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

Category: Municipal Law (page 1 of 9)

James v. County of Bucks, No. 46 C.D. 2018 (Pa. Commw. Ct. December 21, 2018).

In this appeal from a Bucks County jury verdict in favor of Esther James and against the County of Bucks, the Commonwealth Court discusses the extent of a land owner’s liability under the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act (“RULWA”).

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Brown v. Pa. Dept. of Health, 1425 C.D. 2017 (Pa. Commw. Ct. December 21, 2018)

In this appeal from a determination of the Office of Open Records (“OOR”) pursuant to a request under the Right-to-Know Law (the “RTKL”), the Commonwealth Court rejected the claim of requester, Alton Brown, who alleged that the Department of Health (“DOH”) did not disclose a complete record, and charged him unreasonable fees for the request.

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In re Appeal of Bd. of Auditors of McKean Twp., 1419 C.D. 2017 (Pa. Commw. Ct. December 21, 2018).

In this appeal from Erie County, the Commonwealth Court discusses the authority of a township’s Board of Auditors to set the compensation for township employees who concurrently serve as members of the Township Board of Supervisors.

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Borough of Parkesburg v. Rzonca, No. 1393 C.D. 2017 (Pa. Commw. Ct. December 17, 2018).

In this appeal from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, the Commonwealth Court held that a property owner subject to an enforcement notice under the International Property Maintenance Code of 2009 (the “Code”), can be deemed to have been placed on notice of alleged Code violations, even if the enforcement notice was facially defective, without running afoul of the property owner’s due process rights.

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Barlow v. Liberty Twp., 1229 CD 2017 (Pa. Cmwlth. Sep. 28, 2018) (UNREPORTED).

The Commonwealth Court reversed a trial court’s dismissal of claims brought by one township supervisor (“Plaintiff”) against the two other township supervisors (“Defendants”) for violations of the Sunshine Act and Second Class Township Code. 

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Pa. Dep. of Health v. McKelvey, 1372 CD 2017 (Pa. Cmwlth. Sep. 27, 2018) (UNREPORTED).

The Commonwealth Court determined that a reporter was entitled to records identifying the names, job titles, and departments of the panel that reviewed and scored applications for marijuana grower/processor and dispensary licenses under the Right-to-Know Law. 

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Rufo v. City of Phila., 22 EAP 2017 (Pa. Sep. 13, 2018).

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a City of Philadelphia ordinance requiring the owners of vacant buildings to secure all window openings and entryways with working windows and doors.

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Commonwealth Court Holds That Records Must Be in Existence at Time of Request to Be Considered “Public Records” and Requesters Cannot Expand Scope of Request After the Fact

The Commonwealth Court was required to decide whether records that were not yet completed at the time of a request made pursuant to Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law (the “RTKL”) were public records.  The court held that an agency is required to produce only those records that were in existence at the time of the request, and incomplete records do not count.

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Records Created Before Investigations and Accessed Only When Necessary Can Constitute Investigative Records Under RTKL

This case required the Commonwealth Court to decide whether video recordings from cameras on buses can be exempt under the “noncriminal investigation” exemption to Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law (the “RTKL”).  The Commonwealth Court held that a video recording taken prior to the start of an agency investigation can qualify under the noncriminal investigation exemption of the RTKL when it is downloaded or viewed for purposes of that investigation.  As a result, the Port Authority of Allegheny County (the “Port Authority”) did not have to disclose video recordings downloaded in relation to a property damage claim filed against it.

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Commonwealth Court Holds University Was Not Performing “Official Agency Duties” Required for Noncriminal Investigation Exemption to RTKL When Investigating Structural Failure of Garage

California University of Pennsylvania (the “University”) petitioned the Commonwealth Court for review of a final determination made by Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records (OOR) in January 2017.  The final determination held that records relating to the University’s investigation of a structural failure in an on-campus parking garage were recoverable.  The Commonwealth Court affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part the ORR’s final determination.  Specifically, the Commonwealth Court held that the University failed to show that certain records were exempt from disclosure under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law (the “RTKL”) as records of a noncriminal investigation or as records of predecisional deliberations.  However, the Commonwealth Court did remand potentially privileged records to OOR for an in camera review.

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