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

Tag: J. McCullough

Borough Not Permitted to Back-Bill Customer Due to Under-Billing, Nor Impose a Lien for the Owed Amounts

In this billing dispute between a municipal electric service and an industrial customer, the Commonwealth Court was asked to determine whether the Borough was permitted to “back-bill” customers following the discovery of significant under-billing, and whether the Borough could impose a municipal lien for the amount owed. In affirming the determination of the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, the Commonwealth Court concluded that no back-billing was permitted pursuant to the municipality’s applicable ordinance, and that such a contractual agreement was not a proper basis for a municipal lien.

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Township Can be Held Vicariously Liable for Actions of Board of Supervisors Members

In this breach of contract action out of Montgomery County, the Commonwealth Court was asked to determine whether a municipality could be held vicariously liable for the actions of members of a Township Board of Supervisors. In reversing the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County’s decision, the Commonwealth Court held that, similar to a private corporation, a political subdivision can only carry out its duties through its agents, servants, and employees; including members of its governing body.  As agents of the municipality, the municipality could be held vicariously liable for their actions.

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RTKL Request Found to be too Vague to Require Production by Department of Corrections

In this Right-to-Know Law (“RTKL”) appeal from the Office of Open Records (“OOR”), the Commonwealth Court was asked to evaluate when a request is too vague such that an agency is not required to respond.  In finding that the request at issue was too vague, the court reasoned that an overly broad request that does not identify a specific transaction or activity for which the record is being sought, provides no context to guide the agency’s record search and does not require production.

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Municipalities Cannot Regulate Illegal Firearm Possession on Municipal Property

In this matter arising out of Montgomery County, the Commonwealth Court was presented with an appeal of a municipal ordinance that prohibited the carrying or discharging of firearms in municipal parks.  Finding the ordinance violated the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act (the “UFA”), the court held that municipalities cannot regulate firearm possession in any manner, absent a grant of direct statutory authority from the General Assembly, regardless of whether such possession is legal or not.

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Appearance and Appropriateness of Use Not Valid Considerations When Denying a Permitted By-Right Use

In this appeal out of Bucks County, the Commonwealth Court weighed in on whether a zoning hearing board (“ZHB”) could deny a permit for a permitted by-right use based on the ZHB’s determination that the requested use was not appropriate in the district, and was not the actual use for which the applicant intended to use the property.  In affirming the trial court’s reversal of the ZHB’s decision, the Commonwealth Court held that it was error for the ZHB to consider the appropriateness or proposed appearance of a permitted by-right use, and that evidence of a prior application for use that was not permitted, was irrelevant to the present application.

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