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

Tag: Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County

In Re: Appeal of Penneco Envtl. Sols., LLC from the decision of the Zoning Hearing Bd. of the Borough of Plum, No. 931 C.D. 2018 (Pa. Commw. Ct., March 8, 2019).

In this appeal from Allegheny County, the Commonwealth Court reaffirmed the principal that under Pennsylvania law, municipalities may not require a party to obtain permits from outside agencies before granting zoning relief. The Court held that in such a scenario, the appropriate procedure is to condition approval of the zoning relief upon the applicant receiving such permits, as opposed to denying the application outright.

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Government Agency’s Preservation Requirement to Redevelop Property It Owned Was Insufficient Hardship for Variance

In this zoning appeal out of Alleghany County, the Commonwealth Court was asked whether preservation requirements imposed by a government agency on property that it owned, may constitute an unnecessary hardship to justify a variance.  In concluding such a hardship is self-imposed and does not warrant a variance, the court focused on the fact that no legal authority required preservation, and that the more appropriate solution was for the City to rezone the site rather than have the applicant seek a variance.

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Volunteering Time and Temporary Use of Property Exempt From RTKL Disclosure

In this decision out of Allegheny County the Commonwealth Court was presented with the question of whether the volunteering of time or services, and the permitting of temporary government use of property without compensation constitutes a “donation” to a government agency that falls under the donor exception to the Right-to-Know Law (“RTKL”). In reversing the final determination of the Office of Open Records (“OOR”), the court found that because there was no express limitation on the type of donations exempted from disclosure within the RTKL, such donations were exempt from disclosure.

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Failure to Issue Written Decision Means 30-Day Appeal Period Never Began to Run on Development Approval

This matter, arising out of Allegheny County, dealt with whether a written decision must be issued for the appeal period of a land development decision to begin to run.  In reversing the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County’s decision, the Commonwealth Court determined that until a written decision is issued by the adjudicatory body, there is no order to appeal and thus the appeal period cannot begin to run.

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Court Re-Affirms That Municipalities Have Broad Discretion In Granting Land Development Applications

In this land use appeal out of Allegheny County the Commonwealth Court was asked to weigh in on the amount of discretion a municipality has to grant land development applications based on certifications by professional engineers and conditioned upon subsequent state and federal review. The court was also asked to determine the level of detail post-construction maintenance plans for stormwater facilities must have, and whether municipal approval can be granted despite an ongoing dispute over the scope of a utility easement necessary to construct the project as proposed. In affirming the lower court’s decision, the Commonwealth Court held that municipalities have broad discretion in choosing to grant or deny a land development application, and that the court will seldom second guess such decisions.

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Report By Township Manager Of Hypothetical Waste Insufficient For Whistleblower Act Protection

Sukenik was the Manager of the Township of Elizabeth (“Manager”). He became involved in a dispute between the Township Board President and the Chief of Police. The President attempted to micromanage police affairs and disrupt the administration of the police department, eventually calling for a 4-year forensic audit of the department. On several occasions the President unilaterally directed the Manager to oppose the Chief’s decisions. Following an executive session of the Board, from which the Manager was excluded, the Manager drafted a letter to the Board reiterating his concerns about interfering with the police department and that the forensic audit would be a substantial waste of taxpayer funds. After initially authorizing the audit, the Board eventually abandoned it. Approximately two months later the Board terminated the Manager.

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