By Maureen Tate, CPN Zoning Committee
Cedar Park Neighbors is committed to ensuring that local residents are informed about proposed zoning changes in the community and have an opportunity for their voices to be heard. CPN’s Zoning Committee is recognized by the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) as the representative of residents and businesses within the boundaries of Cedar Park. The committee is composed of CPN member volunteers who monitor zoning notices, solicit community input about proposed zoning changes, communicate neighbors’ positions to city officials, intervene in zoning disputes, and represent the Cedar Park community before the ZBA.
In one year alone, Zoning Committee members reviewed and processed sixteen actual or anticipated applications for zoning changes within the borders of Cedar Park. This work entails: meeting with applicants; researching particular zoning issues; writing and distributing community notifications to local residents; hosting neighbor forums to meet with applicants to learn more about the issue; writing letters informing the ZBA and Councilwoman Blackwell regarding local opinions on each issue; and appearing at the scheduled hearings before the ZBA.
Residents and businesses frequently seek a change in use for their property. If the use is other than that which is allowed by the City of Philadelphia Zoning Code, then the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspection refers the applica- tion to the ZBA, which holds a hearing and decides on the application. Applicants are required to give public notice by posting an orange notice on the property in question, indicating the change of use requested and the date of the hearing. The ZBA also requires applicants to notify their elected officials and local community associations to inform and seek approval for their applications in order to alleviate possible tensions and disputes in zoning matters.
We invite you to read the full CPN Zoning Policy on our website to learn more about CPN’s process for addressing zoning issues. If you see an orange notice posted in your area, have questions about zoning issues in Cedar Park or are interested in joining the committee, we invite you to contact Cedar Park Neighbors.
Addressing Vacant Properties: CPN Property Housing Task Force
David Hincher, Property Housing Task Force
The CPN Property Housing Task Force is an all-volunteer working group. It studies, evaluates and develops strategies to address issues of vacant and blighted properties and land within the Cedar Park boundary, in order to move such properties toward positive occupancy and use. The task force looks to develop mitigation strategies such as connecting property owners with the critical resources needed to reduce the severity of these issues.
Recently, the task force completed a census of abandoned properties. In collaboration with the Community Design Collaborative, It also facilitated a year-long series of community conversations, titled the “Baltimore Avenue Conversation,” which resulted in the Baltimore Avenue Community Corridor Design Study. The Baltimore Avenue study targeted the blocks from 49th to 52nd Street and engaged neighborhood residents, businesses, and community organizations in a broad discussion of desires and goals for this area. Additional information on this conversation and the exciting ideas it generated are found within the final report, which can be downloaded from the Cedar Park Neighbors website at www.cedarparkneighbors.org/.
Since our last Baltimore Avenue Conversation, in the Fall of 2010, we have met with various political representatives — State Senator Anthony Williams, State Representative James Roebuck, and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell — to familiarize them with the study and elicit their advice and support for advancing some of the community
priorities and desires. There are ongoing discussions with Councilwoman Black- well and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission to move the study forward, bringing in other City agencies and additional resources. We look forward to ongoing conversations with other community stakeholders that want to assist with elements of this report.
Since the study was completed, Mariposa Food Co-op has moved forward with plans for a new and larger fresh food grocery located on the 4800 block of Baltimore Avenue. A fresh food grocery was the top desire from the community conversations; and with assistance from Cedar Park Neighbors, we hope this will address that goal.
The Task Force is also in conversation with the University City District regarding their renewed commitment to community and business development. UCD is now directing staff and resources toward assisting property owners in overcoming barriers and obstacles that had prevented them from achieving their goals for their properties. Several owners of severely blighted properties are taking advantage of these resources and we look forward to seeing the results, as some formerly vacant properties are rehabbed and occupied.