New Philadelphia zoning code could bring relief to manufacturers

November 16, 2011

Philadelphia is a historic city that has recently struggled to meet the challenges of the technology and economy of the 21st century. However, a new version of the zoning code that influences how the city is run is set to be approved by the city council, which could be great news for manufacturers and other businesses in the Delaware Valley area.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, only the final details remain to be green-lit by the Zoning Code Commission. Large parts have already gone through and could soon begin changing how the City of Brotherly Love allows businesses to operate.

The original code was severely out of date, containing 642 pages and 55 zoning designations. There were mentions of tanneries and sawmills, two things that have largely disappeared from the American manufacturing landscape. Additionally, no design criteria or urban planning principles were applied when it was written, making it easy for incongruent facilities to work alongside each other.

One reason that this is good news for enterprises in the area is that the new code seeks to consolidate or eliminate entire zoning districts. With consolidated zones and districts could come lower property taxes and therefore reduced operating costs.

Additionally, the entire code itself will be greatly simplified. Approvals are expected to be given after a much smoother process because readability and design in the code are being stressed. Small and large businesses alike will no longer have to devote significant resources to plumbing its labyrinthine depths just to get the right permit for a certain area. The removal of piecemeal amendments and archaic details should pave the way for a more democratic document that will streamline the entire zoning and development process.

This news comes at an excellent time for Delaware Valley manufacturers. According to Bloomberg, the New York Manufacturing Index has risen to its highest since May. Economists at the Institute for Supply Management believe that when the Philadelphia Fed releases its own numbers, it will signal further recovery in the area. With greater financial gains may come increased investment, which in addition to the code revisions, makes for a favorable environment for the sector in this region.