On Thursday Philadelphia City Council unanimously voted to pass a bill to exempt the Cobbs Creek golf course from zoning rules protecting steep slopes from logging. Those steep slope protections exist to prevent erosion and flooding caused when trees, whose roots hold soil in place, are cut down. The bill creates a special “overlay district” in which City zoning requirements are altered.
Ordinarily a developer would need to seek approval from the City’s Zoning Board of Adjustment to clear trees on steep slopes. This usually involves gaining approval from local community organizations. The passage of the bill — introduced by Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr., whose district includes the golf course — allows the developer, the West Conshohocken-based Cobbs Creek Foundation, which is controlled by the billionaire Maguire family and has already removed over 100 acres of trees after signing a 70-year (including extensions) lease for $1 with the City, to proceed without any further public approval.