Law Clarifies Boards of Appeals on Building Code Matters

December 2012Articles In the Zone

Pennsylvania House Bill 2530 (now Act 179 of 2012) resolves an issue for municipalities seeking to designate a Board of Appeals for building code issues. Prior to the new law, a municipality who has elected to administer and enforce the statewide building code was required to establish a Board of Appeal either on its own or in conjunction with another municipality. Act 179 grants municipalities the flexibility to designate another Board of Appeals to hear appeal requests.

Existing case law in Pennsylvania has previously determined that if a municipality administers and enforces building codes, then that municipality must likewise provide for a Board of Appeals. Indeed, the Pennsylvania Construction Codes Act (PCCA) provides that a “municipality which has adopted an ordinance for the administration and enforcement of this act or municipalities which are parties to an agreement for the joint administration and enforcement of this act shall establish a board of appeals … to hear appeals from decisions of the code administrator.” (34 P.S. Sec. 7210.501(c))

Some municipalities have chosen to delegate this responsibility to regional or county Boards of Appeals without statutory authority. And as such, they have encountered issues before the courts. Act 179 seeks resolves that issue by expressly permitting a municipality which has adopted an ordinance to administer and enforce the PCCA the option to “designate” a board of appeals or a joint-board of appeals.