Zajdel v. Board of Supervisors of Peters Township, 925 A.2d 215 (Pa. 2007).
The failure of a Municipality to uniformly enforce an ordinance does not preclude later enforcement of that ordinance or invalidate the ordinance.
Landowners filed an application to subdivide their property to create two additional lots on the rear of the property. Under the applicable Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (“SALDO”), lots had to have direct access to a public road or a private road meeting the Township’s specifications. The private road which would provide access to these proposed lots did not meet the Township’s specifications. Landowners sought a departure from the requirements. The Planning Commission recommended that the request for departure be denied because of the concerns with the maintenance of the road and run off problems.
In response, Landowners proposed to sign a maintenance agreement to return the private road to prior state after construction and to sign a stipulation that if the road was ever to become public, the owners of the proposed lots would pay their fair share of bringing the road to Township’s standards. Council denied the request for departure.
Landowners appealed to the trial court alleging that there was a violation of due process and equal protection under the Pennsylvania Constitution because Council permitted subdivisions on a private road only where the applicant conveyed a lot to a family member. The trial court affirmed Council’s decision. Landowners then appealed to the Commonwealth Court.
The Commonwealth Court found that a failure to uniformly enforce an ordinance does not preclude future enforcement of the ordinance. Also, the Commonwealth Court found that Landowners failed to establish that prior departures from the Ordinance were granted for subdivisions on private roads based solely on whether the lots were to be conveyed to a family member. At most, conveying to a family member is a minimal factor.
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