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

Tag: Judge McCullough

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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City Cannot Require Utilities to Provide Maps of all Facilities Within City’s Rights-of-Way

This was the companion case of PPL Electric Utilities Corporation v. City of Lancaster, 462 MD 2013 (Pa. Cmmw. Ct. Oct. 15, 2015). The facts, issues, and arguments advanced by UGI and the City of Lancaster were substantially the same as those set forth and disposed of in PPL. In PPL the Commonwealth Court held that the City was permitted to impose an annual maintenance fee upon utility companies for use and occupancy of its municipal Rights-of-Way.

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Municipalities Can Charge Utilities Annual Maintenance Fee for Use of Right-Of-Way

Municipalities may soon have a new tool for getting utility companies to chip in for road maintenance costs resulting from the maintenance of utility lines in municipal rights-of-way. In a split decision, the Commonwealth Court decided that such fees were not preempted by the Public Utility Code (the Code), and may be imposed upon utility companies as long as they are reasonable and not a tax.

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Perfection of Zoning Appeals More About Substance Than Form

Palencar was issued an enforcement notice that certain structures on his property required zoning permits.  He submitted an application/appeal form indicating a variance was requested, but not that Palencar wished to appeal the enforcement notice. Prior to the hearing Palencar’s attorney phoned the ZHB Solicitor and indicated Palencar also wanted to appeal the enforcement notice. The ZHB published notice of the hearing stating it would consider an appeal “from the zoning officer’s determination.” A hearing was held and the ZHB found Palencar had violated the ordinance and upheld the enforcement notice.  Palencar appealed.

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Better Present All of Your Evidence to the Hearing Board, Otherwise the Courts Won’t Have It

In this case out of Montour County the Commonwealth Court held that the trial court could not hold a de novo hearing where the appellant refused to present testimony or evidence to the local hearing board. It also found that the repeal and replacement of an ordinance did not make the prior collection of fees under the repealed ordinance retroactive and void ab initio.

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