Stassi v Ranson Township Zoning Hearing Board, 54 Pa. D.& C. 4th 303 Lackawanna, (September 24, 2001)
Cross Reference – MPC Sections 107 (a), 608; Pennsylvania’s Statutory Construction Act
"Successive Weeks" for Purpose of Publication of Public Hearing Notice Means "Calendar Weeks" Based Upon a Week Running from Sunday Through Saturday
The township published notice of public hearing on the adoption of a new zoning ordinance in the local newspaper twice within the same calendar week. The trial court reviewed the Statutory Construction Act, Section 608’s public notice requirements and Section 107(a)’s definition of “public notice” and found that notice was flawed. Failure to strictly follow procedures for the enactment of an ordinance renders the ordinance null and void.
Section 608 of the MPC requires a governing body to hold a public hearing “pursuant to public notice”. Section 107 of the MPC defines public notice as “notice published once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality.” Although the MPC does not expressly define the term “successive week”, Section 1909 of the Statutory Construction Act provides:
“Time: Publication for successive weeks:
“Whenever in any statute providing for the publishing of notices, the phrase ‘successive weeks’ is used, weeks shall be construed as calendar weeks. The publication upon any day of such week shall be sufficient publication for that week, but at least five days shall elapse between each publication. At least the number of weeks specified in ‘successive weeks’ shall elapse between the first publication and the day for the happening of the event for which publication shall be made.” 1 Pa.C.S. §1909.
Thus, the phrase “successive weeks” as used in the MPC must be interpreted as referring to “calendar weeks.” The court noted that a “calendar week” has long been interpreted to mean a seven day period running from Sunday through Saturday. The township violated the notice requirements with publication twice in one calendar week.
The ordinance was deemed null and void. The court held that the procedures established by the legislature for the enactment of ordinances must be strictly followed for an ordinance to be valid. Statutory publication requirements are mandatory and ordinances adopted without strict compliance are void.
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