Lancaster Court of Common Pleas Rules on Permit Extension Law

December 2010Newsletters In the Zone

The Pennsylvania Legislature recently enacted Act 46 of 2010 , which included language extending the life of various land development permits and approvals in the Commonwealth. However, one aspect of the legislation was not explicitly clear. Namely, are the affected permit and approval expiration dates tolled until July 2, 2013, at which time their remaining life is reinstated, or do all extended permits and approvals expire on July 2, 2013? In other words, if the permit or approval had, for example, six months remaining before its original expiration at the point of Act 46’s effective date, is that permit or approval valid for six months beyond July 2, 2013 — until January 2014?

In a case brought before the Lancaster Court of Common Pleas , the bench considered this question as it impacted a condition use approval granted to a developer in Penn Township, Lancaster County.

On October 22, 2010, the court held that the Legislature’s use of the phrase “suspended during the Extension Period” suggests the General Assembly intended Act 46 to toll the running of the expiration dates, rather than merely postpone all expiration dates until July 2, 2013.

Additionally, because the statute incorporated a formal process for approval holders to verify their approval’s expiration date, Act 46 contemplates varying dates, rather than just one mass expiration date for all approvals. Such language further implies that permits and approvals should be honored beyond July 2, 2013.

While the Lancaster Court of Common Pleas decision offers precedential value only within Lancaster County, the ruling does lend persuasive authority in other parts of the Commonwealth for approval holders confronted with municipalities or agencies arguing for a uniform July 2, 2013, expiration date.

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