Zoning Issues in Wissahickon
Zoning is at the foundation of many issues that affect our community and impact our neighbors. Zoning impacts our parking, traffic, noise, safety, and more. As a community that is zoned primarily for single-family homes, when zoning is changed (or zoning laws are disregarded) we are all affected. We invite you participate in our zoning committee meetings to participate in the future of our neighborhood.
Common Zoning Issues in the Neighborhood
Single Family to Multi Family Homes
One of the most common issues that we see are requests for variances to change single family homes to multi family homes. This is a common practice among investors who wish to increase their profits by maximizing the number of occupants in the home (a home zoned for single family use limits the legal occupancy of the property to no more than 3 unrelated adults, a home zoned for multi family use can have no more than 3 unrelated adult occupants per legal unit, ie 3 per kitchen).
Increased population density leads to increased parking congestion which creates both inconvenience and dangerous traffic conditions due to “creative” parking. As a guiding principle, WICA is opposed to increases in population density.
It is important to note, that building structure does not dictate zoning. For example, a home that has illegally been converted from a single family home to multiple units is almost certainly not zoned for that usage.
A rooming house is, essentially, a house with one kitchen that is occupied by more than 3 unrelated adults. There are very few, if any, homes in our neighborhood that are zoned for legal use as a rooming house.
In many cases, new construction projects will be brought to the Civic. This happens most often in cases where the developer needs a variance to add more homes than the zoning laws allow.
If a property owner intends to add parking, they will need a zoning variance. In seeking the variance, the Zoning Board of Adjustment will require that the property owner meet with the Civic to present their plans prior to their hearing at the zoning board.
Dimensional variances are required in the case that a property owner wishes to build a deck that would extend closer to the property line than the law allows, for example.