New Setback Zoning for Central Delaware Riverfront

A new open space concept is developing for the Central Delaware Riverfront Master Plan.  Currently a 100-foot buffer is now required between development and the Delaware River.  This zoning law is part of a stop-gap piece of legislation meant to prevent any development from hindering the fruition of Philadelphia's vision for the waterfront until the more permanent Master Plan for the Central Delaware and affiliated zoning are in place.

Following advanced research, the team working on the Master Plan for the Central Delaware has decided against a 100-foot-buffer in favor of a smaller setback that tied together a string of parks.  CDAG members, Penn Praxis, and Development Workshop Executive Director Craig Schelter were quite pleased with the changes.  Designers feel that the objectives of public access, open space, ecological restoration, and storm water management could be better achieved by a different configuration of space.  The bulk of the open space would be consolidated into a series of parks, occurring about every half-mile along the six mile stretch between Oregon and Allegheny avenues and linked by a narrow setback of a minimum of 35 feet.  The open space would vary in size from just an acre or so to upwards of 17 acres.  The spacing would mean that residents of riverfront communities would have no more than a 10 minute walk to a park.

The new open space concept was developed from new research findings from OLIN Partnership, the landscape architecture firm that is part of the master planning team.  Among their findings, the team discovered that 100 feet is not enough space to get a large benefit for habitat restoration.  Research shows that 300 to 600 feet is more conducive to nurturing habitat.  With a combination of this research and the cost of maintaining a continuous 100 foot right-of-way, the new approach began to emerge.  Land will have to be acquired for the implementation of these parks which would be on target with Philadelphia's Green 2015 plan, which calls for the creation of 500 acres of new public open space.

Planners of the waterfront believe this configuration would also help convince developers to start creating the new waterfront, because the parks and trail would boost the development value of the land between the parks.
A public hearing will be held tomorrow September 18 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Festival Pier at Penn's Landing to discuss changes and collect public Input.

Check out Planphilly for more on this.

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