Bartkowski Inv. Group v. Bd. of Comm’rs of Marple Twp., 18 A.3d 1259 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2011).
Renumbering of section numbers from time of advertisement to time of adoption does not violate due process rights. Failure to record an ordinance in the ordinance book within the statutorily required time period renders the ordinance ineffective, but not invalid.
Applicant submitted applications to erect billboards and an amendment to the Township’s Zoning Ordinance that would permit billboards in a certain zoning district because billboards were not permitted anywhere in the Township. The Township published notice of a hearing to consider adopting the amendment, conducted the hearing, and voted to amend the ordinance. The ordinance voted on, though, included renumbered sections as compared to the ordinance published for notice of the hearing. In addition, the adopted ordinance did not permit billboards in the area in which Applicant sought approval. The Township also failed to record the ordinance in its ordinance book within one month of passage, as required by the First Class Township Code.
Applicant filed a validity challenge based on its initial application and a complaint seeking declaratory and mandamus relief that the ordinance is ineffective and compelling the Township to issue permits for the billboards. The trial court dismissed the actions because the procedural challenge was filed more than thirty days after the intended effective date of the ordinance, and because the ordinance resolved the substantive issue. The Commonwealth Court reversed in part. It held the procedural challenge regarding changes to the section numbers was properly dismissed because the minor changes from the advertised version of the ordinance did not deprive Applicant of its due process rights – as a result, Applicant could not challenge that issue beyond the thirty day deadline. The Commonwealth Court also held, however, that the Township’s failure to record the ordinance, while not rendering the amendment invalid, did render the amendment ineffective. Consequently, the ordinance could not be retroactively applied to remedy Applicant’s validity challenge.
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