Warminster Fiberglass Co., Inc. v. Upper Southampton Township, (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2007).
The construction of billboards is not a miscellaneous use structure related to residential structures under the Construction Code Act. The construction of billboards does not require land development approval under the MPC because it is construction on a small scale.
Appellants submitted applications for building and zoning permits to construct off-premises billboards. The applications were denied twenty-seven days after submission because the zoning officer found that a land development plan was required. Appellants appealed to the trial court arguing that they were entitled to deemed approval because under Section 502(a)(1) of the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (the “Act”), “every application for a construction permit for one-family and two family dwelling units and utility and miscellaneous use structures shall be granted or denied . . . within 15 business days of the filing date.” The trial court, however, found that the proposed billboards did not fit into the categories set forth in the above section. The trial court instead found that the Township had thirty days in which they could approve or deny an application because Section 502(a)(1) provides that “all other construction permits” which do not fall within the explicit categories above shall be granted or denied within thirty business days of the filing date. Appellants appealed to the Commonwealth Court and argued that the billboards were “miscellaneous use structures.” After an interpretation of Section 502, the Court determined that “miscellaneous use structures” included only those structures that are similar to or accessory to residential structures. Therefore, Appellants were not entitled to deemed approval because the Township had thirty days in which to approve or deny the permit.
Appellants alternatively argued that they were entitled to approval because the trial court improperly dismissed their complaints when the permits were denied solely on the basis that construction required land development approval. Appellants argued that land development approval was not required because they will own the land on which the billboards were to be constructed. The Court concluded that the construction of the billboards did not require land development approval because the construction was on a small scale and did not involve any issues related to public use, water management, sewers, streets and the like. Consequently, the Court remanded the case to the trial court.
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