In this case out of Franklin County, the Commonwealth Court found that property owners were not “required to connect” under a mandatory water connection ordinance until they were actually issued connection notices; not when the water line was completed. Therefore when a municipal water authority sent notices after the effective date of a statute giving property owners abutting existing lines an exemption from connecting, the property owners qualified for the exemption and did not have to connect.
The Youngs and Moores (the “Property Owners”) owned properties within the same residential development in Antrim Township. The Board of Supervisors of the Township enacted a mandatory connection ordinance (the “Ordinance”) that required properties abutting municipal water lines to connect to the municipal system. In 2007 the Water Authority completed a line that abutted the Property Owners’ tracts. However, it did not send connection notices until May 2011. Prior to sending the connection notices, the General Assembly amended § 2603(b) of the Second Class Township Code to include an exemption from mandatory connection ordinances where a property owner was not required to connect to an existing system prior to September 2, 2008. When the Authority sought to compel the Property Owners to connect, they claimed they were exempt from the connection ordinance pursuant to § 2603(b). The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas sided with the Property Owners and the Water Authority appealed.
On appeal the Commonwealth Court affirmed the lower court’s decision. It found that the Property Owners had not been “required to connect” until the notices were actually sent to them. Because the notices were not sent out after September 2, 2008 and the system had been completed prior to September 2, 2008, the Property Owners qualified for the exemption and were not required to connect.