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Zoning, planning & development

Get a preliminary zoning appeal review

If you’re appealing a zoning referral or refusal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), you can request a preliminary review by the staff of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC).

As part of this process, PCPC analyzes each variance and special exception appeal based on criteria in the zoning code. PCPC then makes non-binding recommendations to the ZBA.

This review can help you identify the parts of the zoning code that are relevant to your proposal. A preliminary zoning appeal review is not required, and participation doesn’t guarantee that the PCPC staff will give a favorable recommendation.


You can request a preliminary review after you’ve received your notice of refusal or referral. You should submit your request at least two weeks before your scheduled ZBA hearing date.

If you haven’t filed a zoning permit application yet and you’re seeking feedback on a development concept, consider requesting a conceptual plan review instead.


Email the legislative team to schedule a meeting.

In your email, you should include:

  • The site’s address as it appears on zoning documents.
  • The name, address, and contact information for the appellant or their attorney.

You can send your email to

After receiving your request, staff will contact you with at least two meeting time options. Meetings will be limited to 30 minutes.

Submit your materials.

At least one day before the meeting, you should email the following materials to your contact at PCPC:

  • A copy of the notice of referral or refusal.
  • A copy of the zoning permit application drawings.
Attend the preliminary review meeting.

At the meeting, you’ll give a brief presentation of the proposed development. PCPC staff will then ask questions related to the appeal approval criteria from the zoning code.

What happens next

After your preliminary review, PCPC will issue a letter summarizing the meeting and showing where the proposal might conflict with the zoning code. PCPC doesn’t make its final recommendation until the appeal has been presented in full before the ZBA.

At the ZBA hearing, PCPC staff will make a final recommendation to approve, deny, or approve with conditions. The PCPC recommendation may be informed by facts discussed at your preliminary review.