Legislative Update in Pennsylvania

June 2013Articles In the Zone

House Bill No. 1322 proposes to add provisions to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) that would allow a municipality to charge “review fees for the municipality’s evaluation of conditional use applications” consistent with existing MPC provisions.

The proposed legislation, which its prime sponsor noted reintroduces House Bill No. 1639 of 2011-12, provides that review fees “may include reasonable and necessary charges by the municipality’s professional consultants for review and report on a conditional use application to the municipality.” (The term “professional consultants” is defined in the MPC as “persons who provide expert or professional advice, including, but not limited to, architects, attorneys, certified public accountants, engineers, geologists, land surveyors, landscape architects or planners.”)

House Bill No. 1322 provides that the review fees, among other requirements, (1) may not duplicate review fees charged under subdivision and land development ordinances, (2) must be based upon a schedule established by the municipality in accordance with ordinary and customary charges for similar service in the community and (3) in no event shall exceed the rate or cost charged by the professional consultants for comparable services to the municipality not reimbursed or otherwise imposed on applicants.

The proposed legislation also provides an applicant with the right to dispute the amount of review fees subject to time limitations set forth therein.

Representative Steven Santarsiero, who represents the 31st Pennsylvania House of Representatives District in Bucks County, is the prime sponsor of House Bill No. 1322. He noted in a memorandum to all House members regarding the proposed legislation that in one instance a “Pennsylvania municipality was billed $108,000 in review fees for a conditional use development.”

As for the status of House Bill No. 1322, it has not yet been passed. House Bill No. 1322 was introduced May 6, 2013, and, on that same day, it was referred to the Committee on Local Government, where it remains.

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