Project: Multifamily use variance
Zoning classification: RSA-3
Location: Southwest Philly
Our client had a property in Southwest Philly that was sitting vacant for some time. When he purchased the property, it was easy to tell that it was operating as a four family dwelling, albeit illegally.
We get an abundance of inquiries about properties operating as illegal multi families and what people need to do to legalize their use. This is because oftentimes the realtor sells the property based off of what the MLS says the zoning is, which is unreliable. You always want to check the property’s certification statement for what the zoning really is before buying or selling a property. It is not always a guarantee that you will achieve the use permit after the fact, no matter how long the property was illegally operating.
Our application requested the ability legalize the four family operation. This was a reasonable request for a few reasons: it was already set up that way and the size of the structure catered to this (the property was 3,250 sq. ft. in land area), parking in that area is not at all a concern, there were multiple properties in the direct area operating as four family dwellings, and immediate neighbors were in support.
It was no harm no foul to ask for the four family, and we could always negotiate less units if necessary.
We had no letter of support from the RCO due to flaws in its procedure, plus nobody showed up to the meeting anyway so they didn’t write a letter at all.
Without any RCO support, the board could not justify the need for four units, plus there was no significant hardship to do so. However, we negotiated a triplex use with them because the size of the structure was a hardship for it to operate as anything less, plus being located in Southwest Philly catered to this.
October 24, 2017