Frank N. Shaffer Family Ltd. P’ship v. Zoning Hearing Bd., 964 A.2d 23 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2008).

Submitting property to the planned community form of ownership may require subdivision plan approval prior to conveyance of units.
Case Details:

A partnership owned approximately 25 acres of land and recorded a declaration and plat for a planned community to be developed thereon.  The partnership then conveyed a one acre unit to the Shaffers.  The Township issued an enforcement notice because it believed the partnership and the Shaffers violated the SALDO by conveying the lot without first obtaining subdivision approval.  The partnership appealed the enforcement notice.  That appeal was denied by the Zoning Hearing Board.  The trial court upheld the Zoning Hearing Board’s decision.

On appeal, the Commonwealth Court concluded that the partnership’s division of the property and subsequent conveyance of a unit without Township approval was an unlawful subdivision.  The partnership should have submitted a subdivision plan to the Township.

The Commonwealth Court relied upon the Township’s definition of “subdivision” as “the division or re-division of a lot, tract or parcel of land by any means into two or more lots … including changes in existing lot lines[.]”  It defined “land development” as “the division or allocation of land or space, whether initially or cumulatively … for the purpose of streets, common areas, leaseholds, condominiums, building groups or other features” as well as “a subdivision of land.”  The Court determined that, because it was undisputed that the partnership divided the parcel into planned community units and then conveyed a unit to the Shaffers without Township approval, the enforcement notice was warranted because the partnership’s acts constituted land development.  Section 5106(c) of the Uniform Planned Community Act did not offer the partnership or Shaffers relief.

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