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

Tag: Judge Covey

Temporary Use Variances Require Showing Of Unnecessary Hardship; Cannot Be De Minimis

In this appeal of the grant of a zoning variance out of Lebanon County the Commonwealth Court weighed in on whether an application for a temporary variance must meet the same requirements as a permanent variance, and whether the de minimis doctrine could be used to grant a use variance. The court held that the same requirements apply to a temporary variance as a permanent variance and that the de minimis doctrine does not apply to use variances, only dimensional variances.

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Court Finds Overall Effect Of Zoning Changes Is Key Factor In Distinguishing Text Amendments From Map Amendments

In this zoning ordinance validity challenge, the Commonwealth Court was asked to weigh in on the difference between a text amendment to a zoning ordinance and a map amendment to a zoning ordinance. In reversing the lower court’s decision that characterized the Ordinance as a text amendment, the court emphasized that the overall effect of the proposed changes was more important to this analysis than the number of proposed changes.

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“Basic Family Unit” Under Municipal Claims And Tax Liens Act Defined As The Fundamental Part Of A Group Of Individuals Living Under One Roof

In this case out of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth Court was asked to weigh in on a redemption action to reclaim a property sold at a tax sale.  In affirming the lower court’s decision, the Commonwealth Court ruled on when a property is considered “vacant property” under the Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Act (the Act) such that it cannot be redeemed after the deed is acknowledged by the Sherriff, and what the time limitations are for making the final payment to redeem a property.

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Trial Courts Cannot Grant Petition For Sale For Unpaid Taxes Without Inquiry Into Factual Averments

In this case, the Commonwealth Court was asked to weigh in on the procedures a trial court must follow before it can order the sale of a property for unpaid taxes. Specifically, the court found that trial courts must make an independent inquiry into the facts asserted in the municipality’s petition for sale, and cite in its opinion the record evidence it relied upon in concluding that the petition’s factual averments were true.

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