Disclaimer: Zoning Permit requirements are updated frequently. The information in this article is up-to-date as of December 1, 2022.
What is a zoning permit for earth disturbance or site clearing?
In the city of Philadelphia, there are different zoning permits needed for specific situations while working on a construction-related project. This type of permit is needed for projects only involving site clearing and earth disturbance work. For a project to qualify for site clearing, it must be on a lot that is 5,000 square feet or larger. Examples of site-clearing work that may need to be performed are removing or cutting trees, grubbing roots, and filling or removing building foundations. Lots that are excluded from site clearing include those that have a principal use of urban agriculture, single-family residence, or a two-family residence. Earth disturbance occurs in the Steep Slope Protection Area, exceeding 1,400 square feet with slopes that are greater than 15%. The Wissahickon Watershed Overlay exceeds 500 square feet and accepts sites designated as Category 5 on the Impervious Coverage Map. If additions or any new construction are involved in your project, you may not utilize this site-clearing permit application. Landscaping/Tree Preservation plans and associated documents have to be included with your Zoning Permit application for the new construction or addition. All zoning permits must be issued through the Department of License and Inspections. In the event that the property in question is in the floodplain, it may require special documents or a review meeting. For larger-scale projects, civil engineers are typically required.
Who is able to apply for site clearing or earth disturbance zoning permits?
This specific type of zoning permit in the city of Philadelphia can be applied for by the property owners or their authorized agents. Authorized agents of the property owner may include design professionals, attorneys, contractors, or licensed experts.
What is required for a site clearing or earth disturbance zoning permit application?
- Your permit application must include the current owner's information and the scope of work.
- All permits must be applied for under the legal address established by the Office of Property Assessment.
- If the property has recently been sold, you have to include a copy of the settlement sheet or deed along with the application.
- If plans are required for your application, they must follow the plan requirements.
- In addition, you may be asked to provide: the deed to the property, if requested, flood protection forms, if the property is located in the floodplain, an earth-moving plan that is compliant with the Department of Planning and Development regulations, if possible, a Receipt of Certified Mailing for required notice to the district councilmember and the director of the Office of Sustainability, and an agreement with the owner of an abutting property, if applicable.
How do I apply for a site clearing/earth disturbance zoning permit and what is the cost?
- You have the option to either apply online or in person.
- If you choose to apply in person, you will need to schedule an appointment to visit the Permit and License Center at 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
- If you choose to apply online you can do so using the eCLIPSE system, and schedule a virtual appointment for assistance if needed.
- For one/two-family dwellings, a $25 non-refundable filing fee will be applied to the permit fee, and a $100 fee will be applied for all other uses.
- The balance of the permit fee is due upon approval.
- For lots that are 30,000 square feet or less, there will be a permit fee of $232.
- Lots that are greater than 30,000 square feet will have a permit fee of $580.
- There is a record retention fee of $4 per page larger than 8.5 inches by 14 inches.
- If eligible, you have the option of an accelerated plan review fee of $1050 that would have your application reviewed within 5 business days.
What is required to renew a zoning permit for site clearing or earth disturbance?
- If you do not get a Site Work and Site Utility Permit and work has not begun at the site, the Zoning Permits will expire in three years.
- You are able to apply for a permit extension starting three months prior to the expiration date.
- Extended permits are then valid for one year from the expiration date of the original permit, regardless of when the extension was issued.
- You are able to apply for an extension online via eCLIPSE or in person.