Koller v. Weisenberg Twp.,
871 A.2d 286 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005)
Landowner seeking to build a concrete manufacturing plant submitted a land development plan to its township supervisors. Landowner agreed to the imposition of six conditions to the plan. The Supervisors conditionally approved the plan, but attached more conditions (sixteen in total). The landowner objected to the imposition of additional conditions and appealed. Agreeing with the landowner that Section 508(2) of the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) obligated the supervisors to identify the plan’s defects and provide specific explanations and ordinance citations for each condition it attached to the plan, the lower court held that the unsubstantiated conditions represented an invalid rejection of the plan and, consequently, a “deemed approval” of the plan by operation of Section 508(3) of the MPC. The decision was appealed to the Commonwealth Court.
Relying on its prior reasoning in Bonner, the Commonwealth Court reversed and held (over a partial dissent) that the MPC does not require a governing body to “note plan defects and cite the statutes or ordinances relied upon in imposing conditions associated with conditional approval” of a land development plan. Furthermore, where an applicant rejects the proposed conditions, “the conditional approval is deemed a rejection” and the “aggrieved party may appeal . . . for a determination of whether the objected-to conditions are legal.”
Providing future guidance for courts asked to decide the legality of such conditions, the Commonwealth Court noted that a court “may consider whether the conditions are appropriate to effectuate compliance with relevant statutes and ordinances, and, if so, whether the . . . conditions are reasonable in order to make the plan be in compliance.” In addition, courts “may also consider” the extent to which the proposed conditions cure the plan’s defects and noted that outstanding defects not cured by attached condition(s) mandate that a “conditional approval . . . be reversed on the merits and the plan denied.”
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