (5)(a) above, where a retaining wall already exists, a set back for the purpose of preserving such a wall may be permitted with the approval of the Planning Commission.

(c) For the area described in paragraph (2)(c) above the following setback requirements shall apply:

(.1) Setback from the Manayunk Canal and the Conrail right-of-way:

(.a) All structures less than 25 feet in height above the actual ground level at the base of the structure shall set back from the Conrail right-of-way a distance equal to the height of the structure but in no case less than 10 feet;

(.b) All structures 25 feet or more in height above the actual ground level at the base of the structure shall set back from the Manayunk canal no less than 25 feet and from the Conrail right-of-way no less than 10 feet.

(.c) All open air parking, loading or driveways shall set back from the Conrail right-of-way no less than 10 feet;

(.2) Setback from the Schuylkill River. All lots shall provide an unencumbered set-back a minimum average width of 8 feet but in no case less than 5 feet in width from the top of the bank of the Schuylkill River to allow for unrestricted public access to the river’s edge.

(6) Riverbank Screening. For all properties located within the area described in paragraph (2)(b) above, a landscaped area shall be maintained along the Schuylkill River frontage between the rear of any building or the edge of any parking lot, loading area or open area as follows:

(a) A landscaped area at least 4 feet wide and 2 feet high (or other landscaping or screening approved by the Planning Commission), shall be installed;

(b) The landscaped area shall be installed along the entire Schuylkill River frontage;

(c) The planting material shall be installed at a size and number to ensure adequate screening from the time the material is installed;

(d) The type of plant material shall be selected from a list of types, sizes of species of plants, and numbers of plants that are appropriate to achieve adequate screening and appropriate for the location. This list shall be prepared and maintained by the City Planning Commission, in conjunction with the Fairmount Park Commission;

(e) The required screening shall be maintained in a manner to ensure its survival. In the event that any landscaping dies, it shall be replaced at the required ratio;

(7) Maximum Building Width.

(a) The maximum width of any newly erected building or existing building to which an addition is added which increases the building’s frontage along on Main street or Ridge avenue within the area described in paragraph (2)(b) above after the effective date of this Section shall comply with the following building width requirements:

(.1) Buildings or portions of buildings (except parking garages) with frontage on the west side of Main street or Ridge avenue within the area described in paragraph (2)(b) above shall be constructed so that the total frontage of the building along the street at its widest point does not exceed 75% of the width of the lot.

(8) Height Regulations.

(.1) For the area described in paragraph (2)(a) and (b) above the following height regulations shall apply. The maximum height of a building shall be thirty-five feet above the average ground level at the base of the structure, but in no case over three stories, provided, that the thirty-five feet height restriction shall be applicable to parking garages but the three story restriction shall not be applicable to parking garages, further provided that additions to existing buildings which do not increase the gross floor area of the building by more than 10% may be built to a height (in both feet and stories) not to exceed the existing building, provided that all of the yard, set back, and building width requirements are met;
(.2) For the area described in paragraph (2)(c) above the maximum height shall be 6 stories and no more than 55 feet above average ground level.

(9) Screening, landscaping, lighting. All surface parking lots shall comply with the following provisions:

(a) Along the street line of all public streets or along the Conrail right-of-way on Venice Island whether or not a set-back is required, a landscaped area at least four feet wide and two feet high (or other landscaping approved by the Planning Commission) shall be installed along the outward edge of the parking lot. Along the Schuylkill River Frontage of Venice Island the landscaped area shall be in addition to the 5-foot wide unencumbered setback from the river;

(b) The landscaped area shall be installed along the entire street frontage of all streets or Conrail right-of-way frontage, except where walkways and driveways connect to the public street;

(c) Within any parking lot having more than twenty-five parking spaces, an additional area shall be provided for the installation and maintenance of landscaping. The total landscaping shall not be less than 10% of the area of the parking lot, including all spaces, aisles and driveways, but excluding all walkways and screening required elsewhere herein;

