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In the Zone Blog

Success in the real estate industry often hinges on making smart choices – and on being informed. Fox’s In the Zone blog serves as a resource for developers, investors, lenders, design firms, landlords, tenants and more. Focusing on zoning and land use, we report on trends and news in obtaining approvals and permits for new development, project financing, LEED certification and environmental regulation and enforcement.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Opinion Letters in Loan Transactions- An Added Cost for Borrower Legal opinion letters (“Opinion Letter”) have become a very valuable piece of a loan transaction for all parties involved.  More often, Lenders are now requiring that a Borrower’s counsel provide an Opinion Letter at the closing of a transaction.  An Opinion Letter addresses legal conclusions and opines as to the legal effect and legitimacy of the transaction and can be relied on by the Lender in a transaction. While the Opinion Letter is a valued commodity for the Lender to receive,... More
  • No Shortcuts at Special Exception and Conditional Use Hearings Many times, at hearings to obtain either special exceptions or conditional use approvals, applicants, for one reason or another, are under the impression that they simply have to call one or two witnesses to confirm, in a cursory manner, compliance with the requirements for the requested relief. Unfortunately, that type of “short cut” approach can come back to bite the applicant in the you know what. A recent case, titled Appeal by Grande Land, LP v. Manheim Township Zoning Hearing... More
  • Proposed Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning in Philadelphia In June of this year, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez of Philadelphia’s City Council introduced Ordinance No. 170678 to require all new and renovated residential development projects in the City of over 10 units to include at least 10% of the project units as “affordable”.  Under the terms of the ordinance, at least 25% of the affordable units have to exists on the project site, while the other 75% can either be built elsewhere or be addressed via a payment into the City’s... More
  • More Delays Forthcoming with NPDES Permits The NPDES general permit for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities will expire on December 7, 2017. DEP has announced that the general permit will be administratively extended until December 7, 2018. This administrative extension will continue the terms and conditions of any open statewide general permit for a specific period of time following expiration of the general permit program; however, the only option for obtaining NPDES permit coverage from December 8, 2017, until a reissued PAG – 02 is... More
  • Warrington Township, Bucks County On November 2, 2017, at 7:30 p.m., the Warrington Township Planning Commission intends to review an updated Comprehensive Plan for the Township. After this Comprehensive Plan is reviewed by the Planning Commission, it will then be sent, along with the Planning Commission’s recommendation, to the Board of Supervisors for review and action. Such action is likely to be taken before the end of the year. After the new Comprehensive Plan is adopted, the Board of Supervisors have indicated their willingness... More
  • Loan Documents and Key Provisions: Casualty Clauses Whether you are a Lender or a Borrower, it’s obviously very important to know what terms are included in your Loan Documents and how they may affect your interests. Periodically, I will be blogging on issues and concerns regarding Loan Documents and areas that I believe everyone needs to be particularly focused on. Today, I’d like to highlight Casualty provisions. Most mortgages in Pennsylvania have provisions regarding what happens if a casualty or damage occurs to the mortgaged Premises. This is... More
  • OBTAINING PENNDOT RIGHT OF WAY AS A CONDITION TO OBTAIN YOUR HOP If your development projects fronts on a state road, then it is likely that you will need a Highway Occupancy Permit (“HOP”) from PennDOT. If you need a HOP from PennDOT, then it is very likely that you will need to improve one or more state roads. If you need to improve one or more state roads, then it is also likely that you will need to obtain right of way or easements from third party property owners. Well now... More
  • Court Dismisses Developer’s Claim Against Township for Damages   In the case of Cardinal Crossing v. Marple Township, the PA Commonwealth Court was faced with the issue of whether a developer, who spends substantial funds on a development, in reliance on statements of support from a committee formed by the Township (which included Township officials), can recover damages from the Township when the Board of Commissioners did not adopt the requested zoning amendment for the proposed project to proceed forward. The Commonwealth Court, in finding that unofficial action by... More
  • A/B SEPTIC SYSTEMS ARE BACK IN PLAY FOR PLANNING MODULE APPROVAL FOR NEW PROJECTS Governor Tom Wolf signed into law, on July 20, 2017, Act 26, which amended the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act concerning the use of alternate sewage systems for purposes of obtaining planning module approval from DEP for a new project. Act 26 is scheduled to take effect on or about September 18, 2017. Many developers ask the question as to their right to use A/B sewage systems and other alternate sewage systems for purposes of obtaining planning module approval for a new... More
  • Seeking Site-Specific Relief after Successful Ordinance Validity Challenge In a recent Commonwealth Court decision, Appeal of Chester County Outdoor, LLC, No. 1761 C.D. 2016, 2017 WL 3198266 (Pa. Comm. July 28, 2017), the Court held that, after a successful validity challenge to an ordinance, the challenger must file an application for site-specific relief with the municipality prior to filing an action with the court pursuant to Section 1006-A of the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). Chester County Outdoor, LLC (CCO), a billboard developer, filed a challenge to the substantive validity of the... More