Last month, Pittsburgh City Council introduced a pair of ordinances aimed at addressing affordable housing concerns in the City of Pittsburgh. The first bill would require developers to submit “Affordable Housing Impact Statements” as part of the review process when their projects undergo Project Development Plan approval, which is required of most large developments in the City. The new impact statement adds affordable housing to the list of criteria that the City can consider when deciding whether or or not to grant an application, which already includes items such as traffic concerns, parking impacts, architectural relationships, historic structures and public open space.
The second ordinance, if passed, would markedly amend the development review procedure for all Site Plan, Project Development Plan and Planned Development applications. Under the proposed legislation, applications for any of these approvals (excluding signage and developments under 8,001 square feet) will initially be transmitted to the Council member in whose district the proposed development is located. If, within 14 days of receipt, the Council member notifies the Zoning Administrator that the application “implicates a significant community concern,” then, instead of being reviewed administratively or by the Planning Commission, the application will be referred to City Council to approve or deny under the same process that is currently required for zoning map and text amendments.
That process is as follows:
- The Planning Commission reviews the application in an advisory capacity, and must issue a recommendation with 60 days of the application.
- City Council can take up to as many as 120 days to hold a public hearing after the Planning Commission renders its recommendation.
- City Council must render its decision within 90 days of the public hearing. If Council fails to act within these time periods, then the application is deemed to have been denied.
Currently, the Site Plan, Project Development Plan and Planned Development review processes can be completed administratively or with Planning Commission approval within as little as six to eight weeks. At the extreme, the new process for development review could take as long as nine months from application until final approval.
Both ordinances will need to be considered by City Council at public hearings prior to their adoption and enactment. Those hearings have yet to be scheduled, but will likely take place in the upcoming weeks or months.