Bill To Amend MPC Advances to Senate

April 2010Newsletters In The Zone

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On March 8, 2010, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a measure, by a vote of 111-82, to amend the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (PA MPC). HB 1831 , introduced by State Rep. Tom Houghton (D-Chester), now awaits consideration by the state senate.

This bill amends the Municipalities Planning Code, which applies to townships, boroughs, towns and cities (except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), to allow these municipalities to amend their zoning ordinances to include review fees for conditional use applications in order to pay the cost of outside consultants who may be hired to review the applications.

Under current law, section 617.3(e) of the PA MPC enables municipalities to charge application fees pursuant to zoning ordinances to cover the cost of zoning, but it prohibits them from including the cost of "engineering, architectural or other technical consultants" in the calculation of the fee. This bill will specifically allow municipalities to charge a separate review fee to cover the cost of these consultants but only for reviewing conditional use applications.

In order to charge review fees, this bill stipulates a municipality must enact, by ordinance, a fee schedule with the stipulation that the fee charged may not exceed the rate or cost charged by the professional consultant used to review the application.

Houghton said the technical nature of a conditional use application often necessitates the municipality appoint professional consultants for assistance. While both the municipality and the applicant benefit from the advice, the cost of the expert's review and recommendations is borne solely by the municipality.

For more information, please contact Robert W. Gundlach, Jr. at 215.918.3636 or [email protected].