Hamilton Hills Group, LLC v. Hamilton Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd., 4 A.3d 788 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2010).
For developments occurring across municipal boundaries, municipality may require that all of its zoning requirements for the project must be satisfied by those portions of the project in that municipality unless otherwise permitted within its zoning ordinance.
Applicant sought to develop a residential community on a property located in three municipalities. All of the townhouse units, though, would be built on a portion of the property located solely in one municipality that permitted townhouses by special exception. That municipality’s zoning ordinance required a certain amount of open space or recreation area per unit. Applicant’s plan proposed the required open space in another municipality and Applicant could not confirm that it could meet the open space requirements of the first municipality’s Zoning Ordinance with land located only in that municipality. The zoning hearing board denied the application for failing to provide all of the required open space within that municipality. The trial court upheld the zoning hearing board’s decision.
The Commonwealth Court determined that a municipality may consider only the lands within its borders when interpreting provisions and requirements of a zoning ordinance when the zoning ordinance is silent on the issue. The Commonwealth Court reached its decision because a municipality is responsible for the well-being of its citizens and has neither the duty nor the authority to enforce its zoning ordinance beyond its borders. As a result, unless a zoning ordinance specifically states the municipality should consider land outside its borders, the municipality need not do so.
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