The City of Philadelphia recently combined its review boards into the new Department of Planning and Development.
This seems like a smart reorganization on paper, and there are other departments and personnel involved beyond those boards our company usually interacts with. However, for our purposes, we’ve noticed a snag that may (or may not) be related to all this shuffling around Center City: Licenses and Inspections isn’t playing very well with others when the game is fee assessment.
When you request a permit, the City often refuses that permit; allowing an appeal process if you’re committed to your request. These forms of refusal list the fee required to appeal the decision. We’re starting to see refusals issued with the wrong appeal fee. The Board of Building Services and the ZBA both updated their fees recently, and they won’t review any appeals with fees that don’t meet their new requirements. L&I is still printing and mailing refusal after refusal with the wrong fees, which (we’d guess) is resulting in a roadblock up at ZBA.
The simple moral of the story is this: Make sure if you owe any fees to the City of Philadelphia that you’re up to date on the new fees instituted July 1. If you submit anything less, you’ll be waiting even longer on your permit, and you’ll have to make an extra trip down to the ZBA offices, check in hand.
Even this will be a little harder now, because the ZBA staff is moving from the Municipal Services Building on the 11th floor to 1515 Arch Street on the 13th Floor on September 5th, 2017. This won’t affect permit pickups, but the MSB is no longer the one-stop zoning (and building) shop it had been. Plan a little extra time if you have to go between desks for information and forms.
Of course, you could save yourself all that trouble by having Philadelphia Zoning take it on for you. As always, we’re out to save small businesses, homeowners, lawyers, and developers hassles and headaches.