Citation:

Kang v. Supervisors of Spring Township, (Pa. Commw., May 4, 2001) 776 A.2d 324
Alta Vista Condo v. Hempfield

Summary:
PLANNED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS: USES APPROVED IN PRD PLAN CANNOT BE EXPANDED BY SUBSEQUENT RELIANCE ON OTHER USES PERMITTED IN THE UNDERLYING ZONING DISTRICT.
Case Details:

Cross Reference: MPC Section 711(d)

In this case a developer attempted to “double dip” by obtaining “conditional use” approval for a hotel and restaurant to be located within a previously approved and recorded PRD. The proposed uses were not listed in the recorded PRD plan. The applicant argued that regardless of the proposed uses in the PRD plan, the proposed uses were conditional uses under the “Planned Office/Business District” in which the PRD was created.

The Court held that upon the filing of an approved PRD plan the use restrictions in the Plan supercede provisions under the zoning and subdivision ordinances. The court reflected that the purpose for a PRD is to create a method of approving large developments which overrides traditional zoning controls and permits the introduction of flexibility into the design of larger developments. Once a PRD is created, however, the land is considered dedicated to the purposes and uses for which it was approved.

The court found that the ZHB erred when it allowed the proposed uses as “conditional uses” under the zoning and land development ordinance. The court found that such an approval circumvented the provisions in the township’s PRD ordinance. The court concluded that only the PRD ordinance governed the procedure for modifying the PRD and that a conditional use application was an improper procedure to obtain relief as desired by the applicant developer. (In this case the conditional use provisions for the hotel and restaurant were clearly less arduous than the PRD ordinance standards and the developer saw the conditional use approach as having a higher approval potential than a PRD amendment. The logic of the court is clear. If a developer can add used under the zoning rather than PRD ordinance the value of the PRD ordinance would be nullified. The MPC provided clear procedures for modifications of a PRD and these cannot be circumvented by reliance on the normal zoning and subdivision standards for the “underlying” zoning district.

The court made a point of recognizing that PRD ordinances do not create “overlay districts”. Rather, the PRD ordinance replaces underlying zoning and subdivision ordinance regulations otherwise applicable to the subject parcel. See also Alta Vista Condo Association v. ZHB of the Township of Hatfield, 736 A2d 724, 728 (Pa. Comwlth. 1999), appeal denied 563 Pa 620, 757 A2d 935 (2000).

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