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Philadelphia City Council Debates Limits On Development On River Shorelines

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(The Schuylkill River in Lower Merion Township.  File photo)

(The Schuylkill River in Lower Merion Township. File photo)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After Hurricane Sandy passed through this week, City Council hunkered down to debate a very timely question: should there be limits on development along the shoreline of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers?

Before council is a plan to create a 50-foot buffer between the rivers and any new construction.

Among those speaking in favor was Joe Syrnick of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation.

“It’s good science, it’s good urban planning, it’s good public policy. The waterfront setback will protect the water’s edge, stem pollution, aide with storm water management, and create and improve habitat,” says Symick.

But 6th District Councilman Bobby Henon wants to amend the plan so that privately-held land where properties are already within the 50-foot buffer would be allowed to expand to either side.

“My amendment says that you can build parallel to the waterway, but not towards it, not east towards the river,” Henon explains.

Syrnick opposes Henon’s amendment, as does Sarah Clark Stuart of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

“This amendment, I think, would be a great big loophole. The city has invested millions of dollars in river front trails. And I think that passing a bill that would allow non-conforming structures to impede them would be a very big mistake,” says Stuart.

Council’s Rules Committee will resume its debate on the river buffer concept on November 14th.

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