Support the Bill #120654, Anglers!

I know, I know...the title looks a little bit too important and scary, right? Hah.'s supposed to be important, but not scary! Notice that the poll for this month (on the right) is about fishing and politics, and the post today has to do with some of that - mainly participation, involvement.

Today's post is about something important; something that directly influences the life of all. After all, as I always emphasize, everything that has to do with fresh water and its quality has to do with the whole World, hence every living being on Earth needs fresh potable water to survive.

As mentioned in the title above, today's topic is about the "Bill #120654." The Philadelphia City Council is still working on this Bill, which deals with " a 50-foot setback to separate new development from the banks of rivers and streams identified on the Philadelphia Water Department’s hydrology map." Before going any further, here is the link for the Bill #120654.

Simply put, this Bill addresses the fact that we need a 50-foot public space between the margins of a body of water and any kind of property. Why? Because we need to conserve our waters. I'll discuss this further down, after going through the Bill.

I understand that the contents of it may be a little bit confusing for some, especially because a huge amount of the population is not really used to reading Bills, laws, etc. Nowadays, people barely read the instruction manuals of the electronics they buy (Blah)! Therefore, I'll go with you through the important points of this Bill, as well as address WHY should we help this Bill be approved, and HOW that would benefit all of us - anglers included.

From this point onwards, I am thus assuming that you have read the 10 pages of the Bill, or at least looked through it briefly, and looked at the pictures on Page 7 for a better understanding of what this Bill is about. 

Also, note: even if you are not interested in becoming involved with this cause, you should still read it anyways - it does concern everyone, including you. It's a good source of knowledge about how "the system works," not to mention that there is some Environmental Conservation in it as well. As stewards, we, anglers, should be concerned about Mother Nature.

Okay...let's start by summarizing the 9 pages. Feel free to jump to the next step if you fully understood the Bill (it will be boring if you do), or, if you are extremely confused by it, go with me page through page:

Page 1

The first page is often a brief introduction of the Bill: what the Bill is about; what is being addressed. In this case, the Bill will talk about making changes in Zoning and Planning using the Philadelphia Water Department's Hydrology maps, giving emphasis to waterfront setback requirements, which is the 50-foot that we are mostly concerned about. At the end of the page, the Bill starts its section on Zoning and Planning

Page 2

The second page follows with the concept of definitions, which is essential for the reader to fully understand the subjects addressed. Before getting into the main subject, one should know, for instance, what "Directly Connected Impervious Surface" means.

Note that the main section is the section 14 - Zoning and Planning, and 14-200 (definitions) and 14-300 (Administration and Procedures) and so on are sub-sections within section 14.

Therefore, the second page closes subsection 14-200, and goes to 14-300, which is Administration and Procedures. Under this subsection, there's the concept of Zoning Permits - which is "a document issued by a local (municipal) government or authority permitting a parcel of land to be used for a prescribed purpose."

Page 3

The Bill closes subsection 14-300, and moves to 14-500 - Overlay Zoning Districts. If you are not familiar with the concept of Overlay Zoning Districts, click here for more information (Note: it's a PDF file; therefore, you need Adobe Acrobat to open it).

In this case, we are talking about the Delaware River Conservation Overlay District. It follows by describing what is legal to put in this overlaying district (a), and what needs approval to be legalized (b).

Page 4

Continuing subsection 14-500, the Bill introduces (c) the process of giving away a Zoning Permit, and (d) what is illegal to put in this overlaying district. At the end of the page, 14-500 is closed, and 14-600 starts: Use Regulations.

Page 5

The Bill addresses the use of retail sales, commercial services, and industrial establishments, as well as storage uses.

Then, it follows to 14-700 - Development Standards. This is the most important part of the Bill for us, where the 50-foot idea is exposed (waterfront setbacks). It's in this portion of the Bill that it's clear to us that any property in contact with the margin of a certain body of water that contributes to potable water should have a 50-foot space in-between the property and the body of water for protection (...watercourse designated for protection, on the...).

Note that the bodies of water that contribute to our potable water are given by the Water Department and its hydrology map.

Page 6
This page contains an illustrative map showing our main bodies of water. Also, this page of the Bill contains the formal "law" that will be applied if the Bill is accepted.

