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

Tag: Municipalities Planning Code (MPC)

MPC Section 617 Enables Private Enforcement Actions for Violations of Any Ordinance Created Under the MPC

In this appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, the Commonwealth Court was asked to determine whether § 617 of the Municipalities Planning Code (“MPC”) permits a private cause of action to enforce a SALDO violation. In reversing the trial court’s determination, the Court held that MPC § 617 permits private enforcement actions for violations of any ordinance established pursuant to the MPC.

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Failure To Notify Applicant Of Incomplete Land Development Plan Can Lead To Deemed Approval

On November 26, 2008 Gaughen submitted a land development plan to the Borough Manager of Mechanicsburg seeking approval for a 5-unit apartment complex under the Borough’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO). On December 10, the Borough Engineer issued a memo stating that the plan did not comply with certain provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, SALDO, and Stormwater Ordinance. Thereafter Gaughen never submitted a revised plan to the Borough and the Borough never notified Gaughen that his application was incomplete or not filed.  The 90-day period in which the Borough had to act on Gaughen’s plans, pursuant to the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), expired on February 24, 2009. On February 25th the Borough received an extension from Gaughen’s engineer. On June 2nd the Borough officially denied Gaughen’s plan.  Six months later Gaughen instituted a mandamus action seeking a deemed approval based on the Borough’s failure to act on the plan or receive an extension by February 24th.

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Change In Hours Of Illumination Of Digital Billboards Was “Substantial Amendment” Requiring Re-Advertisement

In this case out of Northampton County the Commonwealth Court weighed in on what constitutes a “substantial amendment” to a proposed ordinance, such that it must be re-advertised prior to being adopted. In finding that the municipality should have re-advertised a change to the number of hours digital billboards could be illuminated, the court appeared to establish different standards for such appeals brought by applicants and those brought by adjacent landowners.

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Standing Challenges In Home Rule Jurisdictions Must Be Made Before The Trial Court, Not The ZHB/ZBA

In a zoning case out of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court cleared up some lingering confusion over the differing “aggrieved person” standards applied in Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) versus Home Rule jurisdictions. The court determined that while challenges to standing had to be raised before the zoning appeals board in MPC jurisdictions, in Home Rule jurisdictions they could be raised before the trial court.

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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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