I’m so surprised that the Philly ZBA does not require this for all new developments. It was so easy to create. The new tech is awesome. We created a few 3D renderings of the developer’s proposed design of a 3 floor building without open space and then two designs with a small L-shape open space in a 3 floor and then a 2 floor design. We used www.SketchUp.com a free product for 30 days that also allows you to drop the rendering into Google Earth to get the appropriate shadows through out the year. Then we used Flashbackrecorder to record the rotating and changing of time through the year.
The first video is of the 3 story version proposed by the developer. Notice the size in comparison to the house on Manton Street and the garage behind. The recording and shadows are based on August 30th at about 10:52am for an accurate comparison.
The next video is the 2 story Tiny house that is more appropriate for older residents and people that just want a ting house with a little open space to store trash, bicycles, barbecue or enjoy our giant tree. Look at the sight lines in the back of the houses. Just a little bit of open space just 2 to 3 ft just changes everything.
The next video is a capture of the shadow changes for the 3 story no open space design. What I did was start early in the year and then vary the hours in the day. After I cycled through the day I then would pick another day a month or two later and cycle through the hours of the day. I repeated this throughout a standard year. This is important because the Sun’s angle changes throughout the year and you have to look at more than one day for a good comparison.
Then the same 3 story concept with the small L-Shape open space. The sight lines and openness really is present even with just a small bit of open space and variation from a plain vanilla box design.
Now here is the same L-shape open space but in a 2 story design. It is so much better than the 3 story design. Plus because of building codes for PA, US and international the house can never be more than a one bedroom. Who wants to travel up 3 flights of stairs to go to the bathroom?
Lastly we create a comparison video of all three designs at the same day and time August 30th at 10:52am.
Small gardens are now the in-thing to use in marketing and sales ads for tiny homes and small living spaces .
With people feeling like they paid too much for their homes, having a small piece of garden is an oasis in a sea of concrete and stucco. We were walking along South and 2nd Streets the other night and noticed all the Real Estate images that contained gardens and patios in their sales pictures in the show room windows.
The city of Philadelphia calls for open space to be a part of any building project. In the Philadelphia Zoning there is a RSA-5 requirement of 9 ft per Zoning Code Table 14-701-1 which reduces to 5 ft per note 7 for lots of 45 ft or less in depth. Note 7 says: In the RSA-5 district, the minimum rear yard depth for lots less than 45 ft. in depth shall be 5 ft. for the first 12 ft. of building height. Portions of buildings above 12 ft. shall comply with the minimum rear yard depth as set forth in Table 14-701-1.
Also in the International Building Codes (IBC.2009) accepted by the State of PA and City of Philadelphia, Section 1206 Yard or Courts: 1206.2 Yards shall not be less than 3 ft in width for building two stories or less. Increase 1 ft for each additional story.
Yards help allow light and air to flow in to our homes and the building code was written with that in mind.
Roof decks across South Philly to escape the confines of small space living.
Even cities like Japan cherish their small gardens.
Locally Real Estate agents will add the garden plug in a second.
The Images below reflect the before and have view of the trimming of the tree that the developer will be doing to build the 3 story small house. This post shows side-views of before and after the developer cuts tree at the property line.
The Results = Half the Tree Gone
We will have to cut the balance of the tree due to an unbalance in the structure of the tree.
Our 80-plus year old tree is in danger from development plans on an adjacent lot that is just too small for building or living, 14ft wide x 20ft deep. The design calls for a 3 story trinity house which would force cutting almost half the branches. If the shock doesn’t kill the tree, it would still be unbalanced, posing the danger of falling toward our house or neighbor’s properties,
The plan is coming before the Philadelphia Zoning Board soon. Hopefully, they will see that the lot is too small for the suggested plan. However, if the Philadelphia Zoning Board releases the lot’s owner from the open space requirements, our tree will be destroyed.
Here is a summary of our discussion with the lot’s owner/developer so far:
In our very first encounter (Early 2015) before he purchased the lot, we told him the lot would not be worth it. There was no way the local area was going to permit a curb cut for a garage, because they just turned down similar requests to larger houses down the street.
The next encounter (Saturday 5/16/2015): The gentleman approached saying that he bought the lot property next to our house and said he was going to build upon it. I told him we would fight any zoning changes for the property use. Here is one of his comments as it related to the Old Tree:
You are going to have to get the tree off my property side when I build my work shed.
That’s when we asked our tree company to trim up the tree as much as possible to get room for the developer. Our Arborist said that if they take away that big branch, we will have to take away the entire tree for safety.
We heard nothing for a year, until Friday night (6/3/2016), when the developer posted a notice for a zoning meeting on Tuesday 6/7/2016. This left us one weeknight to circulate a petition among the neighbors. In less than 2 hours we got 47 signatures Against the Zoning Relief!
At the Pennsport Civic Association Zoning meeting (Tuesday, 6/7/2016), the Developer said:
If the tree is on my side, I can trim that, correct?
After the 6/7 meeting, we figured the next meeting would be on August 3, 2016 with the Philadelphia Zoning Board in downtown Philly. However, we got another late Friday night (6/17/2016) notice for a meeting on Tuesday 6/21/2016. A bunch of neighbors were complaining about the late notice, and how only a few people could make the meeting.
At the next Pennsport Civic Association Zoning meeting on Tuesday 6/21/2016, I mentioned that we had the arborist clean up the tree as far above his lot as possible. The Developer replied:
Did you get a quote for cutting down the tree?
We don’t want our tree to be cut down! It is one of the oldest, tallest trees remaining in our neighborhood of South Philly. The Big Tree helps