Update March 21:
The Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections released guidance in response to Governor Wolf’s order to shut down construction sites in Pennsylvania. Additional time has been allowed for contractors to secure construction sites in-progress. Construction sites must now be shut down and secure by Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m.
L&I issues guidance on construction work following Governor’s March 19th order.
Updates as of March 17:
Department of Commerce is conducting a business impact survey.
All non-essential city services will halt until at least March 27, 2020.
ZBA extending certain filing deadlines
Art Commission meeting scheduled for April 1 has been cancelled
L+I services will continue but the MSB Concourse will be closed during this time of restricted business activity.
Construction activity does not fall under the newly announced restrictions on business activity in Philadelphia
March 15, 2020 — Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) has suspending hearings for at least 2 weeks, beginning the week of March 15. ZBA states that in two weeks it will decide whether to resume the regular schedule. ZBA issued no dates for the postponed hearings. Unless ZBA adds additional hearings afterwards, it is likely the rescheduled hearings dates will not be until mid-June. Compounding this scheduling issue is that many Registered Community Organizations (RCOs) have cancelled their regularly scheduled meetings, Therefore, without a RCO meeting having occurred, they will not allow a ZBA hearing to proceed, and will continue such ZBA cases, probably to a date mid-June or after.
As of this alert (March 15) , L&I, City Planning Commission, and Streets Department remain open, and we will continue to file, process, and follow-up on our Zoning and Building Permit applications already filed and to be filed. We recognize that all of our clients’ applications are important and time-sensitive, and consequently we want to reassure our clients that we are tending to your matters, and while the City is open the matters will not sit dormant in our offices, and we will be able to seamlessly continue to review plans, prepare applications, strategize projects and provide general land use counselling.
To continue our excellent and conscientious services, we have formed a subcircuit of remote communication among our zoning & land use practice’s lawyers, paralegals and staff to ensure our work and counseling continues uninterrupted. The city offices are still open (except the ZBA for now) and so we are continuing business as usual with the city. As to zoning and plan reviews, we have the capability and resources to continue to review plans electronically and via hardcopy. Fortuitously, the city L&I is now in start up of a new option to electronically submit and track zoning and building permit applications, and we are fully trained in the city’s system.
We trust this answers and alleviates any concerns you may have about our group’s ability to service our clients Of course if you have specific questions or issues, you will know that our group will continue to to correspond by email and telephone as if they were physically working from our offices. We will continue to update this page as things change, so stay tuned for updates.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Ronald Patterson is a partner in the Real Estate & Finance Department and co-chair of the Zoning & Land Use practice at Klehr Harrison.