Legislative Update in Pennsylvania

December 8, 2016Articles In the Zone

House Bill No. 1440 proposes to amend the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) by providing for educational impact fee and assessment in certain school districts.

Rep. John A. Lawrence, who represents portions of Chester and Lancaster counties from the 13th District of Pennsylvania, is the bill’s prime sponsor.

The proposed legislation, which would add a section to the MPC entitled “Educational Impact Fee and Assessment,” includes the following relevant definitions:

  • Educational Impact Assessment – “A report required of all applicants for subdivision plan approvals and building permits that includes an assessment of the impact the plan approval or building permit would have on the school district in which the subdivision or building is located.”
  • Educational Impact Fee – “A charge or fee imposed by a school district against new residential development in order to enable the school district to develop programs and facilities necessary to accommodate increased student enrollment.”
  • Older Adult Housing – “Housing built to house individuals in compliance with regulations promulgated by the Department of Aging pertaining to older adult daily living centers under 6 Pa. Code Ch. 11 (relating to older adult daily living centers).”
  • Open Space Uses – “Uses that include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) parks; (2)playgrounds; (3) golf courses; (4) wildlife preserves; (5) land used for drainage or flood control; (6) other recreation purposes permitted by the municipal governing body; and (7) land used for buffer zones between residential and commercial or industrial uses.”

The proposed legislation provides a board of school directors with the authority to levy an educational impact fee on each subdivision plan and building permit “issued for the construction of new residential units located within its geographic boundaries in accordance with this section. Prior to the adoption of an educational impact fee, the school board shall give public notice of its intention to adopt the fee and entertain public comments. The educational impact fees shall be collected by the school district.”

The proposed legislation adds that no subdivision plan approval or building permit may be issued “without the applicant providing proof that the educational impact fee has been paid in full.”

Furthermore, under the proposed legislation, the amount of the educational impact fee levied on each proposed subdivision plan shall be a fixed fee of $2,500 and imposed upon each bedroom in excess of one for each separate proposed residential dwelling unit in the subdivision plan. The fee may not exceed $7,500 for each residential dwelling in a proposed subdivision plan.

As for the fee for building permits, the amount of the educational impact fee levied on each building permit for new residential construction shall be a fixed fee of $2,500 and imposed upon each bedroom in excess of one for each proposed residential dwelling for which the building permit is issued. There is no ceiling for the building permit fee.

The proposed legislation provides certain exemptions and deductions from impact fee. For example, a school district shall waive the educational impact fee for building permits issued for the replacement of existing dwelling units, even if the permits are nonconcurrent. Additionally, a school district shall waive the educational impact fee for subdivision plans or building permits for residential dwellings built for older adult housing.

As for deductions, a school district may provide (1) a $1,500 deduction for each acre of land preserved within the proposed development for open space uses by the community; and (2) a $1,000 deduction from the impact fee owed if the developer provides for a designated school bus loading area and an area for a school bus turnaround if necessary.

The proposed legislation restricts the use of the fee to new construction for additional classrooms or renovation of existing buildings to expand classrooms or classroom space. The money in the account may not be used for personnel costs.

Additionally, the subdivision plan shall include an educational impact assessment, a copy of which must be filed with the school district. No subdivision plan may be accepted that does not include an educational impact assessment.

House Bill No. 1440 was referred to the local government committee where it remains.