Citation:

Kassouf v. Scott Twp.,
584 Pa. 219, 883 A.2d 463, 2005 Pa. LEXIS 2136 (Pa. 2005).

Summary:
A municipal board’s rejection of a development plan satisfies Section 508(2) of the MPC so long as one of the stated reasons for rejection properly cites applicable ordinance provisions.
Case Details:

Landowner sought approval from his township commissioners to build a residential subdivision.  After seven years of back and forth review and revisions between the landowner and the township engineer, the township commissioners rejected the plan, citing sixteen reasons in a written decision.  Landowner appealed the decision, arguing, among other things, that the written decision did not comply with Section 508(2) of the MPC, which states that if a municipal board rejects a landowner’s development plan, the board  “shall specify the defects found in the application and describe the requirements which have not been met and shall, in each case, cite to the provisions of the statute or ordinance.”

The Court of Common Pleas ruled that the commissioners had incorporated by reference the township engineer’s analysis, which did cite to the relevant ordinance provisions, and that such incorporation satisfied Section 508(2).  In the alternative, the trial court ruled that Section 508(2) was satisfied because within the “four corners” of the commissioners’ written decision, several of the sixteen reasons properly referenced the ordinance provisions to which the development plan did not conform.  The Commonwealth Court affirmed and the landowner appealed to the Supreme Court.

Although the Supreme Court affirmed the viability of satisfying Section 508(2) through the use of incorporation by reference (affirming Advantage Development), the Court ruled that the incorporation must explicitly list the documents that are being incorporated, which the commissioners had failed to do in this case.  However, the Court affirmed the results below on the conclusion that 508(2) is satisfied so long as one of the stated reasons for denial cites to the applicable ordinance provisions, the requirements of the ordinance provisions, and the deficiencies “relative to the ordinances.”  In this case, the Court found that seven out of the sixteen reasons satisfied those criteria.

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