Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Come Support Meaningful Waterfront Setback Rule at 10-31 City Council Hearing

What better week to consider a new city zoning code provision that will require a 50 foot setback on waterfront properties?  The same week that Hurricane Sandy devastated the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England, causing loss of life and incurring billions of dollars of recovery costs.  Setbacks help reduce the impacts of these storms on property and human life.  Philadelphia, as many other cities do, should have its own rule requiring them.
City Council's Rules Committee is going forward with a hearing tomorrow morning at 10am on a bill to set waterfront buffers, Ordinance #120654.  This Ordinance will require a 50-foot buffer along rivers and streams to keep industry and development away from riverbanks, protect the quality of our drinking water, filter toxins, prevent flooding and allow for potential of future recreational trails along our streams and rivers.  As Sandy demonstrated all too well, properties exposed to waterways are particularly vulnerable to destructive storms and floods.
We like Ordinance #120654.  It is reasonable and came out of many months of negotiation between environmental groups, waterfront development corporations and developers.  During the past few weeks, we had been worried that there might be a weakening amendment to reduce the setback size to 25 feet for smaller streams.  Thankfully, that doesn't appear likely.  But, there is a chance that a weaker version of the bill may be proposed that creates a loophole for preexisting structures.  We urge anyone who can to come to Council chambers tomorrow morning to support a version of the bill that will create meaningful buffers, not one that allows for significant expansion of preexisting structures.
The future of continuous and contiguous riverfront trails in Philadelphia, which are critical to the completion and connection of the Circuit, may well rest on the outcome of this Committee vote.  The Bicycle Coalition will join Penn Future, Schuylkill River Development Corp. and others in testifying in support of a strong bill.  Please come tomorrow morning to City Council to show your support for a meaningful waterfront setback rule on all rivers and streams in Philadelphia!