Development FAQ

Many residents are concerned with how the city makes decisions about what can be developed in what area.  Check out some common FAQs here and let contact me if you have any additional questions.

  • What kind of building can be built in a neighborhood?

    While there are many rules guiding what type of building can be built in a neighborhood, generally speaking there are a couple of important concepts guiding the process:

    • How the land (piece of property) is “zoned”.  This zoning covers restrictions about things such as how tall the building can be and what type (if any) commercial space is allowed in the building.
    • Certain historic restrictions.  Downtown has several historic districts including: Historic Paulus Hook, Harsimus Cove & Van Vorst

    City ordinances around land use, redevelopment plans and zoning maps all affect what can be built in a neighborhood.

  • What if someone wants to build something that is not currently allowed to be built in the neighborhood?
    • Some property owners do not request any changes to the rules in place when they build a building.  Property owners who do pursue this type of development are generally able to build what they want and they are protected by state law against changes to zoning made by the city after they have already filed plans to develop their property.
    • Some property owners ask for relatively minor changes (also known as “variances”).  For example, if a property owner wants to lengthen a window.  Variances generally do not come before city council and are reviewed and decided on in various public meetings: Planning Board, Historic Preservation and Zoning Board of Adjustments.
    • Some property owners ask for relatively major changes that impact either the zoning maps, redevelopment plans or the land use ordinance.  These items must first go through the appropriate boards and then are sent to city council for final review and adoption.
  • What does "as of right" mean?

    When a property owner chooses to develop a piece of property and does not request any changes to what is currently allowed, it is deemed building “as of right.”

  • How can the community be engaged with development in the city?

    There are many ways you can become engaged in helping to shape how the city allows property owners to develop.  Please read my plan to engage the community to learn how you can become involved.