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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Today marks the first day that a top-to-bottom overhaul of Philadelphia’s antiquated zoning code takes effect. And city officials say every resident should be thrilled.

John Kennedy was President when the Philadelphia zoning code was last revised back in 1962, and 50 years later it was by all accounts out of date, cumbersome and often a hindrance to new development.

Today brings a completely new zoning code, the result of a process that began with a voter referendum back in 2007.

“The average person is going to be the biggest beneficiary,” says Eva Gladstein, executive director of the commission that rewrote the code. “The new code is designed to be understandable to the average person, who’s going to use the zoning once or twice in their life, when they want to put a deck on (for example) or repair their shed kitchen.”

The code also gives neighborhood groups, for the first time, a formal voice on new projects, while ensuring that developers can get approvals in a timely way. Another goal is to reduce by one-third the number of projects for which developers need variances.

More details at www.zoningmatters.org.

The Planning Commission is offering workshops on the new zoning code. The next one is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at 1515 Arch St., 18th Floor, Room 18029.

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