In re Appeal of Broad Mt. Dev. Co., LLC from the Decision of the Butler Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd., 17 A.3d 434 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2011).
Thirty-day appeal period for zoning permits is tolled where appellant alleges and proves that he had no notice, knowledge or reason to believe that the permit had been issued.
Applicant obtained a permit from the Township’s Zoning Officer to develop between twenty and twenty-eight wind turbines that would exceed the maximum height permitted in the zoning district, despite the fact wind turbines were not permitted in the zoning district. Applicant constructed a 60-foot tall tower for meteorological studies approximately four months after obtaining the permit, and submitted preliminary land development plans approximately twelve months after obtaining the permit. Objectors, who were neighboring landowners, appealed the permit three months after Applicant submitted the preliminary plan and fifteen months after the permit was issued. Applicant argued Objectors appealed too late because the MPC requires an objector to appeal within 30 days following the approval of a permit if the appeal is designed to secure reversal or limit the permit.
The Commonwealth Court agreed with Applicant’s initial premise, however, it explained that the MPC extends the 30-day period where a potential objector “alleges and proves that he had no notice, knowledge or reason to believe that such approval had been given.” Here, no notice was given regarding the permit being issued, the 60-foot tower did not resemble a wind turbine and was located on only a small portion of the 1,100-acre tract, and, despite Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board meetings on the wind turbines, the permit was not mentioned until a meeting on May 11, 2009. The court determined May 11, 2009 as the date on which Objectors received notice.
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