Pennsylvania Real Estate, Land Use, Zoning, and Municipal Lawyers

This blog features case law related to real estate, land use, zoning, and municipal law in Pennsylvania

Month: November 2015

Building A Fence Does Not Make It A “Stadium”

In this case out of Berks County the Commonwealth Court weighed in on whether erecting a fence around a high school’s athletic fields constituted a new “stadium use” or was an expansion of a preexisting nonconforming use. In concluding that the fence did not create a new stadium use or expand the preexisting nonconforming use the court reversed the ZHB’s decision and ordered the requested permits be issued.

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Failure To Notify Applicant Of Incomplete Land Development Plan Can Lead To Deemed Approval

On November 26, 2008 Gaughen submitted a land development plan to the Borough Manager of Mechanicsburg seeking approval for a 5-unit apartment complex under the Borough’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO). On December 10, the Borough Engineer issued a memo stating that the plan did not comply with certain provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, SALDO, and Stormwater Ordinance. Thereafter Gaughen never submitted a revised plan to the Borough and the Borough never notified Gaughen that his application was incomplete or not filed.  The 90-day period in which the Borough had to act on Gaughen’s plans, pursuant to the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), expired on February 24, 2009. On February 25th the Borough received an extension from Gaughen’s engineer. On June 2nd the Borough officially denied Gaughen’s plan.  Six months later Gaughen instituted a mandamus action seeking a deemed approval based on the Borough’s failure to act on the plan or receive an extension by February 24th.

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Content, Not Use Of Public Email Accounts, Renders Emails Discoverable Under RTKL

In a highly publicized case involving state employees sending and receiving pornographic emails, the Commonwealth Court ruled that such communications were not required to be disclosed under the State’s Right-to-Know Law (RTKL).

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Change In Hours Of Illumination Of Digital Billboards Was “Substantial Amendment” Requiring Re-Advertisement

In this case out of Northampton County the Commonwealth Court weighed in on what constitutes a “substantial amendment” to a proposed ordinance, such that it must be re-advertised prior to being adopted. In finding that the municipality should have re-advertised a change to the number of hours digital billboards could be illuminated, the court appeared to establish different standards for such appeals brought by applicants and those brought by adjacent landowners.

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Industrial Discharger Doesn’t Have to Pay for Treatment Plant After Sewer Connection Severed

In this dispute between the Borough of West Chester and a former industrial discharger of wastewater, the Commonwealth Court held that the industrial discharger could not be required to make perpetual payments for operational and maintenance costs of waste water facilities when it no longer discharged any wastewater.

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