Case Study: Stormwater Zoning in Philadelphia

This Stormwater Zoning in Philadelphia Case Study brings up the question: What, if anything, can we build near a stream?

What, if anything, can we build near a stream?

We are working on a project I’ll call “The Wolf Residence.” The Wolf family is a repeat client; we also did a vacation house for them in the Poconos. They have a beautiful stone home in Chestnut Hill and have been wanting to re-do their kitchen and add a breakfast room and mudroom for a long time –– a single story addition with added egress from the basement. The great challenge with The Wolf Residence is that there’s a stream that flows through an adjacent property. Local stormwater zoning regulations in Philadelphia prohibit building anything within 200 feet of a stream, including the very ground on which the Wolfs at first hoped to build, so this added a lot of time to the process. I’m happy to say that the project is now out of hibernation and into the light of day: construction is underway.

The regulations governing this project are part of the stormwater management ordinances for the city of Philadelphia to improve the water quality of the local rivers and streams, and are much needed. They’ve been in effect for a long time and are rather specific to our immediate neighborhood (a situation known as an overlay zoning district). So the first question we needed to tackle before proceeding with design involved what, if anything, could be built given the regulations.

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About the author

Jeff Krieger

During thirty-five years of architectural practice Jeff Krieger has acquired extensive experience in all aspects of the building process, from design through project management and construction administration. He has designed, detailed and managed numerous commercial, residential, and institutional projects throughout the United States and abroad. Prior to founding the firm in 1992, Jeff worked for several well-known architectural firms, most recently with Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in Philadelphia. He has been a registered architect since 1985 and has taught architectural design studios at Drexel University for thirty years. A Pittsburgh native, Jeff found the architecture of the iconic steel mills an early influence.