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City Council Actually Listens to Everyday Citizens (AKA the Bill 120917 Turnaround)
Philly

City Council Actually Listens to Everyday Citizens (AKA the Bill 120917 Turnaround)

your voice mattersGreat news, friends. If you care about something and voice your opinion, people in power listen.

Although I must admit, I used to be a bit skeptical of individual actions towards political change.  I was a political science major in college, and one of the main takeaways was Corporations lobbyists rule government.” 

The internets were raging over the past few days, as City Council bill 120917 would hurt community gardens. Introduced by Councilman Brian O’Neill, amendments would create restrictions on a range of commercial “mixed use” areas. Translated, the bill would require community gardens to receive special approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment with multiple fees, discouraging a non-profit or lower budget group.  The amendment called for ridiculous hurdles, includinga group will have to pay the initial $100 fee, a $250 fee to appear before ZBA and the $25 fee for the use registration permit. The garden group will also need to provide a letter of support from a registered community organization [RCO], post notice of what they are proposing to do for 21 days, get a tax certificate that verifies no taxes are owed, and then appear before the ZBA with this documentation.

According to Weavers Way,

“If passed, the bill would not just create unnecessary barriers to gardening and farming, but would undermine Philadelphia’s new zoning code, which already regulates gardening practices and ensure community safety and well-being.  The Campaign acknowledges the importance of community input into land use matters, but opposes this bill as costly, onerous, and most of all, unnecessary, as existing processes and institutions provide more effective safeguards.”

Many gardening groups, nonprofits and Philadelphians rallied and City Council listened! O’Neill decided to amend the bill to restore community gardens and market or community supported farms in CMX-2 and 2.5 as a matter of right, as was originally allowed in the new zoning code.

My fellow sustainable Philadelphians, please remember that your voices do matter. Especially when we want to reduce single use bags with common sense legislation. 🙂

 

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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