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

Month: July 2015

Property Maintenance Codes may be retroactively applied in matters of fire and safety

Gettysburg Borough’s retroactive application of a construction code amendment as it applied to the emergency escape access of a property owner’s rental apartments was recently challenged in Commonwealth Court.  In its July 16, 2015 opinion the Court affirmed an order of the Adams County Court of Common Pleas, denying Four Square Property, LLC’s (Four Square) appeal from a decision of the Code Enforcement Appeals Board (Board) of Gettysburg Borough, which found Four Square violated the borough’s Property Maintenance Code by failing to have adequate egress for two basement apartments it rented to tenants.  The Board upheld Four Square’s violation of the Borough’s Property Maintenance Code Ordinance (PMC), for violating section 705.1 of the PMC, which sets forth emergency escape and rescue requirements for basement sleeping areas

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“Where” versus “How”—Commonwealth Court Issues 2 Preemption Opinions in Summer 2015


In June 2015, Commonwealth Court continued a recent line of preemption cases, in Gibraltar Rock Inc. v. New Hanover Township, 1907 C.D. 2014, 2015 WL 3533839 (Pa. Commw. Ct. June 5, 2015).  In Gibraltar Rock, Commonwealth Court considered whether New Hanover Township’s Stormwater Management Ordinance was preempted by the Noncoal Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act (“Noncoal Act”).  Gibraltar sought to develop property for a quarry and associated facilities, and received a Noncoal Surface Mining Permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) authorizing it to operate the quarry.  When Gibraltar sought to begin quarrying operations, New Hanover Township sought to enjoin Gibraltar from quarrying, asserting that Gibraltar did not have the requisite approvals from the township—specifically land development approval, including compliance with the township’s stormwater management ordinance.

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It is not Final until I say its Final: Approving Land Development Plans before all conditions are satisfied

The Commonwealth Court was tasked with considering whether Maxatawny Township’s Board of Supervisors (Board) erred by granting an applicant’s Final Land Development Plan with conditions that were identical to the conditions set forth in the approved Preliminary Plan, when those conditions were not satisfied after the preliminary approval.

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