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: June 2016

Commonwealth Court Weighs Evidence and Finds That DEP Did Not Possess Requested Records

 

This Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) dispute forced the Commonwealth Court to weigh the evidence presented by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that it did not possess specific records.  In doing so, the court affirmed the Office of Open Records final determination that DEP did not have the records requested by Smith Butz, LLC.

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Commonwealth Court Finds Developer Showed Compliance with Ordinance and That Easement Disputes Belong in Court, Not Council Meetings

This case required the Commonwealth Court to review the evidence from a borough council meeting regarding a proposed land development plan and conditional use application.  The court held that the applicant presented sufficient evidence to show that the plans complied with the applicable ordinance, and the objector failed to meet its burden of proving otherwise.  Furthermore, the court ruled that a dispute over an easement, which was raised by the objector, can only be heard in court, not at a council or zoning hearing board meeting.

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Commonwealth Court Holds That Real Property Owner Had Plenty of Notice (and Chances) to Fix Blighted Conditions

This case involved a dispute regarding the condemnation of land in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  The Commonwealth Court was required to determine whether or not the owner of real property located in Holland was given adequate notice that its land would be condemned.  In affirming the trial court’s determination, the Commonwealth Court held that the owner had been given adequate notice.

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Plaintiff Failed to Show That Injury Stemmed from Dangerous Condition on Borough Property

This case required the Commonwealth Court to determine whether or not the Borough of Midland (Midland) was immune from suit in a dispute involving utility service facilities.  In affirming the trial court, the Commonwealth Court held that Midland was immune.  The plaintiffs failed to show that (1) the facilities were in a dangerous condition and (2) expenditures made to correct a dangerous condition were a cognizable injury.

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Homeowner Not Liable for Association Fees without Notice or Benefit of Common Area

In this case, the Commonwealth Court was asked to determine whether Edward Trusello (Trusello) was liable to Deep Meadows Civic Association (the Association), a home owner’s association, for home owner’s fees. In affirming the lower court, the Commonwealth Court held that Trusello neither had notice of any obligation to pay the Association nor received any benefit from the Association’s common area. Therefore, Trusello was not liable to the Association for any fees.

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Right-to-Know Law Appeals from Local Agencies, Such as District Attorney’s Office, Must be Heard by Court of Common Pleas First

In this Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) case, the Commonwealth Court had to determine whether it had subject matter jurisdiction to hear an appeal of a denial issued by a district attorney’s office. Pennsylvanians for Union Reform (PFUR) requested itemized details of the dates, times, and durations of phone calls between all current and former members of the Centre County District Attorney’s Office (the D.A.) and members of the judiciary using government-issued cell phones, as well as the name and salary of the D.A.’s RTKL appeals officer. The Commonwealth Court transferred the case to the Centre County Court of Common Pleas after determining that the appeal was improperly filed.

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City Must Show “Speech Buffers” around Medical Facilities Are Less Restrictive of Free Speech than Possible Alternatives

This dispute required the Third Circuit to determine whether or not a “speech buffer” surrounding abortion clinics was constitutional. The ordinance creating this buffer (the Ordinance) was passed in 2005 and prohibits congregating, patrolling, picketing, or demonstrating within fifteen feet “from any entrance to [a] hospital and or health care facility.” The court vacated the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ First Amendment claims, reasoning that the City of Pittsburgh failed its burden to show that the Ordinance was the least restrictive method of achieving its goal.

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