Citation:

Monroe Meadows Housing Partnership v. Municipal Council of Monroeville,         (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007).

Summary:
A municipality that approves a subdivision plan that includes the dedication of a public street cannot later impose additional dedication conditions that create undue hardships.
Case Details:

On November 9, 2000, the Municipal Council of Monroeville (Council) unanimously approved the subdivision plan of Monroe Meadows Housing Partnership (Partnership).  In addition, an agreement called for a road in the subdivision to be dedicated as a public street, which would be designed and constructed according to the approved plan.  The street was built in accordance with the plan, which made no reference to the public street having a cul-de-sac.  Council later asserted that a cul-de-sac was required by ordinance, and the Partnership sought to waive the requirement based on hardship, which Council denied.  Council ultimately denied the dedication of the road as a public street as well.  However, the trial court reversed  Council’s decisions, and granted a hardship request that required the Partnership to build a partial cul-de-sac, as opposed to the type sought by  Council, and also directed Council to accept the street for dedication.  Council appealed the trial court’s decision.

Council’s position was that, by ordinance, a cul-de-sac was mandated on the type of street built by the Partnership in the subdivision.  It also argued that no municipality is required to accept streets for public dedication, and that such a dedication is discretionary.  Finally, Council stated that no hardship existed for the Partnership, since there was no reason why the road could not remain private, or, in any case, the hardship was self-imposed by the Partnership.

The trial court’s decision was affirmed by the Commonwealth Court.  First,  Commonwealth Court held that the ordinance cited by Council simply noted scenarios in which cul-de-sacs would be appropriate, and that there was no requirement that minor streets end in cul-de-sacs.  Next, Commonwealth Court held that since the Partnership met the requirements for publicly dedicating the street, Council could not later assert a cul-de-sac requirement that was not part of the original, approved plan.  Finally, the Court determined that the functional equivalent of a cul-de-sac could be achieved without the Partnership having to incur the burdensome costs of building a cul-de-sac.  Since such an alternative was deemed not contrary to public policy, the Partnership satisfactorily proved undue hardship.

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