Legislative Update in PennsylvaniaJuly 2014 – Articles In the Zone
House Bill No. 1052 proposes to amend the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) by expanding the ways by which a municipality is permitted to use the recreational fees it collects in connection with subdivision and land development projects.
Currently, Section 503(11)(iii) of the MPC states the following: “The subdivision and land development ordinance may include, but need not be limited to: (11) Provisions requiring the public dedication of land suitable for the use intended; and, upon agreement with the applicant or developer, the construction of recreational facilities, the payment of fees in lieu thereof, the private reservation of the land, or a combination, for park or recreation purposes as a condition precedent to final plan approval, provided that: (iii) The land or fees, or combination thereof, are to be used only for the purpose of providing park or recreational facilities accessible to the development.”
The proposed legislation would expand the potential uses for the fees by providing that the fees could be used for the purpose of providing AND acquiring, operating or maintaining park or recreational facilities reasonably accessible to the development.
Representative Robert Freeman, who serves the 136th Legislative District in Northampton County, PA, was a co-sponsor of House Bill No. 1052. In a memorandum summarizing the proposed legislation, Freeman provides the following explanation: “Currently, the Section 503 of MPC only allows fees incurred from payment in lieu of recreational facilities to be used only for the purpose of providing park or recreational facilities accessible to the development. Fees may only be used for costs incurred to construct the specific recreational facilities for which the fees were collected. My legislation would remove the language found in Section 503 that requires these fees to be used for the specific recreation facilities for which the fees were collected, and will permit municipalities to utilize these funds not only for providing, but also operating or simply maintaining park or recreational facilities anywhere within the municipality.”
As for the status of House Bill No. 1052, it has not yet been signed into law; it has passed in the House and is under consideration in the Senate.