Legislative Update in Pennsylvania

March 2013Articles In the Zone

House Bill No. 515 proposes to amend the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) by attempting to benefit absentee land and mineral owners by requiring municipalities to provide notice to any person requesting notice involving a municipality's adoption of, or changes to, zoning ordinances, zoning maps, land development ordinances and other similar ordinances.

The proposed legislation would add to the MPC definitional section the terms "electronic notice" and "mailed notice." Furthermore, the proposed legislation would require that a municipality notifies a landowner or an owner of a mineral interest in land when that person requests either mailed notice and/or electronic notice and supplies the municipality with the requisite information.

For example, a landowner or an owner of a mineral interest in land could request mailed notice, provide the municipality with a stamped self-addressed envelope prior to the public hearing and then that landowner or owner of a mineral interest in land would receive notice from the municipality involving a municipality's adoption of, or changes to, zoning ordinances, zoning maps, land development ordinances and other similar ordinances.

Representative Richard Stevenson, who represents residents of Mercer County and Butler County from the 8th District of Pennsylvania and is one of the sponsors of House Bill No. 515, wrote the proposed changes "will be a significant benefit to absentee land and mineral owners, who do not subscribe to local papers, and may not otherwise become aware of proposed actions that could affect their property."

Rep. Stevenson had sponsored a similar bill, House Bill No. 1484, in May of 2011, where it passed in the House by a vote of 190-0 but did not pass in the Senate.

As for the status of House Bill No. 515, shortly after it was introduced, it was referred to the local government committee, where it remains.