Page 7
There are two pictures in this page that contributes for the reader's understanding of what exactly this Bill is doing! Emphasizing, this Bill is creating a 50-foot space between our bodies of water and properties to protect both from different problems (i.e. protect the River from run-off water, erosion, protect the development from flooding).
Page 8
Finally, the Bill states what is ILLEGAL to do with this 50-foot space, hence it's supposed to protect our body of waters. This is to be taken seriously - therefore, the rules are very reasonable. 
Note that there are exceptions for the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers; and that's why we have the Schuylkill Banks trail, and we will have a trail in the Delaware River in Northeast Philadelphia (in the near future).
Page 9
The final page of this Bill concludes with some more Zoning Permit.
And this is where you will be quite mad. You read all 9 pages of it, just to find 2 little sentences under EXPLANATION saying that whatever is in BRACKETS indicates MATTER DELETED and whatever is in ITALICS indicates NEW MATTER ADDED.
Therefore, you go back and read EVERYTHING again, and you become a happy person to see that a lot of things that were deleted is beneficial to anglers and citizens, and new matter added makes even more sense. Therefore, when reading these kind of papers again, always look for Brackets and Italics! Also, briefly go through pages to see top and bottom heads for additional explanations before reading the whole thing. 
Seriously, right? I remember in high school we had a very difficult "multiple choice" exam in Calculus - the type you have to fill in the bubbles (A, B, C, D, E). One of my friends was clueless about the subject, so, he went "suicidal." In other words, he circled all Cs without even looking at the exam, waiting to get 20% of the grade, at least (Note: many teachers will divide all questions in terms that answers will never be all A, all B, etc. Therefore, a student will never be able to get full grade by just guessing all As, etc).
When the exam came back, he got ZERO. He was so frustrated because he couldn't believe that not a single answer in the exam was a C. It was only later, when he looked at the exam, that he found out that the exam was True or False, meaning that A was for true and B was for false. Therefore, if he had looked at the exam before circling his Cs, he would have gotten a max of 50% on the test. Oh well... you know what this bill is about. More than that, the fact that some items are in brackets on Page 8 makes us anglers even happier! After all, we could have more trails like the Schuylkill somewhere else, meaning more access (public areas) to fish!
So, what's wrong with this Bill now? I mean...everything looks great, so, why am I writing this post? Well, fellas...the essential would be to have a 100-foot area between waters and properties; however, we can't be too greedy, right? We must be realistic, and be able to understand that the owners of those properties will suffer from the 100-foot area loss. So, 50-foot is not bad.
However, as for recently, some people want to push the 50-foot space to 25-foot, excluding the Delaware and the Schuylkill Rivers. Guys...25-foot? Half of 50-foot? Well...I'm not happy with that, and as a practitioner of environmental conservation, steward, and an angler, you shouldn't as well.
So, summarizing, "Why" should we - anglers - help this Bill be approved?
- A public 50-foot area between bodies of water and developments means more public access for fishing. As you all should know, one of the main problems with fishing nowadays is the lack of access due to wilderness or privatization of properties around bodies of water. If this Bill is approved, we will have more spots to fish at.
- The protected area of 50-feet will help prevent erosion, allow less run-off water to go into our Rivers, control flooding in a better way, etc.
- These 50-foot can be used to create more trails around the city, which means more recreational areas for everybody while enforcing environmental conservation. On the same hand, these trails can promote the city in a positive way, and even economically help the state. Philadelphia has a lot to offer with its beautiful scenery and history, and we should make sure to preserve nature while promoting the city in a positive way. Even if trails are not created, we are still talking about maintaining more green scenery around the city, which is beneficial for all of us.
Therefore, how can you fit it? How can you help Philadelphia's streams and rivers? The best way to help won't take you more than 5 minutes, folks! I'll copy and paste part of an e-mail that was sent to me by the SRDC (Schuylkill River Development Corporation), since it explains things in a clear and understandable way:
"What can you do to protect Philadelphia’s rivers and streams?

Write to your District Council Member.
Let the Council Member in your District know that you support Bill #120654 and want to see it enacted as soon as possible. You can craft your own letter, or copy & paste the text below into a letter or e-mail:
'Dear Councilmember,
I am writing to express my support for Bill #120654 which establishes a 50-foot buffer or set-back on all rivers and streams in Philadelphia. A minimum of 50-feet of buffering is critical to the health and safety of our communities and of our ecosystem.
I urge you to enact the zoning provision of 50-foot buffers as included in the Zoning Ordinance passed in December 2011. I appreciate your consideration, and thank you for your help with making Philadelphia a better place to live, work and play.
(Your Name)

Who’s your Council Member?

Mark Squilla
Kenyatta Johnson
Jannie Blackwell
Curtis Jones, Jr.
Darrell C. Clarke
Bobby Henon
Maria D. Quinones-Sanchez
Cindy Bass
Marian B. Tasco
Brian J. O’Neill
Not sure which Council District you live in?
Look it up by address by following this link: "
It won't take more than 5 minutes to write an automated e-mail to your district council member, huh? You can take a little bit more of time, if you prefer, and write your own letter like I did. Find your district using your address, and write him/her an e-mail! Let them know that you support it!
Don't forget, guys - we are the citizens, and we can have power upon the changes that we desire! There's no king without servants; there's no president without the population. Always keep that in mind. Fight for what you think is right, for what you believe in...
This is certainly the first step in making changes in society, and be happy with yourself and your ideals. Even if you decided to not participate in this cause, I'm sure you have gained some knowledge just by reading this post. Therefore, I'm satisfied either way.
Uffs...finally done with this intense writing! Next post will be much more about fishing - I promise! Hah
Best of luck for all of us,
Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Leo S.