Legislative Update in Pennsylvania

July 2013Articles In the Zone

Senate Bill No. 721 proposes to add a provision to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) that would prevent a zoning hearing board from intervening or otherwise becoming a party in a land use appeal.

Specifically, the proposed legislation would reconfigure the section of the MPC that addresses intervention in land use appeals by adding what would be Section 1004-A(b) that would state the following: “The zoning hearing board may not intervene or otherwise become a party in a land use appeal.”

Senator Charles McIlhinney, who represents the 10th Pennsylvania Senatorial District that includes parts of Bucks County and Montgomery County, is a sponsor of Senate Bill No. 721. Senator McIlhinney noted in a memorandum to all Senate members regarding the proposed legislation that a decision of the Commonwealth Court “essentially prevents a Borough or Township from settling a case with an applicant that has appealed an adverse decision of the Zoning Hearing Board to the Court of Common Pleas without the participation and consent of the Zoning Hearing Board.” Senator McIlhinney’s proposed legislation, according to his memorandum, would prevent a situation where a Township or Borough “was able to negotiate a settlement with a property owner … and the terms and conditions of the settlement were satisfactory to the Township or Borough as well as to the Judge of the Court of Common Pleas,” but the Zoning Hearing Board did not agree and prevented the settlement.

As for the status of Senate Bill No. 721, it has not yet been passed. After Senate Bill No. 721 was introduced, it was referred to the Committee on Local Government, where it remains.

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