(d) The planting material shall be installed at a size and number to ensure adequate screening from the time the material is installed;

(e) The type of plant material shall be selected from a list of types, sizes of species of plants, and numbers of plants that are appropriate to achieve adequate screening and appropriate for the location of the parking facility; provided, that on Venice Island the plant material shall be of species of plants indigenous to the island and/or the Schuylkill River bank. This list shall be prepared and maintained by the City Planning Commission, in conjunction with the Fairmount Park Commission;

(f) The landscaped area may be located within any required set-back or rear yard;

(g) The required screening shall be maintained in a manner to ensure its survival. In the event that any landscaping dies, it shall be replaced at the required ratio;

(h) Where any individual zoning district contains screening requirements which exceed the requirements contained herein, the requirements of the individual zoning district shall take precedent;

(i) All parking lots shall include lighting which shall illuminate the entire parking lot and walkways with an overall minimum average level of illumination of not less than 2 horizontal foot candles;

(j) The illumination shall be maintained throughout non-business hours with an overall minimum average level of illumination of not less than 0.3 horizontal foot candles;

(k) The illumination shall be focused upon the lot so as to prevent glare upon the surrounding areas;

(10) Signs. For the area described in paragraph (2)(c) above, signs shall be permitted only as permitted under the individual zoning classification of the lot. For the area described in paragraph 2(a) and (b) above, signs shall be permitted in this district only under the following conditions:

(a) Signs shall pertain to the permitted use of the building;

(b) Signs shall not be erected nor project above the roof line or wall coping;

(c) Signs shall be permitted at a ratio of two square feet per lineal foot of street frontage for buildings of three stories or less in height and 3 square feet of sign area per lineal foot of street frontage for buildings in excess of three stories, further provided such signs shall not extend above the bottom of the third floor of the building on which they are located subject to any exceptions or limitations imposed below:

(.1) Only the following types of signs shall be permitted:

(.a) Flat wall signs;

(.b) Projecting signs, provided that such signs shall not project:

(i) more than six inches when the lowest part thereof is less than seven feet above the sidewalk;

(ii) more than two feet when such part of the sign is between seven feet and ten feet above the sidewalk;

(iii) more than 2/3 the width of the sidewalk over which such sign projects to a maximum of ten feet, when such part of the sign is more than ten feet above the sidewalk;

(d) Signs may be illuminated; provided, the illumination shall be focused upon the sign itself, so as to prevent glare upon the surrounding areas;

(e) Internally illuminated signs (except for neon tubing and individual letters affixed to the building or in the windows of the building) shall be prohibited;

(f) Signs with flashing or intermittent illumination shall be prohibited;

(g) Signs which revolve shall be prohibited.

(11) Riverfront Public Access Trail. Within the setback from the top of the bank of the Schuylkill River required in (5)(c)(.2), all newly erected buildings shall provide a public access trail for the entire river frontage of the lot. This trail shall be constructed in accordance with standards adopted pursuant to this Ordinance by the Planning Commission in conjunction with the Fairmount Park Commission. Upon completion of construction, the trail shall be dedicated to the City who shall be responsible for its ownership and maintenance as a public pedestrian right-of-way.

(12) Parking on Venice Island. In order to assure an adequate number of off-street parking for newly erected dwelling units and dwelling units created by the conversion of existing buildings the following parking requirements shall apply for the area described in paragraph 2(c) above:
(a) For every dwelling unit created after the effective date of this Section there shall be provided one off-street parking space in accordance with the following schedule:

(.1) For each efficiency or one-bed room unit 1 space;

(.2) For each additional bedroom 1 space per bedroom;

(b) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Title this off-street parking requirement shall apply to all new and existing buildings regardless of the date of construction of the building;

(c) Off-street parking shall be provided in accordance with Chapter 14-1400 of this Title.

(13) Conflicting Regulations. When the provisions of this section conflict with other provisions of this Title, the more restrictive provisions shall control.